Category Archives: Lent

26 February, Monday – A Generous God

26 February

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Daniel 9:4-10

O Lord, God great and to be feared, you keep the covenant and have kindness for those who love you and keep your commandments: we have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly, we have betrayed your commandments and your ordinances and turned away from them. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Integrity, Lord, is yours; ours the look of shame we wear today, we, the people of Judah, the citizens of Jerusalem, the whole of Israel, near and far away, in every country to which you have dispersed us because of the treason we have committed against you. To us, Lord, the look of shame belongs, to our kings, our princes, our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God mercy and pardon belong, because we have betrayed him, and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God nor followed the laws he has given us through his servants the prophets.

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Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.’

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“…because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”

There was one time where someone owed me some money. Usually most people will round up or down to the nearest ten cents or dollar but this person was extraordinary. I received full payment in cash right down to the nearest one cent. I then learnt from other friends that this person is a very calculating person and will not hesitate to go down to the nearest penny in order to ensure that everything is in a proper order. I recount this story because such behaviour may actually reflect my own behaviour. Do I engage in such an approach in life?

The Gospel passage of today reminds me of the need to be generous to all who come pass my life. Indeed, the good Lord has promised us wonderful eternal life and this is something which we can certainly look forward in discovering the plan which God has made for us. I have discovered, through prayer and inner reflection, that the reason why I hanker after such material possessions is because they provide me with certainty in life. Indeed these things are tangible and assure me of a certain lifestyle which I am comfortable with.

The challenge which this season of Lent suggests to us is to therefore let go of all these issues which we face in our lives and instead allow God to take control of our lives. This is certainly not an easy task but something which we can do with patience and trust in the Lord’s generosity. Let us take time to accept the adventure which God has planned for us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please allow me to put aside my desires in life and let me desire only you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have taken the vow of poverty.

25 February, Sunday – Love in Action

25 February 2018

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Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.
The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
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Romans 8:31-34
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.
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Mark 9:2-10
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.
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All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.
One of the traits which makes a military effective is the ability to obey orders. When commanders give instructions, every individual soldier has to obey even if the command was difficult and sometimes fatal. The true test is whether the individual is willing to set aside the self-preservation instinct of every human being for a higher goal. The readings of today remind us of our role as Christians which is to look forward to eternal happiness with the Lord Jesus Christ and to share this joy with the rest of the world.
In the first reading, Abraham demonstrated to us what it means to have faith in the Lord. He was willing to sacrifice his own son who was conceived in his old age because he trusted in the Lord. Sometimes trust in the Lord is very difficult for us because what we want is different from what the Lord has planned for us. The issue is for us to trust in the process which God has for us like how Abraham trusted in the Lord. God provided with the ram for the sacrifice to replace Isaac and Abraham received a promise from God where his descendants would be numerous.
The Transfiguration of our Lord is a preview of the eternal reward which we will receive. His disciples were in a daze when they saw the transfiguration and perhaps it is metaphorical for the effect of the state of sin in our lives. Sin causes us to lose focus of the purpose of our Christian life. It may result in us unable to recognise the Lord when He comes in our lives. It is in times like this that we need to follow the example of the three apostles who obeyed the Lord and kept everything secret until the appropriate time.
As we enter into the 2nd Sunday of Lent, we need to stay close to our faith and obey the Lord in what He has commanded us to do. Let us stay close to the Lord through prayer and be nourished through frequent reception of the Eucharist.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us remain obedient to your Son and not lose faith
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have taken the vow of obedience

