Tag Archives: austin leong

5 September, Wednesday – Spiritual Worth

5 September

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1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Brothers, I myself was unable to speak to you as people of the Spirit: I treated you as sensual men, still infants in Christ. What I fed you with was milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it; and indeed, you are still not ready for it since you are still unspiritual. Isn’t that obvious from all the jealousy and wrangling that there is among you, from the way that you go on behaving like ordinary people? What could be more unspiritual than your slogans, ‘I am for Paul’ and ‘I am for Apollos’?

After all, what is Apollos and what is Paul? They are servants who brought the faith to you. Even the different ways in which they brought it were assigned to them by the Lord. I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God made things grow. Neither the planter nor the waterer matters: only God, who makes things grow. It is all one who does the planting and who does the watering, and each will duly be paid according to his share in the work. We are fellow workers with God; you are God’s farm, God’s building.

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Luke 4:38-44

Leaving the synagogue Jesus went to Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them. Devils too came out of many people, howling, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered, ‘I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.’ And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.

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Each will duly be paid

Few years ago, a fun application on Facebook kept popping up from my friends’ updates. It was about how much you are worth and should be paid every month by your employer. I did not try the application myself but it was fun to see that most of them (if not all) were worth much more than their monthly paycheque. It will either be really depressing that you are under paid or you just laugh it off for the fun. So how much are we really worth? We are probably not going to talk much about material worth because you can just check the salaries guide wherever you are at, and most would feel that you are being overworked and underpaid. What is our spiritual worth?

Each and every one of us has different skills and interest. We may have taken the same exam papers during our studies but the work environment and work skills developed over the years will change our perspectives and behaviours. As mentioned in today’s reading, we have been planted with textbook knowledge, our teachers and parents have nurtured us to become leaders, then who makes us grow as a person, one who is able to judge right and wrong, what is valuable and what is not? The spirit in us sometimes seems so abstract even for us to believe that it is He who is working in us. We lost track of who watches over us. We so often think that successes came from our good decisions making, and negative effects are tests from our Father.

The reminder we are given today is, we are nothing without God. The world and man have no idea our worth. The attractiveness of someone is not his car or her diamonds, but the heart in us. The spiritual beauty of purity and humility, and exemplifies the love of Christ through us. We can find comfort that God pays us what we are worth, not a penny less, not a penny more. We do not submit to the big bosses behind the head office desks, but give reverence to the Eucharist at the tabernacle. What is truly in us gives us so much more power than what is being presented out there in the visible world. We have to trust in God to rid the devils in us, and yet we continue to make the mistake of taking what is visible to us out in the world as the ‘Gospel Truth and Worth’. Yes, our jobs can overwhelm us and problems in the family can make us weary, but perhaps take every Sunday Eucharistic celebration to another level and dig deep into ourselves. Be comforted with the Body of Christ and begin each week recharged and renewed, we are priceless in the eyes of our Father.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Little do we know the worth of ourselves, may the Holy Spirit reveals itself in its mysterious ways and bring us back to the path of everlasting life.

Thanksgiving: Thank you O Lord for the great friendship among my brothers and sisters in Christ, surrounded with Your love, all in the same mind in attaining a strong spiritual worth.

4 September, Tuesday – God’s Spirit Please

4 September

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1 Corinthians 2:10-16

The Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God. After all, the depths of a man can only be known by his own spirit, not by any other man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God. Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us. Therefore we teach, not in the way in which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us: we teach spiritual things spiritually. An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit. A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men. As scripture says: Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.

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Luke 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil, throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all. Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.

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A spiritual man

A spiritual man is able to judge the value of everything and his own value is not to be judged by other men, except by the Spirit of God that is already in him. I thought by going to church every Sunday, attend a couple of retreats a year, go for weekday masses, tune my moral compass towards God would pretty much make me a spiritual man. Being a spiritual man seems like someone with great wisdom and no one else can put you down because the Spirit of God lives in you which make you kind of like being above everyone else. According to the first reading, I would have the gift to judge on the value of things, not just between right and wrong, but the value, the worthiness of everything. After this, I shall not consider myself a spiritual man really.

