Tag Archives: blessings

27 April, Wednesday – Declaring Our Dependence

27 April

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Acts 15:1-6

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

  All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.

  But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.

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John 15:1-8

Jesus said:

‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’

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Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

As a father, I really like it when my kids come to me to ask for help. It makes me feel like I’m needed in their lives. It’s good to know that my kids place their trust in me to help them through the problems that they otherwise couldn’t (yet) solve on their own. However, as a son, I find it quite difficult to turn to my own parents for help. The last thing I want them to think is that I’m incapable of figuring out problems for myself. The dilemma we all face is our constant desire for independence, while still remaining in a loving situation with the ones closest to us.

In the Gospel reading from today, Jesus is trying to teach His disciples about the importance of remaining connected to Him through the Word. Even Jesus declared that He was only doing what His Father had commanded Him “so that the world may learn that I (Jesus) love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” Whoever loves Christ should lean on Him for strength, ask Him for wisdom and obey His commands.

That is quite a contrast to how most of us are conditioned to live by our society. We are told that as individuals, we need to be independent and to love ourselves first; that our primary goal is for our own self-fulfillment. That we are entitled to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Is there anything wrong with that?

Nothing. Except that it fails to see that the road to eternal happiness is the road paved by the Lord. And as we travel that road, we either opt to follow the world or be led by Jesus Christ. Even as undeserving, sinful people, we are blessed with the goodness and mercy of a God who has promised us eternal salvation when we remain in Him. As the United States Declaration of Independence states – “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

Brothers and sisters, let us be reminded that the Lord has granted us numerous blessings, especially the freedom of choice. Do we choose to worship the fleeting things of this world or be slaves to Christ?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)

Prayer – Lord, we ask that You soften our stubborn hearts and help us to constantly seek You out in our daily lives.

Thanksgiving – Father, we thank you for being an eternal God that has blessed us more than we can possibly understand. May the truth of Your sacrifice be self-evident to all men and women of this world.

25 April, Monday – Humility and Miracles

25 April – Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist

St. Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of St. Peter who travelled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He was the author of the earliest canonical Gospel. He travelled with his cousin St. Barnabas, and with St. Paul through Cyprus. He evangelized in Alexandria, established the Church there, and founded the first famous Christian school.

-Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 5:5-14

All wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other, because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God now, and he will raise you up on the appointed day; unload all your worries on to him, since he is looking after you. Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things. You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.

I write these few words to you through Silvanus, who is a brother I know I can trust, to encourage you never to let go this true grace of God to which I bear witness.

Your sister in Babylon, who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son, Mark.

Greet one another with a kiss of love.

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Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

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Seeing the miracles of Jesus

In the gospel text today Jesus mentioned miracles that would come with those who believed in Him – “in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover”. As a Catholic for six years now, though six years could be seen as a short period, I find that I have gotten used to the habits and rituals of being a Catholic and forget that Jesus is all about miracles. He not only performed miracles of manifestations and healing; the fact that God would become man to live among us and die as a sinless human being to atone for our sins, is one big miracle itself.

Because God came as flesh in all humility, so too are we reminded to keep humble and serve God and one another. We are never too big or high to help someone in need. And we will never be bigger or higher than the Lord our God. Humility keeps us grounded so that we can see rightly, and in seeing rightly recognize the miracles that God performs in our everyday lives. For there is no reason that flowers should bloom, or that the ocean knows where its limits are, or that you and I should be alive and enjoying our meals; these things that we take for granted are our everyday miracles that we ought to thank God for.

In looking back at the past six years since my baptism, I have my personal miracles to thank God for, which I would like to share with you all. When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I thought that would be the end of me. How wrong I was! As I learned to trust in God, follow His promptings and rest in His love, I found myself growing a sense of rootedness, identity and self-confidence that had not been there before. I found a job and got promoted while at it. I regained old friends whom I had lost touch with, because they were true friends and wanted to see me get better. I found medication that suited me and worked well with my brain chemistry. And of all the miracles God has performed in my life, I am most thankful for Him granting me my husband, who has been healing and loving and good in my life.

Keep growing in God’s wisdom and have faith that your own miracle is around the corner. God bless you all!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Serene Frances Wong)

Prayer – Dear Jesus, help us see You as our own personal miracle – God’s gift to us to redeem us from our sins – and guide us to be strong in faith and knowledge so that we may be gifts to one another. Amen.

Thanksgiving – We give thanks for the gift of nature and for those who love us.