Category Archives: Easter

8 June, Saturday – Come On! Follow Me!

8 June 2019

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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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You are to follow me

 Last year while on pilgrimage in Europe, we stopped by Zaragosa where one of the local guides, a rather scholarly-looking man with a grey beard, led us through the cathedral with a rather distinctive, “Come on, follow me!” whenever he needed our group of 30 to move due to the rather large crowd within the centuries-old building.

Sometimes, I wish those around me would be just as obliging and obedient. As we prepare for a hectic and significant year in our young history, I struggle to get my team of millenials and young parents (very evenly balanced between make and female as well) to be on their toes and to level up in terms of delivering on projects and their work. I have been questioning my leadership style of late, wondering what it is that I lack in order to get my people to go above and beyond for me – just like the apostles did for Jesus.

Those who follow football will know of the incredible season that Liverpool is having under their coach of 3 years, Jurgen Klopp. He truly epitomises the kind of leader I admire – motivating, empathetic, always smiling and definitely has a personal bond with every single one of his players (it is plainly obvious from the hugs he gives, even to those who have been sidelined). What a truly loving mentor he is!

Even a former captain said that he is jealous that the current squad get to play for such an inspiring coach – who finally won a cup final at the seventh try. He has certainly turned ‘doubters’ in ‘believers’ and in a span of 4 short years, the club is back where it belongs – at the pinnacle of European football.

Brothers and sisters, are we jealous of the apostles, who got to walk with Jesus during His ministry and witnessed first-hand, all those miracles he performed? We ‘follow’ many stars and pay good money to watch performances when they come to our shores (or even within the region). But do we pursue Christ with the same passion and zeal? At a recent young adult retreat preparation camp, we shared about what passion and zeal means as a Christian. The word ‘passion’ came from that very seminal moment in history – Jesus’ passion as he approached his death. Along the centuries, the word has taken on different meanings but its root comes from the love of a god who gave us His only son and who, in turn, gave up His life for us because He loved us.

And why would such an awesome God do that for you and me? Because He created us in His image and saw that it was good. Brothers and sisters, you and I are good. There is no need for any comparison nor any qualification of how good we are. Because God says that we are good and that is why we can walk in his footsteps and follow Him to our eternal home in paradise.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Father, we thank you for making us good. So good that you call us your sons and daughters.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for all the times you have held on to us, in spite of our doubts, failures and propensity to sin.

7 June, Friday – Live with Love

7 June 2019

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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

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.’

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Do you love me?

Imagine this for a moment – you did something so unforgivable and uncharitable to a very close friend of yours. Be it in a moment of weakness or a very calculated act on your part. How would your friend feel about your betrayal? Hurt, anger or sorrow? Could this friend forgive you? And can you ever forgive yourself for what you have done? Would you shy away from your friend in shame, unable to face him? Or would you push it aside, hoping that time would heal this wound you inflicted? Or are you so convinced that your act was justified.

Now imagine your friend, sometime later, in your most lost, despondent state, preparing breakfast for you. He asked how you are doing in the most loving gentle way. At first you are unable to recognise him, but by that one simple loving act, you recognised him – because this was the most recognisable characteristic of your friend – one who is ever ready to love and forgive you. You’d feel awful right?

This is the story of Peter. The last time they encountered each other was a sad occasion – Peter, betrayed Jesus 3 times. Yet after his death, the resurrected Jesus showed himself to his friends 3 times. And specifically to the one who betrayed him, Jesus forgave and loved him. Jesus takes Peter aside from the others and gives him the opportunity to affirm a threefold pledge of his love. The one, supreme condition for Christ to renew Peter’s commission to tend his sheep is Peter’s love for Jesus.

Recently, I found myself too in the position of Jesus. I had been hurt by an act of an individual. The breach of trust was so painful, so sorrowful, so shocking. To cope, I vowed never to come face to face with this person again. It was a pain I nursed for a few years. Over these years, I showed the classic symptoms of grief – irritable, numbness, bitterness, detachment, preoccupation of the loss, and the inability to show or experience joy. Try as I might to be Christ-like, I could not bring myself to forgive this person. Then one day, out of the blue, this person came to me and apologized so profusely. I was caught off-guard and didn’t know how to react. Days later, I was still holding onto the hurt and felt guilty for being un-Christ like.

