Saturday, 7 November – Serving 1, Not 2 Masters

7 November

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Romans 16:3-9,16,22-27

My greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked death to save my life: I am not the only one to owe them a debt of gratitude, all the churches among the pagans do as well. My greetings also to the church that meets at their house.

Greetings to my friend Epaenetus, the first of Asia’s gifts to Christ; greetings to Mary who worked so hard for you; to those outstanding apostles Andronicus and Junias, my compatriots and fellow prisoners who became Christians before me; to Ampliatus, my friend in the Lord; to Urban, my fellow worker in Christ; to my friend Stachys; Greet each other with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

I, Tertius, who wrote out this letter, greet you in the Lord. Greetings from Gaius, who is entertaining me and from the whole church that meets in his house. Erastus, the city treasurer, sends his greetings; so does our brother Quartus.

Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith. This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

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Luke 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him. He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’

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….but God knows your hearts

In today’s reading, Jesus tells us that we cannot be both wealthy and serve the Lord, as if God and money are in opposing teams. It calls to mind the parable of the rich young man who did not want to give up his wealth when Jesus asked him to give it all up and to follow Him.

Often, something else becomes the master of our lives. For those of us who consider Jesus as that master, they are already on the right path. But some of us have other masters or idols — it could be material wealth, as stated in the gospel; or it could be possessions, an addiction, or anything that we cannot give up and perhaps idolise. It could even be a person as well. At a retreat, one priest said that these are the drama series that the elderly watch habitually and, for the young adults, it is the handphones they cannot seem to put down. Even while worshipping in church, we observe people who are using their phones when it should be time that we dedicate towards worshipping God. Why do we allow our attention and time to be divided, to the extent that God is not at the centre of our lives, and no longer the focus during the Eucharistic celebration?

During our time of worship at mass and in our personal prayer time, what is robbing us from this union with our Lord? If we somethimes feel that we do not have the time for prayer nor for our families, what is getting in the way of this? If Jesus asks us to let go of everything and everyone today, will we still hold something back? That is the thing we need to be aware of as the other master. We need to remember at all times, that everything we have is a gift from God — people, possessions, desires, dreams  — all good things come from God. Hence the very things that hold us back may not necessarily be bad; though it could be for some of us. However, God has blessed us with wisdom so that we can let go and let God.

We can fool others by portraying a certain image of ourselves but we need to be reassured that we need not wear a mask and the Lord who created us knows us as we are –He knows our hearts.

Being in a relationship is a sort of esteemed status and often, I have encountered people advising me to find someone who would ‘love me’. The terms of love and what this love means is not seen as what God intended for a man and his wife. Cohabitation, pre-marital unions, same sex relationships are sadly considered as a means to happiness. If we are in these relationships, we know that we are not living in a state of grace and that, by our own doing, we are applying ungodly masters in our lives.

Today, let us give to God the other master which we are serving. Let us decide to be virtuous and righteous by everything we think, say and do. Let us remember that our Saviour King was born in a stable to a carpenter and his wife — a humble state which He assumed so that we could be made rich. Born of human parents and suffering death on the cross, He showed us that He held nothing back, so that we could be together with Him in eternity and so that we are made one with Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, teach us to let you be the Lord of our lives by letting go of anything that comes in between us and the plans that you have for us. Show us what it means to be in loving obedience to you.

Thanksgiving: Lord, every day we will bless your name and we will praise your name forever. Great are you and highly to be praised.

 

Friday, 6 November – You Are Full of Goodness

6 November

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Romans 15:14-21

My brothers, I am quite certain that you are full of good intentions, perfectly well instructed and able to advise each other. The reason why I have written to you, and put some things rather strongly, is to refresh your memories, since God has given me this special position. He has appointed me as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am to carry out my priestly duty by bringing the Good News from God to the pagans, and so make them acceptable as an offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

I think I have some reason to be proud of what I, in union with Christ Jesus, have been able to do for God. What I am presuming to speak of, of course, is only what Christ himself has done to win the allegiance of the pagans, using what I have said and done by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus all the way along, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have preached Christ’s Good News to the utmost of my capacity. I have always, however, made it an unbroken rule never to preach where Christ’s name has already been heard. The reason for that was that I had no wish to build on other men’s foundations; on the contrary, my chief concern has been to fulfil the text: Those who have never been told about him will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand.

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Luke 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.’

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Those who have never been told about him will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand.

If we are to consider ourselves as belonging to God, then we cannot deny that we are full of Goodness. This may sound like we are an improved milk formula, but let us take a minute to reflect on the goodness within us. How can we exploit this goodness for God’s kingdom?

