Tag Archives: christmas

10 January, Thursday – Recognising

10 January 2019

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1 John 4:19-5:4

We are to love,
because God loved us first.
Anyone who says, ‘I love God’,
and hates his brother,
is a liar,
since a man who does not love the brother that he can see
cannot love God, whom he has never seen.
So this is the commandment that he has given us,
that anyone who loves God must also love his brother.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God;
and whoever loves the Father that begot him
loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us;
this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments;
and his commandments are not difficult,
because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world;
this is the victory over the world –
our faith.

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Luke 4:14-22

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.

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“…this is the victory over the world – our faith.”

There is a song we sometimes sing at retreats, which describes some articles that a typical knight would use – a sword, breastplate, etc; and each article is linked to a fruit of the spirit – joy, peace, etc. In the end, what we claim is that as Christians, we have put on an armour of faith, which protects us from all things terrible that go on in the world.

We celebrated New Year’s Eve with a countdown Mass at CSC and what a celebration it was. By 9.30 pm, when praise and worship began, the hall was full and you could sense the anticipation in the air as we prepared to welcome Jesus for an hour of adoration, followed by mass. And by divine providence, we were all truly blessed to mark the passing into the new year with Jesus at the altar. I stood in awe as we all counted down the seconds and celebrated joyously with one another before receiving communion.

As Catholics, we truly have the best of both worlds. Who else can claim to have a God who humbled himself to become man and to live among us? Anyone else would be hard put to find another example of divine Love. And while some of us have been blessed to have been given a vision or glimpse of paradise and perhaps even to engage with Christ, many among us simply believe.

And when things start to go downhill, that is when our faith is put to the test. For me, He has never let me down time after time. In fact, I have been fortunate enough to discern His hand in many of the trials and tribulations that I endured in 2018. So much so that I felt he gave me a much-desired present before the Christmas holidays. Looking back, I believe that in ‘winning’ that battle, it was God sat back and waited for me to do the same before he acted. It certainly made my Christmas break all the more satisfying.

So brothers and sisters, when the going gets tough, just let go and let God. Let Him take over and surrender fully to His will by praying and focussing on keeping your behaviour and actions as Christ-like as possible. Most importantly — have a little bit of faith. It is the title of a book I received as a Christmas present from mum and after reading it (it took me just two sittings), I could not help but shed a few tears and say, “I don’t know what to do anymore. Please take over.” At the end of the day, when we are at wits end, it is the only thing we can cling on to. Our faith in our loving, generous, merciful God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Thanksgiving: We thank you O heavenly Father, for your faith in us and for always being there for us in our darkest moments.

9 January, Wednesday – Animated by Love

9 January – Wednesday after Epiphany Sunday

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1 John 4:11-18

My dear people,
since God has loved us so much,
we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God;
but as long as we love one another
God will live in us
and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him
and he is living in us
because he lets us share his Spirit.
We ourselves saw and we testify
that the Father sent his Son
as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God lives in him, and he in God.
We ourselves have known and put our faith in
God’s love towards ourselves.
God is love
and anyone who lives in love lives in God,
and God lives in him.
Love will come to its perfection in us
when we can face the day of Judgement without fear;
because even in this world
we have become as he is.
In love there can be no fear,
but fear is driven out by perfect love:
because to fear is to expect punishment,
and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love.

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Mark 6:45-52

After the five thousand had eaten and were filled, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. He could see they were worn out with rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the lake. He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But he at once spoke to them, and said, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind dropped. They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.

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In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love

Emotions are truly powerful feelings and they have an incredible ability to spur a person on to greater heights to achieve what he may not have been able to achieve or paralyse him and make him unable to achieve what he could have done very easily in the past. The readings of today remind us that we are driven not by emotions but by a deeper sense of purpose; which is the desire to accept each person for who they are and just as they are.

St John in the First Reading reminds us of how the love which Jesus Christ has for us animates all actions and is the basis on which Christianity is built upon. The importance of the love of God in our midst cannot be under-estimated. Instead what we need to do is to re-kindle this love of God in ourselves through prayer and action. As mentioned in an earlier reflection this week, prayer is communication with God. We need to ask God for what His plans are for us and then accept the message which comes along even if it goes against what we want. We then need to put Christian love in action by sharing with others the faith we have inherited by being kind to others and putting in a good word. What distinguishes us from any other kind-hearted person is the consistency and manner in which we carry out these actions. We should be deliberate with our actions and allow the other party to know that what we do is borne out of a desire to share the Love of God which we have experienced with the other person.

