Tag Archives: eyes of faith

17 June, Sunday – Walking by Faith and not by sight

17 June

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Ezekiel 17:22-24

The Lord says this:

‘From the top of the cedar,
from the highest branch I will take a shoot
and plant it myself on a very high mountain.
I will plant it on the high mountain of Israel.
It will sprout branches and bear fruit,
and become a noble cedar.
Every kind of bird will live beneath it,
every winged creature rest in the shade of its branches.
And every tree of the field will learn that I, the Lord, am the one
who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow,
who withers green trees and makes the withered green.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.’

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2 Corinthians 5:6-10

We are always full of confidence when we remember that to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good or bad.

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Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

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And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come

I have had people ask me why I continue to be a Catholic, in light of what has happened to the Church in recent days. These friends of mine remind me that to stay faithful to God takes an act of faith. Surprisingly, even though they are non-believers, they are actually correct. What keeps me going in light of all these events is my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The readings of today remind us of the need to stay faithful to Christ and that the reward will be coming to us, not in this world, but in the next.

St Paul reminds us in the second reading of today that having faith in the Lord Jesus is what keeps him going on earth. Our actions which we do on this earth should be a manifestation of the faith which we have in Christ. This means that we should always take stock of what we are supposed to do in our lives at regular intervals. Focus on the Lord Jesus and ask Him if all our actions and behaviour are directed towards the purpose which He has for us.

Our time on this earth is limited. The first parable in the Gospel reminds us of the finite time we have on this earth, and that we are have to be mindful of how we use the time before us. We will be called for an account of the time which we have and it is at this juncture which we must not be found wanting. As we continue in our journey in life, let us seek God’s guidance to help us make decisions that are prudent and practical.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for your guidance and love to help us in our journey on this earth

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the many chances we have received to learn life’s lessons

05 January, Friday – Action of love

5 January 2018

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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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[O]ur love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.

I once had a non-Christian friend comment to me that he admires Christians because it is the only Faith where the Son of God come down to save His creatures. It caught me by surprise when he mentioned it to me in that manner because I have never considered it from that angle. The readings of today remind us of the need to live out a life of action and not just to pay lip-service.

Perhaps we can draw a lesson from Nathanael, who wanted to follow somebody who was of action and hence was concerned about the origin of the person. Jesus eventually answered all the questions he had but we could also ask ourselves if we are a bit like Nathanael, who insists on seeing things here and now. The Faith we possess allows us to continue to trust in God’s abundant mercy and love despite the lack of action and physical movement in our presence.

As Christians, we should show others the importance of love because of our Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not engage in actions just to please the people around us but because we want to make manifest the love of God in our lives to all whom we meet. In doing so, we draw closer to Jesus’ example to show His love for us even to the extent of our death.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us follow your example in showing love unconditionally to all around us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who proclaim their Faith.

1 June, Thursday – Work never ends with God

Jun 1 – Memorial for St. Justin, martyr

He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and studied many systems of philosophy before being led, through Platonism, to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known, and travelled from place to place proclaiming the Gospel. In 151, he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived — it can be found in today’s Office of Readings.

Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. In contrast to the Hebrew tendency to view God as making revelations to them and to no-one else, he follows the parable of the Sower, and sees God as sowing the seed of wisdom throughout the world, to grow wherever the soil would receive it. When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. This is harder to do – not least, because we have to take the trouble to understand our own faith thoroughly – but it is ultimately more worthwhile.

– Universalis

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Acts 22:30,23:6-11

Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.

Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’

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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.’

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I want those you have given me to be with me where I am

At what age should we be settled with our dream job? Is there such a thing as a dream job? Or are we still searching, being unsettled because we just can’t seem to be satisfied with our employer? Perhaps we are really happy with our work and never grew tired of getting out of bed each morning facing our jobs. I think there are many aspects to a great work environment. It includes the job scope, the team of people we work with, the challenge we faces each day, the encouraging bosses we all would like to have.

So, what is the job of a Christian like? How should we behave just so that Jesus and you are one? In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks boldly to our Father that those who believe in Him be as one with the Almighty Lord. As the Father is in Him, and by acknowledging Jesus in us, we are all as one. Jesus is not only the Saviour who takes away all our sins, but more importantly, He has removed the barrier that prevents us from getting close to God the Father, because in fact, God is right within us.

Being a true believer of Christ and bearing witness to both His death and resurrection is unlike our jobs where we may have the weekend off or are able to take annual leave. Being a Christian is an all-day everyday, every moment ‘job’. Our work as God’s children never ends. Just like in today’s reading, after the Lord witnessed the courage displayed by Paul, the next mission to Rome was added to the agenda. Be not afraid to take on the work of God, because He is in us; having deep faith will get you through it all.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Let us be not afraid of unchartered waters. Give us the courage to take on much faith work, so that the Love of God is recognised through our actions and love towards our neighbours.