In today’s gospel, the squandering steward chose to prove his worthiness and capability to his master by acting prudently as the situation demanded, so that he could remain secure in his position as the steward, and so that his future could be secured. There is a cue we can take from this once dishonest steward.

If we have ‘squandered’ away our morals or talents, we can start to make amends by living a life of dignity and offering our talents for the glory of God, and to the service of others. Have we been too laid back with the call of our Father? Is He calling us for a greater intimacy with Him? Is He calling us to become a religious or to enter into married life? What is holding us back from this invitation? Surely we can find a prudent way to answer His call, which is the perfect path for us. God will not call us to do something wrong or deceitful. We have to learn to trust Him and follow Him.

The steward in today’s gospel realised that it was worth coaxing his master, as a means to change his reputation and alter his status. Are we sometimes too proud to admit that we need a change of heart? That we need to let go of certain ways so that we too can gain a renewed image, just like the steward did when he became the prudent one, rather than the dishonest one?

Today, let us pledge to do all it takes to return to His loving embrace. Let us look into our lives and ensure that our lives are ‘honesty proof’, that we are honest in all our dealings and relationships so that others who come in contact with us will know Our God whom they have not seen or heard of.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer:Father God, help us to recognise your mercy and give us the wisdom to return to you. Help us to be vessels in which your love is perfected and for this we need your help to be with us as we strive daily to keep your word, O Lord. 

Thanksgiving: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.

 

Thursday, 5 November – 1 Beloved Sinner vs 99 Righteous People

5 November

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Romans 14:7-12

The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. This explains why Christ both died and came to life, it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. This is also why you should never pass judgement on a brother or treat him with contempt, as some of you have done. We shall all have to stand before the judgement seat of God; as scripture says: By my life – it is the Lord who speaks – every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall praise God. It is to God, therefore, that each of us must give an account of himself.

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Luke 15:1-10

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:

‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.

‘Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” she would say “I have found the drachma I lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.’

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If we live, we live for the Lord and if we die, we die for the Lord.

St Paul certainly has a way of capturing the essence of our identity in Christ and our place in God’s family. If we live, we live for the Lord and if we die we die for the Lord, so then if we live or we die we are the Lord’s. Why then do we judge others and look down on others?

Personally I think unresolved hurts and baggage, pride and self-righteousness can cause us to judge others and look down on them. I sometimes find myself looking down on others only to realise that people of status and virtue are truly humble and are ‘real’. It requires a change of heart on my part to see everyone as a child of God, and to ask for the grace to see them as those made in His image and likeness.

One of my friends was relating her anger and disappointment about a guy she dated, concluding that she hates all men. During the discussion, we both discovered that even those who persecute us and hurt us deeply are made in His perfect image. Being made in the image of Christ warrants love, grace and acceptance. We are His, so we have to love like Him, live like Him and even be prepared to die like Him. There is no better way for us to do this than by worshipping him on bended knee and confessing His majesty.

When we are tempted to judge the sinners among us, let us remember that we are not without sin ourselves; we are, but with different sins. We are not in a competition for ‘righteousness’ because we were made righteous by the Lamb of God and not by our own merit. The parable of the one lost sheep is a great reminder of how the Lord is after each of our hearts. He wants us to be repentant and completely in union with Him. Even if he has 99 cardinals and priests at his altar, he has, and continues to pursue the sinful me/us.

His love for us is so great that He has prepared a place in His perfect Home for us. He is truly interested in the ‘happily ever after’ with each of us – the sinner, the righteous, we are all His. He wants us all safe, just as a shepherd herds His sheep and the widow looks for that one lost coin — He is after us at all cost. How do we know this? He continues to do it for us every minute of the day, even while we sleep and if, for some reason, we are not able to see His hands in our life, it is impossible to deny what he did for us that day at Calvary.

Today, let us get real with our walk with Christ. Is there any area in our life where we do not feel His presence, His gentle touch and His coaxing voice? Let us allow Him in, for right now is the perfect time. Any delay on our part only causes more pain within us and creates a barrier between the Lord and us.

What is happening in our relationships? Is there someone that we are judging or have judged? Let us pray for this son or daughter of God, that we are able love and respect this person. It is clearly not our place to decide that this person whom we look down upon, whether in the past, currently or in the future, is not worthy of our acceptance. For each of us is made worthy by Christ.

Do we apply the same standards of the 1 coin and 1 sheep with our family members? Or are we tempted to say that we have just grown apart? Are we ‘unfriending’ our friends because we are self-righteous to an extent that this has become our right?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, cleanse us from the habit of judgment and condemnation. Help us to remember that you did not judge us and help to be more like you in our relationships. Guard all our relationships so that in those relationships, it will be reflected that we are truly yours.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we want to gaze upon your loveliness and be residents of your holy temple. As we wait on you, we believe that we shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Thank you for consistently pursuing us with your perfect Love.