A couple of times, people ask me how pious I am in my Catholic spirituality. Most times, I say I do go to Church on Sundays, every week without fail. I believe I could elaborate more like how much I value and always searching to understand my faith more deeply, about how I believe in the Eucharist and all that but I usually just brush all that away. Today’s first reading is like a confirmation to tell us that if we are active in activating the “Spiritual Yeast” in us, the things we teach unto others, the decisions and judgement we make in life is all guided by the Spirit of God. One who does not understand the mentality of a Christian, and thinks that the Christian way of life is all a lie and hoax into positivity and hope, is regarded as unspiritual and will never understand the Spirit.

Today’s Gospel exhibits Jesus’ power from His Father above and His authority over, not only by men and women who receives His teachings but also the unclean spirits that defies Him. Who would you rather have in you? A weak unclean spirit of this world that has no power of love and hope, being labelled as dead? Or the Spirit that presents to us gifts of eternal joys and salvation, and the judgement of value on all things in our life? When we feel lost and helpless, we bring ourselves closer to God by reading the bible, going for a Eucharistic celebration, praying the rosary or perhaps, give yourself to someone in need. Our believe in Christ comforts the heart of our Father, and that flame in us will just keep burning as long as we do not extinguish it for good.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: The Spirit of God is the most powerful weapon we have against the evil of this world. May non-believers see the goodness it brings and change of heart.

Thanksgiving: Jesus is my friend, brother and most of all, my saviour. I thank you for gracing me with faith O Lord.

14 April, Saturday – Word

14 April
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Acts 6:1-7

About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.

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John 6:16-21

In the evening the disciples went down to the shore of the lake and got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the lake. It was getting dark by now and Jesus had still not rejoined them. The wind was strong, and the sea was getting rough. They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat. This frightened them, but he said, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’ They were for taking him into the boat, but in no time it reached the shore at the place they were making for.

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Word of the Lord began to spread

This year’s holy week has been just a little busy for me. I belong to a parish that has a decent congregation but somehow, there aren’t many of us lectors. Therefore, I was tasked to read on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. There were thoughts of going away for a road trip over the long weekend, but I find myself feeling spiritually filled, being led to focus on the purpose of Easter this year. I believe some take this period for granted, that ‘I can do it again next year’. We will never know what happens next. To be able to spread the word of the Lord is indeed a privilege.

Today, let us take the conscious effort to immerse into the word of the Lord, to increase our faith so that no matter how rocky our lives may be, we know the strength of our faith through Jesus is the strongest. Do not be afraid, Jesus has come back to us. Go forth and preach. Read His word aloud, be clear in the message of the Lord. Spread the Good News.

Let us not underestimate what we are capable of with the Holy Spirit. When we are down, it lifts us up. When we are energetic, it fires us up and enables us to spread the Good News in many ways. Take chances to share your enthusiasm with the other, not to convert them, but to show with sincerity where our motivation truly comes from. We have been chosen by the Father, and He has given us the gifts. Do we believe like the disciples; that we do it all for our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, pray for those who have doubts in joining a Church ministry. We also pray for the various parishes around the world who have little enthusiasm, that they may relive the Word of God and build a warm and inviting community.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord Jesus, for coming back to us, for appearing in all our difficulties and guiding us through them.

13 April, Friday – The Faith Others Love To Hate

13 April – Memorial for St. Martin I, pope & martyr

Martin (d. 655) was chosen the 74th pope in 649 without imperial approval. He conducted the Lateran Council which condemned the Patriach of Constantinople for Monothelitism, which claimed that Christ had no human will. This put him in opposition to the emperor who had him arrested and tortured. Paul, Patriach of Constantinople, repented of his stance which saved Martin from execution, but the pope died soon after from damage received during his imprisonment, and is considered a martyr, the last martyred pope.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 5:34-42

One member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee called Gamaliel, who was a doctor of the Law and respected by the whole people, stood up and asked to have the apostles taken outside for a time. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin, ‘Men of Israel, be careful how you deal with these people. There was Theudas who became notorious not so long ago. He claimed to be someone important, and he even collected about four hundred followers; but when he was killed, all his followers scattered and that was the end of them. And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too, and all his followers dispersed. What I suggest, therefore, is that you leave these men alone and let them go. If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God.’

