Wednesday, 9 March – Authority, Judgment, Mission

9 March – Memorial for St. Frances of Rome, religious

St. Frances (1384-1440) was an aristocrat by birth. She married at the age of 12, and her marriage lasted 40 years. She was a mother of three before becoming a widow. She joined the Benedictines, and was the foundress of the “Oblates of the Tor de’ Specchi” (Collatines). She is said to have been guided by an archangel only she could see. She spent her life and fortune, both as a laywoman and a religious, in the service of the sick and the poor, including the founding of the first home in Rome for abandoned children. She dictated 97 “Visions”, in which she saw many of the pains of Hell.

On her feast day, priests bless cars due to her patronage of cars and drivers. Frances certainly never drove, but legend says that when she went abroad at night, her guardian angel went before her lighting the road with a headlight-live lantern, keeping her safe in her travels.

Prayer to St. Frances

Dear Frances, you were an exemplary wife, ever faithful to your husband. After his death, you founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, revealing your great devotion to our Lord’s Passion. Your faith in Angels was rewarded by frequent visions of them. Please pray for Catholics in our day that they may be as dedicated to God as you were. Amen.

-Patron Saint Index


Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, would you like to share your Lenten experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? Drop us a note at: oxygen[at] by 12 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass. Thank you!



Isaiah 49:8-15

Thus says the Lord:

At the favourable time I will answer you,
on the day of salvation I will help you.
(I have formed you and have appointed you
as covenant of the people.)
I will restore the land
and assign you the estates that lie waste.
I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out’,
to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’

On every roadway they will graze,
and each bare height shall be their pasture.
They will never hunger or thirst,
scorching wind and sun shall never plague them;
for he who pities them will lead them
and guide them to springs of water.
I will make a highway of all the mountains,
and the high roads shall be banked up.

Some are on their way from afar,
others from the north and the west,
others from the land of Sinim.
Shout for joy, you heavens; exult, you earth!
You mountains, break into happy cries!
For the Lord consoles his people
and takes pity on those who are afflicted.

For Zion was saying, ‘The Lord has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me.’
Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget,
I will never forget you.


John 5:17-30

Jesus said to the Jews, ‘My Father goes on working, and so do I.’ But that only made them even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.

To this accusation Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
the Son can do nothing by himself;
he can do only what he sees the Father doing:
and whatever the Father does the Son does too.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything he does himself,
and he will show him even greater things than these,
works that will astonish you.
Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life,
so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses;
for the Father judges no one;
he has entrusted all judgement to the Son,
so that all may honour the Son
as they honour the Father.
Whoever refuses honour to the Son
refuses honour to the Father who sent him.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever listens to my words,
and believes in the one who sent me,
has eternal life;
without being brought to judgement
he has passed from death to life.
I tell you most solemnly,
the hour will come – in fact it is here already –
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and all who hear it will live.
For the Father, who is the source of life,
has made the Son the source of life;
and, because he is the Son of Man,
has appointed him supreme judge.
Do not be surprised at this,
for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graves
at the sound of his voice:
those who did good will rise again to life;
and those who did evil, to condemnation.
I can do nothing by myself;
I can only judge as I am told to judge,
and my judging is just,
because my aim is to do not my own will,
but the will of him who sent me.’


I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

In today’s reflection we think about words such as authority and judgment. But these words will not make sense alone if we do not understand our mission and our identity. The confusion arises because we haven’t found our identity and we base our identity on the ‘trends’ of the world at the moment. We are defined by ‘what I have, what I say and what I do’, rather than who we are created to be.  As Catholics, we are all children of God and we should place our identity in Him. In doing so, we realise our mission, our purpose.

“For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (Jn 5:20-21)

The authority and power is then bestowed by God Himself in order that we may carry out our mission, to love and to live our lives to the fullest. For when we have come to the understanding and an encounter with Christ, there is absolutely no way we would be able to keep the Good News to ourselves. And hence, ultimately, this authority enables us to evangelise to the greater community.

