Category Archives: Easter

3 June, Saturday – Let Faith Ripple

Jun 3 – Memorial for St. Charles Lwanga & companions, martyrs

One of 22 Ugandan martyrs, St. Charles Lwanga is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. He protected his fellow pages, aged 13 to 30, from the homosexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands.

For his own unwillingness to submit to the immoral acts and his efforts to safeguard the faith of his friends, Charles was burned to death in 1886 by Mwanga’s order. When Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs in 1964, he referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.

http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintOfDay/default.asp?id=1403

___________________

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.

____________________

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.

_____________

He welcomed all who came to visit him

We have come to the end of the Easter season. Recalling just seven weeks ago, we came together to celebrate the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before that, the season of Lent was where we fasted, repented and give alms. Were most of you just like me, taking note of the long weekend, filling the weekends with so much activities that missed out on the importance of celebrating Easter itself? We keep our heads down, our minds drowned in our work, or we are too busy with friends and forget that for at least once each week, we should think deeply about our faith, of what Jesus has done for us; and that the present is very much like the moment when Jesus ascended into Heaven.

Let us reflect on the feelings of the disciples, the moments when they felt so lost, sad and confused when their Master was crucified. Then turning to joy and confidence in preaching His death on the cross to everyone else. At which stage of discipleship are we at? Have we begun to welcome people into our home, and into our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ? Has religion and the bad behaviour of priests made us keep Him in a corner?

It is unfortunate that religion is such a sensitive issue until today. It seems that in the period of Peter and Paul, it took a lot of courage for them to preach the Good News. Today, we are still being judged — that Christians are to be perfect and to be trusted – yet, negative news surrounds us and we find it hard for others to believe in us. Let us take that small step within us to actually be close to the celebrations of the Church. In this way, we participate and understand the goodness of our Lord present in a genuine community.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O wonderful Lord, I pray for our community that they may invite both believers and non-believers into a warm environment of prayer.

Thanksgiving: I give thanks for all those who are advocates of peace in our society, that they may continue to do the good works in the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 June, Friday – Walk where we want with God

2 June 2017

______________

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.’

_______________

John 21:15-19

Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten 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 round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

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

________________

Take you where you would rather not go

As I hop into the car every morning and take my forty-five minute drive to work, I am sure to come across the news over the radio. There are mainly three kinds of news reports that are always aired. Firstly, the traffic jams, then some local news on an overnight killing or assault, and lastly, an international news segment about a war disaster or some form of bombing that has occurred. A day is filled with so much uncertainty, thus we must always pray for the safety around us.

In today’s Gospel, we are reminded to love God fervently. Jesus repeatedly asks Peter how much he loves Him, not because He is seeking attention, but to have Peter outwardly express his love for Jesus without doubt. Likewise, it never hurts for us to express our appreciation and love to our loved ones, because that seals the relationship deeper each day. As our love for each other deepens, we too will bring ourselves closer to the Lord. We must always be prepared to follow Him wherever He brings us.

Uncertainties abound in our lives every day. Truly, we do not hope for bad situations to happen to us, nor to our loved ones. Therefore, always be prepared and start off each day praying for one another. Our Lord protects, even if we have gone to places that we do not want to go. Our faith, like Peter, will get us through the toughest of times. Stay close to Jesus, and stay faithful my friends.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We pray for those who have been doubting the love and works of our Lord, that they may be able to trust in Him earlier and not realising it only when trouble comes.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the protection of our Almighty God and the company of Mother Mary, who continues to watch over all of us.

1 June, Thursday – Work never ends with God

Jun 1 – Memorial for St. Justin, martyr

He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and studied many systems of philosophy before being led, through Platonism, to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known, and travelled from place to place proclaiming the Gospel. In 151, he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived — it can be found in today’s Office of Readings.

Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. In contrast to the Hebrew tendency to view God as making revelations to them and to no-one else, he follows the parable of the Sower, and sees God as sowing the seed of wisdom throughout the world, to grow wherever the soil would receive it. When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. This is harder to do – not least, because we have to take the trouble to understand our own faith thoroughly – but it is ultimately more worthwhile.

– Universalis

___________________

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.’

________________

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.’