 

Wedesday, 4 November – Love is the Law

4 November – St Charles Borromeo

Charles (1538-1584) was born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, and the son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Marghertita de’ Medici. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He suffered from a speech impediment, but studied in Milan, and at the University of Pavia, at one point studying under the future Pope Gregory XIII.

He became a civil and canon lawyer at the age of 21, and a cleric at Milan, taking the habit on Oct 13, 1547. He became Abbot of three different abbeys until Jan 13, 1560. He was protonotary apostolic participantium and referendary of the papal court to Pope Pius IV. He was also a member of the counsulta for the administration of the Papal States on Jan 20, 1560. He was appointed abbot commendatario for an abbey in Portugal, and an abbey in Flanders on Jan 27, 1560.

On Jan 31, 1560, he was apostolic administrator of Milan, Italy. On Feb 8, 1560, then a papal legate to Bologna and Romandiola for two years beginning on Apr 26, 1560. He was made a deacon on Dec 21, 1560, and appointed Vatican Secretary of State. He was made an honorary citizen of Rome on Jul 1, 1561, and founded the “Accademia Vaticana” in 1562.

He was finally ordained on Sep 4, 1563, and helped reopen the Council of Trent, and participated in its sessions during 1562 and 1563. He was ordained Bishop of Milan on Dec 7, 1563 and was President of the commission of theologians charged by the pope to elaborate the Catechismus Romanus. He also worked on the revision of the Missal and Breviary, and was a member of a commission to reform church music.

He participated in the conclave of cardinals in 1565-66 that chose Pope Pius V, and he asked the new pope to take the name. Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of Oct 26, 1569. He was shot at, but not hit.

He also participated in the conclave in 1572 that chose Pope Gregory XIII. He worked with the sick, and helped bury the dead during the plague outbreak in Milan in 1576. He established the Oblates of St. Ambrose on Apr 26, 1578, and was a teacher, confessor, and parish priest to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, giving him his first communion on Jul 22, 1580.

Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese. He directed and fervently enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther, founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, hospitals for the sick, conducted synods, instituted children’s Sunday school, did great public and private penance, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example.

He is the patron saint for bishops; catechists; catechumens; seminarians; spiritual directors; and spiritual leaders.

Prayer to St. Charles Borromeo

O Saintly reformer, animator of spiritual renewal of priests and religious, you organized true seminaries and wrote a standard catechism. Inspire all religious teachers and authors of catechetical books. Move them to love and transmit only that which can form true followers of the Teacher who was divine. Amen.

– Patron Saint Index

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Romans 13:8-10

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

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Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’

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Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

Love is so often misunderstood. To us Catholics, we know that Love won when Jesus died on the cross for us. The love we know, is to give up one’s life for the other, the love that we are called to offer even to our enemies.

In today’s reading, we are told that love is the fulfilment of the law. The 10 Commandments are summed up in 2 commandments – love towards God and love towards our neighbours.

In a recent homily, the priest said that love can hurt, a little contrasting towards the love we all cling on to as depicted in 1 Cor 13. Nevertheless, the priest sure drove home a very important message on love. In human relationships, we sometimes encounter challenging phases – children who are living in addiction, young children whose parents constantly yell at each other, conflicts at home, in the workplace and in church.

Jesus has set the tone for us on how to love, by his example and in today’s readings. Today’s gospel reminds us to renounce our possessions, at times our ill habits such as arrogance and selfish pride can be an obstacle towards loving others as we ought to.

How has our quest for success and achieving our dreams and goals stopped us from loving others in the same measure as we love ourselves? Are we adamant of getting a promotion or increment at any cost, that we would try and undermine the reputation of a co-worker and play the office politics? As singles, are we so hung up on our dreams of a ‘happily ever after’ that we are focussed solely on ourselves and our love interests that we are too busy to serve others?

A friend of mine recently invited a single lady friend of hers to join her and a fiancé for a movie and dinner outing on a Friday night. At first glance, that does not seem like a lot; but it is her effort to love her friend in a way that she would have felt cherished.

What is stopping us from loving our spouses, children, in-laws, parents and friends in a way that would make them feel cherished and loved? Gary Chapman, in his book, ‘5 love languages’ tells us the importance of this because we all ‘read’ into love differently.

When we need to reconcile with someone, it matters not who is at fault or who started it. It does not even matter if the issue that hurt the other party is something we consider trivial. Our job is to forgive, reconcile, heal, release and find ways to love this person we have hurt. This is when love truly hurts, because it takes a lot to admit to something that seems like a ‘non-issue’ to us, let alone seek forgiveness for it. Yet, we rely on this God of Love to see us through, when we struggle with love and when we hurt while we continue love.