His advice was accepted; and they had the apostles called in, gave orders for them to be flogged, warned them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.

They preached every day both in the Temple and in private houses, and their proclamation of the Good News of Christ Jesus was never interrupted.

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John 6:1-15

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

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You will not be able to destroy them

Take a moment and look back at violence around the world that involved the bombing of a church, kidnapping of priests, or any other acts that have hurt the Christian community. With each such instance, we always come back with a stronger belief that God is always there looking after us. Even till this day, there are some communities who are threatened by the Christian faith. No matter how much the Church has done for the needy through charities and schools, or even feeding the homeless, our faith is still under watch.

In today’s reading, the message from our Lord Jesus through His disciples was never interrupted. The mission of God in making Himself known to the world began since Christ rose from the dead, and has not stopped. Today, Christian communities in some regions may have dwindled with fewer members and are less active due to an ageing population. However, this is being more than compensated by the ranks of ever-growing young believers around the world. The annual World Youth Day brings young people together on a week’s retreat to renew their faith and to unite with the large Catholic community, bonding with fellow young Christians from other parts of the world.

Today’s Gospel reflects on the charity and generosity of Christ. That has always been the mission of the apostles given by Christ. Through acts of love, Christ preached God’s word and intentions to His children, and by believing in the works of the Lord, the community grew stronger; even inviting non-believers to experience the beautiful works from Him. Sadly, we seem to have become a community that some people love to hate. Despite the many good works that are going on in our faith, these are also threats to our fellow brothers and sisters. But we should never fear because just as God created us, the only one who is able to destroy His works is God himself.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We pray for all the communities and charities that are under threat. That they may be protected by authorities and not be target of violence.

Thanksgiving: Thank you our Lord Jesus Christ, who built and provided us with so much faith support over the years.

12 April, Thursday – Be That Good Apostle

12 April
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Acts 5:27-33

When the officials had brought the apostles in to face the Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded an explanation. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

This so infuriated them that they wanted to put them to death.
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John 3:31-36

John the Baptist said to his disciples:

‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.’

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Obedience to God comes before obedience to men

Have you ever felt frustrated with the people at your workplace, to the extent where you have somehow felt mistreated and misunderstood? Have you ever felt oppressed by that someone who is probably not a team player and has some power over you at work? Where do our allegiance lie? These are tough, draining situations, where most of our focus and energy is channelled towards thinking about what went wrong and how not only do you only have yourself to blame for not being able to explain yourself, but that the blame should not besolely on you. Do we allow ourselves to be cornered and depressed over such incidents in toxic work environments? Because it is obedience to such people that brings no peace to our own life.

In today’s reading and Gospel, we turn to the passion that Christ Jesus had acted on, freeing us from sin and empowering us with the truth that God is everything we need to live for. Just like Jesus, until the very last moment of His life on earth, He was obedient to God the Father. And just like Jesus, we should have the same obedience to God as well. Let us not allow secular worries to weigh us down with such heavy yokes, but with the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus, let us learn to move away and to be that bigger person who continuously seeks, preaches and lives the Gospel truth. Let not our decisions and actions betray the teachings of God.

Brothers and sisters, let us learn to live a life that leaves us gracious and beautiful, not worried and depressed. The positivity and hope in the apostles are great example of how they dealt with the difficulties and outlook of non-believers. Similarly, with the people we meet today who remain thorns in our lives, those who are not able to be a ‘good person’ but only make others around them feel uneasy and difficult; let us deal with them in the same way as the apostles did with their detractors. Let us be walking testimonies of Christ, to be as faithful and loyal as the apostles, spreading the Good News that hope is here, Christ is risen!

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We continue to pray for all non-believers, that they do not turn away from the word of God, but re able to see the light and hope during this Easter season.