____________

I want those you have given me to be with me where I am

At what age should we be settled with our dream job? Is there such a thing as a dream job? Or are we still searching, being unsettled because we just can’t seem to be satisfied with our employer? Perhaps we are really happy with our work and never grew tired of getting out of bed each morning facing our jobs. I think there are many aspects to a great work environment. It includes the job scope, the team of people we work with, the challenge we faces each day, the encouraging bosses we all would like to have.

So, what is the job of a Christian like? How should we behave just so that Jesus and you are one? In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks boldly to our Father that those who believe in Him be as one with the Almighty Lord. As the Father is in Him, and by acknowledging Jesus in us, we are all as one. Jesus is not only the Saviour who takes away all our sins, but more importantly, He has removed the barrier that prevents us from getting close to God the Father, because in fact, God is right within us.

Being a true believer of Christ and bearing witness to both His death and resurrection is unlike our jobs where we may have the weekend off or are able to take annual leave. Being a Christian is an all-day everyday, every moment ‘job’. Our work as God’s children never ends. Just like in today’s reading, after the Lord witnessed the courage displayed by Paul, the next mission to Rome was added to the agenda. Be not afraid to take on the work of God, because He is in us; having deep faith will get you through it all.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Let us be not afraid of unchartered waters. Give us the courage to take on much faith work, so that the Love of God is recognised through our actions and love towards our neighbours.

Thanksgiving: Give thanks for the opportunities to have work, as many are still facing unemployment. We are grateful for the stability that you have provided us.

31 May, Wednesday – Obedience of Mary

May 31 Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This day is called the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because on it Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, whom, as the angel had told her, God had blessed with a son in her old age.

Patron Saint Index

___________________
Romans 12:9-16

Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.

Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor.

______________

Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
And Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

_______________

Visit from the mother of my Lord?

Ave Maria! O Mary Mother of God. So beautiful and so gentle, interceding for our prayers to your son Jesus.

A priest once told us during a faith information session that the Catholic Church is being held by two pillars. One of which is God, and the other is Mary. In many Christian teachings, Mary has been sidelined and forgotten in the very life of Jesus. Despite being a rather significant character in the Bible, she has not been honoured much more by some.

In today’s Gospel, Marys visitation to her cousin Elizabeth gives great joy to those around. Her singing of praises of the Lord amplifies her humility in accepting the gift in her womb; the gift so beautiful that the child in Elizabeths womb leapt. Mary is indeed a woman of the Lord to look up to. Her strength in faith goes beyond her acceptance of being the vessel to our Lord Jesus. I am sure we have heard much of Marys apparition in various places, and to chosen people. There have been much miracles and messages from our Mother who continuously warns us about the ways of this secular world and making it more beautiful through immense prayers.

Let us dedicate the week to the Mother of our Lord. Perhaps you have been silent in accepting who she is, finding it difficult to include her in your prayer life, that a relationship with her just isnt important at all. Read todays Gospel again and take her praises as an example of how intimate her relationship is with God, her son being Jesus the Saviour. Reflect on her heartache on seeing her own Son dying on the cross, for accusations that were never fully justified. Blessed Mary, so patient, so faithful, so obedient to the Father.

(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Blessed Mother, forgive my wrongs for not making you part of my prayer life. Pray for us, that we make take on your example in being someone so obedient to God.

Thanksgiving: We truly give thanks for your acceptance to the Lord, taking on the immaculate conception, that you have brought us the greatest gift of all.

30 May, Tuesday – Leaving Legacy

30 May 2017

______________

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.’

____________________

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 truly 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.’
_______________
I am not in the world any longer
Every now and then, we come across news of a great persons passing. Headlines will splash across the papers and digital news sites, not so much about how he or she had died but about the deeds and works that have made a big difference to other people. These great beings do not have to be rich in monetary sense, but they must have been immensely humble and deep in faith in whatever they had done for society. It could be about providing the basics for the poor, education for the less privileged children, healing the sick and dying in war torn countries. However they have achieved all these in their lifetime, they have brought comfort and Gods love to the very unfortunate. They left a legacy to be remembered and to be continued.
In todays reading, Saint Paul gathered the elders, determined to let them know that he had come to preach the Good News of God, that his mission and focus was on spreading the word of Jesus as much as he could before he got persecuted. He was aware that death would come very soon, and nothing else mattered more than to speak of Jesus everywhere. Filled with the Spirit, Paul gave testimony of how God has been revealed to him. Similarly, Jesus left more than a legacy for us, He gave himself to save us. We are here and forever because of Jesus. Both Paul and Jesus gave something to the people after they have left this world.
So, how have we impacted the world today? Perhaps, our actions for the world may be insignificant, but how about our behaviour to our neighbours? How have we just simply impacted our loved ones, our community, our friends, so that others may see the love of God shared by us. Will we be known as the person who complains about life and does nothing about it? Or will we want to be known as the person who has so generously given to society, and made a big difference in the life of others?
(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: O Lord, we pray for our generosity, that we truly are grateful for what we have been given, and then to enable us to pass on the good feelings to others.
Thanksgiving: Let us give thanks to all those who have so selflessly made our lives better, especially those who have made great sacrifices, that Lord you continue to watch over them and keep them by your side.

