Category Archives: Feastdays

19 March, Thursday – Can you hear Him?

19 Mar – Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Joseph is a descendant of the house of David. A layman and a carpenter, he was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. He was a visionary who was visited by angels, and is noted for his willingness to immediately get up and do what God told him.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your Son,
you rescued Him from the danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory. Amen.

Patron Saint Index

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2 Samuel 7:4-5,12-14,16

The word of the Lord came to Nathan:

‘Go and tell my servant David, Thus the Lord speaks: “When your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”’

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Romans 4:13,16-18,22

The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.

Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars. This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him.’

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…he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.

I am normally quite stubborn when it comes to sticking with a schedule, even on a weekend. On my recent trip to Italy, I did something previously unthinkable — I cancelled my plans to stay in Milan for 3 nights. Not having been there before on my previous trips to the beautiful country, I was quite determined to explore the Duomo, and had even booked 2 walking tours.

However, in the early hours of the very day I was supposed to take the train from Rome, I woke up and decided to remain in Rome (even if the hotel did not have a spare room for us). Providentially, we were given a room and spent 7 special nights in the Eternal City, meeting new people (from Singapore) and sharing various meals with them. Looking back, it was probably the best decision we made because on the day we left Rome (two weeks later, after spending a week in Florence), we had to declare while checking in at the airport if we had ventured northward.

Brothers and sisters, whether we want to believe it or not, our various journeys are inextricably linked to God. From the day we are conceived, to the day we return to Him, our heavenly Father has mapped out our paths on this earth. It is up to us to ‘listen’ to the voices — whether in our hearts, in our minds, or drummed into us by well-meaning friends — and then make our choices. But make no mistake, whatever the choice we make, God is there for us.

One week after arriving back in Singapore, we look at the situation in Europe and find ourselves turning to each other, thanking God for getting us out of Italy just in time. I look back at the many times I have been ‘saved’ over the decades and truly, God has been the one who rescued me on countless occasions. And it was made abundantly clear to me during my Conversion Experience Retreat in 2011 that He has been ever-present in my, up till then, exciting and colourful life.

And today, He makes His presence felt in many ways — the glorious laughter of my life partner as she makes funny faces for the camera; the recent sharings of ministry members during a ‘meet the members’ session; paving the way for me to step up in my service at CSC; the breathtaking landscapes in a foreign land; the old porter struggling to make ends meet in a train station; the kindness of a hotel manager at 5 o’clock in the morning.

There is no question at all that He is real. The question most of us have is whether or not He speaks to us, let alone cares for us. I testify as someone who has witnessed his glory, seen Him in a vision, chatted with Him and heard His tender voice. He IS real. He IS all around us. He IS there for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Father, ask you to speak to us clearly so that we can be guided by your wisdom and love. We pray that you remove the blinkers in our lives that prohibit us from discerning your voice so that like St Joseph, we can rise up and do your will.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for being our constant light. Thank you for always being there for us in our times of need.

2 February, Sunday – Cannot be unseen

2 Feb – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life

This feast celebrates an early episode in the life of Jesus. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, it is one of the twelve Great Feasts. In many Western liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season.

This feast is also known by other traditional names including Candelmas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. Prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Candlemas marked the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season.

The Western term ‘Candlemas’ (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on Feb 2 (forty days after Christmas) blessed beeswax candles with an aspergilium (liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water) for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home.

Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasized in favour of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Lord God says this: Look, I am going to send my messenger to prepare a way before me. And the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for, yes, he is coming, says the Lord of Hosts. Who will be able to resist the day of his coming? Who will remain standing when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire and the fullers’ alkali. He will take his seat as refiner and purifier; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and then they will make the offering to the Lord as it should be made. The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will then be welcomed by the Lord as in former days, as in the years of old.

