Tag Archives: beryl baterina

15 June, Saturday – A Promise is a Promise

15 June 2019

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2 Corinthians 5:14-21

The love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that if one man has died for all, then all men should be dead; and the reason he died for all was so that living men should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them.

From now onwards, therefore, we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh. Even if we did once know Christ in the flesh, that is not how we know him now. And for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here. It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation. In other words, God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not holding men’s faults against them, and he has entrusted to us the news that they are reconciled. So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.

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Matthew 5:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God’s throne; or by the earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great king. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’

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“Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no

I hate it when people lie to me. I hate it more when they said, “Yes” to me but in the end it is a “No.” I hate it because of the disappointments for those unmet expectations. Why can’t they just say “No” in the first place? Of course, I would understand if there was a real valid reason why they couldn’t fulfil their promise.

I remember one time when I was still in college. We had this group paper in class and we need to work together. We agreed on the date and time. We were four in the group and we were only three during the meeting. The fourth member did not show up nor even bother to inform us that he wouldn’t be coming. When we asked him why he was a no-show, he just ignored us and didn’t give any explanation. I felt betrayed because we had to cover his part and we still put his name on our paper. Personal enlightenment: Any school project must have a maximum number of three members only.

I know it is just a petty thing for some. But for me a little lie is still a lie. Who knows, that little lie can turn to bigger lies. How much more if people are used to lying? There can come a time that they can no longer identify what is true or false. What if they run for office? I personally do not want liars to manage our government. What will become of us? From where I came from, we elect officials based on their background information and their plans for the people. We feel bad if those elected officials just talked and didn’t do anything. We place our trust in them, believing everything they have promised.

How much more if we betrayed our Heavenly Father? I know we have our promises to Him that we will do this, do that, and much more. But what if we cannot fulfil those promises? Can you remember any broken promises made to Him? There are tiny voices in my head saying, “No, I always keep my promises to God…” Personally, I made a promise to God to attend daily mass  and I try to keep it. However, there were times when I could not fulfil my promise due to work. And sometimes, even though I am physically inside the church, my mind is wandering somewhere else. Others may not know it, but the Lord and I both know that it is a broken promise on my part.

Next time, think first before promising anything when you say “Yes” or a “No”. We must always keep our promises because our Lord keeps His.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant me honesty so that I can only speak the truth and to not break my promises to others. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us wisdom to be very careful with the words that we say to others. Amen.

14 June, Friday – Beautiful in White

14 June 2019

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2 Corinthians 4:7-15

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

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

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Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye should cause you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.
‘It has also been said: Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a writ of dismissal. But I say this to you: everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’

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You must not commit adultery

I remember attending a wedding ceremony a few years ago. After the entourage marched in, the wooden door of the church was closed for the grand entrance of the bride. As the big door opened slowly, the instrumental Canon in D became the song ‘Beautiful in White’. Everyone stood as the bride slowly walked down the aisle. She was wearing a flowy, layered, white wedding dress. There were a few tears that could be seen in her eyes but she looked very happy. As the bride approached the middle of the red carpet, her parents escorted her to the altar. As they reached the altar, I saw the groom’s eyes fill with tears yet looking so happy, while taking her hand.

If you are married, you are probably reminiscing on your wedding day, the happiest moment of your life. Do you remember your promise to your spouse? “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honour you all the days of my life.”  Do you remember what you said when you put your rings on each other’s fingers? “I take this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Weddings can be expensive. But we must remember the real purpose of a wedding. And that purpose is marriage. It is the union of a man and a woman by the grace of God. You make promises to each other which you should keep for the rest of your lives. Don’t just get married because everybody else is getting married. Marriage is a vocation. It is a lifetime commitment to your spouse and to our Lord. It is no fairytale, but a journey of you together, to get closer to God.

Some may want to have a big wedding. Some would prefer an intimate celebration. And others might even be stressed while doing the wedding preparations. What if you are not yet planning to get married? I believe that at some point in your life, you would have attended or seen one.  And you saw how the newlyweds share their happiest moment with their families and friends.

Remember, it is not about getting married. It is about staying married. Whenever you feel that your relationship is on the rocks, remember your vows during your wedding day. Quoting Matthew 19:6 “…Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” I saw this meme on Facebook, “Marriage doesn’t take two people. It takes three. You cannot have a good marriage if God is not the center of it.”

