Category Archives: Easter

19 May, Saturday – Jealous Of The One

19 May

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Acts 28:16-20,30-31

On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.

After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.’

Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

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John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

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what does it matter to you?

I always thought that it is human nature to not be satisfied. I believe that it is alright to aspire for greater things. Better job, better status in life, everything better. But what if my being better means being greater than other people?

I sometimes feel envious of my workmates if they receive better projects and I got the lousier ones. And those small resentments sometimes lead to gossip about my colleagues. Don’t you sometimes think that life is so unfair? And coupled to it is the question, “Why God, why this fate?”

In the Gospel, Peter asked Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ He was referring to John, the Beloved. Peter’s questioning John’s purpose can seemingly depict a jealous feeling. He shows curiosity in Jesus’ plan for John. Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ Jesus is telling Peter that it is not his duty to know the plan for John. His primary task is to simply follow Christ. This signifies that we should not compare ourselves with others. We have our own different circumstances, our own way of following Christ, our own calling.

Whenever we feel that others are better than us, we must not question God. When we see our neighbours having more riches, let us think of it as they need those and we don’t. Let us look at things with a view that everything is in their proper place. And it is God’s way of showing that all things are meant to be. It is our own perspective that makes the difference.

If you are an employee, it is your duty to become a proper employee. Obey the company’s rule, do your job without stepping on anyone. If you are a business owner, make sure that your company is doing what is ethical for your employees and consumers. If you are a student, then it is your duty to study hard and not play around. If you are a parent, take good care of your children. Children, always respect your parents. If you are married or in a relationship, love and respect one another. And the list goes on.

Of course, everything must be Christ-centered. We must always pray. But it is not right to use our prayer time as an excuse to neglect our primary responsibilities. This pertains to us lay people. Religious and the clerics have different duties when it comes to their prayer time and other activities. We must always pray for contentment and not to feel bitterness to one another.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear Lord, have mercy on us for all our wrongdoings. Please grant a grateful heart to follow Your will.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father God, for the tasks and responsibilities that we do every day.

18 May, Friday – Love And Lead

May 18 – Memorial for St. John I, Pope and Martyr

John (d. 526) was a priest in Rome, and became the 53rd pope in 523. Italy’s ruler then, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. For a while he left the Catholics alone, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John led a delegation to Constantinople to negotiate with Emperor Justin I; he was the first pope to travel to Constantinople, and while there crowned Justin. The mission was successful, but Theodoric though John and Justin I had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theodoric’s soldiers. He died of thirst and starvation while in custody in Ravenna, Italy.

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Acts 25:13-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king. ‘There is a man here’ he said ‘whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.’

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John 21:15-19

After Jesus had shown himself to his disciples and eaten with them, he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt around you,
and take you where you would not rather go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

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‘Follow me.’

What motivates us in doing anything? As I think about it more, I realise that I do things because of another thing. I do not just do things because I want to. I do things because I think it is correct or it is the right thing to do. It is correct based on something that has been formulated by others or by society. I am just merely following what must be followed.

In our Gospel today, we notice that it is three times that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We can recall that during Christ’s Passion, Peter denied Jesus three times. These scenarios clearly show that though we may turn our back from our Lord more than once, He is always waiting for our return. We sin, yet we are forgiven.

The phrases, ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘Look after my sheep’, and ‘Feed my sheep’ remind us that it is Peter whom Jesus entrusted to lead us. He was the one appointed to guide our nourishment and to live in accordance to God’s will. When Jesus first asked Peter if he loved him before giving him instructions, it implied that Peter’s obedience must be out of love. It is for the love of God that he will obey to feed the lambs, to look after the sheep, and to feed the sheep. In the same way, it is for the love of God that we have our priests, bishops, and the pope.

Saying that we love God is quite easy. But do our actions show that we love our Lord? Do we do things out of love? I myself struggle everyday to do things out of love for God. But with God’s grace, we can.

We are given the gift of free will. As Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked”. When we are still young and able, we can do whatever we want and go wherever we want. It is up to us how we are going to use this freedom. However, we must remember that our end time will come. And we cannot do anything about it. It is a great reminder that while we still can, we should use our free will to follow the will of God.

We are nearing the end of Easter. But let this be not the end of feeling alive. As we continue in our daily life, let us strive harder to do things out of love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we are deeply sorry for all our sins. Please grant us the grace to desire to follow you always.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for giving us chances to renew our self, to be a better person.

17 May, Thursday – I Am The Father’s Gift

17 May

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Acts 22:30,23:6-11

Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.

Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’

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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them.
and so that I may be in them.’