“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him.” Jn (5:22-23)

We also see all judgment being given to the Son. And because of God’s love, we are bestowed with the authority, judgment and more than that, freedom. We all have a mission, however different the mission is, are all called to love, grow in discipleship, live a life of holiness and to the full. But we are also given a choice. This choice that has enabled us to sin, to use the power given to us to fulfil our own selfish desires and pleasures. What really happens at the end of the day, is we look back and wonder, how long can all these last… this power, this fame, this respect… how long will I be able to ‘enjoy’?

“…and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (Jn 5:29)

Our lives now are a preparation for the eternal life together with Christ. Can we see beyond to know of the things that lasts and those that can’t? We need to realise that authority and judgment comes with a mission.  Our authority and judgment will always remain if we continue to remain in Christ, if we understand His mission.

I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Lord, may Your kingdom come and Your will be done in our lives today. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for wisdom, for counsel, for understanding. We are all called to be leaders in some way or another but we allow pride to overcome us and end up using Your gifts against You and Your children. Help us to be discerning, in our mission in life, that we may do your will not because we have to, but because we want to. Help all of us live a life of love, a life that glorifies you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the gift of freedom, the gift of Your love. But more than that, thank you for your mercy, forgiveness and compassion to us whenever we hurt ourselves and others. Thank you for this day, thank you for our lives.

Tuesday, 8 March – Doing vs Understanding

8 March – Memorial for St. John of God, religious

Juan (1495-1550) grew up working as a shepherd in the Castile region of Spain. He led a wild and misspent youth, travelling over much of Europe and north Africa as a soldier in the army of Charles V, and a mercenary. He fought through a brief period of insanity. He peddled religious books and pictures in Gibraltar, though without any religious conviction himself.

In his 40s, he received a vision of the Infant Jesus who called him “John of God”. To make up for the misery he had caused as a soldier, he left the military, rented a house in Granada, Spain, and began caring for the sick, poor, homeless and unwanted. He gave what he had, begged for those who couldn’t, carried those who could not move on their own, and converted both his patients and those who saw him work with them.

He was a friend of St. John of Avila, on whom he tried to model his life. John founded the Order of Charity and the Order of Hospitallers of St. John of God.

– Patron Saint Index


Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, would you like to share your Lenten experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 12 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass. Thank you!



Ezekiel 47:1-9,12

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. The man went to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. 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.’


John 5:1-3, 5-16

There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move; One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.

Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.


“See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.”

There are two things we can learn from today’s readings. In the first reading, we see the symbolism of water. A sign of life, where water doesn’t just bring oneself life but also in communion with others, a community. The fresh water, a sense of being renewed. This same water is also used during baptism, as we are born into God’s kingdom, His family. A water that washes away our sins, cleanses, keeps us alive. But something so common we take for granted. Our baptism or confirmation, a sacrament, but how often have we reduced it to merely a procedure? Do we really understand the sacrament or are we just following the motions? Why do we go for mass on Sundays?

In the Gospel, it helps us understand better where we see Jesus healing on the Sabbath. We know the law of God is to keep holy the Sabbath, or others mention where no ‘work’ is to be done on the Sabbath. Many may be faithfully keeping the commandment, but what does it really mean?

Many times we define and interpret words and actions in the ways we want to, leaving many assumptions as obstacles in our relationships with others. Again, we fail to understand, our pride tells us that we already know what one is thinking or feeling. The truth is that most of us do not really understand the meaning behind the teachings and laws of the church, of God. Everything He does is because of love. Created by love, with love, to love and to be loved is all there is to our faith.

Christ healed not because He wanted to disobey, He healed because He loves and that is far greater. We also hear Him say, “…. See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” (Jn 5:14)

It isn’t our physical disabilities or insufficiencies that makes us inadequate but rather sin. Sin disables us, traps us and steals our freedom, our dignity, our purpose, our identity.  Let us realise that it isn’t just about the doing but whether we are interested in understanding why we do what we do. To understand our identity as we enter the waters of baptism and the other sacraments, but most importantly, to know we are loved and loved deeply by our Father, our King, our friend.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray we may not be trapped in our routines but really treasure each and every breath given by you. Helps us to understand our faith better and continue to grow our relationship with you everyday. Help us to see not just with our eyes but also with Yours, the eyes of love and the eyes of faith. Help us to be more like you each day.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the trials that come my way. I truly believe that you are healing me daily. Thank you for helping me understand.

