Tag Archives: austin

3 June, Saturday – Let Faith Ripple

Jun 3 – Memorial for St. Charles Lwanga & companions, martyrs

One of 22 Ugandan martyrs, St. Charles Lwanga is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa. He protected his fellow pages, aged 13 to 30, from the homosexual demands of the Bagandan ruler, Mwanga, and encouraged and instructed them in the Catholic faith during their imprisonment for refusing the ruler’s demands.

For his own unwillingness to submit to the immoral acts and his efforts to safeguard the faith of his friends, Charles was burned to death in 1886 by Mwanga’s order. When Pope Paul VI canonized these 22 martyrs in 1964, he referred to the Anglican pages martyred for the same reason.

http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintOfDay/default.asp?id=1403

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Acts 28:16-20,30-31

On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.

After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.’

Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

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John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them – the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, ‘Lord, who is it that will betray you?’ Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, ‘He will not die’, but, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come.’

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

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He welcomed all who came to visit him

We have come to the end of the Easter season. Recalling just seven weeks ago, we came together to celebrate the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before that, the season of Lent was where we fasted, repented and give alms. Were most of you just like me, taking note of the long weekend, filling the weekends with so much activities that missed out on the importance of celebrating Easter itself? We keep our heads down, our minds drowned in our work, or we are too busy with friends and forget that for at least once each week, we should think deeply about our faith, of what Jesus has done for us; and that the present is very much like the moment when Jesus ascended into Heaven.

Let us reflect on the feelings of the disciples, the moments when they felt so lost, sad and confused when their Master was crucified. Then turning to joy and confidence in preaching His death on the cross to everyone else. At which stage of discipleship are we at? Have we begun to welcome people into our home, and into our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ? Has religion and the bad behaviour of priests made us keep Him in a corner?

It is unfortunate that religion is such a sensitive issue until today. It seems that in the period of Peter and Paul, it took a lot of courage for them to preach the Good News. Today, we are still being judged — that Christians are to be perfect and to be trusted – yet, negative news surrounds us and we find it hard for others to believe in us. Let us take that small step within us to actually be close to the celebrations of the Church. In this way, we participate and understand the goodness of our Lord present in a genuine community.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O wonderful Lord, I pray for our community that they may invite both believers and non-believers into a warm environment of prayer.

Thanksgiving: I give thanks for all those who are advocates of peace in our society, that they may continue to do the good works in the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 June, Friday – Walk where we want with God

2 June 2017

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Acts 25:13-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul’s case before the king. ‘There is a man here’ he said ‘whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the august emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.’

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John 21:15-19

Jesus showed himself to his disciples, and after they had eaten he said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly,
when you were young
you put on your own belt
and walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you
and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’

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Take you where you would rather not go

As I hop into the car every morning and take my forty-five minute drive to work, I am sure to come across the news over the radio. There are mainly three kinds of news reports that are always aired. Firstly, the traffic jams, then some local news on an overnight killing or assault, and lastly, an international news segment about a war disaster or some form of bombing that has occurred. A day is filled with so much uncertainty, thus we must always pray for the safety around us.

In today’s Gospel, we are reminded to love God fervently. Jesus repeatedly asks Peter how much he loves Him, not because He is seeking attention, but to have Peter outwardly express his love for Jesus without doubt. Likewise, it never hurts for us to express our appreciation and love to our loved ones, because that seals the relationship deeper each day. As our love for each other deepens, we too will bring ourselves closer to the Lord. We must always be prepared to follow Him wherever He brings us.

Uncertainties abound in our lives every day. Truly, we do not hope for bad situations to happen to us, nor to our loved ones. Therefore, always be prepared and start off each day praying for one another. Our Lord protects, even if we have gone to places that we do not want to go. Our faith, like Peter, will get us through the toughest of times. Stay close to Jesus, and stay faithful my friends.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We pray for those who have been doubting the love and works of our Lord, that they may be able to trust in Him earlier and not realising it only when trouble comes.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the protection of our Almighty God and the company of Mother Mary, who continues to watch over all of us.