29 May, Monday – Step Out and Shout Lord

29 May 2017

____________

Acts 19:1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul made his way overland as far as Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. When he asked, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ they answered, ‘No, we were never even told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then how were you baptised?’ he asked. ‘With John’s baptism’ they replied. ‘John’s baptism’ said Paul ‘was a baptism of repentance; but he insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after him-in other words Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of these men.

He began by going to the synagogue, where he spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. He did this for three months.

____________________

John 16:29-33

His disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them:

‘Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come – in fact it has come already –
when you will be scattered,
each going his own way and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.
I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave: I have conquered the world.’
_____________
Spoke out boldly and argued persuasively
In order for one to speak boldly and argue persuasively, one has to be confident and knowledgeable in expressing the message.
Every time I know I am going for an appointment, I will spend about twenty minutes to pick up the project that the appointment relates to, and get myself prepared in approaching the meeting. This helps me to pick up the issues and focuses on what is next to be done, this also gives confidence to those involved.
Todays message to us is about being that informed Christian, filled with the powers of the Holy Spirit, that even though we feel inadequate, we can walk out and preach about Jesus. We all are empowered to be disciples of Jesus; it is not about how many degrees and certificates we obtain through education, but how deep our faith is for our Lord God. The Spirit works in us in mysterious ways, it gives us the strength to step into the unknown and be brave.
Todays Gospel not only encourages us to be brave in our faith, being the living testament as a Christian. It is also an encouragement that with God, the Spirit, we have the right mind to conquer the difficulties in life too. We are often thrown with surprises and worries in career, family, health and financial woes. These can also be conquered with trust and persistence. We are reminded to embrace suffering, to pray and work towards better situations, so that we conquer, not for ourselves, but in the name of Jesus. In this way, we live a fuller and more meaningful life.
(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: We pray for those who are facing difficulties and feeling lost in their lifes direction, may they seek the Spirit in them, for the guidance and courage to look forward in life.
 
Thanksgiving: Give thanks for our God, give thanks to our Lord. Give thanks for Jesus sacrifice, give thanks for our Mother Marys help.

28 May, Sunday – We gather for Christ

28 May 2017 Seventh Sunday of Easter; World Communication Sunday

The Spirit Of Prayer And Praise
Christ prayed in the Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the source of the prayer and praise of the whole Church. The Spirit of God is resting on us as we offer this sacrifice of praise today.
_____________________

Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14

After Jesus was taken up into heaven the apostles went back from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
_____________________

1 Peter 4:13-16

If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. It is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ, because it means that you have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on you. None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal or an informer; but if anyone of you should suffer for being a Christian, then he is not to be ashamed of it; he should thank God that he has been called one.
_____________________

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 truly 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.’

________________

Father, it is time for you to glorify me.

One thing that I miss for the past ten years is being part of a prayer group, whether it is a group from a parish, or young adults, or a group made up of Catholic families in the neighbourhood. When I was in primary school, my family was pretty active being part of the estates Renew prayer group. We gathered every few weeks to share, reflect and study the Gospel and/or readings. I recalled that some sharings led to aggressive points of view that just didnt leave a good impression of the neighbour. I also broke my neighbours ceramic stool at one of those nights.

Before settling permanently for the past two years, I was working in various cities. I did go for Sunday masses, but was never able to commit to a prayer group, because I felt like a temporary resident wherever I was. Jesus is the reason there is Christianity, Christ Jesus is the one who brought the glory of the Father to us. We are to remind ourselves that Christianity is never about oneself, never about being alone. Gods love involves our hearts and of others. Gods love is so generous that it is to be shared for everybody.