Monday, 7 March – Believe and Understand

7 March – Memorial for Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

Perpetua (d. 203) was a lay woman born to a noble pagan family. She was a convert, a wife and a mother. She was martyred with her maid, friend, and fellow convert Felicitas. In centuries past, their story was so popular that St. Augustine of Hippo warned against giving it the weight of scripture.

– Patron Saint Index


Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, would you like to share your Lenten experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 12 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass. Thank you!



Isaiah 65:17-21

Thus says the Lord: Now I create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered, and will come no more to men’s minds. Be glad and rejoice for ever and ever for what I am creating, because I now create Jerusalem ‘Joy’ and her people ‘Gladness.’ I shall rejoice over Jerusalem and exult in my people. No more will the sound of weeping or the sound of cries be heard in her; in her, no more will be found the infant living a few days only, or the old man not living to the end of his days. To die at the age of a hundred will be dying young; not to live to be a hundred will be the sign of a curse. They will build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.


John 4:43-54

Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. He himself had declared that there is no respect for a prophet in his own country, but on his arrival the Galileans received him well, having seen all that he had done at Jerusalem during the festival which they too had attended.
He went again to Cana in Galilee, where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a court official there whose son was ill at Capernaum and, hearing that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judaea, he went and asked him to come and cure his son as he was at the point of death. Jesus said, ‘So you will not believe unless you see signs and portents!’ ‘Sir,’ answered the official ‘come down before my child dies.’ ‘Go home,’ said Jesus ‘your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus had said and started on his way; and while he was still on the journey back his servants met him with the news that his boy was alive. He asked them when the boy had begun to recover. ‘The fever left him yesterday’ they said ‘at the seventh hour.’ The father realised that this was exactly the time when Jesus had said, ‘Your son will live’; and he and all his household believed.
This was the second sign given by Jesus, on his return from Judaea to Galilee.


 “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 

In today’s Gospel, we read of Jesus healing a dying child. A miracle we all would probably not believe unless we have seen with our own eyes. The underlying message is never about the healing but if we believe. Maybe we can ask ourselves why we believe in God, in our faith. Is it because we have been healed? We have seen the miracles? Or maybe we are just afraid of ending up in hell?

Jesus acknowledges that it is indeed very hard to believe unless we’ve seen the signs.

“But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.” (Is 65:18-19)

But beyond the signs, the miracles and healings, is a joy. The joy of hope, the joy of healing, the joy of life.

I am a seeker of this joy and I found this joy most, through giving. Through my passion and love, the fruits I’ve seen is really something beyond my imagination. In all my inadequacies, I am still able to bring joy to others, a genuine, heart-warming joy. It is exactly then that I experience that same joy for myself. And I know there is hope. Hope to know many still care, hope to know many still appreciate.

This act of giving, act of love is the summit of our faith as we see Christ our King on the cross paying the price for us. We now turn to the cross because we know there is hope.

Many times we give because we are looking or hoping to receive more in return, times where we need to understand first before we believe.

“For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honour in his own country.” (Jn 4:44)

Help us to welcome Him in our lives, the poor and marginalised, in our hearts especially when times are hard and everything seems to be going wrong. Let us be grateful for we have been given first, for we are first understood by Christ, for the greater joy is in the giving. Let us now believe first, in order that we may understand.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dearest Father, help us to realise to that we are given so that we can give, we are loved in order that we may love too. Give us the courage to step forward first. Give us the grace to be the difference, to be your disciple, your light, your truth, your word, your hope, your joy. Help us to believe, understand and love you more each day. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for your life, for our lives, for this joy, for understanding us by your life on Earth. I thank you for everything you’ve given me and I thank you for what’s to come, because I know you are always by my side and your love will never fail.