Today is the appropriate time to decide to love people and not things. To give to the needy, to share with others, to grow with others and to love others just as Christ had. It gets easier each time by the help of He who is Love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, help us to give up our materialistic habits, pride, arrogance, individualistic nature for the kind of love we long for, the love that is meant for us, when we start loving like you. Forgive us for the times we have failed to love but deliver us from our temptations when we are faced with love that hurts. 

Thanksgiving: Lord, we want to thank you for our loved ones, for our parents, spouses, in-laws, children, the special people in the world, the poor, the marginalised, for it is in others that we live in your love.

 

Tuesday, 3 November – Though Many, We Are One

3 November – St Martin de Porres

Martin (1579-1639) was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Juan, and a young freed black slave, Anna Velasquez. He grew up in poverty and spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick.

At the age of 11, he became a servant in the Holy Rosary Dominican priory in Lima, Peru. He was promoted to almoner and begged more than $2,000 a week from the rich to support the poor and sick in Lima. He was placed in charge of the Dominican’s infirmary, and was known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order” and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother in 1603.

He established an orphanage and children’s hospital for the poor children of the slums. He set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. He lived in self-imposed austerity, never eating meat, fasting continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation with a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He was a friend of St. John de Massias.

He was venerated from the day of his death. Many miraculous cures, including raising the dead, have been attributed to Brother Martin, the first black saint from the Americas.

– Patron Saint Index

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Romans 12:5-16

All of us, in union with Christ, form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other. Our gifts differ according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophecy, then use it as your faith suggests; if administration, then use it for administration; if teaching, then use it for teaching. Let the preachers deliver sermons, the almsgivers give freely, the officials be diligent, and those who do works of mercy do them cheerfully.

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

Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor. Do not allow yourself to become self-satisfied.

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Luke 14:15-24

One of those gathered round the table said to him, ‘Happy the man who will be at the feast in the kingdom of God!’ But he said to him, ‘There was a man who gave a great banquet, and he invited a large number of people. When the time for the banquet came, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come along: everything is ready now.” But all alike started to make excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies.” Yet another said, “I have just got married and so am unable to come.”

‘The servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the householder, in a rage, said to his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” “Sir” said the servant “your orders have been carried out and there is still room.” Then the master said to his servant, “Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and force people to come in to make sure my house is full; because, I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet.”’

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Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer

Today’s readings remind that each of us are different, we have different gifts and as uniquely as we are made, He still calls us to be One. Despite our unique gifts and talents, God has called us to be One. His sacrifice of His body and blood has made us One. The whole of the Catholic Church is one in the Eucharist and because of it.

In today’s reading we are invited by our Lord to rejoice in hope, endure in affliction and persevere in prayer.

Rejoice in Hope – the hope we know is a gift of the Holy Spirit. There were times in the past when I could not understand why and how I could hope, yet there was alwayas a steady hope in me. With the strength of the Lord, I continued to have this hope in my Lord. There was a joy I had which I could not pinpoint to any other area of my life, but towards God.

Endure in affliction – Affliction is very subjective because more often than not, I find myself in afflictions which are self-inflicted and there are those rare moments when I am challenged with one because the Lord is working within me and moulding me. Either way, endurance is a quality that we all need — in our families, in our workplace, with our spouses and in-laws, in ministry life and at work. I would like to see my ‘afflictions’ as a phase from which God will bail me out from. “It is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).

Persevere in prayer – This requires some child-like trust.  Do we have what it takes to stay close to God through our prayer life as if all our prayers will be answered? For years, I have been asking God to lead the right man to me. And at the appropriate time, God will come through for me like He always has.

Today, let us ask God for a breakthrough in our lives that we are able to rejoice in hope, endure in times of affliction and persevere in prayer for the rest of our days, and in all areas of our life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord God, help us to love each other sincerely, help us to love like you. In your great mercy, make us worthy to be able to eat at your table and be one with you in paradise. 

Thanksgiving: In you, O Lord, I have found my peace. My soul is like a weaned child, like a weaned child on its mother’s lap. I cannot stop thanking you for making me your own. All praise to your Majesty, Lord.

Monday, 2 November – From the Foundation of the World

2 November – All Souls Day

Today we celebrate a feast in commemoration of the faithful departed in purgatory, that is, the faithful departed who have not yet been purified and reached Heaven. After Abbot Odilo of Cluny instituted it in the monasteries of his congregation in 998, other religious orders took up the observance, and it was adopted by various dioceses and gradually by the whole Church. The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy on this day and Pope Benedict XV granted to all priests the privilege of saying three Masses of requiem: one for the souls in purgatory, one for the intention of the Holy Father, one for the priest’s.