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Hebrews 2:14-18

Since all the children share the same blood and flesh, Christ too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could take away all the power of the devil, who had power over death, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself descent from Abraham. It was essential that he should in this way become completely like his brothers so that he could be a compassionate and trustworthy high priest of God’s religion, able to atone for human sins. That is, because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted.

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Luke 2:22-40

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

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For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord.

While flying over Singapore last week, I was surprised by the haze and pollution across the island. Visibility was poor and there was a sickly hue of brown enveloping the city. Strangely, the air seemed normal when I was on the ground. Because I wasn’t looking as far, I did not realise how bad the conditions were.

I flew again yesterday, and conditions were much improved. The sky was a crisp blue, and I could see clearly up to the horizon’s end. It made me grateful for the clean air, which I had mostly taken for granted except during the haze crises of recent years.

When I landed, I paused to look closer at my surroundings. Indeed, the air was a bit cleaner, features and buildings appeared somewhat sharper, and I didn’t feel as breathless when I exercised. The difference was palpable, but only because I had the privilege of seeing worse conditions.

Brothers and sisters, I am often oblivious to situations developing around me, and even more often ungrateful for the blessings God has showered in my life. May we all not need hard times and conditions to draw our awareness to the omniscient goodness in our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Open our eyes, Lord. Help us to see, and not just observe.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you Father for the gifts of knowledge, awareness, and wisdom. We are always grateful for your guiding hand in our lives.

25 January, Saturday – Lead Kindly Light

Dear readers, 

Today we are pleased to welcome a new writer to the Oxygen team – Christian Eber. We thank him for stepping forward and pray that this writing journey will be a grace-filled one for him.

Christian was baptised shortly after birth and grew up in the East district of Singapore. After confirmation, he got lost in the frivolous pursuit of pleasure but after his grandfather passed away, he read his biography — Camp Four Kanburi on how a former WW2 POW escaped death by loving and forgiving. He experienced an epiphany and went back to complete his undergraduate studies.

After spending some years in sales attaining a significant milestone, he realised that true joy lies neither in achievement of titles nor in possession of wealth, but a more intimate relationship with the creator and being authentic in all things.

This prompted his career switch into a social enterprise, which serves the youth at risk and tackles global warming. The tenacity of his beneficiaries encourages him to search out the best in people to find the untapped potential in each individual. He now always tries to keeps a balanced approach to pursuing financial goals with spiritual outcomes.

He is thankful for his fiancée Stephanie, who introduced Oxygen to him and finds that the daily articles and reflections help him dive deeper in His Word, hoping to become a wellspring of joy.

25 Jan – Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

St. Paul (3-65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus to arrest another group of them, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting Christians, he was persecuting Christ. The experience had a profound spiritual effect on him, causing his conversion to Christianity. He was baptised, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling and preaching. He died a martyr for his faith.

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Acts 22:3-16

Paul said to the people, ‘I am a Jew and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment.

  ‘I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I answered: Who are you, Lord? and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me.” The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said: What am I to do, Lord? The Lord answered, “Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.” The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand; and so I came to Damascus.

  ‘Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Just One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name.”’

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Mark 16:15-18

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven and said to them:

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

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It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name

Today’s readings are a retelling of the conversion of Saul and how the newly baptised Paul goes on to preach in Damascus with the Christians, instead of bring them to the Jerusalem prisons as he was commissioned by the religious leader.

The mercy of God upon Saul and the use of men and women to serve are, for me, one of the main reasons for the great expansion of the church today as St John Chrysostom shared:

“Would you even like to hear something strange from the point of view of our behavior but true from the point of view of our religion? Listen! Whereas God shows himself demanding with regard to the just, for the sinner he has only kindness and gentleness. What strictness towards the just! What indulgence towards the sinner! Such is the novelty, the reversal God’s behaviour presents to us… And this is the reason why: to terrify the sinner, and especially the obstinate sinner, would be to deprive him of all confidence, throw him into despair. To flatter the just would be to soften the strength of his virtue, make him slacken his zeal. God is infinitely good! Fear of him is the safety of the just; his goodness brings back the sinner.”