It is so much easier to hold on to anger and resentment. But to love someone who has betrayed you – is simply too hard. God, in his mercy and grace, had pushed me to this comfortable space. I am learning that it’s only with God’s grace, that we can do what is deemed impossible.

Jesus too experienced betrayal. Yet He forgave and loved so much. He set an example for us. That is no doubt a tough act to follow. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4). However, to follow Jesus is to love. Love is the one, supreme condition for each of us who aspires to be an apostle. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man – (Proverbs 3:3-4). Our risen Lord gives us the opportunity again and again to love. If we have drifted away, due to whatever circumstance in life – be it hurt, betrayal or simply lack of interest. Jesus is asking us too today ‘Do you love me?’ Do you hear this invitation? Can we not live in the past, but live in the here and now? Live with love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for being an example of love. Having received your mercy, teach us Lord to be compassionate and forgiving to others.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for your mercy, in showing compassion and love to us for the many times we betrayed you.

6 June, Thursday – One-ness

6 June – Memorial for St. Norbert, bishop, religious founder 

St. Norbert (1080-1134) had been born to the nobility and raised around the royal court. There he developed a very worldly view, taking holy orders as a career move when he joined the Benedictines. A narrow escape from death led him to a conversion experience, and taking his vows seriously.

He founded a community of Augustinian canons, starting a reform movement that swept through European monastic houses. St. Norbert also reformed the clergy in his see, using force when necessary. He worked with St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Hugh of Grenoble to heal the schism caused by the death of Pope Honorius II, and for heresy in Cambrai, France with the help of St. Waltmann. He is one of the patron saints of peace.

  • Patron Saint Index

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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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May they be one in us as you are in me and I am in you

The scenario is familiar – have more than one meeting (about a problem/rectification that needs to be solved/done), align the approach over email or a meeting, then proceed to call for vendors to provide their recommendations. Compile the various quotes/recommendations and send them ‘up’ to a committee of external people who will approve the vendor recommendation then away we go to get the work done.

At work, many of my colleagues deal with this scenario (and its various complicated manoeuvres) on an almost daily basis, causing much stress, annoyance and many fraught meetings (I have attended more than a few). Then again, millions of dollars are involved and these all add up to a significant sum which needs to be accounted for to a Board of Trustees. So, in the interests of ‘getting the job done’ and making sure the projects proceed efficiently, everyone is focussed on an outcome (desired or otherwise) and we just put our heads down and ‘get on with it’.

In today’s first reading, it appears that Paul possessed this single-mindedness of purpose, where he managed to find a way to evade judgement from both camps. I surely would have been quaking in my boots had I been in his predicament. However, I can fully appreciate if Paul was ‘possessed’ by the Holy Spirit and filled with courage to press on. Because at work, I don’t allow any hurdles or circumstances to hinder me from achieving what I set out to do, especially when I know that the desired outcome is right.

This is something I struggle with when it comes to those in my team who may lack that determination or drive. There is always some ‘excuse’ or circumstance beyond one’s control that causes a delay or a less-than-favourable outcome. It is always easy to shift the blame to another party or to a committee, but I find that if the desire to achieve something is already not there and one is prepared to be dictated by the situations that arise, then one is pre-determining a ‘compromise’ outcome.

So brothers and sisters, are we like Paul? If we find ourselves aimlessly wandering along each day whether at work, at home, or in our spiritual journey, are we truly being intentional each day by allowing Jesus to work fully within us? Do we wander along our spiritual journey and allow the winds to buffet us (and weaken our resolve)? Do we allow a boulder in our way to cause us to detour? Or do we persevere in faith and press on, regardless of the rocky roads and the hills and valleys that need to be conquered, knowing that the Holy Spirit will lead us to our one, intended, final destination – into the arms of our loving Father?

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the grace to live a life that is pleasing to you and that edifies your everlasting love for us so that those around us can be inspired as well.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for moulding us and for shaping us into your sons and daughters. And for never letting us go in spite of our failings and shortcomings as we navigate life.

5 June, Wednesday – Defend our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

5 June – Memorial for St. Boniface, bishop and martyr

Educated at the Benedictine monastary at Exeter, England where he became a monk, Boniface (c.673–754) was a missionary to Germany from 719, assisted by St. Albinus, St. Abel, and St. Agatha. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites.

He was ordained a bishop and later became Archbishop of Mainz. He reformed the churches in his see, and built religious houses in Germany. He ordained St. Sola. He founded the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. He evangelized in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans and he and 52 of his new flock, including St. Adaler and St. Eoban were martyred.