Christianity is a religion of action and as we continue with our daily lives, we need to appreciate that sometimes this call to action runs contrary to what the world expects from us. As such, let us never falter from this call but instead continue to soldier on and persevere with God’s grace and help.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the grace to continue to share your love to all around us despite difficulties which we may face

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the missionaries who spread God’s love to all around us.

8 January, Tuesday – Generosity of Love

8 January – Tuesday after Epiphany Sunday

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1 John 4:7-10

My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

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Mark 6:34-44

As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late, So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ How many loaves have you?’ he asked ‘Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

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Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.

Movie plots and TV series tend to dramatise the emotion of love by illustrating the heights and depths of what a person would do for the people whom he or she loves. Sometimes this entails the embarking of a path of revenge in order to seek redress against grievance which the family has suffered. This approach I believe is a misguided type of love. The readings of today show us that to identify true love, we only need to look at the fruits and the outcomes of one’s actions.

One of the fruits of love is a spirit of generosity and this is seen in the Gospel of today where Jesus multiplied the loaves. For some, this parable could have been heard so many times that we may have become immune to its message. Jesus showed to the people his compassion for those around him. He cared for their well-being and made sure their material needs were met. I believe that sometimes we also need to be more aware of the need to be more observant of the lives of the people in our peripheral vision. The lady who cleans the pantry, the worker who clears our rubbish and the man who distributes the newspapers all have a background and story from which we can encounter and share the love of God with.

Love therefore is not a vengeful type of love but one which shows great generosity of spirit and forgiveness to all whom we meet. As we go about our daily lives, let us find an opportunity to show love to these people and in the process allow others to discover the great mercy of God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Father, we pray for us to love all others with empathy.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who make a point to forgive their enemies despite the difficulty.

7 January, Monday – Devoted in Prayer

7 Jan – Memorial for St. Raymond of Penyafort, priest

St. Raymond (1175-1275) was of Aragonian nobility. He was educated at the cathedral school in Barcelona, and became a philosophy teacher at the age of 20. He was a priest. He graduated from law school in Bologna, Italy, and joined the Dominicans in 1218. He was summoned to Rome in 1230 by Pope Gregory IX, and assigned to collect all official letters of the popes since 1150. Raymond gathered and published five volumes, and helped write Church law.

He was made Master General of the Dominicans in 1238. He reviewed the Order’s Rule, made sure everything was legally correct, then resigned his position in 1240 to dedicate himself to parish work. The pope wanted to make Raymond an archbishop, but he declined, instead returning to Spain and the parish work he loved. His compassion helped many people return to God through Reconciliation.

During his years in Rome, Raymond heard of the difficulties missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain. Raymond started a school to teach the language and culture of the people to be evangelized. With St. Thomas Aquinas, he wrote a booklet to explain the truths of faith in a way non-believers could understand. His great influence on Church law led to his patronage of lawyers.

  • Patron Saint Index

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1 John 3:22-4:6

Whatever we ask God,
we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ
and that we love one another
as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him.
We know that he lives in us
by the Spirit that he has given us.

It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust;
test them, to see if they come from God,
there are many false prophets, now, in the world.
You can tell the spirits that come from God by this:
every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh
is from God;
but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus
is not from God,
but is the spirit of Antichrist,
whose coming you were warned about.
Well, now he is here, in the world.
Children,
you have already overcome these false prophets,
because you are from God and you have in you
one who is greater than anyone in this world;
as for them, they are of the world,
and so they speak the language of the world
and the world listens to them.
But we are children of God,
and those who know God listen to us;
those who are not of God refuse to listen to us.
This is how we can tell
the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.

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Matthew 4:12-17,23-25

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them. Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and Transjordania.

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But we are children of God and those who know God listen to us

I often wondered how a fellow Catholic can recognise another Catholic in his surroundings? Is it the way he speaks or the way he behaves which gives some sort of clue? I believe that perhaps Catholics are recognised for their general lukewarm response to matters in the world which would often see other people holding different faiths respond more strongly in line with their faith. The readings of today remind us of the need to be the difference to those around us.