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please be the center of all relationships. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank You for the relationships that You have brought together. Amen.

13 June, Thursday – Leave and Live

13 June – Memorial for St. Anthony of Padua, priest, religious, doctor

St. Anthony’s (1195-1231) wealthy family wanted him to be a great nobleman, but for the sake of Christ he became a poor Franciscan. When the remains of St. Berard and his companions, the first Franciscan martyrs, were brought to be buried in his church, Anthony was moved to leave his order, enter the Friars Minor, and go to Morocco to evangelize.

Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to Portiuncula. One day when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly travelling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France.

A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went, speaking in multiple tongues. Legend says that even the fish loved to listen. He was a wonder worker. As one of the most beloved saints, his images and statues are found everywhere. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

  • Patron Saint Index

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2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1,3-6

Even today, whenever Moses is read, the veil is over their minds. It will not be removed until they turn to the Lord. Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit.
Since we have by an act of mercy been entrusted with this work of administration, there is no weakening on our part. If our gospel does not penetrate the veil, then the veil is on those who are not on the way to salvation; the unbelievers whose minds the god of this world has blinded, to stop them seeing the light shed by the Good News of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For it is not ourselves that we are preaching, but Christ Jesus as the Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ.

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Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

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If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven

In life, we are given the gift of knowing what is right and what is wrong. The question is, are we choosing to do the right thing?

There were many times in my life that I questioned myself if I did the right thing. Several years ago, I used to work for a software company. I helped our Sales team convince our potential customers to avail of our product. I always did ‘forced’ work around with our software just to impress our clients. And also, most of the time I ‘oversold’, which closed the deal. Our sales representatives were happy and the boss was happy. I always had mixed feelings about what I did. I was happy because I received commissions for every sale that I had a hand in; but, I was also guilty at the same time because I knew that eventually the customers would have a lot of complaints.

Yes, we always received a lot of complaints after sales because as the clients used the software, there were a lot of promised features that were not included in the availed package. They still had to make additional purchases for this and that just to suit their needs.

It made me sad to think that even though I knew I was not being totally truthful, I continued doing it. I kept convincing myself I was just doing what I was instructed to do and that I was paid by the company to do that.

My own personal beliefs did not matter until I attended a Catholic seminar. There was this module about how we should look at our career. That module reminded us about how everyday, we go to work and it consumes most of our waking hours. That is why our jobs are not just to make a living but also has to be our way of life.

Because of how I felt with work, I began to harbour intentions of leaving it. I prayed to God so hard for guidance as to what to do next. I reflected on everything — how did my current job make me feel? Did it contribute to my relationship with Christ? After a few months of discernment, I left that company. It was not an easy decision. I needed to give up so many things (mostly material) and transition to another career, which was quite challenging because it meant I had to start all over again.

As I reflect on today’s Gospel, I now confidently proclaim that it was worth my sacrifice. The scribes and Pharisees were considered hypocrites. As long as we are on par with them, we are not moving forward towards God.

What are you doing right now? Is it a path towards God or away from Him?

I am still in the process of figuring out if my current career will take me closer to God. I am praying that I am making progress with the decisions that I took and will take.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, in this world full of earthly desires, please grant us the grace to resist temptations and to choose to live a Christian life.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for giving each day a new chance for us to renew ourselves and become closer to You.

1 June, Saturday – Ask in His Name

1 June 2019

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Acts 18:23-28

Paul came down to Antioch, where he spent a short time before continuing his journey through the Galatian country and then through Phrygia, encouraging all the followers.

An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they took an interest in him and gave him further instruction about the Way.

When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote asking the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

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John 16:23-28

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
anything you ask for from the Father he will grant in my name.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.
I have been telling you all this in metaphors,
the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in metaphors;
but tell you about the Father in plain words.
When that day comes you will ask in my name;
and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you,
because the Father himself loves you for loving me
and believing that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world
and now I leave the world to go to the Father.’

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Anything you ask for from the Father He will grant in my name

Last December, I got accepted for a position in a multinational company. I was happy because many candidates were really eyeing that job. It was a huge step for me because I would be shifting to a more technical side of my career. The question is, do I really want it? Did I pray for it? I think what I prayed for was, “Please guide me to the right job…”

I thought it was the job that I asked for because it includes a decent compensation and benefits package. When I prayed for new work, I didn’t mention a ‘specific’ job. I prayed that it would be one that would make me a better person.

