Tag Archives: beryl baterina

19 May, Saturday – Jealous Of The One

19 May

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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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what does it matter to you?

I always thought that it is human nature to not be satisfied. I believe that it is alright to aspire for greater things. Better job, better status in life, everything better. But what if my being better means being greater than other people?

I sometimes feel envious of my workmates if they receive better projects and I got the lousier ones. And those small resentments sometimes lead to gossip about my colleagues. Don’t you sometimes think that life is so unfair? And coupled to it is the question, “Why God, why this fate?”

In the Gospel, Peter asked Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ He was referring to John, the Beloved. Peter’s questioning John’s purpose can seemingly depict a jealous feeling. He shows curiosity in Jesus’ plan for John. Jesus replied, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’ Jesus is telling Peter that it is not his duty to know the plan for John. His primary task is to simply follow Christ. This signifies that we should not compare ourselves with others. We have our own different circumstances, our own way of following Christ, our own calling.

Whenever we feel that others are better than us, we must not question God. When we see our neighbours having more riches, let us think of it as they need those and we don’t. Let us look at things with a view that everything is in their proper place. And it is God’s way of showing that all things are meant to be. It is our own perspective that makes the difference.

If you are an employee, it is your duty to become a proper employee. Obey the company’s rule, do your job without stepping on anyone. If you are a business owner, make sure that your company is doing what is ethical for your employees and consumers. If you are a student, then it is your duty to study hard and not play around. If you are a parent, take good care of your children. Children, always respect your parents. If you are married or in a relationship, love and respect one another. And the list goes on.

Of course, everything must be Christ-centered. We must always pray. But it is not right to use our prayer time as an excuse to neglect our primary responsibilities. This pertains to us lay people. Religious and the clerics have different duties when it comes to their prayer time and other activities. We must always pray for contentment and not to feel bitterness to one another.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Dear Lord, have mercy on us for all our wrongdoings. Please grant a grateful heart to follow Your will.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Father God, for the tasks and responsibilities that we do every day.

18 May, Friday – Love And Lead

May 18 – Memorial for St. John I, Pope and Martyr

John (d. 526) was a priest in Rome, and became the 53rd pope in 523. Italy’s ruler then, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. For a while he left the Catholics alone, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John led a delegation to Constantinople to negotiate with Emperor Justin I; he was the first pope to travel to Constantinople, and while there crowned Justin. The mission was successful, but Theodoric though John and Justin I had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theodoric’s soldiers. He died of thirst and starvation while in custody in Ravenna, Italy.

  •  Patron Saint Index

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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

After Jesus had shown himself to his disciples and eaten with them, 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 around you,
and take you where you would not rather 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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‘Follow me.’

What motivates us in doing anything? As I think about it more, I realise that I do things because of another thing. I do not just do things because I want to. I do things because I think it is correct or it is the right thing to do. It is correct based on something that has been formulated by others or by society. I am just merely following what must be followed.

In our Gospel today, we notice that it is three times that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We can recall that during Christ’s Passion, Peter denied Jesus three times. These scenarios clearly show that though we may turn our back from our Lord more than once, He is always waiting for our return. We sin, yet we are forgiven.

The phrases, ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘Look after my sheep’, and ‘Feed my sheep’ remind us that it is Peter whom Jesus entrusted to lead us. He was the one appointed to guide our nourishment and to live in accordance to God’s will. When Jesus first asked Peter if he loved him before giving him instructions, it implied that Peter’s obedience must be out of love. It is for the love of God that he will obey to feed the lambs, to look after the sheep, and to feed the sheep. In the same way, it is for the love of God that we have our priests, bishops, and the pope.

Saying that we love God is quite easy. But do our actions show that we love our Lord? Do we do things out of love? I myself struggle everyday to do things out of love for God. But with God’s grace, we can.

We are given the gift of free will. As Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked”. When we are still young and able, we can do whatever we want and go wherever we want. It is up to us how we are going to use this freedom. However, we must remember that our end time will come. And we cannot do anything about it. It is a great reminder that while we still can, we should use our free will to follow the will of God.

We are nearing the end of Easter. But let this be not the end of feeling alive. As we continue in our daily life, let us strive harder to do things out of love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we are deeply sorry for all our sins. Please grant us the grace to desire to follow you always.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for giving us chances to renew our self, to be a better person.

3 April, Tuesday – Live In Bliss

3 Apr – Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

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Acts 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.

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John 20:11-18

Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.

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…why are you weeping?