Thanksgiving: We are thankful for those who work with us, giving us the stability and peace in our workplaces; that we forge close relationships with others, and that they may see the goodness in us.

13 February, Tuesday – Know What Is Enough

13 February 

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James 1:12-18

Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself, and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Never, when you have been tempted, say, ‘God sent the temptation’; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not tempt anybody. Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.

Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers: it is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change. By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.

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Mark 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ And they said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ They answered, ‘Twelve.’ And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ And they answered, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Are you still without perception?’

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Are your minds closed?

To act on temptation is to entertain the thought of wrong desires, which when acted upon will cause oneself to sin. With the accumulation of sins, death will take place in us. As tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, we begin the season of Lent, in preparation for Good Friday. We close our hearts to the temptations around us. We embrace the Lenten season looking back at all the faults and temptations that have caused us to sin and hurt those around us. The love of God, sending his Son Jesus to die for our sins, to wipe away all those wrong desires we have made, how great is that?

Are our minds closed to what Our Father in heaven has done for us? Are we like the disciples of Jesus who just could not trust what was in front of them, but had fear when Jesus worked miracles in front of them? What is considered to be enough? We are weak, and it takes prayers to build that faith and be strong in it to turn away temptation.

I do not deny the amount of temptation in more ways than one, which leads to selfishness and certainly does not build a better community. Look away from temptation, be among the righteous people. May our thoughts be all about building a strong person to stand up to trials, because we truly know Jesus provides and we should live that life that is deserving of all that is from Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: I may have belittled the power of you Lord Jesus, overwhelmed by things that are mere wrong desires. Make me turn away from them so I can be focused on being that person with a good and faithful heart.

Thanksgiving: Alleluia Alleluia, Praise the Lord for he is good. Praise the Lord who provides. Praise the Lord who forgives.

12 February, Monday – Christ Ignores Impatience

12 February 

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James 1:1-11

From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.

My brothers, you will always have your trials but, when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing.

If there is any one of you who needs wisdom, he must ask God, who gives to all freely and ungrudgingly; it will be given to him. But he must ask with faith, and no trace of doubt, because a person who has doubts is like the waves thrown up in the sea when the wind drives. That sort of person, in two minds, wavering between going different ways, must not expect that the Lord will give him anything.

It is right for the poor brother to be proud of his high rank, and the rich one to be thankful that he has been humbled, because riches last no longer than the flowers in the grass; the scorching sun comes up, and the grass withers, the flower falls; what looked so beautiful now disappears. It is the same with the rich man: his business goes on; he himself perishes.

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Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

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His business goes on, he himself perishes

When I drive to work in the heavy morning traffic, stuck in a jam with the news on the radio, I happen to observe a lot of things through my rear view mirror. You actually see the impatience and grumpy faces of some drivers. If you can imagine, every time we come to a red light, you allow more cars into the line and I see the drivers behind waving their hands in big gestures. I would always laugh to myself and think to myself, those few cars would not have made a difference. What is point of getting all worked up?

This leads to James’ reminder to us in today’s reading. We all have our bad days, our frustrating moments that get us all worked up, inadvertently affecting those around us as well. We could vent our anger on an innocent party, whose feelings you would have hurt for the day. We are reminded to be patient and control our feelings that could hurt, and around situations that we have difficulty with. It teaches us that putting our faith and patience ahead of ourselves would make us become fully developed and complete, with nothing missing. This sort of wisdom gets forgotten in our fast-paced, impatient world.

Wisdom that we receive through faith enables us to differentiate between right and wrong, and only to know how to approach the people around us. Like Jesus, He does not entertain the signs that are being requested by the Pharisees. This is because He is not an entertainer, He does not show signs to prove His power. He reveals Himself to those with genuine faith. To those who carry on this faith through a long period of time, through hardships and deep trust in God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Jesus, always be there to remind me how selfless I have to be, to be patient with the miracles you promised for my own good. That I only deserve You when my faith has been tested.

Thanksgiving: Be grateful for the gifts, for the riches, for things that last, for things that matter.