However, the main query is then to discover how can we go about doing so? The answer, I believe, lies in us first discovering what is the status of our relationship with God. To use common internet terminology, are we constantly “online” with God?  Are we constantly “updating” God on how we are doing throughout the day and asking him for help and advice? We must be ready to accept the message which God has for us which we might not necessarily agree with. When we stay in communication with God, we become closer to Him and allow Him to work through us. Gradually, we become closer to God and follow Him in his image and likeness.

When we have reached that level, I believe it will be the case that others will listen to us when we speak because they can see that we have the spirit of God within us which animates all of us. As we continue in the last week of the season of Christmas, let us ask God to help us acknowledge our failings and ask Him to help us in this aspect.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the spirit of discernment to help us appreciate our weaknesses.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all those who help others in their faith journey.

5 January, Saturday – A Love that is Real and Active

5 January 2019

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1 John 3:11-21

This is the message
as you heard it from the beginning:
that we are to love one another;
not to be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One
and cut his brother’s throat;
cut his brother’s throat simply for this reason,
that his own life was evil and his brother lived a good life.
You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you;
we have passed out of death and into life,
and of this we can be sure
because we love our brothers.
If you refuse to love, you must remain dead;
to hate your brother is to be a murderer,
and murderers, as you know, do not have eternal life in them.
This has taught us love –
that he gave up his life for us;
and we, too, ought to give up our lives for our brothers.
If a man who was rich enough in this world’s goods
saw that one of his brothers was in need,
but closed his heart to him,
how could the love of God be living in him?

My children,
our love is not to be just words or mere talk,
but something real and active;
only by this can we be certain
that we are children of the truth
and be able to quieten our conscience in his presence,
whatever accusations it may raise against us,
because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.

My dear people,
if we cannot be condemned by our own conscience,
we need not be afraid in God’s presence.

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John 1:43-51

After Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, he met Philip and said, ‘Follow me.’ Philip came from the same town, Bethsaida, as Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’

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“My children, our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth”

We take comfort in the first reading today, where we see how God understands the backlash or the consequences we will face in following Him. ‘You must not be surprised, brothers, when the world hates you’ and also mentions how we would be persecuted for doing what’s right simply because the other’s life is evil and ours good. It is so difficult to follow Christ in our world today, whether it be the fear of missing out, being labelled as the odd one out, losing friendships and relationships or seen as can be easily taken advantage of. Whatever it may be, we need “to be able to quieten our conscience in his presence, whatever accusations it may raise against us, because God is greater than our conscience and he knows everything.” When we cannot be condemned by our own conscience, we need not be afraid of ‘punishment’ from God.

The one thing I can testify to is that God provides. When we live our lives for Him, He gives us more than what we think we want but what we really need. A love that is real and active, God keeps His promise when He says that He came to give us life and life to the full. Indeed, He only desires the best for us, to lead a truly meaningful and purposeful life, not just to do good for society but to encounter His love, to be able to love as He loves and also to be loved by others. This is the love that is real and active, a love that no amount of money can buy, for it is a gift and it is this gift that God gives to us.

We will not be able to love as Christ loves until we ourselves have experienced His love. Today I’m urging to recommit to Him, wherever you are in your faith journey, whether even Catholic or not, to pray to once again encounter His love for you. There’s nothing else in this world worth living for. As we prepare for Epiphany, may we also be like the wise men, who travelled far and not comfortably, to bring Him gifts though they probably wouldn’t get anything back in return. They eventually had to return by a different route after encountering the Lord, which resulted in a conversion of hearts and transformation of lives. Live Jesus in our hearts forever. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for this renewal, this renewed faith and passion as we continue in our ministries and communities, help us to encounter you and your love in the people that we meet and pray that we also bring you to those we meet daily.

Thanksgiving: Thank your Lord, for understanding us, thank you for loving us so much that you humbled yourself to being born as a child in the manger and eventually for dying on the cross for our salvation. May we give our lives to you just as you have given yours to us.

4 January, Friday – Seek and you shall find

4 January 2019

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1 John 3:7-10

My children, do not let anyone lead you astray:
to live a holy life
is to be holy just as he is holy;
to lead a sinful life is to belong to the devil,
since the devil was a sinner from the beginning.
It was to undo all that the devil has done
that the Son of God appeared.
No one who has been begotten by God sins;
because God’s seed remains inside him,
he cannot sin when he has been begotten by God.

In this way we distinguish the children of God
from the children of the devil:
anybody not living a holy life
and not loving his brother
is no child of God’s.

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John 1:35-42

As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.

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“‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of the day.”