I was grateful to God for it. However, when I was about to start, there had been changes with the job description and everything. I asked God, “Why am I facing this challenge?” I wanted to back out. I kept on asking God if it was a test whether I should pursue or not. But I needed that job, because I need to help the family in our finances. I prayed to God to grant me the strength to endure my new work.

I was in a dilemma. Was this God’s way of saying that I can handle this? Or was it God’s way of saying that I should stop?

I kept praying to God about my feelings at work. But it seemed I was unable to find any answers. Or probably maybe because I was not listening. I was so fixated with my feelings that my prayers were one sided and kept on ranting about my problems without prayerfully listening to answers.

The Gospel reminds us that when we pray for our needs, we should also pray to become closer to Jesus. We have this tendency to be prayerful and yet we do not live like Christ.

Why do you think God answers our prayers? There is the saying, “God gives mercy to those who help themselves.” Yes, we have to work hard for our prayers to be answered. But it is not our work alone. It is by the grace of God that we are given so many blessings in this life. And that grace of God is through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

If we deeply know Jesus Christ, then our prayers will be Christ-centred. And if our prayers are in union with Jesus, I have faith that anything we are praying for will be granted by God. Whenever we attend mass, our prayers are in union with Jesus Christ. If you notice, our prayers during mass end with “…through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.”

Let us always include these words in our prayers to know more about Christ so that we can live like Christ.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, there are times that we pray for various things we don’t really need. Please teach us how to pray with humility. Teach us to remember that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can overcome all the struggles and challenges we are facing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanksgiving:  Heavenly Father, thank you for all graces that we have received. Though unworthy as we are, you continuously shower us with your blessings.  Amen.

20 November, Tuesday – Faith in Visit

20 November

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Apocalypse 3:1-6,14-22

I, John, heard the Lord saying to me: ‘Write to the angel of the church in Sardis and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know all about you: how you are reputed to be alive and yet are dead. Wake up; revive what little you have left: it is dying fast. So far I have failed to notice anything in the way you live that my God could possibly call perfect, and yet do you remember how eager you were. when you first heard the message? Hold on to that. Repent. If you do not wake up, I shall come to you like a thief, without telling you at what hour to expect me. There are a few in Sardis, it is true, who have kept their robes from being dirtied, and they are fit to come with me, dressed in white. Those who prove victorious will be dressed, like these, in white robes; I shall not blot their names out of the book of life, but acknowledge their names in the presence of my Father and his angels. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

‘Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, “Here is the message of the Amen, the faithful, the true witness, the ultimate source of God’s creation: I know all about you: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other, but since you are neither, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth. You say to yourself, ‘I am rich, I have made a fortune, and have everything I want’, never realising that you are wretchedly and pitiably poor, and blind and naked too. I warn you, buy from me the gold that has been tested in the fire to make you really rich, and white robes to clothe you and cover your shameful nakedness, and eye ointment to put on your eyes so that you are able to see. I am the one who reproves and disciplines all those he loves: so repent in real earnest. Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him. Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I was victorious myself and took my place with my Father on his throne. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”’

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Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’

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He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house

For some reason, I seldom accept visitors at home. We are all busy and we cannot keep the house ‘visitor-friendly’. It has come to a point where there are no questions asked if I reject a request to be a host. It is as if people have already accepted that they cannot come to our place so easily.

But what if our visitor was not just a friend or a relative? What if it was Jesus who came knocking at our door? Honestly, I will be hesitant. It will be like saying, “Lord, I am unworthy that You should enter under my roof…”

In our Gospel, the chief tax collector named Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus among the crowd. However, he was too short, so he climbed a sycamore tree. When Jesus arrived at the place, He said, “Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.”  Zacchaeus was very happy to welcome Jesus to his home. The crowd was very judgmental that Jesus chose to stay at a sinner’s house. But Zacchaeus went on his feet and told Jesus, “Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.” 

The attitude of Zacchaeus is admirable. He must have a deep desire to be intimate with the Lord. He welcomes Jesus joyfully. He is generous enough to give half his wealth and repay those he has wronged four times. I would say that though he has been branded as a sinner, he wants forgiveness for his sins. Can we imitate what Zacchaeus did? We must, even though it will not be very easy. Like Zacchaeus, we have our own sycamore tree to climb just to see Jesus. And a sycamore tree is a large tree. There will be people who will ridicule and judge us. But we must stand our ground and not falter. And if we really want to be closer to Jesus, we must give the best of us.