Thanksgiving: Give thanks for the opportunities to have work, as many are still facing unemployment. We are grateful for the stability that you have provided us.

31 May, Wednesday – Obedience of Mary

May 31 Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This day is called the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because on it Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, whom, as the angel had told her, God had blessed with a son in her old age.

Patron Saint Index

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Romans 12:9-16

Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.

Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor.

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Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
And Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

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Visit from the mother of my Lord?

Ave Maria! O Mary Mother of God. So beautiful and so gentle, interceding for our prayers to your son Jesus.

A priest once told us during a faith information session that the Catholic Church is being held by two pillars. One of which is God, and the other is Mary. In many Christian teachings, Mary has been sidelined and forgotten in the very life of Jesus. Despite being a rather significant character in the Bible, she has not been honoured much more by some.

In today’s Gospel, Marys visitation to her cousin Elizabeth gives great joy to those around. Her singing of praises of the Lord amplifies her humility in accepting the gift in her womb; the gift so beautiful that the child in Elizabeths womb leapt. Mary is indeed a woman of the Lord to look up to. Her strength in faith goes beyond her acceptance of being the vessel to our Lord Jesus. I am sure we have heard much of Marys apparition in various places, and to chosen people. There have been much miracles and messages from our Mother who continuously warns us about the ways of this secular world and making it more beautiful through immense prayers.

Let us dedicate the week to the Mother of our Lord. Perhaps you have been silent in accepting who she is, finding it difficult to include her in your prayer life, that a relationship with her just isnt important at all. Read todays Gospel again and take her praises as an example of how intimate her relationship is with God, her son being Jesus the Saviour. Reflect on her heartache on seeing her own Son dying on the cross, for accusations that were never fully justified. Blessed Mary, so patient, so faithful, so obedient to the Father.

(Todays OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Blessed Mother, forgive my wrongs for not making you part of my prayer life. Pray for us, that we make take on your example in being someone so obedient to God.

Thanksgiving: We truly give thanks for your acceptance to the Lord, taking on the immaculate conception, that you have brought us the greatest gift of all.

10 May, Wednesday – Missionaries of Love

10 May 2017

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Acts 12:24-13:5

The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task and came back from Jerusalem, bringing John Mark with them.

In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.’ So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.

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John 12:44-50

Jesus declared publicly:

‘Whoever believes in me
believes not in me
but in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me,
sees the one who sent me.
I, the light, have come into the world,
so that whoever believes in me
need not stay in the dark any more.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully,
it is not I who shall condemn him,
since I have come not to condemn the world,
but to save the world.
He who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already:
the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For what I have spoken does not come from myself;
no, what I was to say,
what I had to speak,
was commanded by the Father who sent me,
and I know that his commands mean eternal life.
And therefore what the Father has told me
is what I speak.’

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I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them

Would we believe that we have been set aside for great things? Sometimes our lives go on auto-pilot mode and we feel that there is a routine and rhythm for things which we can find comfort and solace in. This is especially so when our lives are going on without much difficulty. In times of turmoil, we often crave for the ‘good old days’. We are reminded that Christianity is about challenges and about pushing us forward towards uncharted territory so as to continue with our mission to proclaim the Word of God to the people who we meet.

The Bible is silent on the response of St Paul and Barnabas towards the commission which the Holy Spirit has imposed upon them but if it was me, I would be really scared because of the uncertainty which may come upon me. The Holy Spirit chose the two of them to continue the work of proclaiming the work of salvation to all around them. This meant that they had to put aside their own plans and allow God to work within them. It is almost like a dying to your own will and letting God take ownership of it.

This is not an easy task, but something which we must do. It is not that we should not feel comfortable with whatever we are doing or feeling but we should instead always remember what we are instructed to do at the end of Mass to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives”. This does not mean we have to go to a foreign land to share the Word of God although that is one way which we can do it. The mission land is right before us – our workplaces, homes and even the best friends who we meet. Christianity is about being missionaries to people who have not heard the Word of God and we are called to proclaim this Word today.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, give us the boldness to spread the love we have for you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who preach the Gospel fearlessly

9 May, Tuesday – A Christian Identity

9 May 2017

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Acts 11:19-26

Those who had escaped during the persecution that happened because of Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, but they usually proclaimed the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, who came from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch where they started preaching to the Greeks, proclaiming the Good News of the Lord Jesus to them as well. The Lord helped them, and a great number believed and were converted to the Lord.

