Tag Archives: anonymous

28 December, Saturday – The Magic of Dreams

Dec 28 – Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

The Holy Innocents are the children slaughtered by Herod the Great when he tried to kill the infant Christ.

  • Patron Saint Index

The children died for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourned for the death of martyrs. The Christ child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to Himself.

To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.

  • From a sermon by bishop St. Quodvultdeus about the Holy Innocents

______________________

1 John 1:5-2:2

This is what we have heard from Jesus Christ,
and the message that we are announcing to you:
God is light; there is no darkness in him at all.
If we say that we are in union with God
while we are living in darkness,
we are lying because we are not living the truth.
But if we live our lives in the light,
as he is in the light,
we are in union with one another,
and the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.

If we say we have no sin in us,
we are deceiving ourselves
and refusing to admit the truth;
but if we acknowledge our sins,
then God who is faithful and just
will forgive our sins and purify us
from everything that is wrong.
To say that we have never sinned
is to call God a liar
and to show that his word is not in us.

I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.

__________________________

Matthew 2:13-18

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

I called my son out of Egypt.

Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted because they were no more.

__________________________

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

I’ve been very interested in the science behind our dreams. They occur very regularly, even though we may not always remember them when we awake. Serving to help solve problems in our lives, incorporating memories, and processing of our emotions, dreams provide us with a glimpse of what our subconscious mind is grappling with at the present moment.

In today’s Gospel, Joseph’s response to the dream saved his son’s life. He discerned that the dream was a tangible manifestation of God, and acted upon it swiftly. However, most dreams are seldom as clear. In fact, my dreams tend to be very lucid and oftentimes nonsensical. Yet, there are recurring themes and images that provoke much introspection. I have found that dreams bring to the surface our deepest desires and nudge us towards resolving them.

In recent months, I have kept a dreams journal where I record my dreams and pen some reflections on what they could mean. This has helped me crystallise my thoughts and informed a number of major decisions that I had to take. It has also shone the spotlight on areas of my life that I had been neglecting or choosing to ignore. If we strive towards Christian living in our work and personal lives, why not broaden that intent to our non-waking lives as well?

Wishing all of you sweet and meaningful dreams, and many nights of restful sleep.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Abba Father, open our hearts, minds, and ears to your call. As we deepen our relationship with you, draw us closer and keep us on the straight and narrow path.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you, Father, for the many ways that you reach out to us. Thank you for always being present, even though we may overlook you sometimes.

18 October, Friday – Influencers

Oct 18 – Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

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

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

– Patron Saint Index

____________________

2 Timothy 4:10-17

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

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

___________________

Luke 10:1-9

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

____________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

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

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

24 August, Saturday – Supporting Structures

Aug 24 – Feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle

Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was probably a close friend of St. Philip, as his name is always mentioned in the gospels in connection with Philip, and it was Philip who brought Bartholomew to Jesus. He may have written a gospel, now lost, as it is mentioned in other writings of the time.

Someone preached in Asia Minor, Ethiopia, India, and Armenia and left behind assorted writings. Local tradition says it was Bartholomew.

– Patron Saint Index

______________

Apocalypse 21:9-14

The angel came to speak to me, and said, ‘Come here and I will show you the bride that the Lamb has married.’ In the spirit, he took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

______________

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’

______________

Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.

The bible has many accounts of believers who were thrust into the spotlight, called by God to do great things in his name — Moses, David, and Joseph (both of them!) were directed to be leaders of their flock, much to their chagrin.

Yet in organisations or situations, there can only be one chief. Too many voices cloud decision making and the clarity of vision and purpose is diluted. What the chief needs are trusted and dependable deputies who work behind the scenes, implementing the plan. The deputies and workers may never get the same recognition and rewards as the chief, but they are no less important.

Being a deputy or a follower is not a passive undertaking. Merely following instructions, or doing the bare minimum are not behaviours that facilitate any leader’s job. Active followership involves being aligned to a mission, supporting the leader’s decisions, and being proactive in one’s work. The dynamism of shadowing, and pre-empting what our leaders need trains us for a day when we could possibly be the ones steering the ship.

All too many of us yearn for authority and influence, but God will only entrust us with responsibilities once we are ready. Consider how God is asking you to take the back seat in any aspect of your life; and decide if you want to be merely a passenger, or a trusted companion on the journey.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Help us dear Lord, to bloom where we are planted, and to serve with humility and enthusiasm.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you Father, for all the opportunities you present us in life. May we trust in your plan for our lives, as incomprehensible as it can sometimes be.

25 July, Thursday – Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Jul 25 – Feast of St. James, Apostle

St. James (died 44) was the first Apostle to be martyred. He preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. His work in Spain, and the housing of his relics there, led to his patronage of the country and all things Spanish.

Like all men of renown, many stories grew up around St. James. In one, he brought back to life a boy who had been unjustly hanged, and had been dead for five weeks. The boy’s father was notified of the miracle while he sat at supper. The father pronounced the story nonsense, and said his son was no more alive than the roasted fowl on the table; the cooked bird promptly sat up, sprouted feathers, and flew away.