– Patron Saint Index

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Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,
no torment shall ever touch them.
In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,
their going looked like a disaster,
their leaving us, like annihilation;
but they are in peace.
If they experienced punishment as men see it,
their hope was rich with immortality;
slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be.
God has put them to the test
and proved them worthy to be with him;
he has tested them like gold in a furnace,
and accepted them as a holocaust.
When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out;
as sparks run through the stubble, so will they.
They shall judge nations, rule over peoples,
and the Lord will be their king for ever.
They who trust in him will understand the truth,
those who are faithful will live with him in love;
for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.

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Romans 5:5-11

Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.

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Mark 15:33-39,16:1-6

When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling on Elijah.’ Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink saying; ‘Wait and see if Elijah will come to take him down.’ But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, ‘In truth this man was a son of God.’

When the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising.

They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But when they looked they could see that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him.’

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The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want

Most of us city dwellers have never seen a sheep nor a shepherd. I have seen a few while I was growing up in the suburbs and sometimes, in the fields near the campus I work at. There are still cow herds and shepherds in Malaysia. For most of the people I know, the term shepherd is made in reference to Jesus predominantly. 2000 years later as Catholics, we are used to referring to Jesus, our bishops and priests as our shepherds.

In a self-seeking  and driven world it can be quite a challenge to accept bible verses such as “the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” and “His grace is sufficient for me”. It takes a lot of dependence, trust and surrender – things that the world will sum up as weaknesses. Logically, can this be true? That all we need is our shepherd and His grace? We all know that He is our mighty teacher and one who never lies to us nor deceives us, and that alone is a clear indication that He is all we need.

Personally, I recite Psalm 23 when I am walking down a secluded alley in the dark, alone. On one particular night in 2008, when I was in Venice, I went out on my own to watch a jazz performance. After wandering about, I realised that I had alighted at the wrong water taxi stop. Feeling rather adventurous, I thought I could walk through the canals and reach my hostel that night. However, after walking alone for some time and with no one in sight, I started whispering to myself, “When I walk through the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear.” It is a very powerful prayer and I have prayed this many times, especially while travelling alone. 

However, I realise that trying to fully embrace ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want’ takes me out of my own human nature. I constantly have many wants — I want to travel, I want to cook all the cute dishes, I want to spend more time with my loved ones, I want to be able to pay all my bills seamlessly and I want to have beautiful babies. So wanting to submit to my Lord, though He is worthy, can be somewhat of a tall order. I love to be in control of the situation and its outcomes. Lately however, I realised how my controlling nature is detrimental to submitting to God and trusting Him totally. At that point, I also had a strong desire to want to honour my parents, especially my father, without seeing the connection. By the grace of God, I came to know that I had to let my father lead me, love me and nurture me in his own terms and that required trust and maturity on my part. The more I began to release the ‘controlling ways’ in our relationship, the more I began to see what a wonderful man (and father) he really is. Therefore, submitting to him is truly worthy and warranted of me. I find myself reflecting on how I can truly depend on him and trust him and love him. I acknowledge that honouring my father has helped so much in this process; after all, we are still talking of the Father’s Love. As a woman, I foresee this trait will be crucial in my relationship with my future spouse as well.

Today, if you are a single woman, are you submitting to your father? And, as a married woman, are there areas in your life that may be holding you back from submitting to your husband? Men, are you honouring your wife the way Christ honours sinners like us, in order for us to be one with Him? As single men, are you honouring your mothers who love you more than she loves herself? As children of God, are we prepared to honour the One true God as our shepherd, allowing Him to father us, mould us and lead us and to live as if He is all we will ever need.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Daddy God, you are worthy of local trust and submission. Help us Lord to be faithful to you and to trust you in every season of our lives. Forgive us for the times we have failed to let you be God. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your love and for the hope that you have given us through the Holy Spirit. We thank you, dear God, for keeping all our loved ones who have gone before us safe in your loving embrace.

 

Sunday, 1 November – Attitude in Christ

1 November – All Saints Day

Instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown. It owes its origin in the Western Church to the dedication of the Roman Pantheon in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs by Pope Saint Boniface IV in 609, the anniversary of which was celebrated at Rome on 13 May. Pope Saint Gregory III consecrated a chapel in the Vatican basilica in honour of All Saints, designating 1 November as their feast. Pope Gregory IV extended its observance to the whole Church. It has a vigil and octave, and is a holy day of obligation; the eve is popularly celebrated as Halloween.

– Patron Saints Index

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Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14

I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.

After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’

One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’

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1 John 3:1-3

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.
Surely everyone who entertains this hope
must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.