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You have loved me before the foundation of the world

It is possible that we have heard this before, that “we are a gift from God”. Today’s reading stresses this point, that we are the Father’s gift to Jesus — He says that in today’s gospel. The love which Jesus speaks of can be a little complex. It is enormous and eternal in nature and something that the human mind may not be able to comprehend, nor the human heart hold.

Imagine the tender heart of Jesus when He says that each of us is a gift to him, though he knows our shortcomings and failures and even the parts of our lives which still displeases Him. My brothers and sisters, that is unconditional love.

He loves us so much that He wants to love us as much as the Father loves Him. Isn’t that simply an outstanding sort of love?

Can we, as human parents, wish to love the members in our ministry or our parishioners as much as we love our own children? Do we even desire to share this parental love which we have with others? It is not always easy, but we must try. Regardless of the circumstances, we are children of a Father with such great love that we must try and love at all times.

This, I admit is a struggle for me too. Though I know I am capable of great love, I withhold myself, selfishly choosing who should receive my love and whom I consider as the Father’s gift. That is certainly not the Father’s way of love. As His precious gift, I could and should do way better than this.

Sisters and brothers are loving only those who love us and those who conform to our ideals. Are we able to be an extension of the Father’s love to a world who does not know Him? Are we able to stand up with love together with those who have fallen, even those who refuse to return to the Lord?

How can we be a reflection of God’s love to everyone today?

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, help us to love like you. Set your standard of ‘Love of the Lord’ in our lives, in our families and in this world.

Thanksgiving: Lord I thank you for loving me so very much and for claiming me as a gift to you.

16 May, Wednesday – Your Word, O Lord

16 May

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Acts 20:28-38

Paul addressed these words to the elders of the church of Ephesus:

‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood. I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.

‘I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’

When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms round Paul’s neck and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your Word on to them,
and the world hated them
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world,
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your Word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world.
And for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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Consecrate them in the truth … Your word is truth

It is getting more difficult to know what the truth is. We live in a world of false promises and fake people, counterfeit relationships and superficial words. Yet in this same world, the Truth exists through Christ our Lord. And we are told today that His word is truth and Jesus Himself wants us to be consecrated in the truth.

The word of God is a double-edged sword and it breathes life into our lives, it gives light and hope to places in our lives which may seem very hopeless.

Contrary to love letters which spell out the sentiments of the human heart, this Love Letter is God’s promise to keep us safe and provide us a life of protection. He indeed has promised that He will guard us from all danger, and He has.

Is there any reason for anyone to believe that Our God is lesser than the truth? Are there areas in our heart which are wretched by unbelief or sin? To these areas, we cry out that His truth will set us free.

Are we still reserving areas in our lives, closing some doors to our Lord? He made us and He knows us better than we do; what are we then afraid of? During our Sunday mass, let us offer our lives and all that it entails to God, when the priests offer up the Body and the Blood. Let us show ourselves to Him. Let it be ugly, He will beautify it so that we can live a full life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, consecrate us in the truth and help us to be people who speak the truth and advocate the truth. May we find ourselves blameless before you, O Lord.

Thanksgiving: Jesus, thank you for writing a love letter which is 100 percent true, alive and filled with Love.

15 May, Tuesday – Not A Counterfeit

15 May

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Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them:

‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.

‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecution await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.

‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’

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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’

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…the ones you have given me

Isn’t it amazing that the One true God is concerned about you and me, to the point that He wanted to make sure we still had God to care and guide us, even when He was about to die?

When a spouse or a parent is at their deathbed, somehow I get the feeling that they have the same concern over the people whom God had entrusted to their care. Even good bosses and friends think of the welfare of their subordinates and friends if they have to be away. But our Lord Jesus was more concerned beyond our welfare, He was interested in our souls.

Some years back, I attended a talk on same sex attraction. The speaker was a mother and one of the participants challenged her, asking her if would want her daughter to be happy if her daughter had same sex attraction. She calmly agreed that she wanted her daughter to be happy but she testified that above happiness, she “wanted heaven for her daughter”. How true and how apt.

More recently, my mother, in a conversation with a parishoner, found out that he and his children attend Sunday service at his wife’s church, which is of a different denomination. Is this wrong, or is that ok? Are we doing similar things of missing the Sunday Eucharist and denying our children the chance to partake in the One true God at mass? Our children are God’s gifts to us, just as we are entrusted to Jesus and the Holy Spirit by the Father, it’s our greatest duty to mould our children in the faith.