Sunday, 6 March – Returning

6 March – 4th Sunday of Lent

Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.

Dear Readers, we are now in the 4th week of Lent. Would you like to share your Lenten experience with a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil readings? Write to us at oxygen[at] before 12 March and we will get in touch with you.
Thank you and God bless!


Joshua 5:9-12

The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have taken the shame of Egypt away from you.’

  The Israelites pitched their camp at Gilgal and kept the Passover there on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening in the plain of Jericho. On the morrow of the Passover they tasted the produce of that country, unleavened bread and roasted ears of corn, that same day. From that time, from their first eating of the produce of that country, the manna stopped falling. And having manna no longer, the Israelites fed from that year onwards on what the land of Canaan yielded.


2 Corinthians 5:17-21

For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.


Luke 15:1-3,11-32

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ So he spoke this parable to them:

  ‘A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, “Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.” So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

  ‘When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.” So he left the place and went back to his father.

  ‘While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.

  ‘Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. “Your brother has come” replied the servant “and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.” He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, “Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.”

  ‘The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”’


For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God

Have I returned? Why am I returning?

“How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here I am dying of hunger!” (Lk 15:17)

In today’s Gospel, we see the youngest son returning, not so much because he was repentant but more of simply not accepting being worse off than the father’s paid servants. How often have we fallen into the trap where we only turn to God when there’s no other way, as our last resort? Because if we truly believe that God will provide, then shouldn’t we turn to Him first? Hence our actions already do not match our expectations.

The reality is that there is a lot of pride in all of us. We all have something to prove in our lives, that we are adequate, sufficient, knowledgeable and independent. That we are the best. However, all these terms are subjective as we allow the world to define them and be defined by the world instead of who we are all created to be. We chase after pleasures, fame, wealth, power but even after attaining them, we realise it is never enough. What do we actually yearn for? What is it we truly desire?

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.” (Lk 15:20)

The power of love, a returning, a reconciling, a forgiveness, an acceptance, a joy, a completeness. To me, I believe it is all these things that we are yearning for. We go one whole round searching for something that has always been right in front of us. We never seem to treasure what we have till it’s too late or till we’ve lost them. Whether we are looking from the point of view of the Father or the Son, it’s a returning for both.

“In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself…” (2 Cor 5:19)

God wants to return to us today too. But He can only if we allow Him to, by returning ourselves. My team and I recently started a new ministry for youths, REKINDLED, to reconnect with our faith in a very relatable way. What we realised is that all of us are always returning. It isn’t about just being in church, but it’s about whether or not we have a relationship with God. We were never meant to separate, never meant to be alone.

“’The father said, “My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours” (Lk 15:31)

Are we aware of what God has given us? Even His only Son? A challenge I face in today’s world is being aware enough, in order to be appreciative and grateful. To see beyond the challenges and sufferings, to know the intentions and to understand. His birth, His dying, His rising, our Hope, our Salvation.

For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.

Have I returned? Why am I returning?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for strength. That we may overcome temptation and sin especially in this time of Lent. That we may be your prisoners and not of sin. We pray that we may be grateful and appreciative of the people around us. Help us to love you and return to you every single day. You are running to us, let us now run to you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for all the blessings and grace you have showered upon us. Thank you for always being there and being patient with us. Thank you for understanding, for your love and your compassion.

Saturday, 5 March – Distraction Free

5 March

Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, would you like to share your Lenten experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 10 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass. Thank you!



Hosea 5:15-6:6

The Lord says this:

They will search for me in their misery.
‘Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us;
he has struck us down, but he will bandage our wounds;
after a day or two he will bring us back to life,
on the third day he will raise us
and we shall live in his presence.
Let us set ourselves to know the Lord;
that he will come is as certain as the dawn
his judgement will rise like the light,
he will come to us as showers come,
like spring rains watering the earth.’