– Patron Saint Index

_________________

2 Corinthians 4:7-15

We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

But as we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.

___________________

Matthew 20:20-28

The mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

____________________

Since we have that same spirit of[ faith, we also believe and therefore speak.
Standing up for others is hardly an easy thing to do. The fear of being judged, the uneasiness of having the spotlight then shone on you, and the discomfort of not belonging to the pack, make it much easier for us to let the victim suffer alone.

We’ve all experienced something like this before. A colleague takes medical leave and his timing could not be worse. He may have a big meeting to steer that day, or had been regularly unwell in the recent past. Murmurings then surface about his frailty, or of him taking the easy way out from having to deal with challenges at work. Or, someone is being unfairly treated because of a toxic blend of double standards in a seniority-based workplace.

I struggle with being the voice of Christ in situations like this. No one should be oppressed, but speaking up could put you on the other side. However, not speaking up and preserving the ‘peace’ puts us on the other side of the table from God. Such is the additional burden of the Catholic life, which is characterized by faith-driven actions.

Should you feel trepidation about being God’s mouthpiece, start this transformative process slowly. Do not expect great changes overnight as the general principle of the 10,000 hours rule applies here. Make your thoughts on such unfair treatment known first in private, or have a one-on-one conversation with the offender to state how you feel. Eventually, it will become natural for you to do so in more communal settings. You will grow in strength and confidence, and earn the gratitude of the weak ones who had no one to fight for them before.

Just as St. James was one of the three chosen apostles to bear witness to Jesus’ Transfiguration, we too are chosen as God’s agents in difficult situations. What we choose to do thereafter then defines who we really are.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: Help us, dear Lord, to be courageous for ourselves and for others in the face of all adversity.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for the gift of our conscience, a compass that always leads to you in our troubled world.

9 June, Sunday – Among Friends

9 June 2019

_________________

Acts 2:1-11

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’
__________________
1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13
No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.
Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
____________________
John 20:19-23
In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
__________________

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them

Our Muslim brothers and sisters recently celebrated Hari Raya Puasa, after observing the fasting month of Ramadan. Fasting is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, which also includes the expression of faith, Salat (praying 5 times a day), Zakat (the right of the poor on the wealth of the financially able), and Haj (once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca).

I try to be sensitive to my Muslim friends’ routine by scheduling dinners around their Iftar, and by not overtly eating and drinking in front of them during the day. Getting them to share their reflections and experiences during the fasting month helps me to get an insight into Islam. By journeying with them during this special time, we build bonds across race and religion that draw us closer as a multi-cultural community. I also really appreciate how my Muslim friends explain the religious and personal significance of fasting to them, and this segues into a lively conversation about our faiths.

When the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles during Pentecost, it was a manifestation of God’s uniting power that fuels our Christian mission. With the Holy Spirit, we can do great things knowing that God is with us and in us, through all our trials and difficulties. This is helpful when many of us are reluctant to publicly proclaim our faith, fearing judgment or questions that we may not be able to answer.

Just as the Apostles were energized during Pentecost, we too can take comfort in the immense love and dynamism that a strong Christian faith provides. Brothers and sisters, I urge you to follow in the Apostles’ footsteps by proudly living your vocation in the face of scrutiny and questions. May we inspire others to do the same by our actions.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer:  Help us dear Lord, to show respect and tolerance for all faiths and beliefs in your world.

Thanksgiving:  We thank you Father, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. It fills us with fervour to serve and glorify you.

14 May, Tuesday – Our Earthly Home

May 14 – Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Matthias (d. 80) was an Apostle. As he could bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, he was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. He preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Judaea, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Ethopia. He is remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. He was martyred in Colchis in AD 80 by stoning.

  • Patron Saint Index

____________________

Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let his camp be reduced to ruin,
Let there be no one to live in it.

And again:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

_________________

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’

_______________________

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

There has been much more awareness regarding climate change in recent months. Scientists have warned us that our planet will become inhospitable to human life as we know it, should nothing be done to reduce carbon emissions and improve our consumption habits. The rise in global temperatures and the extinction of animal species will happen innocuously, much like in the parable of the boiling frog.

While we look forward to meeting God in our heavenly eternity, we must steward the earthly home that He has entrusted us with. Very often, we think of our faith as internally and people-directed. However, we can apply our Christian way of being to how we treat our environment. This discipline preserves our planet for future generations until He comes again, whenever that may be. This echoes today’s Gospel reading where John extols us to go and bear fruit “that will last”.

Seeing the world through a Christian lens makes it possible for us to see God in all things; both in the beautiful and the bad. Coupled with the agency that we have over our choices, we in fact do have plenty of control over how things turn out and what our attitudes towards those outcomes are. Perhaps it is timely for us to look at the world differently and to examine how we live our physical lives so as to synchronise our faith with our actions.

May we all act responsibly as we confront this existential crisis.

(Today’s Oxygen by Anonymous)

Prayer: Dearest God, we pray for our environment. May world leaders and our brothers and sisters work together to preserve what you have so richly blessed us with.

Thanksgiving: Thank you God, for blessing us with the wonders of nature and this beautiful world that we live in.