Tag Archives: eucharist

3 July, Wednesday – Believe

3 July 2019 – Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle

Thomas (d. 72) was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem, but he is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christ’s wounds. He preached in Parthia, Persia and India, though he was so reluctant to start the mission that he had to be taken into slavery by a merchant headed that way.

He eventually gave in to God’s will, was freed, and planted the new Church over a wide area. He formed many parishes and built many churches along the way. An old tradition says that Thomas baptised the wise men from the Nativity into Christianity.

His symbol is the builder’s square. There are several stories that explain it:

  • he built a palace for King Guduphara in India
  • he built the first church in India with his own hands
  • it is representative of building a strong spiritual foundation as he had complete faith in Christ (though initially less in the Resurrection)
  • he offered to build a palace for an Indian king that would last forever; the king gave him money, which Thomas promptly gave away to the poor; he explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth.

    Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 2:19-22

You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

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John 20:24-29

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

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Blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!

“Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” These words which Jesus said to Thomas have always struck me, because over two thousand years ago, Jesus was talking about us, today! Indeed this is the mystery of our faith.

I am reminded of a homily I heard during the recent Feast of Corpus Christi. The priest shared that the uniqueness of our Catholic faith, is the belief in the true presence of Jesus. The transubstantiation, where the bread and wine offered in the Eucharistic Celebration becomes, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, is one of the greatest mysteries of our faith that cannot be explained easily. But God, from time to time, sends miracles to remind us of the truth so that we may believe. Incidences where the host began to bleed and turn into flesh have been witnessed; scientists have tested samples of the hosts and found that it came from human tissue. These miracles too seem hard to believe, but for those who witnessed it, are able to know with certainty that it is indeed true.

Similarly, with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in particular, the gift of tongues. Those who don’t have the gift,may cast doubt on those babbling strangely, whether it truly is from the Holy Spirit, or if it just merely a human act. Only those with the gift  are able to know, with certainty, that the movement of their tongue is not their own, but truly from God. The rest of us who don’t have the gift are only able to just have faith and believe.

Sometimes, God shows himself in these real tangible ways to the hardest of hearts, because without it, they will have difficulty believing, just like a doubting Thomas. And there are those who are able to be contented with simple faith, seeing God in everything.

We can be assured though, God meets us where we are. God knows what we need and He shows himself to us in different and unique ways.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to always hold strong to the faith, especially when it is difficult.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for you are always watching over us. Amen.

16 May, Thursday – Saved by His Precious Blood

16 May 2019

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Acts 13:13-25

Paul and his friends went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. After the lessons from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message: ‘Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, please do so.’ Paul stood up, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:

‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out, and for about forty years took care of them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”’

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John 13:16-20

After he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.

‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.

‘I tell you this now, before it happens,
so that when it does happen
you may believe that I am He.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’

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I know the ones I have chosen        

What does it mean to be saved by His precious blood and to be known and chosen by God? It does not get more intimate than this at all.

He shed His blood for the salvation of the entire world, no exceptions here. It is He, the sacrificial lamb, that led us to new life when He died on the cross for our sins – the sins of the whole world. His love was so great that He submitted to death to atone for us.

Now then what is it to be chosen and known? Who is in this group? To draw some perspective, I want to highlight a video I watched recently. The speaker, Jackie Francois Angel said that she is Catholic because of the Eucharist. She explained that being in union in body, mind, spirit and soul is the most intimate union, much like the union between a man and his wife. She goes on to explain that is what the Eucharist is. It is therefore also not surprising that many refer to marriage as a foretaste of heaven as it also mirrors the union we share with the Lord in the Eucharist. Jackie also quoted John 6:53-56: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”. Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” Therefore, essentially as a Catholic who partakes in the holy mass, we enter into marriage with the Lord, as He had commanded us to.

So are we known and chosen by Him? Initially Jesus had 12 apostles who ate His bread and drank His blood, which today we as Catholics do likewise. As Catholics, we also stayed with the Church Jesus instituted under St Peter, our first Pope. Though today, we no longer walk for miles and are immersed in technology, we are as Christian as the apostles. It is no doubt that our Church stood the test of time, amidst grave persecution, yet it stands in front of the Father, depending on Him to wash our sins through the Eucharist and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Dear sisters and brothers, if we are but known, chosen and loved to this extent, how do we respond to this love? Let us seek answers from the Lord who lives and the One who loves.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer:  Lord, help us to be truly worthy of you. Though we cannot earn your love, we want to know how to love and adore you more.