Once in Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshipping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six-foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, “How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun.

One tradition about St. Boniface says that he used the customs of the locals to help convert them. There was a game in which they threw sticks called kegels at smaller sticks called heides. Boniface brought religion to the game, having the heides represent demons, and knocking them down showing the purity of spirit.

He is the patron of many groups, including World Youth Day.

  • Patron Saint Index

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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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Men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them. So be vigilant

In this sharing, I want to address the issue of unity from the institutional level as well as at the level of one’s personal faith in God and the Church.

Allow me to begin my reflection on the theme of unity with this saying — “We may have all come on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.” I once watched a documentary about Martin Luther, the so-called founder of the Reformation movement which gave birth to Protestantism. In the video, someone commented that, had Martin Luther attempted to reform the then decadent and corrupt Catholic Church at the time from within the establishment, he would have been one of the greatest saints that ever lived. Much like St Francis of Assisi, who faced similar challenges in his time, but managed to bring about tremendous changes to the Church by working with the Holy Spirit to reform and transform the church from within it. Unfortunately for Martin Luther, he missed his chance at sainthood.

Both were devout, committed Catholic monks who loved Christ and the Church deeply. Both were appalled at the systemic decay and corruption within the Church which had become greedy, prideful, self-edifying, sinful and very far away from embodying Christian virtue and morality. Both felt compelled to stand against the corruptions, excesses and vain-glory, for the deep moral decay that had taken root in their beloved Church. However, the actions of one led to great healing, renewal and transformation of the Catholic Church, the other led to a deep schism and split which till today, continues to lead countless millions of souls away from the true path of the one true, Christian, Catholic church. It seems from the very early days of Christianity, the Apostles could already foresee that unity was going to be a great battle and danger to the flock.

It used to be that I was very ‘apologetic’ whenever I met a strong Protestant due to my dismal knowledge of scripture. Whilst my scripture knowledge is still nothing to rave about, I have come to learn that the Catholic faith is founded on much deeper roots than only the word of God, important as that is. In more recent times. I have learnt to stand on the side of the Apologists of the Catholic Church – those who stand up and defend the doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic faith. Disputes about Sola Fide, about the authority of the Papacy and the Magisterium, the legitimacy of sacred rites and traditions, the ‘worship’ of Mary and the Saints being amongst the most fundamental. Men have chosen to distort truth – at times out of a genuine sense of misguided understanding of truth, to downright manipulation of faith to serve one’s own selfish and worldly interests.

At the end of the day, the Catholic Church is founded by Christ and not men. In the fallibility of the human men who lead the Church, lies the infallibility of Christ and the Holy Spirit that continues to be the true force that moves, creates, directs … and yes, at times even corrects and redeems the Church. For those of you who may be harbouring doubts about the Catholic faith as the one true holy, apostolic, evangelical and missionary church, I urge you strongly – do your research. Come to the truth and recognize the treasure we have been given. Defend the unity of true Christianity and bring the lost back to Catholicism. Only a fool is soon parted from his money … or in this case, the treasure, which is the Catholic faith itself.

Let me close with offering one other facet of unity – that of the Christian’s union with Christ. There is no better example of this than our Blessed Mother. From the moment of the Annunciation, Mary became one with the will of God and with His Son. Despite all the immense challenges, even life-threatening ones such as being pregnant before marriage in Jewish society, Mary never wavered from her fidelity to God and Jesus. At the darkest hour of human history, at the foot of the cross stood Mary…silent. She did not cry foul murder against the Romans, nor for revenge against the bloodthirsty injustices of the Pharisees, nor divine retribution against the infidelity of the cowardly apostles. She simply stayed united to her Son. She chose the harder path – to stay united to her Son, come what may. Mary stayed as one with Jesus and with His mission to fulfill the will of the Father; that is true Christian unity – the union of a Christian disciple to her God. Come what may.

This was the unity of the Catholic faith long before the Reformation ever came to be and long after that disunity ceased to exist. Defend your faith. Stand up for it. Either you are with it or you are against it. Choose.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father help us. We pray for the Holy Catholic Church, which was given to us by your Son through St Peter and his successors. Bless, protect, empower and guide her always. Deliver her from her enemies, from all heresies. Heal the wounds of division and for the damage done to her through the evil one and his false prophets and wolves in lamb clothing. Save and redeem the lost and those who have been led astray. 

