Tag Archives: geraldine nah

9 September, Saturday – Seeing beyond ourselves and our motivations

Sep 9 – Memorial for St. Peter Claver, Priest

He was born in Catalonia and studied at the University of Barcelona. He became a Jesuit and while he was studying philosophy in Mallorca, the door-keeper of the college, Alfonso Rodríguez, saw that his true vocation was to evangelize the New World and encouraged him to fulfil that vocation. (Rodríguez was later canonized on the same day as Peter Claver himself).

He arrived in Cartagena, in what is now Colombia, in 1610, and after his ordination six years later, he became ‘the slave of the Negroes forever’; labouring on their behalf for 33 years, attending to both their spiritual and material needs. The slave trade was repeatedly condemned by the Popes, but it was too profitable to be stopped and on the whole, the local church hierarchy kept quiet about it, much as they did in North America in the 19th century.

He brought fresh food to the slave-ships as they arrived, instructed the slaves and baptized them in the faith, followed their progress and kept track of them even when they were sent to the mines and plantations, defending them as well as he could from oppressive slave-owners. He organized teams of catechists who spoke the many languages spoken by the slaves. He worked in hospitals also, looking after lepers among others, and in prisons.

Naturally he made himself unpopular by his work. As his superior said, “unfortunately for himself he is a Catalan, pig-headed and difficult”. Opposition came from both within the Church and outside it, but there were always exceptions. For instance, while many fashionable ladies refused to enter his city churches because they had been profaned by the presence of the blacks, a few, such as Doña Isabel de Urbina, became his strong and lifelong supporters.

At the end of his life, he fell ill with a degenerative disease and for four years, he was treated neglectfully and brutally by the servant whose task it was to look after him. He did not complain but accepted his sufferings as a penance for his sins.

– Universalis

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Colossians 1:21-23

Not long ago, you were foreigners and enemies, in the way that you used to think and the evil things that you did; but now he has reconciled you, by his death and in that mortal body. Now you are able to appear before him holy, pure and blameless – as long as you persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the faith, never letting yourselves drift away from the hope promised by the Good News, which you have heard, which has been preached to the whole human race, and of which I, Paul, have become the servant.

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Luke 6:1-5

One sabbath Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them. Some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath day?’ Jesus answered them, ‘So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry how he went into the house of God, took the loaves of offering and ate them and gave them to his followers, loaves which only the priests are allowed to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’

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Why are you doing something that is forbidden?

We’ve had some changes at our parish lately. We have a new parish priest and with new ‘management’, things are bound to change. For the first month or so since the new parish priest took over, he made quite a few changes to the church and the way things are done. Not everyone was happy with the changes. This has led to some drastic reactions by some ministry members. As a result, people in ministries have dropped out. And we seem to see a migration of sorts among the parishioners. Some of the usual faces have since disappeared and there are some new faces too.

The ‘plight’ my parish faces today is nothing new – in our workplace, our communities, or even in our very own homes. We become so comfortable with the way things are done. ‘If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ attitude leads us to resist change.

I feel that some change is good. It keeps us on our toes and leads us out of our comfort zones.  I myself am a creature of habit but in this case, some of these changes were a long time coming.

Have we become a community so used to ‘the way things are done’ that we resist new ways even if it’s for our own good or for the good of the community?

In today’s gospel reading, the Pharisees were quick to point out to Jesus “Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath day?” They were so caught up in the strict observance of the traditional and written laws, of what is right. They were so legalistic that it became oppressive to the community at large. But Jesus was quick to point out what King David did when his followers were hungry – they took loaves from the house of God and ate them, loaves meant only for the priests. Here, Jesus demonstrates that he has power and authority over all things that hold people back and trip people up.

I am not saying that our new parish priest is ‘changing the laws’ in our parish. But sometimes, what used to work in the past may not be right for today, and so we must be ready to embrace change that is good. Change that deepens our faith, makes our church more vibrant, change that allows everyone in our community a fair chance to make a difference.