Thanksgiving: I will sing of your love forever, for you washed me cleaned and kept me close.

4 May, Thursday – Gratitude

4 May 2017

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Acts 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey. Now it happened that an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia, and was in fact her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and meet that chariot.’ When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ ‘How can I’ he replied ‘unless I have someone to guide me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this:

Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a lamb that is dumb in front of its shearers,
like these he never opens his mouth.
He has been humiliated and has no one to defend him.
Who will ever talk about his descendants,
since his life on earth has been cut short!

The eunuch turned to Philip and said, ‘Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or someone else?’ Starting, therefore, with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the Good News of Jesus to him.
Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptised?’ He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.

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John 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowd:

‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.

‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

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I am the bread of life

I recently attended a Christian wedding. After the couple were proclaimed ‘husband and wife’, the pastor announced that the couple would like to start their life as a wedded couple by partaking in Holy Communion. What a lovely way to begin their journey as a married couple!

The Minister then proceeded with the rite. As he presented the bread and wine, he said “This represents the Body of Christ”, “This represents the Blood of Christ”. That both surprised me and also filled me with so much gratitude for our Catholic faith. Why surprise and gratitude? Because it shows the marked difference between the Catholic and Protestant faith. In Catholicism, the bread and wine consecrated by the Priest, become the body and blood of Jesus Christ, meaning that Jesus is truly present on the altar. In the Protestant faith, the bread and wine are symbolic.

I have often been tickled by Archbishop’s jokes at retreats. He often tells this one — that once the priest consecrates the bread and wine – it actually is the body and blood of Christ. However, we have to truly believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist. Now if the host accidentally falls on the floor and a mouse consumes the host, does he become a holy mouse? Absolutely not, because for the mouse, it simply was a piece of bread.

We are indeed blessed to be able to receive the Holy Eucharist daily at mass. The body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. Jesus is always available for us, offering us everlasting life. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

Do we, as Catholics, truly believe in His ever faithful presence? Or do we queue up every Sunday, whether we are in the right disposition or not, whether we have truly confessed our sins and received Holy Communion only to find that nothing has changed in our lives? Is it just a ritual for us? Brothers and sisters, when we receive Holy Communion, we are intimately united to Jesus. He becomes a part of us. Not symbolically, but truly present.

Brothers and sisters, if your heart is full of joy or even heavy with doubt – go to mass today and receive Christ. Go with a new disposition — with love and gratitude, a holy reverence and know that with Him in us – we are strengthened to carry the crosses in our lives today and every day.

Alleluia!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we truly believe in your Holy Presence as we partake of the Eucharist. May we be truly present and grateful for this gift. Increase and sanctify the graces through personal union with You, the Giver of grace Himself. May our union with You increase our love for God and our neighbours.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your immense love for us. Giving us your body and blood – food for the soul. Food that refreshes us, nourishes us, food that satisfies a hungry soul.

12 September, Monday – Received With Heart

12 September – Memorial for The Most Holy Name of Mary

This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3); both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters. The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

– Patron Saints Index

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1 Corinthians 11:17-26,33

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

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

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Luke 7:1-10

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

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Not worthy to have you

In today’s reading, we look at the importance and solemnity of Holy Communion. Many people outside of the Catholic Church sees that the invitation to the Lord’s supper is very exclusive. So exclusive that only baptised Catholics can receive the Eucharist and we cannot receive communion in other churches of another denomination. And so I would like to share my experience as a Catholic and own personal views on why I believe that the Church is the most inclusive one that I have even encountered. I may not have gone to churches of every denomination neither is this a comparison. I believe the Eucharist is very Holy and that receiving Jesus is the utmost exclusive act of closeness to Christ in our world. Receiving the Eucharist is not an act, nor is it just a usual banquet. It is Christ, it is community, it is the believe, it is faith, it is serious. There are a lot of emotions when receiving Holy Communion, and it is the centre of our masses.