In todays reading of the gathering of the disciples in the upper room, we see a community there. It may have been a lost and questioning community, but Mother Mary was there. They gathered to talk about Jesus, and of God. They asked questions, they doubted, they had the virgin Mary among them. As with the Gospel, Jesus is glorified to be with His Father, but He never leaves us feeling empty. Until today, there are many communities for us to share the love of Jesus, the stories of living as a Christian.

Moving forward, I now look forward to finding or forming a prayer group where we are able to share and reflect on the Christian values, where we not only have God as the centre of our family, but also the centre of our work life and community. To share within Gods words and promises to share to our partners and children.

(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Dear Lord, may the Holy Spirit guide each and every one of us to search for a community where we can grow in faith and make our lives more meaningful, to be proud Christians.

Thanksgiving: We thank all those volunteers and support givers to Churches that are managing the low numbers of parishioners, that the community be strong and active in their neighbourhood.

27 May, Saturday – Praying for Joy

27 May 2017

________________

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.

_____________________

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.’

______________

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.

How do we reconcile the line of scripture above that Jesus tells his disciples, with the knowledge of all our unanswered prayers?

When I was much younger, I prayed for many things. I prayed to God about big things like granting us world peace (seriously), taking away world hunger, saving children who suffered without family, home, and love.

I prayed also about personal things like having peace in the family and for my parents to argue less, for friendships to stand the test of time and change. As you can guess, not everything has been answered – not even fully, and certainly not in the way I had hoped they would be resolved.

As I grew older, I learnt that God does not answer prayers like one answers a phone call. When I read scripture like this, I cannot help but imagine the helpless confusion of a new believer (as many in those biblical times would have been when Jesus first spoke this), and what this promise might mean: “Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.”

What does this mean for a gentile convert who had never so much as learnt to pray to God through the name of Jesus Christ? Ask and you will receive?? What is that? To answer this confusion with the persuasion that “You need to have faith in God” would be shallow and incomplete. We must not assume that once someone professes belief in God, that they would automatically know how to pray, and how to feel about or experience prayer.

For me, the greatest comfort I have found in prayer, in the innocence of my actual and spiritual childhood, is to ponder and marvel at the very fact that I have a Heavenly Father and a friend in Jesus Christ, to whom I can speak to, confide in and petition for all my big and little cares and concerns. This is a special privilege of having a God who loves me so personally, that I can confidently ask and talk with Him, and receive His attention.

Truly, whether or not our prayers are answered in the way we imagined (or at all), let us learn from the simplicity of a child who is confident that when she calls out to Daddy, he is always and already there. The joy of a child is always complete; because she knows that her outstretched hand will always be met with her father’s confident and protective hand.

May we ponder this sacred truth — what we receive by our prayers is not always an answer, but it is certainly the love and presence of God with us, through Christ our Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit our Advocate.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Teach me Lord, to pray with simplicity and innocence, such that simply being present with you will bring me the fullness of joy.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for leaving us a channel of reaching out to you and receiving your love and attention.

26 May, Friday – Wisdom in Silence

26 May 2017

__________________

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.

____________________

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.’

_______________

Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you.

So often we look up to great orators, charismatic leaders and speakers, and admire them for their gift of inspiring and persuading with commanding speeches. Rarely do we celebrate the ones who know when silence is instead the greatest gift needed for the moment. I know I do.

In the first reading today, the Lord tells Paul, one of our greatest evangelists and one whom we know for his wonderful letters, to not be afraid to allow himself to be silenced. When I first read that, I misunderstood that God had asked him to not allow himself to be silenced. It is so much easier to think that must be the case when it comes to defending one’s faith and evangelizing God.
Instead, we see Paul completely quiet in this episode of accusation by the Jews who plotted to bring him down in front of Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia. Paul had no chance to retort, as before he could open his mouth to defend or explain himself, Gallio silenced not only him, but also the Jews who accused him.

Sometimes silence is wiser than speaking, listening more healing than words, quietness more empowering than ideas. This can happen in all sorts of settings – from official and professional situations, to private and personal moments.

Henri Nouwen once wrote, ‘somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.’ I have lost count of the many times when my silence and humble observation has saved me, and when my brashness or confidence has cost me belated anxiety and anguish.

At the same time, we would do well to seek the gift of wise silence from God, and to exercise more silence in our spiritual journey. I noticed that when I am out of sorts and not at peace with myself, my prayers become anxious chatters bouncing off the inner walls of my head. I may think that I have spent time in prayer, but actually I had been gratifying my inner voice and justifications, instead of being truly present to the Lord.