During my national service, I was knocked down by a van while riding a motorbike and almost got rolled over by a bus. The accident gave me much time to reflect in hospital about my irreverent behaviour and six months wearing a cast, due to my fractured right wrist, taught me about being merciful and kind to others, something I had thrown out the window after confirmation. I had developed a false image of God and allowed material possessions and vain ambition to take control of my life. After the fall, came repentance, and I felt the pain but, like Paul, received mercy and love from my family and made new friends. However, several years later, I forgot about his mercy and like the Israelites in the desert, started another bout of prideful and selfish behaviour. This led to another fall, this time off a shipping container on a stormy night while working as a stevedore, fracturing my left wrist and leaving in a tremendous amount of pain, but enough to get me back to school to complete my undergraduate studies.

The falls in my life have helped me realise how much I needed to stay grounded and hold on to faith with much humility. I love how God’s timing is right in every situation and to always trust in His mercy and rely on the wisdom to do the right thing in any given situation.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Christian Eber)

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, fill us with an indomitable spirit of joy that no earthly trial can subdue. Holy Spirit, help me to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for your glory.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for providing the light and mercy to convert even the vilest of sinners to become a great witnesses of your eternal joy, which is in store for all who call upon your name.

12 January, Sunday – The Last Day of Christmas

12 January – The Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism of the Lord

The Father anointed his beloved son, Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and with power, to bring healing and peace to all the nations. 

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Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7

Thus says the Lord:

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom my soul delights.
I have endowed him with my spirit
that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand and formed you;
I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations,

to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.

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Acts 10:34-38

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’

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Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased

There is often much confusion and debate as to when is the last day of Christmas. In the secular world, Christmas pretty much ends the day after Christmas Day. In the streets, most Christmas decorations are taken down immediately after and here in Singapore, quickly replaced by Chinese New Year decorations. I find myself arguing with friends that it is still Christmas and we should not hasten to take down the Christmas tree, and that it is still okay to sing Christmas songs!

At this year’s Christmas mass, the priest was preaching about the meaning of Christmas for us Catholics, why we Catholics especially should wish each other “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays” all the way till the end of Christmastide. We should celebrate and proudly proclaim the reason for the season! Christmas literally translates to the ‘Mass of Christ’, and the mass is the death sacrifice Jesus gave to us.

So when exactly is the end of Christmastide? Many believe, Catholics included, that it ends with the Feast of the Epiphany, where the three wise men paid homage to Baby Jesus. This usually coincides with the traditional twelfth day of Christmas. However, according to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, the official end of the entire Christmas season is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, the Sunday after Epiphany.

I first heard this explanation during the homily, and when I went to visit the beautiful Nativity scene at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, there were posters describing this; and this was further reinforced a third time when a friend shared a picture of this poster in a WhatsApp group chat. I can no longer say I am confused or ignorant about this subject, and must do my part in sharing with my fellow brothers and sisters. How apt then, that I was rostered to write on the Feast on the Baptism of the Lord! This is my personal God-moment.

With Chinese New Year just round the corner, getting sucked in to more festivities, it is honestly a little challenging to remember to live out our Christian lives. But as we celebrate the last day of Christmas, let us remember how Jesus came into our lives and how we marry our cultures together, that to be a Christian means being a Christian in every day and aspect of our lives, not just on Sundays.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we pray for the strength to be the Christian you desire us to be in every day of our lives, to be the face of Christ to others, and always spread your message of love, joy and peace.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Heavenly Father, for the beautiful sacrifice of your only Son. Help us to always remember all that you do for us, especially when we find it difficult to see, to search for you in all the little moments. Amen.

29 Dec, Sunday – Pilgrims Searching for Love and Home

29 Dec 2019 – Feast of the Holy Family

[Let us adore Christ, the Son of God, who made himself obedient to Mary and to Joseph.]

