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9 June, Sunday – Among Friends

9 June 2019

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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.’
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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.
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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.’
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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

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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.

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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.’

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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.