11 February, Sunday – Ask Without Attitude

11 February
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Leviticus 13:1-2,44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘If a swelling or scab or shiny spot appears on a man’s skin, a case of leprosy of the skin is to be suspected. The man must be taken to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests who are his sons.

‘The man is leprous: he is unclean. The priest must declare him unclean; he is suffering from leprosy of the head. A man infected with leprosy must wear his clothing torn and his hair disordered; he must shield his upper lip and cry, “Unclean, unclean.” As long as the disease lasts he must be unclean; and therefore he must live apart: he must live outside the camp.’

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1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

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Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

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If you want to

How often do we require the help of someone but are afraid to impose on them? Then we humbly say, ‘Only if you want to’ so the other person does not have to feel obligated nor to agree if it isn’t inconvenient for them as well. I think that this is a very respectful approach to asking for help, to not think of oneself, but to also be considerate of the other’s feelings.

Today’s readings lead us to look at both sides of the exchange; being the sick and unclean who humbly seeks help and acceptance, and the ever generous love of Christ. The leper represents anyone of us who is bearing the difficulties and humiliation from the world, one who is not accepted and categorized as not ‘normal’. Have you come across someone who is in need and yet is arrogant about it? Like they deserve to be served, or they think they actually have the privilege to get the service or help they require. I have experienced this so many times and it puts me off when I am being approached with such an attitude. These are just like the unclean persons whom you want to be outside of the community. However, the Lord, whose Heart is so generous and giving, teaches us to give and not to return a service offensively. I must admit, that is a very difficult thing to do.

 I often say this to my wife when she has had a terrible day, or even when she anticipates the ungrateful patients that she is about to see at her workplace. I tell her to do it for God. We may not like the attitude of the people, but perhaps helping them out could somehow relieve those around them as well. Some may say, easy to say but very hard to do. Therefore, the next time we require the help of another, ask with humility, only if you want to.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

 Prayer: O Lord Almighty, grace us with the generosity that your Son, Jesus has shown to His children, that we may just be filled with a Christ-like attitude.

Thanksgiving: We never forget the days and days of joy when we felt at peace in the deep presence of Jesus. May you always be there for us the week ahead.

9 December, Saturday – Celebrate Jesus

Dec 9 – Memorial for St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, hermit, layman

John (1474-1548) was born an impoverished free man in a strongly class-conscious society. He was a farm worker, a field labourer, and a mat maker. He became a married layman with no children. Even as a pagan, he was a mystical and religious man and became an adult convert to Christianity at around age 50, taking the name Juan Diego. He was widowed in 1529.

He was a visionary to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Guadalupe on 9 December 1531, leaving him the image known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. On 20 December 2001, a second miracle attributed to Juan Diego’s intervention was decreed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and was approved by Pope John Paul II. He was canonized on 31 July 2002.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26

Thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

People of Zion, you will live in Jerusalem and weep no more. He will be gracious to you when he hears your cry; when he hears he will answer. When the Lord has given you the bread of suffering and the water of distress, he who is your teacher will hide no longer, and you will see your teacher with your own eyes. Whether you turn to right or left, your ears will hear these words behind you, ‘This is the way, follow it.’ He will send rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the bread that the ground provides will be rich and nourishing. Your cattle will graze, that day, in wide pastures. Oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat a salted fodder, winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain, on every high hill there will be streams and watercourses, on the day of the great slaughter when the strongholds fall. Then moonlight will be bright as sunlight and sunlight itself be seven times brighter – like the light of seven days in one – on the day the Lord dresses the wound of his people and heals the bruises his blows have left.

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Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5, 6-8

Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness.

And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’

He summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows: ‘Go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge.’

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Go rather to the lost sheep

We are eighteen days to Christmas. This is the season to be jolly, perhaps? Everywhere around the city I live in is filled with Christmas cheer, the malls are decorated with all the festive ornaments, getting shoppers into the mood of buying and giving and sharing. Televisions are showing Christmas handicrafts and Christmas feast ideas to bring to family gatherings. Buy the gifts, get ready the food, bring out the bright clothes, decorate the house, write the cards. Are these the important preparations about Christmas?