Today’s first reading writes on the words spoken by Jesus at the last supper. The meaning of community among the faithful, and the believe of His presence in the form of bread and wine shows the seriousness of how intimate Christ is with us through the Eucharist. The inner faith in us has to be strong in order to receive Him, even as a Catholic ourselves. The church may seem exclusive on the surface of this but we invite everyone to celebrate mass with us. There are several occasions where a ‘deranged’ person steps out in front of the altar and shouts, regardless of the church, they are never taken away by anyone, nor does the priest ask the person to leave. Fortunately, the person usually just walk away after awhile. I think we care least about who sits or stand or kneel at the appropriate sections of mass. We may not have pointed visitors out individually on a Sunday mass because we have already included you in the solemnity in celebrating the Eucharist.

Thus communion is for us to dig deep into ourselves, having the deep faith in believing in Jesus as said by the centurion, which is being echoed right before we receive Christ at every mass. ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed’ and that is when we go on to say ‘Amen’ (I Believe).

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me look into the week with a changed of heart, for the better, may the power of the Eucharist be in me.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the loving people around me, the community that is there to help me and my loved ones deepen and grow in faith.

29 May, Sunday – One, Holy, Catholic

29 May – The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday)

Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church’s official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord’s passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today’s observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday.

The Mass and the Office for the feast was edited or composed by St. Thomas Aquinas upon the request of Pope Urban IV in the year 1264. It is unquestionably a classic piece of liturgical work, wholly in accord with the best liturgical traditions. . . It is a perfect work of art.

— Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

In the words of St. Thomas of Aquinas:

“How inestimable a dignity, beloved brethren, divine bounty has bestowed upon us Christians from the treasury of its infinite goodness! For there neither is nor ever has been a people to whom the gods were so nigh as our Lord and God is nigh unto us.
“Desirous that we be made partakers of His divinity, the only-begotten Son of God has taken to Himself our nature so that having become man, He would be enabled to make men gods. Whatever He assumed of our nature He wrought unto our salvation. For on the altar of the Cross He immolated to the Father His own Body as victim for our reconciliation and shed His blood both for our ransom and for our regeneration. Moreover, in order that a remembrance of so great benefits may always be with us, He has left us His Body as food and His Blood as drink under appearances of bread and wine.

“O banquet most precious! O banquet most admirable! O banquet overflowing with every spiritual delicacy! Can anything be more excellent than this repast, in which not the flesh of goats and heifers, as of old, but Christ the true God is given us for nourishment? What more wondrous than this holy sacrament! In it bread and wine are changed substantially, and under the appearance of a little bread and wine is had Christ Jesus, God and perfect Man. In this sacrament sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul is satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial. Since it was instituted unto the salvation of all, it is offered by Holy Church for the living and for the dead, that all may share in its treasures.

“My dearly beloved, is it not beyond human power to express the ineffable delicacy of this sacrament in which spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very source, in which is brought to mind the remembrance of that all-excelling charity which Christ showed in His sacred passion? Surely it was to impress more profoundly upon the hearts of the faithful the immensity of this charity that our loving Savior instituted this sacrament at the last supper when, having celebrated the Pasch with His disciples. He was about to leave the world and return to the Father. It was to serve as an unending remembrance of His passion, as the fulfillment of ancient types — this the greatest of His miracles. To those who sorrow over His departure He has given a unique solace.”

(Source: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-29)

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Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ©
This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

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Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.

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Give them food yourself

Sometimes it’s easier to think that God is too mighty for the small things. Why would He want to feed the people who were listening to Him that day?Because the Lord, by His nature cares, loves and is Our Father.

For many years, once my siblings and I started working, we would celebrate Father’s Day at a nice restaurant. On some years, we brought along a card, and scribbled in it “our should have beens”. I did not give much thought about how this made my father feel, but somewhere down the line, I realised that he was not enjoying these celebrations very much. So I pressed on to find out how he would like to mark that day. And his response was his desire to feed us. He wanted to go to the market early in the morning and cook a fine meal for us, adorned with his labour of love. I could not understand how giving us a meal was celebrating him at all. Weren’t we supposed to give and not receive on his special day?

This is the beauty of a good parent. They want to nurture, to feed, to sacrifice, to give and give all along. Just like Father God, my earthly father wanted to give to us. And the more I try to understand my own father, I see the unconditional love as crafted by the Maker of Love.

The gift of the Lord, in His body and blood, is unmerited and undeserved. We cannot earn it but it’s an invitation to each baptised Catholic. He knew on the day He was betrayed, that we (His children) would need Him to be with us always and to be One with Him. He was fully aware of its costs, yet it did not stop Him nor make Him compromise. Like any good father, He did not want to compromise what we needed… which is Him. He created our hearts and He knew that we needed Him always. And He asks us to do it in memory of Him.