Most of the time, we express our sadness through crying. Sometimes, we cry for a short time. Sometimes, we cry for a long time. Sometimes, we cry ourselves to sleep at night. Isn’t it that when there are tears in our eyes, our vision is blurred? We cannot see clearly what is in front of us.

In the Gospel, Mary Magdalene was weeping because she thought that Jesus’ body was taken away. We cry when our loved ones leave us. How much more if we found out that we could no longer visit the remains of our departed loved ones?

Mary felt such a deep grief in her heart that she cried sorrowfully. When Mary was first asked, “Why are you weeping?”, I felt like asking if she realised that those who asked her were angels? She may have been emotionally unstable at the time and therefore, could not clearly think nor see her surroundings.

When it was Jesus who asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?”, Mary was not able to recognize Him at once. Mary was weeping and looking for the dead body of Jesus when she should have been looking for the risen, living Jesus Christ. But eventually, Mary realised that it was Him.

God moves in mysterious ways. Humans tend to focus on things that are too far past or too far in the future. When we look back or look forward too much, sometimes we cannot see the ‘now’ too clearly. We must not cling too much to our past nor forecast our future. Let our past be our reminder of how we can be better for today. If we are better today, then we do not have to worry too much for our future. There may be times when we feel really devastated and angry at God. But we must only cling to Him — He is the only one who can see our future and direct us on how to live it.

We must not forget that crying is not only for sadness. There are also tears of joy. We cannot contain the overflowing joy that makes us release tears. We are still in Easter time. This is a great reminder that we can still find gladness in whatever painful situations we are in. God is truly merciful and He would not give us challenges that we cannot handle. We just have to pray and listen to Him so we will be enlightened on what to do.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, we are truly sorry for all our shortcomings. Please pour out Your Holy Spirit to guide us and heal our broken heart. Please grant us the grace of happiness to whatever situations we find ourselves in.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for Your unconditional love. Thank you for helping us, especially in times of great need.

2 April, Monday – Start Anew

2 Apr – Monday within the Octave of Easter

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Acts 2:14,22-33

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.
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Matthew 28:8-15

Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.
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Do not be afraid

Whenever I encounter new or happy situations, I always have mixed emotions. I am really happy and at the same time have doubts. I often ask myself, “Is this real?” I sometimes think, “This is too good to be true.”

The Gospel reading for today started with women having mixed emotions after hearing that Christ has risen from the dead. They are filled with joy because of the news that Jesus is alive. Though they are very happy, they also have a fear.

In our country, there is this superstitious saying that a person should not be too overly happy because a terrible sadness would come next. But it should not be like that. God fulfils His promise and it is up to us how we accept it. Our faith should not rely on ‘hearsay’ but rather, we should stick to what is right. If we are happy because we have received so many blessings from God, we should be even more happy. This expressive, happy feeling is a way of inviting more graces to come.

But we must always remember that no matter how we want to share our feelings of happiness, there are people who would reject it. The chief priest in today’s Gospel wants to cover up the truth. He rejects the resurrection of Christ. He even bribed the soldiers to say “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” It is the reality even today. There are so many religions and faiths. Some argue who is better than the other. Not only that, there are also religions who give false statements and accusations about other religions. Let this not affect how we live our faith. By continuing to perform simple acts of kindness and generosity, we declare to everyone that our religion is faith with action.

Easter is a very festive celebration. It is the resurrection of Christ. This is the realization that we can overcome our sinfulness through Jesus Christ. God always forgives and always gives us opportunities to follow Christ. We must remember that each day is a blessing from God and each day, we should be a blessing to others.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are deeply sorry for all the things we have done wrong and for all the good things we have failed to do. Please grant us the grace to live a meaningful life.

Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you very much for continuously giving us another chance to be better.

1 April, Sunday – Rolled Up Cloth

1 Apr – Easter Sunday

Alleluia!

This mass is our Alleluia; our song of praise to the risen Christ who is our life and whose triumph over death we proclaim to all the world.

– Sunday Missal
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Acts 10:34.37-43

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
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Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
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John 20:1-9

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
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…he saw and he believed…

It has been forty days (excluding Sundays) since Ash Wednesday. How were we these past weeks? How did we prepare ourselves during the Lenten Season? Did we have any realizations?