In today’s Gospel, we read of the familiar phrase, ‘Come and See’. Why didn’t Jesus start to share who He was? Why didn’t He say anything regarding being the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, or that He can move mountains and calm the seas, why didn’t He show off?

I would like to think that the opposite of ‘promotion’ is truly, to be that living example. The world can say what it wants about me, but really, what matters most is how God sees me and how I see myself, and Jesus was very clear of that. ‘Come and See’ because the individual needs to make the first step, there is no point forcing. When we choose to respond, there is also a sense of preparation and openness to what we are going to receive, it is a risk because we do not know what we are going to receive, whether it will be a waste of time or not.

It is important that our senses are always alive, that we don’t just pay attention to things we can see but to be aware of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives. There was a beautiful experience during World Youth Day 2016 in Poland — I was with a friend and we were in one of the churches there. At a certain section within the church, I could feel the Holy Spirit so tangibly and mentioned of the encounter to my friend and he told me he had felt the Holy Spirit too. There was nothing special happening, it was very ordinary but yet at that moment, very special. It is important to move with the Spirit, for through the Spirit is how we are able to grow closer to the heart of Jesus. Moving with the spirit also helps us in our discernment of good and evil, right and wrong, as in the first reading, where we are called to live a holy life and to distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil.

My friends, in our lives today, there are many obstacles, expectations and excuses that prevent us from ‘Come and See’. Deep down, we already know the times when we have chosen many other insignificant worldly materials over Christ, we failed to ‘Come and See’. Today, let us give God a chance, that we respond with no expectations that we remove our ‘appointments’ and make time for Him and to be a witness to say we are deepening our relationship with God; that in our witnessing, we are also evangelising to all those we meet. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we will be more discerning to the works of your spirit, to know where you are leading us, how you are working in our lives and to know and respond to your calling. Help us to grow in love with you and to be grateful for the many blessings you have bestowed upon us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for not placing unrealistic expectations, requirements or prerequisites for us to be a part of your family. Thank you for always being patient, forgiving and continuously not giving up on us. Thank you for your love.

3 January, Thursday – Recognising

3 Jan – Memorial for the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Today’s feast day is a remembrance and celebration of the conferral of the Holy Name of Jesus. A separate votive Mass under this title is found in the revised Roman Missal, and may be used for an annual celebration (e.g. titular of a Church), or as an expression of devotion, which is part of the tradition and spirituality of a religious order. It was formerly listed as the Sunday between 1 and 6 January, if one occurs. It was instituted in the 15th century by the bishops of Germany, Scotland, England, and Belgium. It was extended to the universal Church in 1721. There is a commemoration in the Mass of the Octave of St. Stephen if the feast is kept on the second, of St. John on the third, and of the Holy Innocents on the fourth of January.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 John 2:29-3:6

You know that God is righteous –
then you must recognise that everyone whose life is righteous
has been begotten by him.

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;
all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.

Surely everyone who entertains this hope
must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.
Anyone who sins at all
breaks the law,
because to sin is to break the law.
Now you know that he appeared in order to abolish sin,
and that in him there is no sin;
anyone who lives in God does not sin,
and anyone who sins
has never seen him or known him.

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John 1:29-34

Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I spoke of when I said: A man is coming after me who ranks before me because he existed before me. I did not know him myself, and yet it was to reveal him to Israel that I came baptising with water.’ John also declared, ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. I did not know him myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water had said to me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and rest is the one who is going to baptise with the Holy Spirit.” Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.’

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“what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.”

In today’s Gospel, we see how John was able to recognise Jesus although he twice said, “I did not know him myself”. How could John preach about someone he didn’t really know? It almost feels as if John was making something up. Like John, there is no way we are able to fully see the face of Christ and the extent of His love for us.

But what we know, as mentioned in the first reading, is that God is righteous and those who live a righteous life has been begotten by Him. We are all God’s children by nature of our baptism and nothing can change that. We also know that anyone who lives in God does not sin, and anyone who sins has never seen him or known him, because to sin is to break the law.

In knowing the person of Christ, we must try to be like him, obey His laws and teachings. It’s not about being that perfect person, but about recognising and doing something about it. We do not want to remain in sin because sin destroys not just our lives — there is no such thing as a personal sin — but sin hurts the people around us too. The effects of sin are directly opposite to the mission of Christ. Our senses, desires will be distracted when we live in a life of sin versus a life of holiness.