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Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

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Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

When we think about God’s plan in our lives and as we live according to His will, we are led to think about Mother Mary, who submitted entirely to God’s will. And while this may be a good starting point, we could end up quite disillusioned to think that God’s plan entails only suffering and pain, without realising that His plan for us is to be happy and satisfied. In the Beatitudes, we are reminded that God calls us to be ‘blessed’, for which another term is ‘happy.’

Should it surprise us then that the lover of our souls gives priority to our happiness? It is no wonder then He reveals to the disciples ‘the secret to happiness’ in the form of the Beatitudes. If we were to be merciful or clean of heart, it should be no different when we are mourning or being gentle or poor in the spirit. In understanding the Beatitudes, we ask for His wisdom to see as He does and not as we or the world does, just as He has reminded us that His thoughts and His ways are not as ours are (Isa 55).

The Beatitudes – the attitude of Jesus, can bring true and total happiness. In the days leading up to the launch of the Year of Mercy, I am most aware of a particular beatitude, ‘blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.’ This is also the theme for the upcoming World Youth Day in Poland. We had T-shirts on that theme and wore them for some of our activities and will be wearing them during World Youth Day. Most times, I am at the crossroads figuring out how to embrace mercy as a personal preparation for our pilgrimage to Poland.

I find myself being reminded constantly of the unending, unfathomable mercy of our Lord, that He would love a sinner like me. That He who is above all, has called me His child and He cherishes me; and how, as a Father, He is truly proud of me and as a lover that He truly desires me. This resonated well with a recent homily at mass when the priest said that mercy is something that is undeserved.

And when it comes to relationships with others, what is the role of mercy? Lately, even though I am a grown woman, living alone and making my own decisions in life, I found myself imitating the things my dad does. It comes from a place of true admiration and looking up to a man of virtue. In the same vein, I am aware that God is more of my father than my daddy, Stephen. He is the Divine Mercy and, at times, I feel like I am in touch with the pain within myself when I choose not to imitate Him and His mercy, by not extending it towards others and also to myself.

The times when I am not inclusive in my love and friendships, the times when I hold on to what I consider my right and my ‘place’ and treat mercy as if it was a privilege to a few, I put a barrier between my Father and myself.

How do we imitate this saintly habit of being merciful is a question we all should ponder. Are we at a place in our lives when we are trying to be more worthy of His mercy? Do we realise that just as we are called to love ourselves, we also need to be merciful to ourselves? Are we able to accept and forgive our failings and shortcomings without beating ourselves too much over them? We need to strive to become like St Peter who, despite denying our Lord three times, went on to build His church which stands tall till this very day. St Peter was merciful towards himself maybe because He saw it first in our Lord.  Today, let us remember that Jesus is merciful to everyone, even to Judas who betrayed Him, and that His mercy is greater than any sin of ours or of others.

Today, on this blessed feast of All Saints, let us ask our patron saint to pray for us and with us. Let us be inspired by the saints we hold dear. Let us remind ourselves that we are all called to be saints and that this is not a privilege of only a few.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord of Mercy, show us your mercy that we become One with you by imitating your Mercy and love. Help us to be living saints and to live a life of happiness as you had intended for us. St Stephen, St Paul, St Anthony, St Pio, St Faustina, St John Paul, St Raphael and all Holy angels and saints of God, pray for us. 

Thanksgiving: Lord, we are the people who want to see your face. Thank you for the gift of the holy saints.

 

Saturday, 31 October – Conducting Our Affairs with Humility

31 October

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Romans 11:1-2,11-12,25-29

Let me put a further question: is it possible that God has rejected his people? Of course not. I, an Israelite, descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin, could never agree that God had rejected his people, the people he chose specially long ago. Do you remember what scripture says of Elijah – how he complained to God about Israel’s behaviour? Let me put another question then: have the Jews fallen for ever, or have they just stumbled? Obviously they have not fallen for ever: their fall, though, has saved the pagans in a way the Jews may now well emulate. Think of the extent to which the world, the pagan world, has benefited from their fall and defection – then think how much more it will benefit from the conversion of them all. There is a hidden reason for all this, brothers, of which I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do. One section of Israel has become blind, but this will last only until the whole pagan world has entered, and then after this the rest of Israel will be saved as well. As scripture says: The liberator will come from Zion, he will banish godlessness from Jacob. And this is the covenant I will make with them when I take their sins away.

The Jews are enemies of God only with regard to the Good News, and enemies only for your sake; but as the chosen people, they are still loved by God, loved for the sake of their ancestors. God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.

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Luke 14:1,7-11

On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

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I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do.

Most of my friends will call me a no-nonsense kind of a person; take no prisoners. I simply cannot stand it when someone is constantly late for appointments or meetings. When something needs to get done, I see through a person’s excuse for not putting in their fair share of work.      I hate it that people worm their way out of things. I used to give my colleagues and friends the killer look or a sarcastic one-liner. They would know when I am annoyed.