30 May, Tuesday – Leaving Legacy

30 May 2017

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Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them: ‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus. ‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecution await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace. ‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’

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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’
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I am not in the world any longer
Every now and then, we come across news of a great persons passing. Headlines will splash across the papers and digital news sites, not so much about how he or she had died but about the deeds and works that have made a big difference to other people. These great beings do not have to be rich in monetary sense, but they must have been immensely humble and deep in faith in whatever they had done for society. It could be about providing the basics for the poor, education for the less privileged children, healing the sick and dying in war torn countries. However they have achieved all these in their lifetime, they have brought comfort and Gods love to the very unfortunate. They left a legacy to be remembered and to be continued.
In todays reading, Saint Paul gathered the elders, determined to let them know that he had come to preach the Good News of God, that his mission and focus was on spreading the word of Jesus as much as he could before he got persecuted. He was aware that death would come very soon, and nothing else mattered more than to speak of Jesus everywhere. Filled with the Spirit, Paul gave testimony of how God has been revealed to him. Similarly, Jesus left more than a legacy for us, He gave himself to save us. We are here and forever because of Jesus. Both Paul and Jesus gave something to the people after they have left this world.
So, how have we impacted the world today? Perhaps, our actions for the world may be insignificant, but how about our behaviour to our neighbours? How have we just simply impacted our loved ones, our community, our friends, so that others may see the love of God shared by us. Will we be known as the person who complains about life and does nothing about it? Or will we want to be known as the person who has so generously given to society, and made a big difference in the life of others?
(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: O Lord, we pray for our generosity, that we truly are grateful for what we have been given, and then to enable us to pass on the good feelings to others.
Thanksgiving: Let us give thanks to all those who have so selflessly made our lives better, especially those who have made great sacrifices, that Lord you continue to watch over them and keep them by your side.

29 May, Monday – Step Out and Shout Lord

29 May 2017

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Acts 19:1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul made his way overland as far as Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. When he asked, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ they answered, ‘No, we were never even told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then how were you baptised?’ he asked. ‘With John’s baptism’ they replied. ‘John’s baptism’ said Paul ‘was a baptism of repentance; but he insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after him-in other words Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of these men.

He began by going to the synagogue, where he spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. He did this for three months.

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John 16:29-33

His disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them:

‘Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come – in fact it has come already –
when you will be scattered,
each going his own way and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.
I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave: I have conquered the world.’
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Spoke out boldly and argued persuasively
In order for one to speak boldly and argue persuasively, one has to be confident and knowledgeable in expressing the message.
Every time I know I am going for an appointment, I will spend about twenty minutes to pick up the project that the appointment relates to, and get myself prepared in approaching the meeting. This helps me to pick up the issues and focuses on what is next to be done, this also gives confidence to those involved.
Todays message to us is about being that informed Christian, filled with the powers of the Holy Spirit, that even though we feel inadequate, we can walk out and preach about Jesus. We all are empowered to be disciples of Jesus; it is not about how many degrees and certificates we obtain through education, but how deep our faith is for our Lord God. The Spirit works in us in mysterious ways, it gives us the strength to step into the unknown and be brave.
Todays Gospel not only encourages us to be brave in our faith, being the living testament as a Christian. It is also an encouragement that with God, the Spirit, we have the right mind to conquer the difficulties in life too. We are often thrown with surprises and worries in career, family, health and financial woes. These can also be conquered with trust and persistence. We are reminded to embrace suffering, to pray and work towards better situations, so that we conquer, not for ourselves, but in the name of Jesus. In this way, we live a fuller and more meaningful life.
(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: We pray for those who are facing difficulties and feeling lost in their lifes direction, may they seek the Spirit in them, for the guidance and courage to look forward in life.
 
Thanksgiving: Give thanks for our God, give thanks to our Lord. Give thanks for Jesus sacrifice, give thanks for our Mother Marys help.

1 April, Saturday – Open Our Eyes to Jesus

1 April 2017

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Jeremiah 11:18-20

The Lord revealed it to me; I was warned.

O Lord, that was when you opened my eyes to their scheming. I for my part was like a trustful lamb being led to the slaughter-house, not knowing the schemes they were plotting against me, ‘Let us destroy the tree in its strength, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name may be quickly forgotten!’

But you, the Lord of Hosts, who pronounce a just sentence,
who probe the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.

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John 7:40-52

Several people who had been listening to Jesus said, ‘Surely he must be the prophet’, and some said, ‘He is the Christ’, but others said, ‘Would the Christ be from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from the town of Bethlehem?’ So the people could not agree about him. Some would have liked to arrest him, but no one actually laid hands on him.

The police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’ The police replied, ‘There has never been anybody who has spoken like him.’ ‘So’ the Pharisees answered ‘you have been led astray as well? Have any of the authorities believed in him? Any of the Pharisees? This rabble knows nothing about the Law – they are damned.’ One of them, Nicodemus – the same man who had come to Jesus earlier – said to them, ‘But surely the Law does not allow us to pass judgement on a man without giving him a hearing and discovering what he is about?’ To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not come out of Galilee.’