25 February, Sunday – Love in Action

25 February 2018

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Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.
The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
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Romans 8:31-34
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.
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Mark 9:2-10
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.
______________________________
All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.
One of the traits which makes a military effective is the ability to obey orders. When commanders give instructions, every individual soldier has to obey even if the command was difficult and sometimes fatal. The true test is whether the individual is willing to set aside the self-preservation instinct of every human being for a higher goal. The readings of today remind us of our role as Christians which is to look forward to eternal happiness with the Lord Jesus Christ and to share this joy with the rest of the world.
In the first reading, Abraham demonstrated to us what it means to have faith in the Lord. He was willing to sacrifice his own son who was conceived in his old age because he trusted in the Lord. Sometimes trust in the Lord is very difficult for us because what we want is different from what the Lord has planned for us. The issue is for us to trust in the process which God has for us like how Abraham trusted in the Lord. God provided with the ram for the sacrifice to replace Isaac and Abraham received a promise from God where his descendants would be numerous.
The Transfiguration of our Lord is a preview of the eternal reward which we will receive. His disciples were in a daze when they saw the transfiguration and perhaps it is metaphorical for the effect of the state of sin in our lives. Sin causes us to lose focus of the purpose of our Christian life. It may result in us unable to recognise the Lord when He comes in our lives. It is in times like this that we need to follow the example of the three apostles who obeyed the Lord and kept everything secret until the appropriate time.
As we enter into the 2nd Sunday of Lent, we need to stay close to our faith and obey the Lord in what He has commanded us to do. Let us stay close to the Lord through prayer and be nourished through frequent reception of the Eucharist.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us remain obedient to your Son and not lose faith
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have taken the vow of obedience

25 February, Sunday – Love in Action

25 February 2018

__________________

Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son.
The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
___________________________
Romans 8:31-34
With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.
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Mark 9:2-10
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.
______________________________
All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.
One of the traits which makes a military effective is the ability to obey orders. When commanders give instructions, every individual soldier has to obey even if the command was difficult and sometimes fatal. The true test is whether the individual is willing to set aside the self-preservation instinct of every human being for a higher goal. The readings of today remind us of our role as Christians which is to look forward to eternal happiness with the Lord Jesus Christ and to share this joy with the rest of the world.
In the first reading, Abraham demonstrated to us what it means to have faith in the Lord. He was willing to sacrifice his own son who was conceived in his old age because he trusted in the Lord. Sometimes trust in the Lord is very difficult for us because what we want is different from what the Lord has planned for us. The issue is for us to trust in the process which God has for us like how Abraham trusted in the Lord. God provided with the ram for the sacrifice to replace Isaac and Abraham received a promise from God where his descendants would be numerous.
The Transfiguration of our Lord is a preview of the eternal reward which we will receive. His disciples were in a daze when they saw the transfiguration and perhaps it is metaphorical for the effect of the state of sin in our lives. Sin causes us to lose focus of the purpose of our Christian life. It may result in us unable to recognise the Lord when He comes in our lives. It is in times like this that we need to follow the example of the three apostles who obeyed the Lord and kept everything secret until the appropriate time.
As we enter into the 2nd Sunday of Lent, we need to stay close to our faith and obey the Lord in what He has commanded us to do. Let us stay close to the Lord through prayer and be nourished through frequent reception of the Eucharist.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us remain obedient to your Son and not lose faith
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have taken the vow of obedience

24 February, Saturday – Love, Love and Love

24 February

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Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God today commands you to observe these laws and customs; you must keep and observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.

‘You have today made this declaration about the Lord: that he will be your God, but only if you follow his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and listen to his voice. And the Lord has today made this declaration about you: that you will be his very own people as he promised you, but only if you keep all his commandments; then for praise and renown and honour he will set you high above all the nations he has made, and you will be a people consecrated to the Lord, as he promised.’

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Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

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Pray for those who persecute you”

I had a very interesting conversation with my nephew, who is also my godson, one day before we went off to school. He had his arms extended and swung it from left to right while he was talking to me. He was upset with someone and I told him that, “Jesus said you must love your enemies and that you should pray for them.” He relented and said that he would not want to pray for them. Even an 8-year old knows that it does not make ‘sense’, he was in disbelief. But more often than not, I feel it is the way of our Lord. He asks of us and wills for something that makes us look at him in disbelief.

Is it possible to love our enemy? That to me is really hard because forgiving is one thing but loving them really, is a different ball game all together. I do not have any enemies, but I have ‘fallen friends’, people with whom I have estranged relationships with. I have been told that it is normal to have this group of people who have ‘fallen out of your list’. That never sat right with me, because I clearly know that Jesus is not like that. And so, I pray for them because that is the only thing that helps. Sometimes they don’t want to be friends, sometimes it’s me, but when it’s my decision, I feel really upset about it.