Going back to my own personal acceptance of Jesus in my home, I should not hesitate to welcome Jesus in my house. Whatever condition I am in, I must always be happy and joyfully accept Him. Christ has given the best of Him for us. He gave His life to save us from our sins. It is just proper to give my all for Him.

There may also be others who will be hesitant to accept Jesus because of their unworthiness. This is where reconciliation comes in. We repent and seek forgiveness for our sins.  Some may argue why the need for confession when we sin all over again. It is our way of cleansing our soul. Similar to our house or anything we own, we clean it again and again even though we know it will get dirty again and again. We try to keep our soul clean as it is a very great offering to Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, are we ready to accept Jesus in our home?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us the grace to increase our faith. Help us to grow a deeper relationship with You.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank You for forgiving us our sins.  Thank you for giving us the chance to encounter Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

19 November, Monday – Sight for Life

19 November

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Apocalypse 1:1-4,2:1-5

This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close.

From John, to the seven churches of Asia: grace and peace to you from him who is, who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits in his presence before his throne.

Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives surrounded by the seven golden lamp-stands: I know all about you: how hard you work and how much you put up with. I know you cannot stand wicked men, and how you tested the impostors who called themselves apostles and proved they were liars. Know, too, that you have patience, and have suffered for my name without growing tired. Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first, or else, if you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lamp-stand from its place.”

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Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied ‘let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’ And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.

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Your faith has saved you.

Have you ever been so restless to the point that you felt there was nobody who cares?  Worse, there were people who ridiculed us on the situation we are in.  What do we do? Do we lose hope or do we keep moving on?

The gospel for the day speaks about a blind man who called for Jesus.  The crowd must have been annoyed by this so they told him to be quiet.  Personally I would feel bad if I was ordered to be quiet when I call someone.  The blind man did not mind the people and even shouted more loudly.  With this, Jesus stopped and ordered that the blind man be brought to Him. Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Sir, let me see again.” Jesus grants this request because of the faith of that blind man.

Whatever circumstance we are in, we must continue to hang on and rely on God.  Our prayers may not be answered the first time we ask.  But if God wills it, it will be given to us eventually.  We may face a lot of discouragement in our life.  Let us not make this a reason to be discouraged with our faith.  Rather, we must make this an opportunity to seek more help from the Lord.

There can also be times when we thought we are so helpless but in reality we just cannot see that the help is right in front of us.  Or maybe what we asked is not what we really need.  Sometimes we must also seek help to realise what we really need.  We pray to God that our eyes be opened to the things that matter.  We pray to have the vision to see what God wants us to see.   We must be unceasing with our prayer life.  If our life keeps getting harder, it is when our prayer should be the hardest.  Whatever hindrances we will encounter in life, our prayer will help us through.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, I pray that we may always recognise your presence.  May we always lift our worries to You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for giving us the gift of faith.  Thank You for Your continual love despite our unworthiness.

18 November, Sunday – Hope in Death

18 November 2018

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Daniel 12:1-3

‘At that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who mounts guard over your people. There is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. When that time comes, your own people will be spared, all those whose names are found written in the Book. Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.’

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Hebrews 10:11-14,18

All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.

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Mark 13:24-32

Jesus said, ‘In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.

‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’

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Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away

When I was younger, my family was not comfortable talking about death. My parents regarded it with negativity and morbidity. But recently, as their friends and colleagues passed on one by one, we talked about death as a point in life. Only God knows when it is our time. Though we can talk about it a bit naturally now, there is still uneasiness on my part. Sometimes I ask myself, “Will I feel pain?” or “How will I answer if I should be interrogated by God or St. Peter?” or “Have I lived my life worthy to be in heaven?”  Things like these sometimes make me wonder if I have been living the way I should be.

Our gospel for the day tells us about the second coming of Christ. Imagine when the sun and moon no longer produce light, and the stars are falling from the sky. It will really be the end of the world. But after the days of suffering, it will be marvelous and glorious. “They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.” It clearly depicts that amidst trials and suffering, we must always be hopeful. There is hope that things will get better after all the calamity.