The feast of the Holy Family offers the opportunity to reflect on the mystery of family life. Every family and community share the perplexing, frustrating, demanding challenge Luke described. Put most simply, Mary and Joseph faced the difficult discovery that Jesus was not going along with them every step of the way. It is a real story of a family conflict and is symbolic of all kinds of relationships.

We know what it is like when family members do not go along with us on the journey. When Mary and Joseph confronted Jesus in the Temple, they confronted the fact that he would have to discover his own path in life. No matter what they might hope for him, he did not belong to them.

The story reminds us that love is rooted in profound reverence for the mystery of the other. Such reverence cultivates profound respect for the other’s mysterious freedom. In that, we learn to desire that the other will become who they are meant to be rather than what we would have them be.

Excerpt taken from: Feast of the Holy Family: The Mystery of Love (https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/scripture-life/feast-holy-family-mystery-love) 

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Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6,12-14

He who fears the Lord respects his parents

The Lord honours the father in his children,
  and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,
  he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own,
  he shall be heard on the day when he prays.
Long life comes to him who honours his father,
  he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.
My son, support your father in his old age,
  do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
  do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten
  but will serve as reparation for your sins.

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Colossians 3:12-21 

Family life in the Lord 

You are God’s chosen race his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful. 

Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Wives give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.

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Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

The Flight into Egypt and the return to Nazareth

After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

 I called my son out of Egypt.
After Herod’s death, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he left for the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:

 

‘He will be called a Nazarene.’

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May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts… Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.

I was prepared to write my reflection on this Feast day more than a week ago but I could not put words to my thoughts as I was facing struggles of my own in my family. I was dumbfounded to be assigned this specific day, and while I knew intellectually, that God had a message for me in here, it took some wresting within for me to finally sit down to listen to Him.

We are Pilgrims

In three days, my family would be collecting a new set of keys to our rental apartment. We had been praying to find a new home in Singapore after moving back from Hong Kong. By the new year, this would be the fifth house that I will setting up home in, notwithstanding the many interim roofs we have temporarily rested our heavy-laden bodies to rest in. All these moves were made within the span of three years, over three countries. Some of them are moves related to jobs, while some were a result of grave illnesses within our families that required us to either ‘stay-put’ or ‘return-home’.

Whenever I behold the idea of packing up house again, I am seized with anxiety first, and then sadness for the home my family will soon be leaving behind. All the memories and efforts to dream up and personalise a blank space…must be let go. As my two-year old son is old enough to remember our various homes, I have been met with puzzling questions of “where is mummy-daddy house?” or “is this mummy-daddy house?” or “let’s go home!” even if ‘home’ is just a room for one week. I have held up hopes of stability as well as shed many tears for each of these homes. God knows that my heart aches for a place to sink roots in.

In the face of so much impermanence and instability, it is my faith that holds my fragile emotions together – however imperfectly. I humbly and wistfully recognise that my little family of three walks a shared path with the Holy Family. This is a realisation that struck me after I spent two successive Christmases accompanying a loved one in hospital over a cancer diagnosis – one with my husband and one with my mother. Surely Mary and Joseph must have struggled with the question of “not again, God?” when each time an angel forewarned them to “hasten and pack up, for you must leave this place.” Even if they had great faith, each blow of news and the logistics of being on the move must have been daunting – with a donkey or not.

How do we understand these difficult times? In my experience, I realise my efforts at understanding always fall short. The greater the effort I make, the more my heart and mind are fixated on the framework I have, and my framework is always too human, too limited, and too impatient. I perceive the things that have to be done and the answers I am seeking to be resolved in hours and days… but God is not limited by my perception of time. God’s plan exists in the dimension of eternity.

This is why the words of the prophets are never accepted in the present and can only be understood looking backwards: “He will be called a Nazarene.” This is why Herod and his son would fail to locate the Holy Family. God’s plan would still be carried out because God is above and beyond our human manipulations and frantic calculations.