Friendships are important to me, although I have a tendency to grow out of people, and for this I seek His mercy and His grace. Because he wants me to be perfect, just like Him. During a recent sermon I heard, the priest said that Lent is a time of joy so that you have no more estranged relationships. “Let there be no lepers in your life”. Powerful and true. How are the enemies, lepers and perpetrators in our lives? Have we started loving them and praying for them? Today is the acceptable time for that because now is our time for salvation.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, you said blessed are those who follow your footsteps, make us and mould us into the blessed person today. Clean the cobwebs off from all our relationships, including the one we have with you and also the one we have with ourselves. All angels and saints, watch over our enemies and pray for them.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for keeping us free and for allowing us the grace to love and pray for people who most need it. Thank you Lord, for the difficult people in our lives, for through them we have learnt to see you.

23 February, Friday – New Heart, New Spirit, Renew Me

23 Feb – Memorial for St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr

St. Polycarp (69-155) was an associate of, converted by, and disciple of St. John the Apostle. He was a friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and he fought Gnosticism. He was the Bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), and was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century.

The Asia Minor churches recognized Polycarp’s leadership and chose him representative to Pope Anicetus on the question of the date of the Easter celebration. Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has survived – the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi, Macedonia.

At 86, Polycarp was to be burned alive in a stadium in Smyrna, but the flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger, and his body burned. The ‘Acts’ of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He is considered an Apostolic Father of the Church.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord:

‘If the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live; he will not die. All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on; he shall live because of the integrity he has practised. What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?

‘But if the upright man renounces his integrity, commits sin, copies the wicked man and practises every kind of filth, is he to live? All the integrity he has practised shall be forgotten from then on; but this is because he himself has broken faith and committed sin, and for this he shall die. But you object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’

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Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples, If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

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Whoever is angry with his brother is liable for judgement”

As I write this, I am angry with someone. So would you believe how appropriate God’s message is for me? In the workplace, there is a colleague who makes me feel like she is a bully. I for one, do not stand for anyone being a bully. So this was a very difficult one for me to accept. As the youngest child of three, I was bullied at home when we were still kids and I never found out if that was a reason or an excuse which I had when I bullied a few girls in school. So I am a renewed bully and a victim of bullying, I can admit this to all who read this because I know my Lord’s mercy has healed me, restored me as he had done so for my ‘victims.’

Some of the words of this colleague, really pierced me in ways I should not have allowed. And after a few days of feeling really ‘bad’ when I was going to work, I stumbled upon a newsfeed which said, “If their name isn’t God, their opinion should not matter so much.” and though the words are not from scripture, it sure made me realise that I have made my anger for the person and her hurtful words as a quasi God. And from the same newsfeed, even St Josphine Bakhita said “I have given everything to my Lord, He will take care of me”.

I was named after St Joseph (not St Josephine) and I have taken St Anthony of Padua as my favourite saint; and this list is growing. But just like role models, one cannot have enough intercessions of saints.

On reflecting upon this scripture, my anger vanished, indeed the word of God has such high power. Today I urge you as you walk through the desert of Lent, give your anger and hurt to Jesus. Do not let anger hold you for His dwelling place, your inheritance. Anger is stressful, tiring and has no real benefits, none at all. May our souls be waiting for the Lord more than sentinels wait for dawn.

We have a Lord who calls us to cast away our crimes and evils ways, adopting a new heart and a new spirit. What sin are we still holding on to? Time to nip it in the bud, God is offering a chance to start anew. This is an invitation to each one of us, no matter if we are 6 or 60, slender or obese, rich or poor, angry or loving – come to Him, only He offers the fullness of life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, today we offer up all instances of anger, ours and those of whom we used to consider our perpetrators. We are all your children, help us to love each other as your offsprings.

Thanksgiving: I wait for you O Lord, more eagerly that the waves that kiss the shore and the sun which appears from the horizon of the sea in the break of day.

22 February, Thursday – Who Am I To You?

22 Feb – Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle

The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome, Italy has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on Jan 18, in commemoration of the day when St. Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on Feb 22. At each place, a chair (cathedra) which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass was venerated.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 5:1-4

Now I have something to tell your elders: I am an elder myself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed. Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the crown of unfading glory.