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Pass judgement

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

We have absolutely no knowledge of the other people kneeling and praying beside us as we have our quiet time with the Lord. Who are we to judge? Only our Almighty God can see where our faults lie. We must not think too highly of our own prayer life and end up thinking that we are superior to others. The Lord watches over us and our actions all the time. In today’s Gospel, the people of Jerusalem had nothing against Jesus, yet they judged Him strongly for speaking against the Law for their judgement had been blurred by their own perceptions, making them blind to the works of Jesus.

Therefore, let us not become someone who prays with distraction and be one who humbles himself with no arrogance within him. It requires focus and passion for the Lord to build a wholesome prayer life. As in the past readings of this week, we have emphasised what God’s law brought to us, He has been praised for the great works He promises. As we come to the end of the fourth week of Lent, allow us to bend our backs, lose the pride within us and assist all those around us who need us, rather than act like the Pharisees who prayed with much arrogance towards God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

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

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

31 March, Friday – Tackling Time

31 March 2017

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Wisdom 2:1,12-22

The godless say to themselves, with their misguided reasoning:

‘Our life is short and dreary,
nor is there any relief when man’s end comes,
nor is anyone known who can give release from Hades.
Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us
and opposes our way of life,
reproaches us for our breaches of the law
and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
He claims to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a son of the Lord.
Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking,
the very sight of him weighs our spirits down;
his way of life is not like other men’s,
the paths he treads are unfamiliar.
In his opinion we are counterfeit;
he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth;
he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy
and boasts of having God for his father.
Let us see if what he says is true,
let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part
and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture,
and thus explore this gentleness of his
and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death
since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’

This is the way they reason, but they are misled,
their malice makes them blind.
They do not know the hidden things of God,
they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded,
they can see no reward for blameless souls.

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John 7:1-2,10,25-30

Jesus stayed in Galilee; he could not stay in Judaea, because the Jews were out to kill him.

As the Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, but quite privately, without drawing attention to himself. Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’

Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out:

‘Yes, you know me
and you know where I came from.
Yet I have not come of myself:
no, there is one who sent me
and I really come from him,
and you do not know him,
but I know him because I have come from him
and it was he who sent me.’

They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.

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His time had not yet come

 There is a time and place for everything that is supposed to happen. We have heard this many times, yet we still often cannot control our emotions when it comes to waiting. How are we able to improve ourselves when it comes to waiting for situations to happen? On the other hand, sometimes we do hold back on doing something because it is just not the right time for it. As we plan around the things that we do and executing them at the right time, our Lord too has His own agenda.

How then do we control our emotions when our way and time of doing things is not granted to us the way we would have liked it? It builds discipline and patience in us, we tend to control our emotions and anxiety better. Over time, we will be given the wisdom to read situations and know better with time and in waiting. In today’s Gospel, the Jews were after Jesus and the situation surrounding Him were to happen according to the Father’s intentions.

What does our faith teach us today? We learn not to deny Jesus and his works when we see it with our hearts. His works happen at times that we could not comprehend, but with prayer and patience, we will be able to work around situations that we least expected and even feel surprised about. Let us be not afraid to confront situations when we are at uncomfortable because we know that Jesus is with us to get through it all, just like how the Father has been with his Son forever.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, we may be stubborn ourselves, but let our hearts open our eyes and mind, so that we know how to recognize your works in your time.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for your Son Jesus, who so generously give His life on the cross, because of His love for us.

30 March, Thursday – Turn to Him

Dear OXYGEN readers,

As Lent draws to a close, we invite you to contribute a reflection for Holy Week and Easter. As per OXYGEN tradition, we have the following reflections open to volunteers. If you had experienced something this season that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to share, consider sharing your encounter with our faith community. God bless you!

1. Holy Thursday – Chrism Mass
2. Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
3. Good Friday
4. Easter Vigil (9 reflections)
1st Reading + Responsorial Psalm
2nd Reading + Responsorial Psalm
3rd Reading + Responsorial Psalm
4th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
5th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
6th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
Epistle + Responsorial Psalm
Gospel

Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless
Oxygen Core Team

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30 March 2017

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Exodus 32:7-14

The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Why let the Egyptians say, “Ah, it was in treachery that he brought them out, to do them to death in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth”? Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring this disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.’

