Tag Archives: fullness of life

24 September, Saturday – Age of Youth

24 September

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Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8

Rejoice in your youth, you who are young;
let your heart give you joy in your young days.
Follow the promptings of your heart
and the desires of your eyes.

But this you must know: for all these things God will bring you to judgement.

Cast worry from your heart,
shield your flesh from pain.

Yet youth, the age of dark hair, is vanity. And remember your creator in the days of your youth, before evil days come and the years approach when you say, ‘These give me no pleasure’, before sun and light and moon and stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain;

the day when those who keep the house tremble
and strong men are bowed;
when the women grind no longer at the mill,
because day is darkening at the windows
and the street doors are shut;
when the sound of the mill is faint,
when the voice of the bird is silenced,
and song notes are stilled,
when to go uphill is an ordeal
and a walk is something to dread.

Yet the almond tree is in flower,
the grasshopper is heavy with food
and the caper bush bears its fruit,

while man goes to his everlasting home. And the mourners are already walking to and fro in the street

before the silver cord has snapped,
or the golden lamp been broken,
or the pitcher shattered at the spring,
or the pulley cracked at the well,

or before the dust returns to the earth as it once came from it, and the breath to God who gave it.
Vanity of vanities, the Preacher says. All is vanity.

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Luke 9:43-45

At a time when everyone was full of admiration for all he did, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘For your part, you must have these words constantly in your mind: The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men.’ But they did not understand him when he said this; it was hidden from them so that they should not see the meaning of it, and they were afraid to ask him about what he had just said.

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Remember your Creator in the days of your youth

Sometimes when I look at my little baby boy, I wonder what kind of world he will inherit, what experiences he will have, what kind of environment he will grow up in. He is certainly a spirited little chap as it is, and sometimes when he launches himself out of my lap, I think of how he will launch himself into life the same way: headlong, with total abandon, and with his entire being.

Is this not how we approached life in our youth, and we perhaps still do? Of course, as we grow older and (hopefully) wiser, we launch ourselves with a little less abandon, with more insurance than assurance. Because as we grow older, we realize that we are moving towards the other end of life, and closer to meeting our Maker than we were before. But try telling that to your children, to be careful of life, and chances are you’d be greeted with rolling eyes, and remarks of our “yester-youth”.

Youth is a wonderful phase of life: never are we more energetic, more self-assured, more optimistic than this period. We believe we possess the Midas touch, that whatever we embark on will be met with success. Poised between a period of relative freedom and familial responsibilities, life seems rosy. It is a good thing, though as with all things, too much of a good thing is well, not so good. If we do not check ourselves in our youth, complacency sets in. With complacency, we could become spiritually “lazy”: our God-given spark is not switched on and could well be extinguished in time. In time, we grow old and realize that we are at the other end of life.

Today’s reading reminds us that the “dawn of youth is fleeting”. While we have the energy and the spirit, we should put them to use, not just for our own sakes, but for God’s sake. As Pope Francis said in his World Youth Day address, we need to offer the best of ourselves. We cannot afford to be “couch potatoes” as Pope Francis puts it. We need to “get on our bikes” for there is God’s work out there to be done. As a beloved priest once reminded me, God’s church is out there. Are we equipped to do what needs to be done? Most definitely, for even as God created us, He imbued within us special gifts that we would be able to put to use when He calls us.

It is so easy to take a back seat, thinking that there are other people out there who will carry this mantle. But we would have built nothing with our tools, and nothing is what we will feel if we don’t achieve anything. Nothing is the answer we would give God when He calls us to account for our lives. We are not born in this world for nothing. We are all little seeds of something that God planted, each capable of coming to full bloom. Again, as our Holy Father said, “When He calls us, He is thinking about everything we have to give, all the love we are capable of spreading. His bets are on the future, on tomorrow. Jesus is pointing you to the future.” We are the future, and Jesus is betting on us that we can make a difference.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

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Prayer: Holy Lord, we pray that our spirit may not be quietened and complacent, rather let us burn within with the fire of the Holy Spirit, to be called into action to make our mark in this world for the better.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for believing in what we are each capable of. We thank you for the people and experiences that have touched our lives, and we thank you for the ability to touch others in the same way. We pray that they will see You manifested in our actions, as we see You in theirs.

16 September, Friday – The Church Ain’t No Lie

15 September – Memorial for St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr; and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

Cornelius (d. 253) was elected after a year-and-a-half period during which persecutions were so bad that papal ascension was a quick death sentence. He worked to maintain unity in a time of schism and apostasy. He called a synod of bishops to confirm him as rightful pontiff, as opposed to the anti-pope Novatian. Cornelius was eventually exiled by Roman authorities to punish Christians in general, who were said to have provoked the gods to send plague against Rome.

Cyprian (190-258) was baptised when he was 56. By the time he was bishop, he had been a Christian for only 3 years! When the Roman emperor Decius persecuted Christians, Cyprian lived in hiding, covertly ministering to his flock; his enemies condemned him for being a coward and not standing up for his faith. He supported St. Cornelius against the anti-pope Novatian. He too was exiled and martyred when the Decius’ successor continued with persecution of Christians.

– Patron Saints Index

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1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Now if Christ raised from the dead is what has been preached, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ himself cannot have been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless and your believing it is useless; indeed, we are shown up as witnesses who have committed perjury before God, because we swore in evidence before God that he had raised Christ to life. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.

But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.

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Luke 8:1-3

Jesus made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.