In our first reading from the book of Daniel, anguish will come upon us, but the Archangel Michael was sent to rescue the people. The second reading from the letter to the Hebrews tells us that suffering and hardship will continue to be a pattern in our life. We may feel that we are experiencing unlimited trials.  But our tribulations are incomparable with the sacrifice Christ made for us. “He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever.”  Jesus is always with us. And our hope in Him keeps us going in life.

Yes, our future is uncertain. There are people that seem to think that the end of the world is coming soon. But in reality, nobody knows when. Mark even said so in the gospel, “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father.”  We must not be afraid. We must remember that our future is perfectly in God’s hands.

There is so much we can do than just to be afraid of the second coming of Christ. Quoting the song by David Haas, “We are called to act with justice. We are called to love tenderly. We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may be able to take good care of this gift of life. May we be able to face our fears and be an inspiration to others.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for this gift of life. Thank you for always giving us the opportunity to live well and respond to Your call.

18 September, Tuesday – Life in Sorrow

18 September

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1 Corinthians 12:12-14.27-31

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its many parts. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it. In the Church, God has given the first place to apostles, the second to prophets, the third to teachers; after them, miracles, and after them the gift of healing; helpers, good leaders, those with many languages. Are all of them apostles, or all of them prophets, or all of them teachers? Do they all have the gift of miracles, or all have the gift of healing? Do all speak strange languages, and all interpret them? Be ambitious for the higher gifts.

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Luke 7:11-17

Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.

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‘Do not cry’ 

Have you ever felt as if you were carrying the weight of the whole world? I guess everyone has experienced some sort of trials in life. Challenging experiences that felt as if we have been crushed to the ground. For those who have, I admire you for getting through them. For those who have not, I pray that you will never experience such trauma.

The Gospel for today is about a widow who lost her only son. Imagine the grief she experienced. The thought of being along in life can really be sorrowful. I may describe the woman as an ‘unfortunate one’ just as if she carries with her all the major misfortunes in life. I can imagine how that woman has little desire to live.

When Jesus saw her, He said, “Do not cry.” And then he touched the coffin and told the son to get up.  The man rose and Jesus gave him to his mother. Imagine the joy of a mother who sees her son alive.  This miracle clearly states that nothing is impossible to God — not even death. Not only that, the Gospel today shows the mercy of Jesus as well as His love and honour to mothers.

Jesus’ compassion is so overwhelming that nothing compares to it. We should imitate Jesus and be compassionate to others as well. A small act of saying “How are you?” to someone we know who is having a hard time can make a big difference. Not only that, Jesus gives us a concrete example on how to treat mothers. They deserve our respect. Each of us has our own mothers, and we should know how to make them happy.

Life is never easy in itself. But God gives us challenges that we can bear. Some can be harder than the others. As I reflect on my past difficulties, I discern that I was able to overcome those trials through Jesus Christ. Yes, we have free will to make decisions. But through prayer, the Holy Spirit is upon us. To guide and enlighten us on what to do. Some problems are small, while others are big. But we must remember that God is always bigger than our problems.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear God, may we always remember that you will never leave us. Grant us the strength to endure and surpass all the hardships that we will face.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father, for being always with us. We thank you for the faith to help us carry on with our life.

17 September, Monday – Faith Like No Other

17 September – Memorial for St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor

Robert (1542-1621) wrote the most complete work of his day to defend Catholicism against Protestant attack. He also wrote a children’s catechism and a catechism for teachers. As cardinal-priest, he gave most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that “the walls won’t catch cold”.

He was involved in settling various disputes including that of King James I and the Vatican in 1607 and 1609 concerning control of the Church in England, action against Galileo Galilei with whom he established a friendly correspondence, but was forced to deliver the order for the scientist to submit to the Church, and issues concerning clerical discipline and Vatican authority. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 17 September 1931.

– Patron Saints Index

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1 Corinthians 11:17-26.33

On the subject of instructions, I cannot say that you have done well in holding meetings that do you more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you all come together as a community, there are separate factions among you, and I half believe it – since there must no doubt be separate groups among you, to distinguish those who are to be trusted. The point is, when you hold these meetings, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you are eating, since when the time comes to eat, everyone is in such a hurry to start his own supper that one person goes hungry while another is getting drunk. Surely you have homes for eating and drinking in? Surely you have enough respect for the community of God not to make poor people embarrassed? What am I to say to you? Congratulate you? I cannot congratulate you on this.