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Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

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You are Christ, the Son of the living God”

When there is a love interest, it is natural to know who you are to that person. You want to know what you mean to them and if you hold this special place in the beloved’s heart. I watched the scene in the Passion of Christ when Jesus asked Peter this question and how he replied so spontaneously. Jesus and Peter seems to have these candid yet ‘expecting-an-honest-response-conversation’, it shows their closeness but also shows how ‘real’ they are with each other. I for one know that I cannot ask everyone such questions, it can be blatantly awkward.

The friendship of Jesus and Peter is also special, they had the same mission and knew each other, only in the way best friends connected.

Peter, despite spending hours with the Lord, did not mistake Him as being his equal. He recognised the Lord because He was attuned with the Holy Spirit. It is the same for us, when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and rule our lives, we will be able to recognise Jesus in each person and situation.

Do you recognise Jesus today? Do you believe that He has formed this Church on the Rock?

I for one, never understand why people leave the Catholic faith and go on to start their own churches? Why are people leaving a banquet of the King to eat a home-cooked meal of their own? Jesus has laid a foundation that no one can topple and destruct, though many have failed.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, create a new heart and a new spirit within us. Help us to find our true selves in you, the Shepherd of our souls.

Thanksgiving: For you are gracious, merciful and you are Love. Receive O Lord, our contrite hearts, which yearns only for you. Thank you for your guiding staff.

21 February, Wednesday – Second Chance, Even More

21 Feb – Memorial for St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor

Peter Damian (1007-1072) was the youngest child in a large family. When he was orphaned, he was sent to live with a brother where he was mistreated and forced to work as a swine-herd. He cared for another brother, a priest in Ravenna, Italy. He was well educated in Fienza and Parma and became a professor, but lived a life of strict austerity.

He gave up his teaching to become a Benedictine monk. His health suffered, especially when he tried to replace sleep with prayer. He founded a hermitage. He was occasionally called on by the Vatican to make peace between arguing monastic houses, clergymen, and government officials, etc. He was made Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, and he fought simony.

He tried to restore primitive discipline among priests and religious who were becoming more and more of the world. He was a prolific correspondent, and he also wrote dozens of sermons, seven biographies (including one of St. Romuald), and poetry, including some of the best Latin of the time. He tried to retire being a monk, but was routinely recalled as a papal legate.

He died on Feb 22, 1072 of fever at Ravenna while surrounded by brother monks reciting the Divine Office. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.

– Patron Saint Index

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Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the Lord was addressed a second time to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. All are to put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done. Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’ God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.

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Luke 11:29-32

The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, ‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’

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Something greater than Jonah

Jonah is the man who was saved by God when He sent a fish to swallow Him. Though he was running and hiding, the Lord our great pursuer did not give up. Just as God did not give up on Jonah, He will continue to be our most earnest pursuer.

In modern times, the concept of being pursued and being given a second chance is rare and few. It is common for people to do this only if it benefits them. They (we) are more likely to be tolerant and symphatic to clients and bosses and probably less to staff and vendors. But at the heart of our hearts, we are called to be like our Lord, who is constant and just.

King David, a mighty King was humble to a point of wearing a sackcloth and fasting. Today, though many of us are not as rich yet, we fail on the grounds of being a faithful Catholic in prayer, fasting and almsgiving – the three pillars of Lent and, I dare say, the pillars of our Catholic faith.

We have drifted in our own indulgence, yet we have a God of a zillion chances, who gives us many messages in the stillness of our hearts to help the needy, visit the lonely, understand those who are differently abled, fast so that we train our flesh to withstand temptations and to adore the Love or our lives – Jesus Christ in daily prayers. What is God asking of you today, this season Lent and this year?

Do we continue to look for signs by reading horoscopes and being enslaved by the what others say about our future, even if they are so called ‘qualified’ by some quarters. Surely we are different because we are His alone. Would you obey your own father or the one given to you by someone’s father. What we allow into our lives, we give it power to rule over us. In today’s Gospel, Christ says there is something greater than Jonah, why would we not want to live in that richness and fullness of life.

We are His heirs and we should cleave to Him for everything. For it is through Him that we are truly ourselves. If you are struggling to find yourself, dig deep into the Father’s heart, because therein lies His beloved child, you.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, create a new heart and a new spirit within us. Help us to find our true selves in you.