Many times we feel that the ‘Catholic’ standard is so high that we rather just be mediocre or give up than to strive towards holiness. Sometimes, it may be the lack of relationship, encounter, prayer, community and other times, simply sloth or worldly pleasures. I am, and have been guilty of such as well. But what really happens when I live and move in the spirit? I am firstly at peace, with myself and with others, there is no restlessness, the world can throw everything at me but I know that God stands by my side. No words or actions will I take offense in, I see others with compassion and love, understand from their perspective, listen and be patient. The life in the spirit is a life of holiness, sees a life filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. There is meaning, there is purpose, we know that life is so much more than ourselves, life is about others and doing the will of the Father.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to purify ourselves and try to be as pure as Christ. That in our efforts, we may deepen this relationship we have with Him, to be able to recognise Him in our daily lives. That we can say “Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God”.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for teaching and sharing with us Your way. Thank you for the hope that one day all will be revealed and that we all shall be like You because we shall see You

29 December, Saturday – The Spirit of Giving

Dec 29 – Memorial for St. Thomas Becket, bishop, martyr

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1 John 2:3-11

We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.
We can be sure that we are in God
only when the one who claims to be living in him
is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
My dear people,
this is not a new commandment that I am writing to tell you,
but an old commandment
that you were given from the beginning,
the original commandment which was the message brought to you.
Yet in another way, what I am writing to you,
and what is being carried out in your lives as it was in his,
is a new commandment;
because the night is over
and the real light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother
is still in the dark.
But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light
and need not be afraid of stumbling;
unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness,
not knowing where he is going,
because it is too dark to see.

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Luke 2:22-35

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

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Whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked

Christmas season brings out the best, and also the worst in us. I was at Orchard Road (a prime shopping area in Singapore) over the weekend, and was caught in a massive jam coming out of Orchard, squeezed from left and right by the throng of Christmas shoppers and tourists. Cars were honking at each other, shoppers were colliding into each other with shopping bags and strollers, families were at loggerheads trying to determine what presents to buy… and we haven’t even covered what happens at home with the decorations and preparations for Christmas dinner! What a stressful period!

Shopping malls blare at you that this is the “season of giving” to tempt us into buying presents for everyone and their aunt. This is ‘guilt giving’, not the ‘spirit of giving’. If we want to look into what really is the spirit of giving, perhaps we should examine John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God’s giving is borne out of LOVE – a deep, deep love for us that is so unconditional that even when we have failed Him, He takes us back in His arms. A love that knows no bounds and asks no questions. His love for us is epitomized in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – “Love is patient, love is kind. It is slow to anger, keeps no record of wrongs. It is not self-seeking, nor will it fail.” God is putting into words what love for one another should feel like. It is not that He is never angry, but that He loves us enough to set His anger aside (remember when Abraham begged for Sodom?). God is Love, and that is how God wants us to love one another. If we are in the right spirit of love, then we are in union with God, for it is the most important commandment of all: Love one another. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” said Jesus in John 13:34-35.

As I write this, we are about 2 weeks to Christmas. Even as I wander the corridors of the heavily decorated shopping malls with Christmas carols ringing in my ears, it does not evoke anything ‘Christmas-y’ in me. As I write this, the reason is clear to me. For all of us out there who are still feeling like “it doesn’t feel like Christmas”, this I say to you — Christmas is about giving out of love. Not the kind of commercial giving as we know it, but an outpouring of love for someone from our hearts. We feed the hungry and give to the poor not for tax-deduction purposes or the ‘obligatory’ annual charitable act (or worse, guilt-manipulation!), but because we feel for the hungry, the forgotten, the unloved. We shelter the cold because we want them to feel the warmth of love, we visit the downtrodden because we know they too need the human touch. At home, we want to cook for those we love because we love them and want to provide for them. We want the joyous feel and the close bonds of a family gathered together, the laughter in the house, the smiles and the hugs. It doesn’t come to us, we evoke these feelings for them, and we evoke them out of love. If we claim to be disciples of Jesus, then let us love as he loves us. Let us give as God gives, with purpose in our giving, and put some love into it. For according to Victor Hugo, it is in loving another person that we see the face of God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we approach the start of a new year, we pray to continually fill our hearts with the Holy Spirit, that we may give of ourselves a love to others as You have given to us.        

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for loving us first and loving us always, even when we have failed You. Thank you for not keeping score, for being patient with us, for being gentle and kind. Thank you for loving us even when everyone else has left us.