For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, So to sum up, my dear brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another.

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Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum. A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death. Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him. ‘He deserves this of you’ they said ‘because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.’ So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends: ‘Sir,’ he said ‘do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this.’ And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.

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I am not worthy to have you under my roof 

During the part of the mass that is the ‘Invitation to Communion’, we respond, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  Do we recite it because we have been so used to it? Or are we really saying it prayerfully? Do we really feel unworthy to partake of the Body of Christ?

The Gospel today tells us about a centurion, an important Roman army official. He had many servants who obeyed all his commands. It just so happened that this centurion had a favourite servant. This servant was very ill and on the verge of death. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some Jewish elders to ask Him to come and heal his servant. This demonstrated that the centurion believed that his servant could be healed through Jesus Christ.

When Jesus was near the house, the centurion sent his friends to tell Jesus, “‘Sir, do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured…”  These statements showed the humility of the centurion as he entrusted the healing of his servant to Jesus. And indeed that servant became well.

We pray to God for a lot of things — wealth, health, relationships, and many more. How do we feel whenever we ask God for those things? Do we feel deserving to be granted by our Lord? What happens if we received what we have been praying for? I assume that we are indeed happy and very much grateful to our Lord. But what if we do not receive what we want? What happens to our faith? Some may falter.  But I think the ‘No’ answer should strengthen our faith. For me, it is like God saying to me, “Why would I give it to you when you do not even believe in me in the first place?”

If we are in need of something, pray for it, and believe that God will grant it.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please grant us the grace of humility and faith similar to the centurion. And may we always accept and fulfil Your will.

Thanksgiving: Father God, unworthy as we are, we thank You for Your love and mercy.

16 September, Sunday – Deeper Way

16 September 2018

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Isaiah 50:5-9

The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard,
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

My vindicator is hear at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help,
who dare condemn me?

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James 2:14-18

Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, “I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty” without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.

This is the way to talk to people of that kind: “You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.”

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Mark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist,” they said, “others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked, “who do you say I am?” Peter spoke up and said to him, “You are the Christ.” And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way, but man’s.”

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

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“Who do people say I am?” 

Imagine the scenario of our first encounter. We do not know each other yet since it is our first meeting. If I were to ask you “Who are you?”, you would probably have an immediate answer. It could be a general description of yourself, your job, or could be anything that you are not ashamed of. You already have this memorized narration that will give a good first impression.

How about if we were asked by Jesus, “Who do you say I am?”  What would our answer be? At the back of my mind, I know he was born more than 2000 years ago. He was from Nazareth. His mother was Mary and his father was Joseph, a carpenter. He had so many followers and performed many miracles. Yet, he was sentenced to death at the age of 33. We have known this much about Christ. And yet, there should be more to it; because it is not as simple as “Who is Jesus Christ?” but rather, who is Jesus Christ to us?

In the Gospel, Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.”  This signifies that Peter is clearly stating that he knew Jesus as the Saviour that they had been waiting for. After Jesus told them not to tell anyone about Him, He also told them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again.  All that being said, Peter disagreed with Jesus. I feel that what Peter was saying was that it is impossible to happen.

Sometimes in life, we are so fixated on the glamorous side of things. Peter, similarly, was only focused on Jesus as the Messiah, neglecting the course of action to becoming one. Jesus is our Saviour and we must always remember that He died for the sake of us.  It is not enough that we only knew about it. We have to seek a deeper, personal encounter with Him. We have to find ways to respond to Jesus. Then we ask, “But how?” It will never be easy. Jesus said so Himself, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  The statement itself for me is very hard to bear. Imagine taking up my cross. That means I must carry all my burdens and hardships in life. And with all of those, I have to do the will of God. But as hard as it is, we have to remember that God is always with us. God gives us trials that we can overcome. It is by the grace of God that we can surpass all our difficulties.

The most important thing that we have to remember is to pray. We all have these memorized prayers.  Yes, it is okay to pray those. But let us pray from our hearts and not from our memory. Let us pray as if those words are our own and we say those to our God. Let us pray that we will be able to know God’s will, accept it, and fulfil it.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us the grace to know You more and to do Your will.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for giving us Your son, Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.