I am learning to accept my family’s pilgrim state, as well as to embrace this sojourn of often being ‘homeless’ and always seeking a resting place, because I recognise this as an invitation from God to be very, very close to His chosen family – Jesus, Mary, Joseph. The privilege of too much earthly stability and permanence can turn out to be a grave distraction from seeking and desiring Eternal truths. Truths that will save our souls.

In Search for Love and Home

What are we really seeking in our lives? In the face of diagnoses of inexplicable illnesses, our fragile mortality, the sudden loss of a young life, the loss of a home, we realise how helpless and incapable we really are to make anything of true value happen without God’s grace. Evidently, we are human and not God. This is the ultimate truth that will strike at the heart of even the most stubbornly atheistic amidst us. Why does God permit this to happen to those whom He loves? Is this the kind of God whom I should place my hopes and trust in?

Our answers to this question will depend very much of what we understand about love, and ultimately the nature of God. For God is Love in its most perfect sense – more perfect, more profound, and vastly more giving than our minds can conceive. As St Thomas Aquinas said, “To love is to will the good of another.” Just as a parent would discipline a young child for the child’s own good, even if it involves certain pain or deprivation, so it is even more evident that God our loving Heavenly Father would desire the same for each of us in relation to our souls. We have a Father who suffers with us.

We need only look to the suffering person of Christ to understand the extent of God’s sacrificial love for us mankind. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). A God who would give the gift of His own self, to be born as flesh in the infant Jesus, and Himself choose to take on the sins of others and die on the cross for this purpose, in order to bring us into eternal communion with Him in heaven… who could this God be?

In the face of all earthly suffering and our perplexing unanswered questions, let us look to these images: the vagrant and obedient Holy Family, Christ the pilgrim boy and mocked messiah, and Christ the suffering saviour, who, with his wounds, points us to His Father – who is also our most loving Father. How beautiful it is to truly and intimately know this God who suffers alongside me, and who loves me so.

In Him all of our journeys end. With Him lies our final, eternal, most perfect Home.

(Today’s Oxygen by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Pray with me please, dear friends, as I journey with the ones I love on the difficult paths of pain and healing. Pray for the grace to see our lives as God sees, for consolation that will be tangible, for hope that will carry us beyond the physical senses. Pray for hope and an increase in faith. As we pray, I believe that many among us who need these words shall also be healed.

Thanksgiving: Let us give thanks and delight in joyful praise for each and every day we are given. To live, to love, to forgive and seek forgiveness, to mend and heal, to laugh and breathe deeply. The best and only life we have is right now. Let us give thanks with a grateful heart.

30 November, Saturday – Panorama

Nov 30 – Feast of St. Andrew, apostle

Andrew was the first Apostle of Jesus Christ. He was a fisherman by trade, and the brother of Simon Peter. He was a follower of John the Baptist. Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion. He was a missionary in Asia Minor and Greece, and possibly areas in modern Russia and Poland. He was martyred on a saltire (x-shaped) cross, and is said to have preached for two days from it.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Romans 10:9-18

If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved. When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

But they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news are a welcome sound. Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed? So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ. Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear? Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the world.

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Matthew 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

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“Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

I recently returned from a lengthy work trip that took me to some far flung places; places that I would have never visited on my own dime. It was a challenging assignment, with many highs and its fair share of lows. It had been quite a few years since I had gone on such a long posting and the time away made me realise how my world in Singapore was insiduously closing in on itself as the days flew by.

We are inherently resistant to change and become comfortable with routines, oftentimes regardless of how well they serve us. Sometimes, it takes a jolt to the system to ignite a reframing of our current state of life. I took on a new portfolio, met foreign partners, and experienced a living environment that was slower-paced than the one in Singapore. I felt refreshed and took time to reflect on my life and relationships. New thoughts and insights came to me effortlessly, as if the world was speaking to me directly.