Every Lenten period, we comply with abstaining from meat every Friday. When Holy Week comes, my family has this tradition of visiting seven churches. Until now, I do not know the real reason behind going to seven churches. I have friends who visit nine churches. Their explanation is related to ‘novena’ (latin: novem) — it is praying repeatedly, for nine times. Anyway, we make prayers and wishes in every church. Sometimes, my prayers for all the churches are the same. There were times when my prayers were answered. But there are still plenty in my wish list. Even so, I still continue praying and hoping for a ‘yes’ answer. I just have to patiently wait for it.

When Mary of Magdala went to the tomb, “she saw that the stone had been moved away and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple (the one Jesus loved).” She told them that the “Lord has been taken out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.” These two disciples then ran together to the tomb and the other one (not Peter), arrived first. He did not enter but peeked inside and saw the cloths lying on the ground. Peter arrived next, went inside the tomb and observed that the cloth for the head was not on the ground but “rolled up in a place by itself.” When John (the other disciple whom Jesus loved) entered the tomb, “he saw and he believed.” They still did not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead. They still hadn’t realized that God overcomes death. And Jesus Christ is the only manifestation for it. The resurrection of Jesus Christ does not only signify the greatness of God, it also shows the mercy of God. When we sin, it reduces our life with God — similar to death. We stray from God and forget that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved.

Lenten season is not only about abstaining from what to eat. What have we offered to God during the previous weeks? Some may have given up long hours on social media. Some may have extended help to a co-worker or another person. Some may have given up luxury time. Some may even hurt themselves during Lenten period. Small or big, it does not matter. What matters more is our preparation for a great anticipation — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection reminds us that we can always start anew. Whatever wrongdoings we have done, we must repent and start all over again. We may experience suffering and hardship, but we must always remember that Christ also suffered before resurrection. And Jesus Christ on the cross is a sign that there is always light after darkness. It does not always come easy. Our patience, perseverance, and faith are always tested.

As we begin the Easter Season, what is the current state of our heart? Are we ready to welcome and believe in the resurrected Christ?

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please forgive all our wrong doings. Please help us keep our faith.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus Christ to set us free. Thank you for the gift of life.

10 February, Saturday – Give And Receive

10 Feb – Memorial for St. Scholastica, virgin

Scholastica (480-543) was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia. Born to Italian nobility, her mother died in childbirth. She became a nun and led a community of women at Plombariloa near Montecassino.

– Patron Saint Index

From her earliest years, she had been consecrated to God. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year, and he would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate. One day, she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things.

As night fell, they had supper together. Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother, “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.”

When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated.

Sadly, he began to complain, “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself.

– from Dialogues by Pope St. Gregory the Great

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1 Kings 12:26-32,13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘As things are, the kingdom will revert to the House of David. If this people continues to go up to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, the people’s heart will turn back again to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will put me to death.’ So the king thought this over and then made two golden calves; he said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ He set up one in Bethel and the people went in procession all the way to Dan in front of the other. He set up the temple of the high places and appointed priests from ordinary families, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth of the month, like the feast that was kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar. That was how he behaved in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made; and at Bethel he put the priests of the high places he had established.

Jeroboam did not give up his wicked ways but went on appointing priests for the high places from the common people. He consecrated as priests of the high places any who wished to be. Such conduct made the House of Jeroboam a sinful House, and caused its ruin and extinction from the face of the earth.

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Mark 8:1-10

A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.

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…and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over…

The gospel today is one of my favorite Bible stories. The multiplication of bread. When Jesus said, “I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry, they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance”, it is a manifestation of the compassion and mercy of Jesus Christ. He takes into consideration the welfare of His followers. That is indeed a characteristic of a great leader.

Initially, they only had seven loaves of bread and a few pieces of fish. But they were able to feed the whole crowd and there was a lot left over. This really shows how marvellous our God is. Our God knows our hunger and He always satisfies it. It is just us humans who are sometimes not satisfied with our life.

The miracle is not only about how such little food becomes more than enough for all the people. There is also the miracle of the heart. It is a large crowd and that crowd followed Jesus Christ wherever He went for three days. It means to say that those people (most, if not all) were prepared to travel. They must have brought food along with them. So, when the basket was passed around, they took some food but they also put some in. Even extra baskets were given.

If only we could always be generous — not just in monetary and material things. We should be generous in giving understanding and forgiveness to others. If only it could happen, then there would be fewer crime. No more greed. No more hatred. No more revenge. Only love, harmony, and peace. But it is only an ideal. Negativity is part of our life. It is how live that we can lessen its effects.