The church in Jerusalem heard about this and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. There he could see for himself that God had given grace, and this pleased him, and he urged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with heartfelt devotion; for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith. And a large number of people were won over to the Lord.
Barnabas then left for Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. As things turned out they were to live together in that church a whole year, instructing a large number of people. It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians.’

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John 10:22-30

It was the time when the feast of Dedication was being celebrated in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple walking up and down in the Portico of Solomon. The Jews gathered round him and said, ‘How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus replied:

‘I have told you, but you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name are my witness;
but you do not believe,
because you are no sheep of mine.
The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’

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The Father and I are one

There are many people who choose to be identified by the institutions they belong to, e.g. alumni clubs, members of a renowned society or through the workplace. In aligning their identity with these places, they choose to abide by the norms and beliefs which these institutions stand for. The readings of today remind us that we all have a common identity, that of belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first readings shares with us that it was in Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians. This marked a continuation of the separation from Judaism as a religion. There were some who thought that believing in Jesus was a sect of Judaism, perhaps like a variant of certain beliefs. However, as we have read in the past few days, the incorporation of Gentiles into the belief of Jesus Christ meant that Jesus came to save all men in the world, and not only the Jews. They then had to identify themselves separately as Christians. This was a significant step because it would mark the break from Judaism.

Indeed, Jesus Christ has shown us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The reason why the Jews could not see and accept that Jesus was the Christ was because they were stuck in their own assumptions and beliefs. This meant that they could not be open to hearing the call of Jesus to a way of love for one another, and the need to demonstrate charity to all regardless of their belief system. In our own lives today, we sometimes show concern to the people who matter to us but forget the others. Perhaps we can take some time today to say a kind word or show an act of kindness to the people who we may have forgotten.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to remain close to you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the many people who have touched our lives.

1 April, Saturday – Open Our Eyes to Jesus

1 April 2017

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Jeremiah 11:18-20

The Lord revealed it to me; I was warned.

O Lord, that was when you opened my eyes to their scheming. I for my part was like a trustful lamb being led to the slaughter-house, not knowing the schemes they were plotting against me, ‘Let us destroy the tree in its strength, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name may be quickly forgotten!’

But you, the Lord of Hosts, who pronounce a just sentence,
who probe the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.

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John 7:40-52

Several people who had been listening to Jesus said, ‘Surely he must be the prophet’, and some said, ‘He is the Christ’, but others said, ‘Would the Christ be from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from the town of Bethlehem?’ So the people could not agree about him. Some would have liked to arrest him, but no one actually laid hands on him.

The police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’ The police replied, ‘There has never been anybody who has spoken like him.’ ‘So’ the Pharisees answered ‘you have been led astray as well? Have any of the authorities believed in him? Any of the Pharisees? This rabble knows nothing about the Law – they are damned.’ One of them, Nicodemus – the same man who had come to Jesus earlier – said to them, ‘But surely the Law does not allow us to pass judgement on a man without giving him a hearing and discovering what he is about?’ To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not come out of Galilee.’

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Pass judgement

I walk into the Church and find myself entering the centre pews, hoping to get a good view of the altar and try not to get distracted with anything else, not even a toddler walking across me from her mother on the left to her father on the right. Sometimes, it is also hard for me not to wonder what my fellow brother or sister who happens to sit beside me is like. Instead of focusing on praying and personal reflections on the past week, we probably wonder about our neighbour’s life and being competitive with our fellow brother and sister in Christ.

We have absolutely no knowledge of the other people kneeling and praying beside us as we have our quiet time with the Lord. Who are we to judge? Only our Almighty God can see where our faults lie. We must not think too highly of our own prayer life and end up thinking that we are superior to others. The Lord watches over us and our actions all the time. In today’s Gospel, the people of Jerusalem had nothing against Jesus, yet they judged Him strongly for speaking against the Law for their judgement had been blurred by their own perceptions, making them blind to the works of Jesus.

Therefore, let us not become someone who prays with distraction and be one who humbles himself with no arrogance within him. It requires focus and passion for the Lord to build a wholesome prayer life. As in the past readings of this week, we have emphasised what God’s law brought to us, He has been praised for the great works He promises. As we come to the end of the fourth week of Lent, allow us to bend our backs, lose the pride within us and assist all those around us who need us, rather than act like the Pharisees who prayed with much arrogance towards God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, grant us the peace in our hearts, so that we are able to calm ourselves down at the end of each day and pray also for those whose lives we have influenced.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for being the Lord and Father who promises and delivers.