What am I to do with you, Ephraim?
What am I to do with you, Judah?
This love of yours is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that quickly disappears.
This is why I have torn them to pieces by the prophets,
why I slaughtered them with the words from my mouth,
since what I want is love, not sacrifice;
knowledge of God, not holocausts.


Luke 18:9-14

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’


I am not like this tax collector here

I walk into the Church and find myself entering the centre pews, hoping to get a good view of the altar and try not to get distracted with anything else, not even a toddler walking across me from her mother on the left to her father on the right. Sometimes, it is also hard for me not to wonder about what my fellow brother or sister (who happens to sit beside me) is like. Instead of focusing on praying and our personal reflections on the past week, we may wonder about our neighbour’s life, or experience feelings of being competitive with our fellow brother and sister in Christ.

We will have absolutely no knowledge of the other person who is kneeling and praying beside us, while we have our quiet time with the Lord. The kind of person they are during the week, their inmost thoughts, their flaws and sins, or joys and sorrows. Who are we to judge? Only our Almighty God can see where our faults lie. We must not think too highly of our own prayer life and resort to thinking ourselves superior to others. The Lord watches over us and our actions all the time. As in today’s reading from Hosea, the Lord will provide us with the most beautiful moments, it is He who showers us with His love. We only need to please Him, praise Him, glorify Him.

Therefore, let us not be someone who prays with distraction and be one who humbles himself with no arrogance within him. Do you harbour queries about the repentance in the hearts of those who have offended you? Instead, consider how the Lord has forgiven you and extended His mercy. Real humility requires focus, and passion for the Lord to build a wholesome prayer life. As in the past readings of this week, we have emphasised on God’s law that is given to us as a guide and gift, He has been praised for the great works He promises. As we come to the end of the 3rd week of Lent, allow us to bend our backs, lose the pride within us and assist all those around us who need us, rather than act like the Pharisee who prays to God with arrogance in his heart.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, grant us the peace in our hearts, so that we are able to calm ourselves down at the end of each day, and pray also for those whose lives we have influenced.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for being the Lord and Father who promises and delivers us.

Friday, 4 March – God Be Understood

4 March – Memorial for St. Casimir

Casimir (1458-1484) was a 15th century Polish prince who became Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1471. He was third in line for the throne.

Hungarian nobles had prevailed upon Casimir’s father to send his 15-year-old son to be their king. Casimir obeyed, taking the crown, but refusing to exercise power. His army was outnumbered, and his troops deserted because they were not paid. Casimir returned home, and was a conscientious objector from that time on.

He returned to prayer and study, maintained his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter. He reigned briefly as king during his father’s absence.

He lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer, and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy. He had a great devotion to Mary, supported the poor, and lived a virtuous life amid the dissolute court.

-Patron Saint Index


Hosea 14:2-10

The Lord says this:

Israel, come back to the Lord your God;
your iniquity was the cause of your downfall.
Provide yourself with words
and come back to the Lord.
Say to him, ‘Take all iniquity away
so that we may have happiness again
and offer you our words of praise.
Assyria cannot save us,
we will not ride horses any more,
or say, “Our God!” to what our own hands have made,
for you are the one in whom orphans find compassion.’
– I will heal their disloyalty,
I will love them with all my heart,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will fall like dew on Israel.
He shall bloom like the lily,
and thrust out roots like the poplar,
his shoots will spread far;
he will have the beauty of the olive
and the fragrance of Lebanon.
They will come back to live in my shade;
they will grow corn that flourishes,
they will cultivate vines
as renowned as the wine of Helbon.
What has Ephraim to do with idols any more
when it is I who hear his prayer and care for him?
I am like a cypress ever green,
all your fruitfulness comes from me.

Let the wise man understand these words.
Let the intelligent man grasp their meaning.
For the ways of the Lord are straight,
and virtuous men walk in them,
but sinners stumble.


Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.