But there is another side of me not many people see – I am a real softie at heart. I hate seeing the wee old man selling tissue packs (though I know that it’s a syndicate fleecing us), or the little old lady painstakingly collecting cardboard boxes and peering into trash bins looking for cans. My heart aches just a little when I hear personal stories about how they give up ‘normal lives’ that you and I take for granted, for far more noble vocations. 

I have been a benefactor of sorts for a particular individual for some time. Simply because this person has given up much. It gives me immense joy to be able to do something for this person and I really do not expect anything in return. Or so I thought. Recently, I felt a little taken for granted. And I started to resent what I was doing. I started to resent the person as well. Why was I doing so much without getting a single ‘Thank you. That was nice of you!’ In fact, to this person, I am hardly visible. So for a long while, I simply stopped. I harboured hurt, indignation and disappointment.

Today’s gospel reading tells us that the person who deems himself distinguished, may well have to take a hit in his own self-importance.  But the humble will be exalted.

In both scenarios, I am far from humble.

In Scenario 1, I was judging people by my own ridiculously high standards, refusing to see or acknowledge that there might be a really good reason for people being late, or not doing something they were meant to do. Even if they were really just lazy or disrespectful of other people’s time, who am I to judge?

As for Scenario 2, I was brought down to earth! One afternoon, I was reflecting on Luke 16: 19-31 (The story of the rich man & Lazarus). “Who would have gladly eaten his fill of scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” At this time, I was still in ‘resentment’ mode. These words sprung to my mind….Be humble and not haughty. You think you are generous?  For it is easy to be generous with those we love. Are you doing this for them or yourself? It appeared I was being reprimanded by our Lord. As I thought about it more, was I really doing this for the love of a brethren? Or was I doing this to feel good about myself?

“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a lavish giver. The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave, and then you will find favour with the Lord; for great is the power of God, by the humble he is glorified” Sirach 4:17-19.

In today’s first reading, Saint Paul told the Romans ‘I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do.’ Do I know everything and the circumstances about the person who has hurt me? Am I being too quick to jump to conclusions and thus judging someone indiscriminately?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Father, teach us to not be so judgmental and self-important that we don’t take the time to walk in the other person’s shoes. Forgive us for our wilful and stubborn ways. May we not get so caught up in getting things done in the busy-ness of life that we hurt and trample upon others with our callous words. Teach us Lord, humility, in every aspect of our lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank You, Lord for caring for each and every one of us as individuals. Though You are perfect, You are God; You never expected us to be perfect. Flawed as we are, You still love us so much. Thank You, Lord.

 

Friday, 30 October – Immense Love

30 October

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Romans 9:1-5

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.

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Luke 14:1-6

On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. ‘There in front of him was a man with dropsy, and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees. ‘Is it against the law’ he asked ‘to cure a man on the sabbath, or not?’ But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a sabbath day without hesitation?’ And to this they could find no answer.

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I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.

Which of us would not do anything in our power to pull our loved ones out of a difficult situation no matter what it takes? Which parent would not gladly trade their lives for that of a terminally ill child? I know I would.

In today’s first reading, we see the anguish and grief Saint Paul felt for the Jews because of their stubborn persistence, and rejection as a nation, and the many miseries which he foresaw to be coming upon them. Yet his affection was so great for his brothers and sisters that he was willing to be condemned, disgraced and be in the deepest distress and cut off from Christ. All this he would suffer, if it meant he could rescue them from destruction that was about to befall them because of their unbelief.

Recently, I came across a story which moved me so much that it stuck in my mind. This is about what a child would go through, not only for herself, but for her parent. I felt a mixture of sadness and anger at our affluent society.

This is the story of a young 17 year old girl. Her parents divorced and their lives turned upside down. Both mother and daughter were left without a home. They had no financial means to rent one and no one could offer them a place to stay. Mother and daughter had to separate – a relative took the mother in, while the daughter stayed for short periods with whomever could offer her a place to sleep for the night. At times, when there was no place she could go, she would stay up at void decks or at the beach.

At the time, she was also on scholarship at a local arts academy. Her monthly allowance could not cover her mother’s medical bills and other expenses; not to mention her school materials. With the pressing issues at hand, she found herself skipping classes. She simply did not have resources to go to school. The school threatened to expel her. The local education ministry was going to pull the scholarship and wanted her to pay back what they had invested in her. She begged the school and the ministry to give her a second chance, determined to finish school.