Thanksgiving: Father, help us to stay faithful to the one true holy Catholic Church. Help us be truly grateful for so precious a gift of our Church, which embodies and protects the precious gift of our faith and the true presence of Your Son in the Holy Eucharist. Thank you for all the martyrs and saints it has given us through the millenniums. Mary, Mother of the Catholic Church. Pray for her.

4 June, Tuesday – True discipleship does not come cheap

4 Jun 2019

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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 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.’
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For I did not shrink from declaring to you, the whole purpose of God

When Christ hung on the cross at Calvary, He seemed a broken man. He was. Not a glorious victorious God of all creation but simply a broken man, forsaken by practically all his ‘followers’. Except for John, none of the other disciples were anywhere to be found. Not even Peter, who already gone through one round of betrayal of Jesus by his earlier denial, for which he clearly repented. Yet, again, at the foot of the cross, he was still very much the coward. Only a handful of weeping women (considered nobodies in traditional Jewish society) and one pathetic disciple, who at least had the guts to show up. The Devil, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin and Pilate…they had a lot to celebrate that day. It was utter and total victory – their plan came to perfection. For a short while anyway.

3 days later, all that changed. And with Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus truly came into existence. God was ready to get His work done and kingdom-building could finally start in earnest. It took nothing less than the full power of the Holy Spirit to literally transform a bunch of inept, dispirited and broken cowards into the spiritual powerhouse that would rock the pagan world of the time and give birth to the true splendour, power and glory of the Christian God.

And yet, the foundation of the Catholic Church did not come easy. It literally took the blood and tears of the founding apostles and 300 years of courage, sacrifice and blood of martyrs to lay its foundations. The founding fathers of our faith paid a heavy price. Discipleship did not come cheap back then. It still does not come cheap today.

Amongst the apostles, Paul, above all others, best exemplified what true discipleship was all about. Paul was not only focused on his mission – he was practically fixated and totally single-minded. Pain, abuse, imprisonment, sleeplessness, starvation, slavery, floggings, whippings, stoning, cold, heat, fatigue, poverty, deprivation…the list goes on. All in a day’s work for him. Standard price of a ticket on the bus of true discipleship. And he was to pay that price over and over and over again. He had served the Lord faithfully with tears and trials. He had given testimony and witness to Jews and Gentiles. Paul showed that being a follower of Jesus involves both total commitment in trust to God and a re-ordering of one’s life in accordance with the Gospel. Despite the pleas of his followers not to go to Jerusalem as it meant signing his own death warrant, he described himself as being a “prisoner of the spirit” – the Spirit drove and compelled him forward. He knew what was waiting for him in Jerusalem. But it didn’t matter. The mission was the only thing that mattered. His life was not important to him. What was important was “that I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, namely, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace”.  As he tells the Philippians, compared to the sharing of the Gospel with others, life and death are secondary.

And although Paul was a great exemplar of such amazing discipleship, he was not unique. All the apostles, bar none, were on fire with the Holy Spirit. And the ancient world was set on fire by the spirit of Jesus Christ through these apostles. We owe our faith today to men such as these. And to countless others who paid dearly the price of true discipleship. Men and women who persevered in fidelity not just to God, but to the purpose and mission entrusted to them by Him. Men and women who understood that the price of discipleship did not come cheap but who were blessed to have discovered through divine revelation, that their God came with only one price tag – Priceless.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father help us. We fail to see the treasure we have in you and in the precious faith you have given us. We fail to recognize that the mission you entrust to us is for us alone to fulfill and that you are counting on us to do it. So often, we count the price of our discipleship to you and so often, our discipleship of you costs little. Our discipleship comes cheap. More often than not, it is practically worthless.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for the gift of the apostles who laid the foundations upon which our faith and our Church stands strong. Despite all the huge challenges it faces, we cling to the promise that it continues and will always continue to prevail. For it is a faith paid for dearly by the sacrifice of your most beloved Son and the priceless fidelity of your true disciples.

3 Jun, Monday – Faith sees the God who can handle the problem

3 Jun – 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 at 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

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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.

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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.’
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But take courage, I have conquered the world 

An evangelical protestant pastor once shared in one of her videos on Youtube that as each new day dawns, she would always get all fired up and eager to face the day. She would look forward to doing great things for the Lord and for humanity that day — to bring many to the Lord and all other sorts of good works, and be a blessing to everyone. But her punchline was that the minute she actually stepped out of bed and her feet touched the floor, all her courage and enthusiasm went out the window as reality hit her in the face.