Thanksgiving: For you are gracious merciful and you are Love. Receive, O Lord, our contrite hearts which yearn only for you.

20 February, Tuesday – A Loving Father

20 February

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Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’

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Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this:

‘Our Father in heaven,
may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test,
but save us from the evil one.

‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’

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Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him

I used to think that prayers should be lengthy and contain many words so that the good Lord could hear me and understand what I need to know. However, over time, I discovered that sometimes saying nothing may actually be the best thing that could happen. Words have a way of influencing others but in the case of prayer, I find that sometimes just being silent and soaking in the presence of the Lord may be the best thing that could happen. The readings of today remind me of the need to stay close to God through prayer which is succinct.

God the Father loves us as His children and knows what we need. The tension which arises is due to the fact that sometimes what we want is different from what we need. Some may want to be established in our careers and to become individuals who are recognised by others. However, what is important for us to note is that there is a need to ask God to see if that is what He wants for us. The good Lord will always ensure that His plans for us will be accomplished as He assures us in the First Reading and this requires us to be receptive to His plans.

Being receptive to the plans of Jesus is not an easy task because it requires us to surrender the plans we want in our lives. Taking time to be closer to God and discovering what He wants from us may be a painful process and something which we may not want to encounter at all. It is in such times like this that we should ask God to enter into every part of our heart to heal whatever is holding us back. In doing so, we will be able to be ready to face the evil of the world, knowing that it is in the plan of God for us to remain close to Him despite all these challenges.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Dear God, help us to forgive all the hurts we have in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who bring us life.

19 February, Monday – Separating Sheep From Goats

19 February 

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Leviticus 19:1-2,11-18

The Lord spoke to Moses. He said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:

‘“Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

‘“You must not steal nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your neighbour. You must not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. You must not exploit or rob your neighbour. You must not keep back the labourer’s wage until next morning. You must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in the blind man’s way, but you must fear your God. I am the Lord.

‘“You must not be guilty of unjust verdicts. You must neither be partial to the little man nor overawed by the great; you must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice. You must not slander your own people, and you must not jeopardise your neighbour’s life. I am the Lord. You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”’

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Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”

‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

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“I am the Lord”

Today’s scripture readings indicate to us how God will judge us on the final day. In the gospel, we are told that He will place the virtuous on His right and the others on his left. There is no one in the middle, no room for negotiation. Because ultimately, where we end up will be a reflection of how we have lived our life on earth and whether we have indeed heeded His commandments and acknowledged Him as Lord.

When God speaks to Moses, He gives a list of ‘things not to do’ before ending with the one thing that means everything, “You must love your neighbour as yourself.” This edict is further expounded in Matthew’s gospel, where the Lord welcomes those who have provided for him when he was in need. Yesterday, I encouraged each of us to look deep within our hearts and discern what we want to offer up this Lenten season. Today, let us offer to God our pride.

Brothers and sisters, wherever we are in our lives, there are others who are much more in need than ourselves. And sometimes, those people are closer to us than we think – a cousin, an in-law, the colleague in the next cubicle, and yes, perhaps even our own parents or siblings. For many of us, it is not in our nature to reach out or offer help because ‘they don’t need my help’, or we are afraid of being rejected. Perhaps these people are simply waiting for us to make the first move, to offer a helping hand or a kind word.

When God made his covenant with man, He was taking a huge risk because He knew full well what we would put Him through. And yet, because He loved us so much, He offered Jesus to us – no less than His only son.

This Lenten season, let us learn to be like sheep and give up our pride so that we can truly obey His call for each and every one of us. Let us all learn to appreciate what it truly means to be a son or daughter of the living God, a God who loves us unconditionally, is ever-merciful and never quick to judge. A God who walks with us and grieves with us, who celebrates our achievements and lifts us up when we open up our hearts to him. A God who is waiting patiently for us to run to Him and to acknowledge him as Lord, Father and Saviour.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Lord, you have given us so much in order to show how much you love us. Give us the humility and courage to give of ourselves to those around us so that we can manifest your love through our actions.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for all that you’ve done for us.