She worked several jobs to make ends meet. The money she made enabled her to be reunited with her mother again – she was able to rent a room for them. It did not matter that it was a modest space, what was important was – they were together. To cut short the story, she eventually graduated with help and encouragement from her teachers and friends. Today she has a roof over her head together with her mother and is an art teacher.

This is a story of determination, courage and immense love for loved ones. She could have gone the other way. She could have given up and fallen in with unsavoury company. She could have fended for herself and not cared for her mother. Despite what our society threw at her, no help, no empathy, no support but pain and humiliation – she remained steadfast, determined and committed.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day?’ The Pharisees were so caught up in rules and legalism that they failed to see God’s intention for the Sabbath — which is to do good and to heal!

What have we, as part of this Singaporean family done to help her? Are we so caught up in legalism that we have lost all sense of compassion?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may our lives be testimony of the love and affection You have for us. Increase our faith, hope and charity. Fill us with Your love, that we may never hold back our love and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters.

Thanksgiving: God of all blessings, thank You for the love of family and friends without which there would be no life. Thank you for this very day, one more day to love, one more person to love and by whom be loved. For these, and all blessings, we give you thanks, eternal, loving God, through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

 

Thursday, 29 October – A Deep Relationship with the Father

29 October

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Romans 8:31-39

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.

Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. As scripture promised: For your sake we are being massacred daily, and reckoned as sheep for the slaughter. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.

For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Luke 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came up. ‘Go away’ they said. ‘Leave this place, because Herod means to kill you.’ He replied, ‘You may go and give that fox this message: Learn that today and tomorrow I cast out devils and on the third day attain my end. But for today and tomorrow and the next day I must go on, since it would not be right for a prophet to die outside Jerusalem.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused! So be it! Your house will be left to you. Yes, I promise you, you shall not see me till the time comes when you say:

‘Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!’

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For today and tomorrow and the next day I must go on.

My father is a man that enjoys his food and loves his food jaunts with his friends. But being diabetic, the over-indulgence of food often lands him into trouble. His sugar level would play havoc on him and he would end up in hospital. No amount of nagging at him or being mad at him would have him give up his favourite food.

In early October 2010, on my birthday, my father got warded into hospital. We thought it was gout but that morning, the pain he experienced turned out to be far worse than we thought.

Overnight, large red blisters the size of my palm appeared on his left leg – filled with fluid and water. He had developed cellulitis. The antibiotics administered did nothing to alleviate his pain or get rid of those horrible blisters. A week later, he had to have emergency surgery. He came out of the operation alright but he also suffered a heart attack.

This was the turning point of our lives. For dad and for our family. By the end of October, the medical team told us that there was nothing more they could do to save his leg. He was fighting a battle with his immune system. It felt like someone punched me in my stomach really hard. Numb dull pain afterwards. I called my orthopaedic friend for a second opinion and the prognosis was the same as that of the hospital’s medical team. I would have given my life for everything to be good again for Dad – for his freedom, the walks, and the daily lunches with his friends. How would this all change for him? For us? How would I tell him the news? It would literally break him.

In early November, I did the hardest thing any child could possibly do – tell their parent that there is nothing anyone can do to save his limb – but to amputate it.  I had to put on the bravest front, to be the most practical. I had been a wreck for a week before that. How could I gently tell him? How he would take this news. Dad’s response surprised us. “Just get rid of it and let me go home!” he said. This was probably out of frustration for being in such pain and stuck in the hospital for a month.

On 5th November, my dad lost his leg. My heart broke into a million tiny pieces when I walked into that hospital room that evening. Seeing him lay there with a stump – a clear void where his left leg used to be, was just too painful. I put on a brave front for him, asked him how he felt but walked right out of the room and bawled my eyes out. I’d thought I’d be stronger than that. I wasn’t.  But dad was. He was alert, ate his biscuits and even planned his lunch menu for the next day. Unbelievable. He was determined to get on and go back home. But for today and tomorrow and the next day I must go on. Nothing was going to stop him living his life. I learnt a lesson that day. That while I was worried sick about how life would change for all of us thereafter; if dad might get into a depressive state. But he was a trooper. His will to live life as normally as he possibly could showed me not only how strong his faith was, but his determination.

In today’s gospel reading, we see how Jesus was determined to carry out his mission despite threats on his life. Nobody likes discomfort along the journey of life. Yet, Jesus signed up willingly for a journey whose path would be strewn with resistance, rejection, humiliation, pain and ultimately end in death. What kind of person signs up knowingly for that? Jesus’ faith flows from his sense of mission and his deep relationship with the Father.

When we face a rough patch along our journey of life, can we have the same determination to stay on course?

Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Abba Father, when life throws us lemons, help us always to remember that no created thing can ever come between us and the love of God.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for loving us so much, that you willingly chose to walk through the treacherous path that led to your death. So that we might live.