If today, like me, you feel unworthy, remember that Judas ate and drank at the Lord’s table. And so did Peter. Both of whom betrayed the Lord, in their own ways. Our God is not expecting us to bring anything to this table of love. He sees the heart of a repentant sinner and He runs out to clasp us in a tight embrace… offered as the Eucharistic host we receive at mass.

Today, as we received His body and His blood, let us be fully aware of the beauty of being One with God and with His church brings. Let us remember all those who ate at this table. Let us reach out to all those who are no longer One with us. Be reminded that our disputes are not greater than His Eucharistic Sacrament.

You precious child of God, you are not the sum of your talents, wealth, personality or popularity but the Love of a Father who was broken just for you.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, help us to live and love as One Body.

Thanksgiving: You have made us One with you, we thank you Lord.

Thursday, 16 Apr – Christ’s True Presence

16 Apr

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Acts 5:27-33

When the officials had brought the apostles in to face the Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded an explanation. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

This so infuriated them that they wanted to put them to death.

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John 3:31-36

John the Baptist said to his disciples:

‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.

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God gives him the Spirit without reserve.

How many of us have ever given someone something precious of our own, wholeheartedly without any reserve? Several friends of mine have young children, and I recall watching on as their children were encouraged to share their toys. There is often a lot of cajoling and persuasion involved. But one thing is for certain, the little ones usually give up their grip on the toy when they actually feel assured of their parents’ love. The tenderness and security in mummy’s and daddy’s cuddles and tone of words is the balm comforting them that letting go of the toy in possession will be replaced by something far better — love from mummy and daddy.

A child usually learns to give and share from a young age, but not all children learn so in the same way. As we grow up, many of us have given up many precious things of ours to people who did not reciprocate our love and sacrifice. These could be gifts, trust, promises, one’s feelings, body, affections, etc… Over time, we grow disillusioned about the value of giving wholeheartedly, since it usually ends in heartbreak. So we turn to taking. Taking seems to be the more powerful act. We start to calculate the risks and benefits, we evaluate people and relationships by how much they are willing to give in to us. We are afraid to lose, afraid to be hurt, and naturally choose self-protection for survival. Hearts become hardened over time, and actually everyone loses without even realising it.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist shares with his disciples the unconditional love of the Father: ‘since he whom God has sent speaks God’s own words: God gives him the Spirit without reserve. The Father loves the Son and has entrusted everything to him.’ I am humbled again to think of how our Heavenly Father suffers repeated blows when we wilfully deny His love for us in the person and sacrifice of Christ. And yet, this love is still continuously offered up for us in the Eucharist at every celebration of Mass.

God does not withhold His mercy and love for us, it is we who choose to remain in our far country when we reject His healing grace. ‘Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: the anger of God stays on him.’ This may read like God pronounces anger on being rejected. Yet on closer reflection, this Holy anger is one that we have provoked by our sins and transgressions against Him.

Those of us who have received the gift of Baptism, are enveloped within this Faith family. We need to do all we can to reject Satan’s lies and the sins he tempts us to. I know of some people who feel and act as if it is a privilege for God that they attend Mass each week. It is a tiresome chore and there is no true thanksgiving in their hearts. Indeed, this mindset is often the first of many falls from grace. The Host is not a mere symbol. The Eucharist is Christ’s flesh and real Presence manifest in transubstantiation at the priest’s Consecration. At every Mass, God is giving unto us His Son and Christ is offering up His body and blood for us, freely and with no reservation — only that we profess true and contrite belief.

Like the little child who learns to share and give, when we give up our unbelief, intellectual pride, and selfishness and entitlement to God’s unreserved and Holy sacrifice, we receive far more than just His pure love. We receive eternal life and our soul’s salvation. Our Heavenly Father and Holy Mother are the loving parents whispering and cajoling us into realising what greater treasures are in store if and when we surrender our wills and live within His covenantal love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

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Prayer: We pray for those in our Catholic brethren who do not yet fully believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist even as they receive this Eucharistic sacrifice, that they may come to the realisation and turn to true adoration and faith.

Thanksgiving: Jesus, I trust in You! Jesus, I trust in You! Jesus, I trust in You!