That story provided more just than just a smile to me – it was actually quite a sobering thought. It brought home to me how frightening this world we live in can be. I have to confess…it takes a lot for me to find strength and courage to go out into the world each day. I need a long period of prayer and receiving the Eucharist each morning in order to find strength to face the day. I am conscious, perhaps overly so, that we live in the ‘valley of tears’. That evil is ever present and ever dominant in the people and circumstances we meet each day. That we live in a very broken and wounded world where sin, injustice, indifference, selfishness, the pressure to perform, where the weight of duty and responsibility towards our loved ones and towards God, can make life frightening and burdensome. The weight of the cross can be crushingly heavy. And then there is also the weight of the guilt we carry. More often than not, I am a huge part of all that evil and sin and have myself caused the deepest hurts and wounds to my own loved ones and others around me.

Pardon me if all this sounds somewhat depressing and pessimistic. I am only too conscious how weak my faith really is. Indeed, there are days when we really don’t want to get out of bed and go ‘out there’. I have come to accept that evil, suffering and strife are real and a part of our daily reality. The Bible has reminded us often to expect this.

However, I have also come to accept that this does not in any way mean that God is subservient to this evil and that He is powerless in our lives. Indeed not. In fact, I prepare to do battle every day. Not to sound overly dramatic, but to me the need for ‘daily martyrdom’ is very real.  This means, each day, we learn to die to self and to lean on Jesus and His Blessed Mother to take us through each day ‘safely’. But as Christians, we confront each day with hope, surrender and trust. In Revelations, through our Resurrected Saviour, we are already guaranteed final victory. It reminds us what today’s reading has pointed out — that our God has already conquered not only death, but He has conquered this sinful world.

Christ’s conquest over this world means this:

  • That we learn to lean not on ourselves but on Him
  • That we do not let the spirit of this world oppress us into submission to fear, anger, lust, pride, selfishness, self-sufficiency, injustice and anything else that does not come from the Holy Spirit
  • That we allow the Holy Spirit to take lordship over our feelings and thoughts so that the devil cannot manipulate, deceive and frighten us but learn to trust God’s love and care for us and our loved ones by faith
  • Cling on to God, to faith, to our Blessed Mother and to the Catholic Church even if by your fingernails.

We need to learn, often painfully and very slowly, to shift our focus away from this world and all its problems, pressures and brokenness towards the one who has the power to handle all these things. To allow Christ’s victory over our lives is to say to the devil, “I don’t have the answers to all these problems, obstacles and discouragements you have placed in my path, but I do know the ONE who has all the answers. I am weak, sinful and unworthy but Jesus is almighty, sinless and worthy. And in Him, I too will conquer”.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. This earthly journey often takes us through a valley of tears. There are many big things looming out there that frighten and discourage us. The people around us are difficult, selfish, demanding, unforgiving. Every day is a battle to cling on. And many of us are bone weary. Help us Jesus. Help us, Mother Mary.

Thanksgiving: Father, help us always remember that you are God and we are mere creatures. Thank you for the gift of hope and for binding all the wounds that this sinful world has inflicted on us. For each day that you have led us through and kept us safe, you have done so out of the immensity of your love and care for us. Thank you for giving us your Son and Our Blessed Mother to show us the way to rise above this world and to conquer it.

2 June, Sunday – Will you be ready?

2 June 2019

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Acts 7:55-60

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep.

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Apocalypse 22:12-14,16-17,20

I, John, heard a voice speaking to me: ‘Very soon now, I shall be with you again, bringing the reward to be given to every man according to what he deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city.’

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to make these revelations to you for the sake of the churches. I am of David’s line, the root of David and the bright star of the morning.

The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.

The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus.

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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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Behold, I am coming soon

At the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus rose heavenward, the apostles were literally dumbfounded. If we take a moment to visualize the scene, it can be awe-inspiring and yet perhaps a little humorous when we see the reaction of the apostles. Their jaws must have literally dropped. To be fair, if it were me, I don’t think I would have fared differently. At that scene in Acts 1: 10-11 “… two men in white robes suddenly appeared asking the disciples,  “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

In the drama of the Ascension, we may inadvertently think that it’s all about Jesus returning to the Father and it may be easy to miss the more poignant, salvific event — that the Lord will one day return. It is the Second Coming of Christ that we need to be vigilant about. The Second Coming of Christ will signal the end times, the final judgement, the final battle between evil and good, death and resurrection. It will also be the time when the victory of Christ will be final and complete. There will be that historic end-time event or when Christ comes to us at the end of our own personal journey. Regardless when, whether it be to all of humanity or just to us at our own appointed end time, it will come.