There is this saying, “Give until it hurts. Give more until it does not hurt anymore.” Let us take this opportunity to reflect on up to what point we can be generous.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: (Prayer for Generosity – St. Ignatius of Loyola ) Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as I should. To give and not to count the cost. To fight and not to heed the wounds. To toil and not to seek for rest. To labor and ask not for reward. Save that of knowing that I do Your most holy will. St. Scholastica, Pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the abundant graces that sustain our daily life. Thank you for the times that we can share our blessings to others.

9 February, Friday – Eyes Of The Heart

9 February 

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1 Kings 11:29-32,12:19

One day when Jeroboam had gone out of Jerusalem, the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh accosted him on the road. Ahijah was wearing a new cloak; the two of them were in the open country by themselves. Ahijah took the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve strips, saying to Jeroboam, ‘Take ten strips for yourself, for thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel, “I am going to tear the kingdom from Solomon’s hand and give ten tribes to you. He shall keep one tribe for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.’

And Israel has been separated from the House of David until the present day.

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Mark 7:31-37

Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’

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Be opened

Have you ever experienced hearing your name being called but you are unresponsive? I have, so many times, and not only when it comes to my name. Even when I am listening, there were moments when I was hearing everything but my mind was ‘spaced out’ elsewhere. There were times when I recorded lectures so that I could listen to them again when I study. There was a topic that seemed to be easy but I could not comprehend any of it. I re-listened to my recordings, but still, I could not move forward with that topic.

The gospel today is about a deaf and mute man who was bought before Jesus. And Jesus cured this man. Jesus wanted to keep this miracle a secret. But people are human. The more rules are imposed on them, the more likely they would break them. The gospel teaches us that we can be mute and deaf spiritually. On our own, we do not have the capacity to share the good news nor understand it. It is by the grace of God that we can fully understand and speak the message of the readings. This gift is given freely. Sometimes, we just have to ask for it and develop it. We must always pray to God that our deaf and mute heart will always be healed.

I believe everyone prays. But prayer is a two-way communication. We talk to God and then we listen to him. Sometimes, we just want to do the talking. We do not know how to listen. There are times when we think we were listening, but we are not. We persevere by asking God for everything, but we do not give Him the chance to speak to us. Being silent is a way where we can listen to God. It seems easy to shut our mouth, but our mind is still noisy. It is not easy to silence ourselves. It takes practice, perseverance, and patience. It is easier to think about being silent but more difficult for it to be done. There are people who are already experts on this, there are others who are just starting. I am an example of someone who is struggling with silence. I try to set a time for it, but I am not always faithful with my schedule. The thing is, we must not give up doing what is pleasing to God because God never abandons us.

I gave up listening to that recording. Instead, I asked a very knowledgeable classmate to explain it to me. It did help. Sometimes when we think we have done so many things, we tend to forget that we also need to listen. Silence is a necessary part of our life in order to hear more of what God is saying to us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please open our hearts to know your will. Give us the humility to accept it so that we may fulfill your will.

Thanksgiving: Ever dearest God, we are truly grateful for everything you have given us. Thank you for giving us another chance to do Your will. Thank you for the gift of hearing and understanding, which we hope we may use well.

8 February, Thursday – Crumbs Of Life

8 Feb – Memorial for St. Jerome Emiliani; Memorial for St. Josephine Bakhita, virgin

Jerome (1481–1537) was born wealthy, the son of Angelo and Eleanor Mauroceni Emiliani. His father died when Jerome was a teenager, and he ran away from home at age 15. After a dissolute youth, he became a soldier in Venice in 1506. He commanded the League of Cambrai forces at the fortress of Castelnuovo near Trevso. He was captured by Venetian forces on Aug 27, 1511, and was chained in a dungeon. Here, he prayed to Our Lady for help and was miraculously freed by an apparition. He hung his chains on a church wall as an offering. He became Mayor of Treviso while studying for the priesthood, and was ordained in the spotted-fever plague year of 1518.

He cared for the sick and housed orphans in his own home. At night he roamed the streets, burying those who had collapsed and died unattended. He contracted the fever himself, but survived. He founded six orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes, and a hospital.

He founded the Order of Somaschi (Company of Servants of the Poor, or Samascan Fathers) in 1532. It is a congregation of clerks regular vowed to the care of orphans, and named after the town of Somasca where they started and where they founded a seminary. The society was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 and it continues its work today in a dozen countries. Jerome is believed to have developed the question-and-answer catechism technique for teaching children religion.

In 1928, Pope Pius XI declared him the patron saint of orphans and abandoned children.