This is also the period where companies hold their annual dinners, before the office closes for the new year. With all this good cheer going around us, what are our personal faith preparations like to welcome the birthday of Jesus? We recall the very beautiful story of the Nativity, the difficulties that Mary and Joseph had to go through for Jesus’ safe birth. Let us never forget that amongst all these bright and colourful distractions, the brightest star comes from baby Jesus — the birth of our saviour. Indeed, it is a call for celebration, in faith but not materialism. In today’s Gospel, we are called to go to the lost sheep. Being believers of Christ, we are disciples of our Lord, and we go and reach out to the needy and the lost. These are the people who truly need the colours of life this season. Bring a smile and the warmth of Christmas to someone lonely in the coming week.

As for me, it has been a year of peace and lots of thanksgiving. As my wife will be working over Christmas and Boxing Day, I would like to step out and give to the lost, that they may experience some form of peace to end the year.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, let us take each step at a time to know You. To know Jesus, who has come into the world to save us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for bringing your disciples to guide me when I am lost, someone to cure my soul when I am down.

7 December, Thursday – Rest On Rock

Dec 7 – Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

Ambrose (c.340–397) was born to the Roman nobility. He was the brother of St. Marcellina and St. Satyrus. He was educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome, Italy. He was a poet and a noted orator. He was a convert to Christianity, and governor of Milan, Italy.

When the Bishop of Milan died, a dispute over his replacement led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that though he was still an unbaptized catechumen, he was chosen as the new bishop. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but he assented to prevent further violence. On Dec 7, 374, he was baptized, ordained as a priest, and consecrated as bishop. He immediately gave away his wealth to the Church and the poor, both for the good it did, and as an example to his flock.

He was a noted preacher and teacher, a Bible student of renown, and writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against paganism and Arianism. His preaching helped convert St. Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptized and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins.

During his time as bishop, he also called and chaired several theological councils, many devoted to fighting heresy. He welcomed St. Ursus and St. Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelize in Gaul and Germany. He was proclaimed a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298.

The title “Honey Tongued Doctor” was initially bestowed on Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 26:1-6

That day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

We have a strong city;
to guard us he has set
wall and rampart about us.
Open the gates! Let the upright nation come in,
she, the faithful one
whose mind is steadfast, who keeps the peace,
because she trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord for ever,
for the Lord is the everlasting Rock;
he has brought low those who lived high up
in the steep citadel;
he brings it down, brings it down to the ground,
flings it down in the dust:
the feet of the lowly, the footsteps of the poor
trample on it.

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Matthew 7:21,24-27

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. ‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’

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Founded on rock

I had an informal meeting over coffee with our boss the other day, and we were discussing the downfall of a business and the impatience of quick expansions, which could easily lead to many business risks. That includes loan repayments, wage payments and cashflow issues. These problems arise due to an over-eagerness to expand without carefully thinking through things and not giving oneself time to build a stable foundation.

One might ask how would the Bible provide teachings on business? It does not, however, businesses are built on human decisions and it requires human wisdom and attitudes to create opportunities. The Good News guides us on bringing ourselves to make decisions that are right or wrong. It emphasizes on our attitude to life and to people, building that strong character to move forward with confidence and strength. We use that same principle and apply it to business decisions, and that somehow leads us to a positive future ahead. It didn’t take our God a few days to guide His people out of slavery. God indeed didn’t change the hearts of many within days. It takes time and a lot of trust to build a rock-hard foundation. In today’s Gospel, we are told to not set our life on sand, because whatever stands on it gets eroded away.

Our Lord Jesus is not a teacher who sets us on soft unsteady ground, but one who tirelessly sets us on strong foundations. Do not opt for short cuts, where important factors have not been considered, but to stand up for firm well-calculated decisions. In this way, we move in a steady manner, which God provides in His time, and successes will follow. Trust in Him, He is always there for you.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Walk away from uncertain and weak platforms, and take the longer path of stable foundations. We pray for our wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to work in us, leading us to make the right decisions.

Thanksgiving: We thank all who live around us as testimony to Jesus’ examples of love and faith to God the Father.