The reaction of those around Stephen at his martyrdom also tells a lot about how unprepared many, if not most of us, would be when Christ comes again. How many of us would similarly ‘cover our ears’ when discipleship gets too demanding, or truth gets too inconvenient or God’s will gets in the way of our own?  Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen. It took an equally dramatic event for Saul’s own conversion to occur when on the road to Damascus. That conversion was also part of the salvific plan of God for Paul, who then went on to become one of the, if not, the greatest instrument of evangelization by which God calls His people to know Him, to love Him and to be ready for the day of reckoning when we will all, bar none, come face to face with Him.

Are we ready now? If not, will we be ready? If not, when will we want to be ready? Will we be able to respond as the Psalmist did to Christ when he said, “Yes, I am coming soon”. Can we too say, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus. I am ready!”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father help us. Keep us focused on what is truly important – your will that we all become One as you are one with the Father. How often we fail to know the truth of our oneness with God for we are often lost in the midst of our divisions, our sin and indifference to the eternal truth that we are your children created by You, to be one with you.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for never giving up on us. For you hold on to your oneness with us despite our failure to hold on to our oneness with you. Prepare us for when your Son returns and help us to be ready to say, Come Lord Jesus, we are ready. We are one.

1 June, Saturday – Ask in His Name

1 June 2019

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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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Anything you ask for from the Father He will grant in my name

Last December, I got accepted for a position in a multinational company. I was happy because many candidates were really eyeing that job. It was a huge step for me because I would be shifting to a more technical side of my career. The question is, do I really want it? Did I pray for it? I think what I prayed for was, “Please guide me to the right job…”

I thought it was the job that I asked for because it includes a decent compensation and benefits package. When I prayed for new work, I didn’t mention a ‘specific’ job. I prayed that it would be one that would make me a better person.

I was grateful to God for it. However, when I was about to start, there had been changes with the job description and everything. I asked God, “Why am I facing this challenge?” I wanted to back out. I kept on asking God if it was a test whether I should pursue or not. But I needed that job, because I need to help the family in our finances. I prayed to God to grant me the strength to endure my new work.

I was in a dilemma. Was this God’s way of saying that I can handle this? Or was it God’s way of saying that I should stop?

I kept praying to God about my feelings at work. But it seemed I was unable to find any answers. Or probably maybe because I was not listening. I was so fixated with my feelings that my prayers were one sided and kept on ranting about my problems without prayerfully listening to answers.

The Gospel reminds us that when we pray for our needs, we should also pray to become closer to Jesus. We have this tendency to be prayerful and yet we do not live like Christ.

Why do you think God answers our prayers? There is the saying, “God gives mercy to those who help themselves.” Yes, we have to work hard for our prayers to be answered. But it is not our work alone. It is by the grace of God that we are given so many blessings in this life. And that grace of God is through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

If we deeply know Jesus Christ, then our prayers will be Christ-centred. And if our prayers are in union with Jesus, I have faith that anything we are praying for will be granted by God. Whenever we attend mass, our prayers are in union with Jesus Christ. If you notice, our prayers during mass end with “…through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.”

Let us always include these words in our prayers to know more about Christ so that we can live like Christ.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, there are times that we pray for various things we don’t really need. Please teach us how to pray with humility. Teach us to remember that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can overcome all the struggles and challenges we are facing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanksgiving:  Heavenly Father, thank you for all graces that we have received. Though unworthy as we are, you continuously shower us with your blessings.  Amen.

31 May, Friday – His Lowly Servants

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

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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.

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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.

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My spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid

I recently attended a retreat over the long weekend. It was unlike the few other retreats I had attended before – we were told to come spiritually prepared for it, by praying daily and going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before the retreat. At the past few retreats I had attended, confession was usually one of the key components, so this was something new for me. Many of the retreatants also seemed to be very spiritual and prayerful, so I was also somewhat intimidated.

