Tag Archives: fear

20 November, Monday – No Need To Be Afraid

20 November 2017

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1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-64

There grew a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of King Antiochus; once a hostage in Rome, he became king in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks. It was then that there emerged from Israel a set of renegades who led many people astray. ‘Come,’ they said ‘let us reach an understanding with the pagans surrounding us, for since we separated ourselves from them many misfortunes have overtaken us.’ This proposal proved acceptable, and a number of the people eagerly approached the king, who authorised them to practise the pagan observances. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, such as the pagans have, disguised their circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant, submitting to the heathen rule as willing slaves of impiety.

Then the king issued a proclamation to his whole kingdom that all were to become a single people, each renouncing his particular customs. All the pagans conformed to the king’s decree, and many Israelites chose to accept his religion, sacrificing to idols and profaning the sabbath. The king erected the abomination of desolation above the altar; and altars were built in the surrounding towns of Judah and incense offered at the doors of houses and in the streets. Any books of the Law that came to light were torn up and burned. Whenever anyone was discovered possessing a copy of the covenant or practising the Law, the king’s decree sentenced him to death.

Yet there were many in Israel who stood firm and found the courage to refuse unclean food. They chose death rather than contamination by such fare or profanation of the holy covenant, and they were executed. It was a dreadful wrath that visited Israel.

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Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied ‘let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’ And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.

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“They chose death rather than contamination”

I grew up being afraid.

As a young baby, my grandaunt accepted me into her home and brought me up as her own. She loved me, and I loved her. But children model what they see, and I modelled fear.

My grandaunt was someone who felt afraid all the time. She believed that her life was tough (and it was) and that came across as a fear of her circumstances. Whenever something bad happened, she accepted it, but quietly grumbled. Without realising it, I took this fear into myself, even into my early adulthood. All too often, like my grandaunt, I choose to avoid speaking up, even in circumstances where I felt a wrong had been committed.

One day, I was reflecting on my life and what I could do better when I became aware of the ‘fear’. I soon found myself looking at the mirror; here I was, a grown man, capable of defending myself, and yet afraid. The realisation hit that I was loved and saved by my God, and for that reason, I had nothing to be afraid of. While this is an ongoing process, that was the precise point when most of my fear left me.

In today’s first reading, we are shown how the Israelites are willing to give up their lives in order to stand up for their faith. They refuse, in the face of death, to stop practising the Law and to consume unclean foods. My faith has not been tested to that extent, and yet they have far shown me how I should also stand up for what the Bible and the Catholic Church has taught me.

Standing up for our faith does not apply only to standing up against oppression. Like the blind man in the gospel, we should also not allow how others see us to stop us from continuing to reach out to our God. Despite people telling him to stop, the man continued (and even took it a notch louder!) to reach out to our Lord.

Let us take the Israelites and the blind man as our role models; to learn to stand up for our faith.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, help us to stand up for our faith and to never allow fear to stop us from doing what is right.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for sending us the Bible, the Catholic Church and the community to guide us in our daily lives.

9 July, Saturday – Hope vs Fear

9 July – Memorial for St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest, & Companions

Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China’s relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.

The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or labourers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.

The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.
Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.

– Source: http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/SaintOfDay/default.asp?id=1914

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Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord of Hosts seated on a high throne; his train filled the sanctuary; above him stood seraphs, each one with six wings: two to cover its face, two to cover its feet, and two for flying.
And they cried out to one another in this way,

‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
His glory fills the whole earth.’

The foundations of the threshold shook with the voice of the one who cried out, and the Temple was filled with smoke. I said:

‘What a wretched state I am in! I am lost,
for I am a man of unclean lips
and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.’

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding in his hand a live coal which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. With this he touched my mouth and said:

‘See now, this has touched your lips,
your sin is taken away,
your iniquity is purged.’

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’

I answered, ‘Here I am, send me.’

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Matthew 10:24-33

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. It is enough for the disciple that he should grow to be like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, what will they not say of his household?

‘Do not be afraid of them therefore. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

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Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.