As the year draws to a close, there is a frenzy of activity to complete projects, prepare the kids for their final exams, and to prepare for 2020. I’m sure the apostles were also perennially working to fulfil God’s mission. As tempting as it can be to be in full ‘doing’ mode, I wonder if we are better served by blocking out periods of time for new experiences, reflection, and rest. It is in these times that God can reach through to us, speaking to us individually in the ways we are most inclined to hear.

Brothers and sisters, our lives are works of art in a continual state of evolution. Let us appreciate the painter’s mastery both up close, and from afar.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Dear Lord, may we never be too consumed with life to not hear your voice. May we actively listen to your will for our lives.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for the wonders of our planet and for the opportunities you bless us with. We will always be grateful for your majesty and grace.

24 November, Sunday- He came to serve rather than be served

24 November

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2 Samuel 5:1-3

All the tribes of Israel then came to David at Hebron. ‘Look’ they said ‘we are your own flesh and blood. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel in all their exploits; and the Lord said to you, “You are the man who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.”’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them at Hebron in the presence of the Lord, and they anointed David king of Israel.

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Colossians 1:12-20

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.
Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

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Luke 23:35-43

The people stayed there before the cross watching Jesus. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’

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This is the King of the Jews.

As I reflected on today’s gospel, I imagined myself as one of the 2 criminals hanging on the cross there with Jesus, one on his left and the other on his right. Which one of the two criminals would I be? Would I be like the leaders who stood by watching Jesus, not believing that He is indeed the King of the Jews? If I were honest, I’d probably be the one who said “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”  If I were that criminal, not having met nor encountered Jesus, I would probably be a bit sceptical, and also a bit anxious and afraid about my impending death. I may not go to the extent of expressing contempt, but I would surely be challenging him to prove himself and his ‘powers’ to save me from this painful death. In contrast, the other criminal was full of remorse for everything he had done in his lifetime. He recognized that Jesus is indeed the Lord and Saviour. His heart repentant, he humbly asked Jesus to remember him in His Kingdom. He didn’t demand this, he asked.

Unlike the 2 criminals, we don’t have to guess or wonder about Jesus’ power and royalty. We are blessed to have experienced the hand of God and Jesus in our lives, in big or small ways. Can we walk in faith that no matter what circumstances we face today, whatever challenges, pain and suffering, we can be assured that Jesus, the crucified King’s only aim is to help and protect the weak, and restore dignity to the poor and the helpless?

Today’s first two readings focus on kingdoms and power. In 2 Samuel, the tribes of Israel anoint David as king, following the will of the Lord who put him in charge of the Israelites even when Saul was still king. The Lord had, at the time, given David two charges, the second of which was to be “commander of Israel.” The first, however, was to “shepherd my people Israel” — to care for them, to love them, and to serve them. Power serves — it is not served. Jesus did not come to earth to declare a material kingdom of power and might, but came to serve us and save us. He came to serve rather than be served, and that service extends throughout time.

Just over the Deepavali weekend, social media was abuzz with news of a certain resident arguing and verbally abusing a security guard at his condominium. He was purportedly unhappy with a rule by the condominium’s management, which imposed a S$10 fee for visitors who park their cars there after 11pm. Being a guest of our country, he really upset many Singaporeans (and me) with the way he treated the innocent security guard, who was merely doing his job. He showed a disdain for those who live in public housing and had no respect for a fellow human being, deemed below his social status, I suppose. Like all fellow Singaporeans, I waited till the holiday weekend was over to see how this story would pan out. Would he lose his residency, his job and all credibility? His life must have been a living hell that Deepavali weekend – the backlash of his actions. Did he feel that his status in life gave him the power and ‘authority’ to treat others without respect? To demand service, without first serving?

As upset as I am over this incident, I am reminded that Jesus forgives those who wrong him — as he says, “…they do not know what they are doing.”