I am praying that we put away our counterfeit ways and return to the Lord. He is waiting for us and if you had ever known what it is to wait for someone you love, you would not make Him wait. Turn to Him, He is our Lord, present in the sacraments, blessed and broken for us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for seeking the counterfeits and leading others astray. We need you and we want you. Our Loving Mother, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for giving us an advocate, the Holy Spirit to guide our paths.

14 May, Monday – God Chose Me

14 May – Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Matthias (d. 80) was an Apostle. As he could bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, he was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. He preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Judaea, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Ethopia. He is remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. He was martyred in Colchis in AD 80 by stoning.

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

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John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’

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You did not choose me: no, I chose you.

As a cradle Catholic, the phrase above strikes a chord with me. Had I not been baptised as a baby, would I still have chosen to be Catholic? Indeed, it was God who had chosen me. Do I take my God-given faith for granted? Admittedly, despite being a Catholic all my life, having attended Catholic schools and catechism as a child, there’s much I still do not know about my faith. Often, I see those who choose to be baptised as an adult, in spite of them being ‘young’ Catholics, knowing a lot more than I do and are stronger in their faith.

Even as I’ve strayed away from God and the church, God has always found a way to call me back in unexpected ways. I am now part of a ministry for returning Catholics — Landings, a community for those who have been distant from the church and are trying to find a way back home. Through journeying with them, I’ve come to understand that no matter how many times we try to run away from God, He will always welcome us back with open arms. Even as we may be diligently attending mass or actively serving in church, there may be times when we feel empty and totally disconnected from God, but we have to remember that God always loves us and He will lead us back to Him, we just need to say ‘Yes’ to His call.

Brothers and sisters, as God’s chosen people, are we doing our part to ‘go out and bear fruit’? “What is my vocation?”, “Am I living out my life with purpose?”, “How am I making a difference to this world?” I struggle with these questions, especially as I am in the midst of discerning a career change. But I believe that if God chose me for it, He will light the way. More importantly, no matter what we do, we have to try and live out the greatest commandment in our daily lives – ‘Love one another, as I have loved you’.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember in our daily lives that you first loved us, help us to love one another especially in trying moments. Please continue to guide us in seeking your will and answering your call.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for choosing us as your sons and daughters, and for always loving us.

13 May, Sunday – Not One Was Lost

13 May

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

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1 John 4:11-16

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.

We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.

We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.

God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.

While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures.

But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.

I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.

I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.

They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.

Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals that none of His were lost except the son of destruction – the evil one. The evil one left by choice, exercising his free will. Because of His great love, God gives each of us free will in deciding our thoughts, actions and words. Indeed, true love is free.

But the love of God cannot be considered as something that is just free; it is a free gift to us, which was paid for by His blood.

Today’s gospel tells us that God is love and whoever who chooses to remain in God, remains in love and God resides in Him. Though this may sound like an exchange of sorts, it is really more a consequence of the grace of God.

Love is often misunderstood as a passing feeling, or even as lust; none of them is love. Ironically, even God is misunderstood as the provider of comfort and joy. And by looking at the bible passage which equates God to love, it is evident that ‘love’ is divine, it seeks the good of the other, and it is kind, patient and not jealous. Love never fails. If you read the passage on 1 Corinthians 13, it spells out what love is and it really makes sense that you replace the ‘word’ love in the passage, to ‘God.’

Let us not be complacent and limit our thoughts that love has its place only at weddings. Indeed, the love shared by husband and wife is a foretaste of heaven. But love is present in the Eucharist, in the sacraments, in our acts of wanting to seek the best of the other despite our own circumstances.

Recently, I had to get my driver’s license renewed and, in conveying the message to my dad, I was less than loving. Out of his love for me, He advised that I should be more vigilant of such important matters so that I can improve myself. But my pride got in the way, yet it did not extinguish the love of my dad, who made two trips to the registration office so that I could renew my license. To me, knowing that my dad puts up with me, despite my failures, is a reminder that my Father in heaven rejoices over this one sinner whom He does not want to lose. Though the fact remains that when we choose to act unlovingly, there are consequences — and in this instance, I hurt my father’s feelings.

I also read this, “it is easier to love people who are far away than people whom we see daily.” How very true, that we take our families and friends for granted and treat them in a manner that is lacking of love. God knows I need Him in putting out the fumes in my words which are unloving, my actions that need purification and my thoughts that need sanctifying. I urge you also my sisters and brothers, to offer to God everything that is not of love in your lives, in your families, in your relationships and within yourself. Remember, our precious Lord cried out to God, His Father, so that we would not be lost, that we would be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father. How can we deny Him that noble desire?