We were encouraged to surrender our phones after lunch on the first day, something I really struggled with. But as it was also a semi-silent retreat, it made sense to try and disconnect with the outside world for those three days. In the end, I was glad that I could do that and grew to appreciate the silence. It also seemed to me that the act of surrendering my phone was akin to surrendering myself to God and his plans, especially considering how the phone is practically a ‘second skin’.

I came to this retreat with expectant faith, but it was not quite the experience I had anticipated. I felt a lot of emptiness and seemed like I was in a state of desolation. I was envious of those who had shared their extraordinary God experiences of having life-visions and hearing God speak to them so clearly; during adoration and the praying over in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I felt so unworthy and distant, and honestly almost felt like God had passed me over because I did not receive any extraordinary spiritual high. The silence was truly golden, as I was unable to share this negativity with others and allow it to magnify and fester.

God never forsakes us; He knows what we need even if it does not feel like it. It was only toward the end of the retreat that my spirits were lifted. During the final testimonies, I no longer felt envious as I did previously, but instead was very edified listening to the testimonies. I was also suddenly triggered by some of the testimonies and remembered hurts that I had been suppressing, which was a sign to me that I needed to address them at a later stage when I was ready. The one that touched me the most, was hearing how she did not receive any visions or tangible gifts, but recognised that God spoke to her through other means. And it hit me that this was just like me, but while I had so much bitterness, this person had so much joy.

I reflected back and sifted through my journal, and realised then that God had indeed been speaking to me all this while, just that I had been too stubborn and close-minded to notice. God was speaking to me through all the scripture verses I picked, quotes from saints that was placed around the retreat centre, the talks, and of course through people. I had almost wanted to go up to testify then about the power of testimonies and how God is always there even when you don’t think he is, but I chickened out. However, it was still quite a huge turnaround from feeling rather down during most of the retreat to wanting to go up and proclaim God’s grace.

It was a reminder for me that we need to be open and patient, and that our God is a creative and powerful God! He comes to us when we least expect it, and he allows all types of experiences because he truly knows each person’s unique needs. God is always inviting us, his lowly and unworthy servants, to grow into deeper prayer and build a deeper relationship with Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to grow in faith. Teach us to pray deeply so that we can be in stronger communion with you. Guide us to walk in your ways with all our heart.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your constant grace and mercy even when we do not deserve it. May we always be grateful and recognise you in both trials and joys. Amen.

30 May, Thursday – Waiting

30 May 2019

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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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Hebrews 9:24-28,10:19-23

It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.

In other words, brothers, through the blood of Jesus we have the right to enter the sanctuary, by a new way which he has opened for us, a living opening through the curtain, that is to say, his body. And we have the supreme high priest over all the house of God. So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our minds sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is faithful.

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Luke 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

‘And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.’

Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.
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It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority

We have all been there – waiting to hear back after a job interview, an examination or even a date. Some people are better at weathering the uncertainty, going about their daily lives while occasionally dwelling on what might happen. Some people are crippled by the suspense, ruminating over every possible outcome and expecting the worst. Yet some others try to take control of the situation and their emotions to make the wait more bearable, perhaps by sending polite follow-up emails or text messages or distracting themselves with unrelated tasks or thoughts. Regardless of the coping response, one thing is clear – there is nothing we can do to affect the outcome.

We can imagine the emotional rollercoaster the apostles went through after Jesus’ crucifixion – first, sorrow and despair when their Messiah had fallen, followed by initial disbelief and elation over Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus had appeared to them several times after that, telling them about the kingdom of God. The apostles must have felt like they were on the cusp of something phenomenal and eagerly sought answers as to what lay ahead. Instead, Jesus commanded them to stay in Jerusalem and wait. In light of the recent events, Jesus’ instruction must have been anti-climactic and unsatisfying. True enough, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles ten days later. Receiving gifts and powers beyond their human abilities, the apostles went on to baptise and make disciples of all nations.

If we associate God’s presence with dramatic acts of conversion or transformation, we may feel discouraged when our prayers go seemingly unanswered. This lull may be in fact be an invitation to stillness, to prepare ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit. Let us take heart that just as Jesus walked with his disciples, he continues to journey with, and mould us in our journey of life. In closing, may we remember that “God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and a whole lot of faith…But it’s worth the wait.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for patience and perseverance to live out our calling as children of God. As we entrust ourselves to You, may we surrender our need for control, trusting that You will provide the graces we need for the journey ahead.   

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that we may bear witness to Your word.