When I train my cooks, I will always begin their first workday on a very busy weekend. Although I run the risk of having them fumble and causing more trouble than helping out on a very busy lunch-time crowd, it is the best time to see how they perform under pressure and the opportunity for them to experience how busy the environment can get. Thus, I always get them to understand the menu and plate up the various orders learnt during that day. They will get to see what is the final product first before they learn how to cook and prepare the elements on the plate. In this way, they can understand what is required for the end product and prepare accordingly to the specifics.

In both passages today, the Word emphasises the understanding of our Lord’s intention and love for us. It is not just about knowing the commandments, it is not just about learning how to pray and sing praises to the Lord – it is more about understand the true purposes of following Christ. It is about understanding the great mercy and strength of how the Lord works His powers in us. Without understanding the true purpose of living and loving the Lord God, our passion for Christ will be short-lived and perhaps meaningless. We also have to understand that God is all about others, it just does not begin and end by a relationship with Jesus, but the motivation to spread the Good News to others and loving our neighbour just as we love ourselves. This calls for us to be of service to others.

We are privileged to be educated and literate, where we can source all kinds of information these days. We have so many types of opinions or interpretations of Christianity. But is this what we are called to do? It is important to be able to understand the end goal of how God desires us, His beloved children to live. A fulfilling and life-giving life filled with love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. The Christian life is to love God and others – even to the point of self-sacrifice. Let us not get into our beautiful faith blindly.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Allow me to open my mind to always understand the Word of God as I reflect on it in calmness and openness, inviting God into my heart.

Thanksgiving: O Loving God, thank you for teaching and guiding me even though I have failed to understand your intentions and purpose in my every day living.

Thursday, 3 March – Not Staying Neutral

3 March

Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, how has your Lent been so far? Some of you may feel a little spark of fire and desire to share what God has done for you or shown you this Lent. Would you like to share your experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 10 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass (these would be simple as each reflection is based on one reading).



Jeremiah 7:23-28

These were my orders: Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Follow right to the end the way that I mark out for you, and you will prosper. But they did not listen, they did not pay attention; they followed the dictates of their own evil hearts, refused to face me, and turned their backs on me. From the day your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until today, day after day I have persistently sent you all my servants the prophets.

  But they have not listened to me, have not paid attention; they have grown stubborn and behaved worse than their ancestors. You may say all these words to them: they will not listen to you; you may call them: they will not answer. So tell them this, “Here is the nation that will not listen to the voice of the Lord its God nor take correction. Sincerity is no more, it has vanished from their mouths.”


Luke 11:14-23

Jesus was casting out a devil and it was dumb; but when the devil had gone out the dumb man spoke, and the people were amazed. But some of them said, ‘It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.’ Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses. So too with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? – Since you assert that it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils. Now if it is through Beelzebul that I cast out devils, through whom do your own experts cast them out? Let them be your judges then. But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils, then know that the kingdom of God has overtaken you. So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.

  ‘He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.’


He who is not with me is against me

There are moments in my family when my parents happen to have differing opinions on certain things, and then as much as I would like to stay neutral, they would turn to me and ask me to pick a side. This is a very dangerous game to play, and instead I will try to make peace between the old folks and hope for the best. However, my mum will be sure to comment, ‘and of course you will always be on the side of your dad and be against me’. Still, the smartest move is to remain neutral.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus retorted to the people that if he was truly the devil, surely he would not cast himself out. Therefore, it was impossible for him to be the devil. In short, Jesus tried his best to reason with the irrational crowd. He also tried to point out to the people around him that God is working among them; that the stronger of any two will definitely prevail and have access to eternal treasures. This is worthwhile for us to ponder: have we been struggling which sides to choose in our daily routine? The importance of prayer to begin our day is to guide us through the difficult decisions that we need to make. Sometimes, by our bad choices, we could affect those around us and could hurt our loved ones with the selfish thoughts that we have. We are reminded not to fall into temptation and blindly encouraged the works of the devil.