Today, I pray that all we do, say, think, and breathe, is Love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for all our unloving ways. Help us to remain in love and in you. Bless all our mothers today as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for loving us and for choosing us. Thank you for the tender gift of motherhood and its life-giving ways.

12 May, Saturday – Ask Your Father

12 May – Memorial for Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St. Pancras, Martyr

Nereus and Achilleus (d. 98) were soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and members of the Praetorian Guard. They were converts to Christianity and baptized by St. Peter the Apostle. They were exiled for their faith, suffered with St. Flavia Domitilla, and were martyred together by beheading.

– Patron Saint Index

Pancras (c. 290) was a 14-year-old orphan brought to Rome by his uncle St. Dionysius. He was a convert to Christianity, and was martyred with St. Nereus, St. Achilleus, and St. Domitilla for publicly proclaiming his faith.

Pope St. Vitalian sent his relics from the cemetery of Calepodius in Rome to the British Isles as part of the evangelization of England, so they would have the relics of the Church at large, and to install in altars in new churches. St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church in England to St. Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named after him.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 18:23-28

Paul came down to Antioch, where he spent a short time before continuing his journey through the Galatian country and then through Phrygia, encouraging all the followers.

An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they took an interest in him and gave him further instruction about the Way.

When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote asking the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

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John 16:23-28

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
anything you ask for from the Father he will grant in my name.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.
I have been telling you all this in metaphors,
the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in metaphors;
but tell you about the Father in plain words.
When that day comes you will ask in my name;
and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you,
because the Father himself loves you for loving me
and believing that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world
and now I leave the world to go to the Father.’

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If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

When I was a child, I was told that if I wanted something badly enough, I had to work for it myself. Trying to manoeuvre from a teenager to emerging adulthood was hard enough, but having to figure things on my own was harder. Those years were not particularly easy. But somehow, I managed and became the person I am today. I didn’t turn out too badly I thought. From this, I learnt to be independent.

People closest to me tell me that I am too proud and stubborn to accept help from anyone. Well, was I to blame? I had been ‘hard-wired’ to think that I had to do it all myself. I wasn’t born with people around who mollycoddled me. So I learnt never to ask for help; so that I would never be disappointed. For most of my life, I relied on my own strength and ability that, sometimes, became just too overwhelming. I remember several times when I had meltdowns – angry and resentful of my family. Especially my father.

But God that Father never said we had to do everything ourselves. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. I have often come across this line in the scriptures and I knew it in my head, but not from the heart. I didn’t believe that God the Father would do anything for me if I didn’t do something for Him first. I found it so hard to accept His unconditional love. In fact many times, I think that God is punishing me for being an imperfect person. I measure myself by a different yardstick; the bar is set so high, I am just never good enough.

Recently I shared that I had gone for a retreat. During the retreat, I was told by God that I was trying too hard. I was told that, unlike my earthly father, God the Father did not need me to do anything to earn his love. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Asking God for something in Jesus’ name is different from asking it in our own name. We are to include him in our decision making, and try to see things the way He does. Me? I am always pre-empting God and running ahead of Him. He doesn’t want that of us, brothers and sisters. He wants us to give ii to Him, ask Him. When we do this, we transcend ourselves and are open to the will of God. God may not give us exactly what we ask but will never fail to give us what we need. Pray and ask for what you need today, in Jesus’ most mighty name!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: God our Father, for all our needs, we present them to you today. In your most mighty glorious name.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for receiving our gifts – broken hearts, broken lives, tears…. no matter how unworthy they are. Thank you for answering our prayers.

11 May, Friday – Pain Today, Is The Prelude To The Joy Of New Life

11 May

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Acts 18:9-18

At Corinth one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.’ So Paul stayed there preaching the word of God among them for eighteen months.

But, while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. ‘We accuse this man’ they said ‘of persuading people to worship God in a way that breaks the Law.’ Before Paul could open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘Listen, you Jews. If this were a misdemeanour or a crime, I would not hesitate to attend to you; but if it is only quibbles about words and names, and about your own Law, then you must deal with it yourselves-I have no intention of making legal decisions about things like that.’ Then he sent them out of the court, and at once they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue president, and beat him in front of the court house. Gallio refused to take any notice at all.

After staying on for some time, Paul took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut off, because of a vow he had made.

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John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you will be weeping and wailing
while the world will rejoice;
you will be sorrowful,
but your sorrow will turn to joy.
A woman in childbirth suffers,
because her time has come;
but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering
in her joy that a man has been born into the world.
So it is with you: you are sad now,
but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy,
and that joy no one shall take from you.
When that day comes,
you will not ask me any questions.’