As I was reflecting on today’s readings, I am reminded of how Rolf Harris was sentenced to 5 years and 9 months in prison for indecently assaulting young women and girls. One of his victims was his daughter’s best friend, who gave a statement during his trial. In her statement she said that the attacks made her feel “dirty, grubby and disgusting”. It affected her childhood, relationships, and her aspirations in a negative way and it wasn’t until she was much older that she was able to tell someone about it. She described how she fought anxiety, alcoholism and abuse. Her statement ended on a positive note: “I can now live my life with no fear and anxiety, and can concentrate on building my life.”

For someone who had suffered for so many years, this lady was very brave to have spoken up about someone who had literally ruined her life. What is more admirable is that she was brave enough to recognize that she could rebuild her life to something better and look forward, not backwards. It is very easy to say forgive and forget, but in a situation like this, even if she would be able to forgive sometime in the future, it is unlikely that she would be able to forget the whole terrible experience; it is likely to have scarred her for life. But the positivity that she exudes, well that is encouraging, and I do wish her the very best of luck in her future.

We may be hurt at some point in our lives by something that someone did or said, which may have affected us badly. Prolonged abuse like that can have lasting effects psychologically and emotionally: we are made to feel and believe that we are really as weak as our ‘abusers’ make us out to be. It makes us see things very differently in life. Coming out of a psychological hole can be very, very hard. Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. I have learnt that if we let that happen, then we are digging ourselves deeper and deeper into that hole.

We have nothing to fear but God Himself. God sees and hears everything, He is everywhere. He dictates what grows and what dies, what stays and what goes. He determines our future, He charts our paths. God is within us as long as we remain in Him. God breathed life into us and counted each and every one of us as His child. He knows us by name and knows our hearts, way better than we know ourselves. There might be someone out there who is hurting us now, but if we pray and believe that God will deliver us from the pain and hurt, we will find that that person can do whatever he/she wants, but they can never take away our soul, our will to live, our faith in God. Pray fervently and believe that God will rescue us, and pray for the strength that He will deliver us. Pray to forgive, and pray to forget… forget all the pain, so that we can move forward. Don’t give in to hopelessness, because with God there is always hope. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the helpless and those who have lost hope. Hear our hearts when we are beyond words to form a prayer. We pray for a helping hand to pull us out of our hole of despair.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for hearing our prayers and for the comfort that the Holy Spirit brings. Thank you for helping us see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With your help, we can look forward to the future.

1 June, Wednesday – Witnessing Without Fear

June 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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2 Timothy 1:1-3,6-12

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers. That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the Appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News; and I have been named its herald, its apostle and its teacher.

It is only on account of this that I am experiencing fresh hardships here now; but I have not lost confidence, because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.

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Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees – who deny that there is a resurrection – came to him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first married a wife and then died leaving no children. The second married the widow, and he too died leaving no children; with the third it was the same, and none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Is not the reason why you go wrong, that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.’

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Because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.

I am quite an introvert. More often than not, I have a fear of speaking up. And it doesn’t stop there. I have a fear of this and a fear of that. So much so, that eventually I give up my right to speak, because I fear what others might think of me.

All these boil down to one thing: Pride. Because of my own pride, I fear what opinions others have of me.

But today’s first reading truly speaks to all of us who have a certain fear in our hearts. St Paul says: “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord…”

Recently, Archbishop William Goh in his homily at the Pentecost Rally spoke about the need for Christians to evangelise, saying that it is not an option but an obligation to do so. Indeed, witnessing to the Lord is not an option but an obligation, with all its hardships and trials.

It is really not an easy task to speak about what God has done for us in our lives. I find it tough too. And sometimes I take the easy way out and choose not to do so; after all, I’m an introvert (and introverts would rather stay out of the party and hide at a corner).

But all the more, it is with suffering of hardships that we show how God is working in our lives. Sometimes words are not needed, but just pure actions. Living our sufferings with grace, by grace.

This also means that whatever our limitations and fears, we continue to depend on the grace of God to witness to His goodness. May I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to have a spirit of openness to rely on God as we live our lives to testify to love and tell of His greatness. This is also something which I am constantly reminding myself as well.

As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said: “We are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.” So let us be faithful to our mission — to be evangelisers of God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

Prayer: Dearest Father, You have given us the grace to call you Abba Father. Help us to always be faithful to our calling and mission to be witnesses to Your greatness. Enable us always to be courageous in the face of negativity when we are called to make Your name known. This prayer we make in Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for Your empowerment. Thank you for your abundant grace which gives us the courage to be missionaries of Your love.