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In fact been raised from the dead

Christ rising from the dead is the greatest mystery in our faith. Paul is right that the preaching in the Church is useless if the belief of Christ’s resurrection is not true at all. Our believe in eternal life will not be true and all hopes have perished right at he moment our life in this moment ends. Many people still believes that Christianity as a religion is all a lie, all fabricated to build community of believers out of nothing, making it seem like a worldwide influence that has riches in different parts of the world and promoting false hope and blind faith followers.

However, just by looking at how much the Church has done for the world, it has reached to the rich as well as the very poor. It has reached to all ages, both men and women. What the Church has set up since the beginning of church building by the apostles, has always been bringing Christ to us. Of course, being men, we are not perfect and we are unfortunate to have leaders who have fallen into temptations. Strict rules and old traditions that might not fit this century being put aside, the Church has grown to reach every single one of us. It is not about the riches, but the richness of faith. Support groups being set up to fulfil an obligation for the needy. I do realise that every new building, every new church, every new missionary trip support has always been the people and believers who have come out to get things going. It is indeed difficult to deny that this faith is a hoax when you look into the developments of the Church and what has been done by her across the world.

Jesus Christ is in fact being raised from the dead and sent his Holy Spirit down on us. He is one who have saved us from death, bringing us back to the Father in eternal life. Giving us the hope and love we so often preach about, and by loving God and others just as He command. Praise you Lord Jesus Christ, and to Mother Mary for watching over us.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Your will be done, do not lead us into temptations and deliver us from evil.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Church which is forever evolving, and that leaders who are tempted be strong and repentant, so they may reach to the community with the fullness of heart.

2 July, Saturday – Same Life, New Perspective

2 July

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Amos 9:11-15

It is the Lord who speaks:

‘That day I will re-erect the tottering hut of David,
make good the gaps in it, restore its ruins
and rebuild it as it was in the days of old,
so that they can conquer the remnant of Edom
and all the nations that belonged to me.’

It is the Lord who speaks, and he will carry this out.

‘The days are coming now – it is the Lord who speaks –
when harvest will follow directly after ploughing,
the treading of grapes soon after sowing,
when the mountains will run with new wine
and the hills all flow with it.
I mean to restore the fortunes of my people Israel;
they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them,
plant vineyards and drink their wine,
dig gardens and eat their produce.
I will plant them in their own country,
never to be rooted up again
out of the land I have given them,
says the Lord, your God.’

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Matthew 9:14-17

John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth on to an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’

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No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.

There was a period of time where the various parts of the 20-year-old car which I owned started to break down in rapid succession. First it was the timing belt, followed by the air-conditioner, the retraction mechanism for the windows, the rack and pinion and finally the windscreen wipers. In the end, the mechanic who repaired my car commented that if I continued with the replacement, the only thing which would have been remained in the original state would be the car plate number! It seems that the car cannot have a combination of both old and new parts together because the old parts would eventually give way as the new parts would work them harder thus accelerating their useful life-span.

Perhaps this is analogous to our spiritual lives too. God invites us to a total acceptance of the way he desires of us. The life of a Christian is not meant to be like a buffet where we can pick and choose the beliefs we like but more like a bento box where everything is presented to us in one, self-contained vessel where we have no option of choice of food. This then requires us to discard our former ways of life and embrace the way which God has invited us to live.

This is often difficult for us to subscribe to because there will be certain teachings which we cannot agree with. Yet, I believe it is the process in which we work towards understanding why a certain teaching needs to be understood in a particular way, will we then be able to appreciate the love of God in our lives. It is in challenges that we discover what it means to be a child of God. As we work towards this process, we will be able to discover the wonderful love which God has shared with us and fruits of living out such a life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the courage to accept the challenge you have given us to live the way of life you so desire of us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who guide people to a new way of life.

10 May, Tuesday – Glorify

10 May

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Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them:

‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.

‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecution await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.

‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’

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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’

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And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent… all I have is yours and all you have is mine and in them I am glorified.

How do we glorify God? Prayers? The Glory be? How did Jesus glorify His Father?  By accomplishing His Father’s will.  But before that, accepting the plan that the Father had for Him.  Jesus gave glory to His Father by His life, death and resurrection.

Are we glorifying God solely with prayers or by our lives/actions too? The reality is that it is always difficult to practice what we preach. Prayers alone won’t make any sense unless we live out our faith.  Many times we are trapped with seeking to glorify ourselves, sometimes unintentionally.  But it’s only human to desire recognition and appreciation. But more than that, we need to know as humans, we also yearn for love and acceptance. Not just temporary, but everlasting.

As in the first reading, Paul and Christ Himself, in the Gospel, are able to glorify God with their lives.  For they realise that all they have comes from the Father and is given from above. A struggle that many of us find it hard to reconcile.  Are we actually putting in effort in order to be able to live this life now, but yet all glory goes to God regardless?

I see this from the point of view where it serves as a reminder and even a prevention from falling into sin. Where we acknowledge His presence in our lives and not fall into the sin of pride. When we say we live our lives for God, we are actually saying we live our lives for all, for everyone.

Let us cherish this life that we have, to use our gifts to glorify God, in a way where we can live our lives to the fullest. God doesn’t need us to glorify Him.  But in doing so, we are living life to the fullest…. a life that blesses us with love and acceptance.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, may your glory continue to shine in our lives as we seek to glorify you in all that we do and say. All glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit… as it was in the beginning, now and forever shall be.  World without end. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for showing us the way, the truth, the life. Thank you Lord for always accepting and loving us first. Amen.