By remaining neutral like I did between my parents, however, is not right when it comes to us being indifferent with the state of our faith and spirituality. Our faith and choosing our Creator and Father in Heaven is certainly the far more superior choice – where we will be experiencing the full goodness of all which the Father will give to us, his children. Let us encourage one another, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to lead a loyal and faithful life, building on the relationship with Christ which we have chosen. So that He who wins in the end, will also share the spoils of the treasures in heaven with us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, wisdom to choose You, the faith to follow You is what I will pray for, and the guidance in leading to right decisions I make each day.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for protecting us and casting out the evil temptations in our lives.

Wednesday, 2 March – Lawful Right

2 March

Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, how has your Lent been so far? Some of you may feel a little spark of fire and desire to share what God has done for you or shown you this Lent. Would you like to share your experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 10 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass (these would be simple as each reflection is based on one reading).



Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

Moses said to the people:

  ‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you.

  ‘See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?

  ‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’


Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’


Take notice of the laws

When I reflected on today’s reading and Gospel, it dawned on me that wherever and whichever organisation or community we are a part of, there are bound to be some rules and law to set boundaries so that the group can help the organisation achieve its goals and the individual to be proud being a part of it. No matter how small or private the community is, there are rules to follow and adhere to. Sometimes it could begin from the family within, schools, workplaces, construction sites, public places, the country and its governance, and the list goes on. Rules, laws and customs are set out to prevent us from conduct that could perhaps harm ourselves, others or the environment. In most situations, it is legitimately put in place in good faith.

Our Heavenly Father has set it up all well since the time of Moses. The Commandments are not merely laws to restrict freedom. On the contrary, they are given so that we will be free from the devil’s temptations. If we are to just understand each commandment in its fundamental purpose, it actually teaches us to be better persons. It is a teaching that provides truly liberating ‘boundaries’ to protect us from more complications in our personal lives. Most importantly, the laws help us to strip away temptations and distractions, so we can focus on a prayerful life turned towards God. This was not to portray God as a disciplinary master, but a Father and teacher who cares deeply about the decisions that we make.

I have fallen victim to numerous temptations over the years. In one way or another, I have surely broken the commandments. In this season of Lent, let God work in our hearts so that we are wise enough not to make silly mistakes, for the strength and courage to reject all temptations especially when we know the negative consequence of disobedience. Let us not be rebellious Christians who try to outwit God. It is just pointless.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: As we live as lawful citizens of our country, make us obedient children of God who follows His commandments and live as Christians.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for always watching over us and guiding us out of sticky situations.

Tuesday, 1 March – Glory in Prayer

1 March

Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors:
Dear Readers, how has your Lent been so far? Some of you may feel a little spark of fire and desire to share what God has done for you or shown you this Lent. Would you like to share your experience through writing a reflection on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings? We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 10 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass (these would be simple as each reflection is based on one reading).



Daniel 3:25,34-43

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray:

Oh! Do not abandon us for ever,
for the sake of your name;
do not repudiate your covenant,
do not withdraw your favour from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your friend,
of Isaac your servant,
and of Israel your holy one,
to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven
and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Lord, now we are the least of all the nations,
now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins.
We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince,
no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense,
no place where we can offer you the first-fruits
and win your favour.
But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you
as holocausts of rams and bullocks,
as thousands of fattened lambs:
such let our sacrifice be to you today,
and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly,
since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed.
And now we put our whole heart into following you,
into fearing you and seeking your face once more.
Do not disappoint us;
treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle
and very merciful.
Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds,
let your name win glory, Lord.


Matthew 18:21-35

Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.

  ‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’


Let your name win glory, Lord

Azariah indeed said a very beautiful prayer to the Lord. In this period of Lent, we are reminded to make this season of fasting, prayer and alms-giving. I always think that prayer is a very personal conversation to the Lord, it is a very powerful tool and act of faith in which we get connected to the Father in a very personal manner. The mistake in which many have made is that, they take prayer like the machine at a fast-food drive-thru machine, making requests and expecting their wants to be delivered.