– Patron Saint Index

Josephine (1868–1947) was born to a wealthy Sudanese family. At age 9, she was kidnapped by slave-traders who gave her the name Bakhita. She was sold and resold in the markets at El Obeid and Khartoum, finally purchased in 1883 by Callisto Legnani, an Italian consul who planned to free her. She accompanied Legnani to Italy in 1885 and worked for the family of Augusto Michieli as nanny. She was treated well in Italy and grew to love the country. She joined the Church as an adult convert on Jan 9, 1890, taking the name Josephine as a symbol of her new life.

She entered the Institute of Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice, Italy, in 1893, taking her vows on Dec 8, 1896 in Verona, and served as a Canossian Sister for the next 50 years. Her gentle presence, her warm, amiable voice and her willingness to help with any menial task were a comfort to the poor and suffering people who came to the door of the Institute. After a biography of her was published in 1930, she became a noted and sought-after speaker, raising funds to support missions.

She was canonized on Oct 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and is thought to be the only saint originally from Sudan.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Kings 11:4-13

When Solomon grew old his wives swayed his heart to other gods; and his heart was not wholly with the Lord his God as his father David’s had been. Solomon became a follower of Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and of Milcom, the Ammonite abomination. He did what was displeasing to the Lord, and was not a wholehearted follower of the Lord, as his father David had been. Then it was that Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the god of Moab on the mountain to the east of Jerusalem, and to Milcom the god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrifice to their gods.

The Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord the God of Israel who had twice appeared to him and who had then forbidden him to follow other gods; but he did not carry out the Lord’s order. The Lord therefore said to Solomon, ‘Since you behave like this and do not keep my covenant or the laws I laid down for you, I will most surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. For your father David’s sake, however, I will not do this during your lifetime, but will tear it out of your son’s hands. Even so, I will not tear the whole kingdom from him. For the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen, I will leave your son one tribe.’

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Mark 7:24-30

Jesus left Gennesaret and set out for the territory of Tyre. There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not pass unrecognised. A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him straightaway and came and fell at his feet. Now the woman was a pagan, by birth a Syrophoenician, and she begged him to cast the devil out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ But she spoke up: ‘Ah yes, sir,’ she replied ‘but the house-dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps.’ And he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go home happy: the devil has gone out of your daughter.’ So she went off to her home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.

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…it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs…

I came across a Jewish prayer on being grateful to God that they are not Gentiles, not women, nor slaves. During the time of Jesus, there was no equality among genders. Women were considered as inferior and lower than men. Also, the Jews referred to Gentiles as ‘dogs’ because they considered them unclean and could not understand.

In today’s gospel, Jesus went to Gentile territory. He wanted to be anonymous, but there was a woman who found out about him. This woman was born a pagan and she had a young daughter with an unclean spirit. She went to Jesus and fell down at his feet. She begged Jesus to remove the devil from her daughter. Jesus tested this woman. Jesus said, “The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.” The woman understood that Jesus was actually asking her why He should help her; especially so since she was a Gentile and Jesus should only be associating with the Jews.

The answer that the woman gave is really humbling. “But the house-dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps.” She humbly and openly accepts anything. Even it is only left over as long as it is from Jesus.

The gospel teaches us that our faith is not only for a certain group of people. It is for everyone. Anyone can receive salvation as long as he or she believes in our one and only God. There are times that we think God never hears our prayers; and then later on, our faith deteriorates when we face hardships. We also sometimes forget about God when we receive successes. We think that it is from our own strength and capability that we were able to overcome whatever hindrances that we face. We must always be humble and remember that we are where we are because of the grace of God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Please grant us the grace of humility to accept who we are and to not think that we are better than others. Help us to realize that we cannot do anything alone. Help us remember that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can live our life. That we may be like the Gentile woman who has strong faith especially during trials.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for our faith, Father God. Thank you for being born as we are. Thank you for your continuous mercy Lord, God.