Can we step back, recognize what we are doing or not doing, and make a concerted effort to change? At the same time, can we extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your Kingship. For being a perfect example of what love, compassion and service means. May our lives be a true reflection of what it is to be Christian. Thank you for being Lord of our lives.

9 November, Saturday – The Sanctuary

9 November – Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

The Lateran Basilica was built by the Emperor Constantine on the Lateran Hill in Rome in about 324. The feast of its dedication has been celebrated in Rome on this date since the twelfth century. In honour of the basilica, “the mother and head of all the churches of the City and the World,” the feast has been extended to the whole Roman Rite as a sign of unity and love towards the See of Peter, which, as St Ignatius of Antioch said in the second century, “presides over the whole assembly of charity.”

– Universalis

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Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12

The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’

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1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17

You are God’s building. By the grace God gave me, I succeeded as an architect and laid the foundations, on which someone else is doing the building. Everyone doing the building must work carefully. For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ.

Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

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John 2:13-22

Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’ Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.
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I have chosen and consecrated this house, says the Lord, for my name to be there forever.

Today’s Gospel on the Temple and the sacred sanctuary that is Jesus reminds me of the pilgrimage I made to the Holy Land in Israel last year. We had made a trip to the Wailing Wall, otherwise known as the Western Wall, which was the very exact same temple that was mentioned in today’s Gospel.

We pilgrims had stood in awe and appreciated the grandeur of this structure, the only remaining fragment of the Great Temple of Jerusalem to survive the Roman destruction. It still stands today as the most sacred structure of the Jewish people. But for us Christians, this is considered a holy site because Jesus was present at this very temple. It was here that the incidents of the 4th and 5th Joyful mysteries of the Rosary took place — The Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple and The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. In his years of ministry, Jesus also preached at this temple, and it was here where He expelled all the money changers.

“Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.” It was this very temple whose veil was torn in two the moment Jesus died. Jesus was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body. And when He rose from the dead, it marked the beginning of a new covenant.

The significance of this Jewish sacred structure to us Christians and Catholics cannot be understated. However, I was personally filled with confusion at that moment as I stood hesitating whether I should go up and touch the wall or not. At that time, I could not fully comprehend the significance of this place, and I seriously pondered why my fellow pilgrims were visibly moved as they touched the wall. But as I finally approached and put my hands on the cold stones, I could feel my heart pumping stronger, and it hit me, this was where ‘the Divine Presence always rests’.

On my left and right were Jews praying fervently, and yet there I was praying as a Christian. That moment was surreal to me. The prophet Isaiah called the Temple a “house for all nations”. Israel is a land where there is much fighting amongst the Jews, Muslims and Christians, but in front of the Wall, all stand equal. This is a universal centre of spirituality. The Wall has withstood time, it has witnessed war and peace, destruction and revival. For generations, it has absorbed the prayers and yearnings of those near and far.

I am still very grateful that I had this incredible privilege to go on this pilgrimage. A year on, and I am still appreciating the wonders of the Gospel coming alive to me at the Holy Land.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we pray for peace and harmony amongst all nations and religions.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for reminding us of your goodness and everlasting truth. Amen.

18 October, Friday – Influencers

Oct 18 – Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Luke (d. 74) was born to pagan Greek parents, and possibly a slave. He was one of the earliest converts, and a physician studying in Antioch and Tarsus. He probably travelled as a ship’s doctor, and many charitable societies of physicians are named after him. Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, but none have ever been correctly or definitively attributed to him; this story, and the inspiration his Gospel has always given artists, led to his patronage of them.

He met St. Paul at Troas, and evangelised Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome, and stayed in Rome for Paul’s two years in prison. He wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul, interviews with early Christians, and his own experiences. He also wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was likely to have been martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Timothy 4:10-17

Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful helper in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself, because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

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Luke 10:1-9

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

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But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.