So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

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John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:

‘Were I to testify on my own behalf,
my testimony would not be valid;
but there is another witness who can speak on my behalf,
and I know that his testimony is valid.
You sent messengers to John,
and he gave his testimony to the truth:
not that I depend on human testimony;
no, it is for your salvation that I speak of this.
John was a lamp alight and shining
and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.
But my testimony is greater than John’s:
the works my Father has given me to carry out,
these same works of mine testify
that the Father has sent me.
Besides, the Father who sent me
bears witness to me himself.
You have never heard his voice,
you have never seen his shape,
and his word finds no home in you
because you do not believe in the one he has sent.

‘You study the scriptures,
believing that in them you have eternal life;
now these same scriptures testify to me,
and yet you refuse to come to me for life!
As for human approval, this means nothing to me.
Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you.
I have come in the name of my Father
and you refuse to accept me;
if someone else comes in his own name
you will accept him.
How can you believe,
since you look to one another for approval
and are not concerned
with the approval that comes from the one God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father:
you place your hopes on Moses,
and Moses will be your accuser.
If you really believed him
you would believe me too,
since it was I that he was writing about;
but if you refuse to believe what he wrote,
how can you believe what I say?’

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Yet you refuse to come to me for life

There are many moments in my life when I have come across difficulties and the first thing that came to mind was to solve it; to find a solution on my own, thinking that I could use my very own ability to get it sorted. It was only later on that I found out that it is really important to reach out for help, to ask for someone else’s opinion, so as to seek help get over the problem. Sometimes, it is pride that prevents us from opening ourselves up, hoping to take credit for getting the job done.

In today’s reading, the people of God were blinded and tired to know where the true Father was. They were lost in their spiritual desert, looking towards Moses for direction but only to find themselves tired and without direction. They turned to a molten metal calf and worshipped it, having no idea who the Father truly is. Do we turn to God when we lose our direction? Do we stop just for a short minute to lift up our issues to the Lord, and ask for the guidance that will aid us smoothly through our difficulty?

In the Gospel today, Jesus, Son of God, presents Himself and yet the people once again are so focused on the law, living a blind faith, and just couldn’t look up to Jesus the Messiah. Jesus even tried to explain the big picture of who He is, but He knew that they were still unable to see Him as God. Similarly, when we come across a huge difficulty, will we still be blind to know where God is for us?

Never turn away from the Lord for He is with us during our time of need. Jesus came to our world to live with us and even died for us. Let Him in during the happy moments and also include Him in the difficulties which we are about to face. Accept Him into our hearts, so that He may work the miracles in us because of our sincere belief.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Take us away from the distractions that hurt our relationship with Jesus, and know that as the Son of God? He has all the power to still our hearts in times of difficulties.

Thanksgiving: We continue to give love to non-believers, that we are always able to share Jesus with them.

29 March, Wednesday – Drawing Strength

29 March 2017

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Isaiah 49:8-15

Thus says the Lord:

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

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

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

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

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John 5:17-30

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

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

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Even greater things than this

Have you ever been to the gym and just realised that most of the members exercising there seem much fitter than you? Well, I have. Do not get me wrong, we are not talking about self esteem here or judging one another in the gym. In fact, I go to a very well-equipped gym where members are reminded to focus and get fit but never to judge how another person exercises, because we know that everyone progresses and makes the effort at different levels, at their own pace, having the same motivation to get fit. It is crucial for us not to judge how heavy someone is lifting their weights, how fast the legs are going on the treadmill, how flexible they are on the yoga mat because we never know the story behind the individual.

As we get going strengthening our physical selves, we must also remember that our mental and spiritual strength is very much drawn from the value and faith in Jesus Christ. In today’s reading and Gospel, the Lord showers us with the assurance that He is always by our side, never forgetting us as His children. Adding to that, Jesus strengthens that assurance of the Father by living among us. Unfortunately, Jesus’ proclamation of the Father did not sit well with the people who already had persecution in mind. They were weak and blinded in the wrong direction of faith. We too are often weak and blinded by Jesus’ work in us. We feel lost in our daily journey because we have forgotten to draw strength from Jesus.

Every week, I look forward to the Eucharistic celebration on Sundays, waking up early to worship Christ, ready to lift up my week ahead to Him as well as giving thanks for the protection and provision for the week that has passed. But I also know that this enthusiasm gets weaker as the week passes when I am filled with the anxiety and worries of work, or plans that are upcoming. Therefore, it is comforting to use this period of Lent to strengthen our relationship with God, work on strengthening our faith, keeping it strong so as to be grateful for His work in us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer:. Almighty Father, deliver us from evil, let us not fall into temptation, filling us with the strength of your Son Jesus.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful and comforted to know that You, O Lord, are always near to us, not forgetting us, because as children, we will always be dependent on You.