7 February, Wednesday – Inside Out

7 February 

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1 Kings 10:1-10

The fame of Solomon having reached the queen of Sheba… she came to test him with difficult questions. She brought immense riches to Jerusalem with her, camels laden with spices, great quantities of gold, and precious stones. On coming to Solomon, she opened her mind freely to him; and Solomon had an answer for all her questions, not one of them was too obscure for the king to expound. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, the palace he had built, the food at his table, the accommodation for his officials, the organisation of his staff and the way they were dressed, his cup-bearers, and the holocausts he offered in the Temple of the Lord, it left her breathless, and she said to the king, ‘What I heard in my own country about you and your wisdom was true, then! Until I came and saw it with my own eyes I could not believe what they told me, but clearly they told me less than half: for wisdom and prosperity you surpass the report I heard. How happy your wives are! How happy are these servants of yours who wait on you always and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God who has granted you his favour, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because of the Lord’s everlasting love for Israel, he has made you king to deal out law and justice.’ And she presented the king with a hundred and twenty talents of gold and great quantities of spices and precious stones; no such wealth of spices ever came again as those given to King Solomon by the queen of Sheba.

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Mark 7:14-23

Jesus called the people to him and said, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.’

When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, ‘It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men’s hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.’

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…it is what comes out of man that makes him unclean…

I always have this habit of observing people from time to time. In my mind, I judge them based on their actions and my experiences with them. I describe their attitudes as how they show them to people. If I observe that they do good things, I would judge them as having a kind heart. If they do otherwise, I would judge them as having a wicked heart.

The gospel today can confirm the statement, “It is what we do that defines who we are.” As we have learned from yesterday’s gospel, the Pharisees and the Jews focus more on traditions and practices. One example is that they need to clean first before eating; thereby, judging Jesus’ disciples for eating with unclean hands.

The gospel today signifies that eating with unclean hands does not make a person a sinner. As Jesus says, “Nothing that goes from the outside can make him unclean.” Though in our present days, there are people who really are very meticulous when it comes to washing hands thoroughly before eating. But food does not influence the state of our heart. What is in our hearts shows our spiritual life. Our heart, our conscience is the start of all our actions. Jesus stated that, “it is from within that evil intentions emerged.”

We are humans and we make mistakes. We make decisions that are sometimes morally inappropriate. Those decisions go with our gift of free will. When we exercise our free will, let us examine our conscience. Is it the right thing to do? Or is it the wrong thing to do? Our decisions should not solely be based on us alone. We need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for us to make a better decision. We live a very busy life, but I believe somewhere in between, we can make time to speak to God. Have time to pray and examine how we are living our life. What are our priorities? Do we focus more on looking good than doing good?

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please guide us so that our words and actions will only be in accordance to your will. Please help us to let Jesus live in our hearts forever.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for this gift of life. Thank You for our families and friends who help us to be closer to You.

29 July, Saturday – Worry Some

Jul 29 – Memorial for St. Martha

Jesus liked to stay at the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany, when he was in Judaea. One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory. On that occasion, Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him.

After His Ascension, she was seized by the Jews, together with many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles. Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the people of Marseilles by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew with several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence.

http://www.catholicculture.org/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2006-07-29

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Exodus 24:3-8

Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’

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Luke 10:38-42

Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’

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You worry and fret about so many things

As individuals, we think a lot. A father can be preoccupied about how to provide for the family. A mother may have a very long ‘to do’ list for the house — assist husband, take care of the children, take care of the house, feed the pets, go to the store — the list never ends. A student can be very busy and stressed about schoolwork. A worker can be very busy thinking about his/her job, the deadline, the boss, colleagues, and many more.

It is who we are; we are thinking creatures. We think ahead about what we will do next even though we are still yet to complete our current task. It is as if we want to exhaust ourselves and use up all the energy we have. And there are some who will not stop working unless they are totally drained and pass out.

I am somewhat guilty of that. I continue to be a workaholic even I feel really sick. I abuse my body for the sake of accomplishing my work. Most of the time, we want to imitate Martha. We want to do everything and we criticize those who are not as engaged as us. We just have to be moving all the time so that we can accomplish everything.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha. And Mary was the one who accommodated and entertained Jesus. As I reflect on it more, if I were to visit someone, it is because I want to be with them, talk to them, and have a fruitful conversation. If we have something to eat, then it is just an accessory. Mary was the one who addressed the more important thing by greeting Jesus. It showed that for Mary, there was no greater thing than to be with Jesus.

The Gospel is telling us that in life, it is proper to work hard so as not to be hungry. But working hard 100% of the time is not healthy. We should set aside time to relax and replenish our energy. Faith and hard work come hand in hand. Our God is a merciful God and He has given us this gift of life. Let us learn to work hard and pray harder.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us the ability to choose You above all. May we live our lives in accordance with your will. May we work hard like Martha and have a strong faith like Mary.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord, for your grace of mercy. We thank you Father God, for our source of income and for this faith.