In today’s reading, Azariah’s prayer have elements of asking for forgiveness, looking for mercy, requests of need and praises of God. Have we been incorporating heartfelt prayers into our daily routine? Do we still tend to blame God for not listening to us? Praying is a constant act. We build our lives closer and closer to God each day by praising Him, like how we would encourage a child in his daily developments. We build our lives closer to God by asking for mercy, because we know He has the power to take away our sins, like how we ask for pardon from people who do not understand us. We build our lives closer to God by asking for forgiveness, because we realised that we have behaved wrongly, like how we ask for forgiveness when we have wronged others and hurt our loved ones.

Prayer encompasses the way we live our worldly lives and the way we live our relationship with God. We are encouraged to pray all the time and pray right. When we have felt that God has answered our prayers, we are encouraged to share that generosity with others. As in today’s Gospel, ‘have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you’. It is never about you and God alone, it has always been about spreading the works of our Lord and giving life to others – being that testament and obedient child of God.

Let us begin to pray right and be inspired by the Lord’s involvement in our lives. Reflect on the wonders He has worked for us, and given us far better things than we have asked for or imagined. Let us recognise that His way of answering our needs, builds up our faith and relationships better than we could have imagined. May we let His name be glorified.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Help us to build a more prayerful life so that we may grow closer to you and be an instrument of Your love to others. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for answering me, and even though I often grow impatient with You, You still love me the same and made me realise that You have better plans for me.

Monday, 29 February – Nothing Difficult

29 February

Dear Readers, as OXYGEN tradition holds, we have our Lenten Call for Volunteer Contributors to share their reflections on Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (26 March) readings. On this day, there is a beautiful Liturgy of the Word where 7 different Readings from the Old Testament Scriptures are accompanied by a Responsarial Psalm. We encourage our readers to send in reflections based on each reading.

Some of you may feel a little spark of fire and desire to share what God has done for you or shown you this Lent. We hope and pray that the Holy Spirit’s nudge may inspire you to action. Write to us: oxygen[at] before 10 March and we will get in touch with you for one of the 9 readings for Easter Vigil Mass (these would be simple as each reflection is based on one reading).



2 Kings 5:1-15

Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper. Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. ‘She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’ Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’ ‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’

  When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’ But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage. But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’ So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

  Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.’


Luke 4:24-30

Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

  ‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

  When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.


Something difficult

Why is God so complicated? Is he really? Perhaps over two thousand years, the teachings and in depth studies of God and in the generations of the Church have become complicated for us to understand. People who are not able to read or have the capacity to understand complex writings will take the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church a rather difficult book to read, much to say, even to understand. I am one of them.

I tried reading the CCC once, its white hard cover and smooth finish on the cover seems like a rather cool book to carry around and try to read and understand. Not that I am proud to say, but I could not get through even a quarter of it. Our Lord and Saviour and the motives of our God Father is never a complicated one. When we read the Bible, various teachings and emphasis from the Father and through Jesus are constantly reminding us to be a person of love, of faith and of mercy. Jesus is much about simplicity, He was sent to our world to be sacrificed and died for our sins. If that is not showing much about love, I do not know what is. We can reflect our Lord’s actions through the daily lives in which we live in. The sacrifices made by people in order to show love unto others. The healing that goes on in this world, whether to be healed physically or emotionally or even spiritually, can be found in the works of man.

As with many, I sometimes find apologizing difficult. Someone once told me to just walk up to the person whom you have wronged, invite him over coffee and then just say a simple ‘sorry’ and that will do. What I had going on in my head was to think of a nice place, expecting to pay for dinner and perhaps make a little homemade gift to show my apology. Then I realised, that act of saying ‘sorry’ is so simple yet difficult to do but perhaps is the most sincere gesture one could ever receive.

We expect and would like to complicate the situation thinking that more is fanciful and effective, but with our Lord, He lives simply and we love the Father back with the beauty of a child. There is to be no lies and no ulterior motives in the way we act and behave to our neighbours. In this way, we will be filled with the laughter and happiness, living in positivity and healing, being loving children of God the Father.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: As I begin my week back at work or in school Lord, lead me through a positive attitude and trust in You that simple gestures of kindness will help those around me.

Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord for my family, my spouse and children, my friends, my supportive workmates for being there for me.