28 March, Tuesday – Well Provided for

28 March 2017

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Ezekiel 47:1-9,12

The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross.

He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’

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John 5:1-3,5-16

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

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

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All living creatures teeming in it will live

Have you ever come across a social experiment where an individual deliberately dropped a hundred dollar bill and recorded the action of the person behind, after picking up the bill? A large majority of them, knowing that they had picked up a hundred dollar bill quickly walked or ran towards the direction away from the one who dropped it. They must have thought that they had gotten lucky and hid it quickly in their pockets. However, when the same experiment was done in front of a homeless person, they captured the honesty of the homeless individual returning the bill to the actor.

How much is considered enough for us? Has our Lord not provided us what we deserved, with all the good provisions around us to make us more charitable than being dishonest? In today’s reading, the Lord sets up our environment so that we, being the blessed ones of different talents, are able to better ourselves and make the world around us a better place. Where do you draw the line of being lucky to have picked up a note, or have you been dishonest because it is just ‘finders’ keepers’? Anyone who is honest would agree that if you have found something and are able to return it to the rightful owner, then make the effort to do so. Our behaviours and values have certainly gone askew despite the prestigious education received, despite already having a healthy bank balance. Yet, we can’t return the money found to its rightful owner due to greed and temptation. As for a homeless person who has no proper shelter, he perhaps has nothing material to hold on to, but continues to live a life filled with good values and honesty.

Most of us have been provided with a good education, blessed with a family whom we can rely on, have a job to make a decent living for ourselves. These are the little miracles in life that carry us through such that we in turn be generous to others. Do not be guided by greed, for the Lord has given us the grace to stand up and walk, in the way of the Lord, not the way of the evil and its temptations.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, let us recognise the miracles that continue to happen to us, not to take our provisions for granted, always looking out to take and not give.

Thanksgiving: We wake up this morning to give thanks for a life worth living, so that someone else’s life be made better because of me.

26 January, Thursday – More than Just You and Me

26 Jan – Memorial for Sts. Timothy and Titus, bishops

Timothy (d. 97) was the son of a Greek gentile, his mother Eunice was Jewish. He was converted to Christianity by St. Paul around the year 47. He was a partner, assistant and close friend of Paul. He was a missionary as well, and became head of the Church in Ephesus. He was the recipient of two canonical letters from St. Paul, and was stoned to death for opposing the worship of Dionysius.

Titus (d. 96) was also a disciple of St. Paul and was the recipient of a canonical letter from him. He was the first bishop of the Church in Crete.

  • Patron Saint Index

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2 Timothy 1:1-8

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers; I remember your tears and long to see you again to complete my happiness. Then I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have; it came first to live in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I have no doubt that it is the same faith in you as well.

That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy.

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Mark 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’
He also said to them, ‘Take notice of what you are hearing.

The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’

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…fan into a flame the gift

Of those who do not understand Christians, some have the misconception that being a good follower of Christ is having that individual relationship with God. It is just yourself and Him. That it is just all about getting into that little comfortable quiet corner of reflection and leading a pious life, showing Him every day what you have done to make Him happy. That you have carried out actions that perhaps you feel would please God and thus He gives credit when it is due.

In actual fact, it is building that relationship with our neighbours that qualifies us in spreading the love of our Lord Jesus. We are all inter-connected through prayers. The faith of someone who prays for us and influences us in our spiritual guidance and journey gives us the immense grace which we are so privileged to receive. Likewise, we pray for others who are suffering and for those who are in need, it could be for the health of a loved one, or the comfort to those who are emotionally hurt for various reasons. To be called a follower of Christ, we are responsible for being that testament of how God has touched our life, and to build on our own little faith which He has ‘implanted’ in us. We, like Timothy, and Paul have been called to be holy in our actions and in the way we treat others.

It takes a lot of prayer and hard work, including the deep faith of our fellow Christians and the grace of our Lord to fill our lives. For we are the blessed ones who have, and will be given more.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We pray for the many faithful who are around us. Watch over them and may you shower them with the blessings of peace in their hearts, especially in times of heartache.

Thanksgiving: We thank you for the faith which you have planted in us. That it will grow and spread the Good News.