What are our personas in the quilt of our lives? At work, home, with friends, and at church, there are nuances in whom we present to the world. While the differences can be subtle, they are nevertheless there. Sometimes we respond unconsciously, and at other times we make a deliberate effort to wear the appropriate mask.

While life’s experiences have shaped who we are, we cannot proceed on autopilot lest we lose sight of our being. The power to influence others is a considerable one, and like the saints before us, our message needs to be pure. We show up as children of God, embodying the life and teachings of Christ.

Influence is not about the spouting of manifestos or treatises. Neither is it heavy-handed. Influence is the ability to shape the behaviours of others through our examples and ways of life. Take a moment to notice people whom you’ve dealt with. Are they following what you do? Are they using terms and phrases that you do? Have they changed their lives to mimic yours?  If that has ever happened, then you are an influencer!

If those changes were good ones, then I would say that you’re on the right path. However there is a polarity to this; if you notice people actively NOT doing what you do, then that gives pause for some introspection. We are always providing others with an opportunity to judge their own lives as they reference ours. In searching for purchase, people savvily absorb what they deem to be good, and the things about you that others draw reference to also speaks volumes about them.

Brothers and sisters, I invite you to rigorously analyse the power you have over others. Specifically, the soft power that is in each and every one of us that makes us who we are. May we never take that for granted.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Help us dear Lord to walk in your ways, always gifting others with the joy of our companionship.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you Father, for our individuality. There is no greater gift than to be beautiful and complete in you.

21 September, Saturday – Only God Can Judge Me

Sep 21 – Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Matthew was the son of Alphaeus, and he lived at Capernaum on Lake Genesareth. He was a Roman tax collector, a position equated with collaboration with the enemy by those from whom he collected taxes. Jesus’ contemporaries were surprised to see the Christ with a traitor, but Jesus explained that he had come “not to call the just, but sinners”.

Matthew’s Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

Each one of us, however, has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. To some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.

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Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus was walking on, he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’

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I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

Matthew the tax collector, was a sinner in the righteous eyes, yet was chosen and called to be Jesus’ disciple, one of the twelve apostles, and continued to become one of the great evangelists. Today’s Gospel reminds us, “Who are we to judge anyone?” And especially if we call ourselves Christians, should we not show mercy to everyone, just as Jesus did?

Some of the gripes of people who have fallen away from the faith, are that we Christians or Catholics are hypocrites. We claim to be righteous, to be holy and do good, yet often we are quick to judge a fellow brother or sister, just because they do not conform to certain outwardly appearances or practices. Do we take the time to understand someone else’s circumstances, and even if they may truly be at fault, do we exercise compassion?

I serve in a ministry where I have the privilege to hear people’s stories; their willingness to be vulnerable and share deeply always touches me. And often I am shocked by what they have gone through, the phrase ‘do not judge a book by its cover’ always rings true. People are very capable of hiding under a mask, but when there’s trust and mercy, they will dare to be uncovered.

Last month, I shared a personal testimony on my return to the church in front of a bunch of total strangers. With the help of trusted friends, I rewrote my story many times, cautious of the unknown audience I was going to be delivering it to. When the day finally came, I was filled with nervousness and anxiety, but I believed that it was a safe space, and that the people present, strangers as they may be, could possibly identify with me and parts of my story. I got emotional and choked at one point, but I also think that just proved my humanness.

The whole experience was very humbling, and at the same time, edifying. As part of my testimony, I shared that despite all my sins and mistakes, God was still always there. And like Matthew the tax collector, God still chose me. I understand first-hand, what’s it like to be judged without mercy, but I know that it is God who sees me, and I am good enough for Him. I also pray that I can strive to be like Jesus, and be the conduit for grace and love to flow.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to be compassionate and merciful to everyone, especially to those whom we find difficult. Help us not to be judgmental, but to be kind and graceful, just as you are.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for always being there, for choosing us, and for always loving us, despite our shortcomings. Amen.