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You are sad now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and that joy no one shall take from you.

I do not have many friends. As I grew older, I culled down my list of friends. Simply because I have less time to socialize and therefore want time spent with people to be special and meaningful. The few friendships I have today are deeper and more significant. Friends who walk with me in faith and the journey of life. Relationships mean a lot to me. As the saying goes ‘If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.’ So when a relationship ends or when I have to say ‘goodbye’, I take it badly. And if that person meant a lot to me, I’d quietly (but painfully) ‘wait’ for their return. And if or when they do come back, oh my heart bursts with joy!

If I had lived in the time when Jesus told the disciples the impact his death would have on them, I would have just died of a broken heart. “I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing… you will be sorrowful.” Jesus knew his disciples would experience great sorrow when he was taken away from them in death. However, he assures them that the sorrow will be but for a while. These feelings will not be forever. He assures them that his death and rising will spring forth a new life, sorrows and pain will turn into joy.

As I was reading the verses for today’s reflection, a line caught my attention in today’s Magnificat. In order to reach our destination in Christ, we inevitably pass through dark moments. But our sadness is transformed if we look towards the Risen Christ. I am slowly learning that my journey to holiness isn’t a rose garden. God’s pruning of me involves loss, sorrow and pain. I still struggle and fight with Jesus on this but am slowly finding the courage to let the process take its course. Because I know that these dark moments, however looming they seem now, will be so far away when the time comes – when I am transformed. My heart will be filled with joy again. Just as the pain of a pregnant woman is the prelude to the joy of new life. Brothers and sisters, be courageous, take heart and know that this too shall pass.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, we give you our sorrow, tears and pain in exchange for your comfort. Fill us with hope and joy as we look towards the Risen Lord.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the goodness and blessings in our lives. We hold and cherish in our hearts your gifts of life, breath, love and friendships.

10 May, Thursday – Only In His Time

10 May – Solemnity of The Ascension of The Lord

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Acts 1:1-11

In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’

Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’

As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’

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Ephesians 1:17-23

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.

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Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

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With the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what the hope to which he has called you is.

I have an active mind. I try to plan ahead and have a Plan B, C, in case Plan A fails me. It must be a job hazard. Sometimes, I work myself into a frenzy thinking about what could go wrong. This may be a good thing on the work front. The secular world can be so unforgiving if things don’t ‘work to plan’. However, in spite of our most careful planning, the Road of Life is unpredictable. Our best-laid plans in life can be upended by unexpected changes. These could be either disappointing or exhilarating. Personal or other setbacks, the loss of loved ones, illnesses or accidents, broken hearts or betrayals, are not uncommon occurrences in our lives. On the other hand, fate can provide unanticipated good fortune or heartening experiences.

In our Christian faith, we are asked to surrender it all to God. I find that so hard to do with my overactive, rational mind. Recently, I experienced a period of desolation. I was overcome by darkness so overwhelming that it choked me. Everything seemed so bleak and stifling. I wished I could somehow find an avenue to let go of all that was welling up inside me. If I could cry or scream or hit something – but no. Years of conditioning myself to put forth a hard exterior, burying pain and disappointments was now working against me. I have a prayer list so long it is so onerous. ‘Why why? How and when?’ were questions I asked God. I tried all ways to restructure my prayers but still nothing. Zilch. God just wasn’t speaking to me. Just like the disciples in today’s first reading, I wanted God’s answers to my life issues right there and then.

I shared yesterday that I went on my much-needed retreat, to seek peace and yes – answers! Like the disciples in today’s first reading, I did not see the need to wait. They ask if “now” is the time to restore the kingdom to Israel. But for such things, we must wait and trust in God’s promise. God works to his own timing and also for our own good. “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

We try to avoid emotional or physical pain which distresses and saddens us; we bury them and hope to move on. For me, the message was loud and clear. The Lord needed me to first acknowledge what’s going on in my life. In the season of change, I needed to just acknowledge that certain events and people attached to them had to die. It’s in the dying that new shoots of change can spring forth and grow. With this enlightenment, I found the permission to grieve, to hurt, to feel sadness and anger. And with openness to what God is doing in my life, pruning and shaping, a new spring will come into my life. Today, as we celebrate the solemnity of The Ascension of the Lord, let us experience the joy and love that no one can take away from us!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: For the times when we closed our ears to the Holy Spirit, for the times we demanded immediate answers, forgive us. Come Lord and take away everything that is not of you; the need to control our lives without You. Give us patience and the knowing that You, in your time will reveal all the glory that’s in store for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the hope you promise us.