Again, Nouwen cautions us, “the real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing – that demands real effort.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: We seek the gift of silence, and the gift of wisdom, to know when to practice this powerful instrument of peace.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to my chattering noise, and revealing to me that your gentle silence is often the greatest gift I need in my prayer.

25 May, Thursday – The Waiting Game

May 25 – Memorial for St. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Worker; Memorial for St. Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin

Bede (672-735) was born around the time England was finally completely Christianized. He was raised from age seven in the abbey of Sts. Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there the rest of his life. He was a Benedictine monk, and the spiritual student of the founder, St. Benedict Biscop. He was ordained in 702 by St. John of Beverley. He was a teacher and author; he wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.

He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He was declared a Doctor of the Church on 13 November 1899 by Pope Leo XIII.

  • Patron Saint Index

Gregory (1020-1085) was educated in Rome, Italy. He was a Benedictine monk, and chaplain to Pope Gregory VI. He was in charge of the Patrimony of St. Peter. He was a reformer and an excellent administrator. He was chosen the 152nd pope, but he declined the crown. He was chief counsellor to Pope Victor II, Pope Stephen IX, Pope Benedict X, and Pope Nicholas II. He eventually became the 157th pope.

At the time of his ascension, simony and a corrupt clergy threatened to destroy faith in the Church. Gregory took the throne as a reformer, and Emperor Henry IV promised to support him. Gregory suspended all clerics who had purchased their position, and ordered the return of all purchased church property.

The corrupt clergy rebelled; Henry IV broke his promise, and promoted the rebels. Gregory responded by excommunicating anyone involved in lay investiture. He summoned Henry to Rome, but the emperor’s supporters drove Gregory into exile. Henry installed the anti-pope Guibert of Ravenna, who was driven from Rome by Normans who supported Gregory; the Normans were, themselves, so out of control that the people of Rome drove them out. Gregory then retreated to Salerno, Italy, where he spent the remainder of his papacy.

  • Patron Saint Index

Catherine (1566-1607) had a religious upbringing. She was initially sent to a convent at the age of 14, but was taken back home by her family who opposed her religious vocation and wanted her to marry well. They eventually gave in, and Catherine became a Carmelite of the Ancient Observance at 16, taking the name Sister Mary Magdalene. She as a mystic, and led a hidden life of prayer and self-denial, praying particularly for the renewal of the Church and encouraging the sisters in holiness. Her life was marked by many extraordinary graces.

  • Patron Saint Index

______________

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.’

____________________

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.

_____________

Matthew 28:16-20

The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’

__________________

It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”

Waiting on God is never an easy thing to do. While many lament that our life on this Earth is far too short, there are also others who feel that life is one big waiting game fraught with uncertainty and peril. While waiting on God for his guidance in our lives, we struggle with doubts about our vocation and if we are giving glory to God for his gift of our lives. Worrisome waiting drains us of our capcity to serve fully, to trust God completely, and to live joyfully.

Yet, Jesus’ ascension to heaven illustrates the perfection of God’s plan, and the blissful communion with Christ that awaits us after we breathe our final earthly breath. As Pope Francis observed, Jesus “knew well that the way which would lead him to the glory of the Father passed through the Cross, through obedience to the divine design of love for mankind”. It couldn’t have been easy for Jesus to wait for 30 years prior to the start of his ministry, and for him to continue waiting and serving while God’s plan for him unfolded. In spite of all the challenges, he persevered obediently as only a humble king could.

Our communion with God in heaven is a blissful future that we can cling to with certainty. This assurance of God’s power and providence must give us the motivation to go through each day confidently. Just as the apostles returned to Jerusalem with great joy after witnessing Jesus’ ascension, we too should joyfully serve our Lord and Saviour who, while having left earth, stays with us forever. Pope Francis urges us to remember that Jesus did not abandon us and in the glory of the Father supports us, guides us and intercedes for us.

With Jesus as our coach and guide, let’s make the waiting game one worth playing.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)

Prayer — Dear Lord, grant us patience and trust as we wait for your mysteries to be revealed to us. Clear our minds and empower our hands to serve you fully in the here and now.

Thanksgiving — We thank you Father, for your gift of life and for our time on earth. Thank you for your firm hand in guiding us through humanity’s grand adventures.