Brothers and sisters, are we too caught up today in sticking to what we deem is ‘right’? Can we not go beyond ‘the laws’, beyond ourselves and our motivations to allow God to work in our lives for our good and the good of our Church?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: “For am I now seeking the favour of men, or of God?” Galatians 1:10. Jesus, if we have become legalistic in our faith, forgive us. Teach us to see beyond ourselves and what is comfortable for us and see the greater good that You are doing for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for teaching us your ways. For opening our hearts and minds to receive You.

7 September, Thursday – God’s Providence

7 Sept

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Colossians 1:9-14

Ever since the day we heard about you, we have never failed to pray for you, and what we ask God is that through perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding you should reach the fullest knowledge of his will. So you will be able to lead the kind of life which the Lord expects of you, a life acceptable to him in all its aspects; showing the results in all the good actions you do and increasing your knowledge of God. You will have in you the strength, based on his own glorious power, never to give in, but to bear anything joyfully, thanking the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.

Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

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Luke 5:1-11

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

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We worked hard all night long and caught nothing.

This week, I met up with a good friend of mine to celebrate his birthday with a quiet lunch. We’ve known each other for some 20 odd years and I’ve seen him in various stages of life. My friend leads a pretty good life. I don’t remember him going through any major challenges in life. Having retired from a lucrative corporate job some years back, he leads a life that most people would envy. He has time to pursue his passions; run marathons around the world, buy art and travel. To top it off, he manages to make his money ‘work’ for him by investing in several businesses.

At lunch, we caught up with each other and what’s been happening. I haven’t seen him in about a month as we have been both busy. My friend told me that he has been consulting for a company in his industry. The project keeps him busy and he travels quite a bit now because of it. He told me that if this deal comes through, he would never have to work again for the rest of his life! Wow!

I have to admit, instead of being genuinely happy for my friend, deep in my heart, I could hear myself saying “As if you need even more money??!!” I was not only envious of his position but that day, I complained to God “Why is it that those who already have everything, have even more?” And why it that people who work their butts off to just survive the day, get into deeper problems? We worked hard all night long and caught nothing. I generally never really feel envious over what people have, hence my own reaction surprised me. Where did this come from? I shared this incident with 2 friends and they both said to me – can you not be contented? And something welled up within me. I told them, it’s not about being contented. It’s a matter of survival and fairness! I got even more upset. But as I reflected on it a little more, Jesus is really using these 2 people to tell me that I should just be happy with who I am and not to measure my own ‘success’ using others’ barometer.

But if you say so, I will pay out the nets. In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to see beyond what our human eyes see and minds understand and to trust him. Step out of our comfort zones. Jesus calls us to different paths in life. This week, one homily I heard stood out for me and stayed with me throughout the week. The priest said ‘Jesus wants our dependence on Him. Not our own strength. Trust in His providence for us.’ Simon Peter followed what Jesus told him and he went on to net a huge number of fish. So it’s not a matter of being contented. Today’s gospel challenges us to trust in the Lord and, in faith, follow where He leads us. He knows our needs.

Today’s first reading, we hear ‘through perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding, you should reach the fullest knowledge of His will. So you will be able to lead the kind of life which the Lord expects of you, a life acceptable to Him in all its aspects.

Can we just let go controlling our own lives and its outcome and let Jesus lead us?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you will give us the wisdom and understanding to live out the life that you have intended for us. Give us the courage to let go, give us the trust and faith in You.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Jesus, for your providence in all aspects of our lives. You indeed know what is needed.

6 September, Wednesday – Let ourselves be loved

6 Sept

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Colossians 1:1-8

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show towards all the saints because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven. It is only recently that you heard of this, when it was announced in the message of the truth. The Good News which has reached you is spreading all over the world and producing the same results as it has among you ever since the day when you heard about God’s grace and understood what this really is. Epaphras, who taught you, is one of our closest fellow workers and a faithful deputy for us as Christ’s servant, and it was he who told us all about your love in the Spirit.

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Luke 4:38-44

Leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them. Devils too came out of many people, howling, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered, ‘I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.’ And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.

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Made his way to a lonely place

Our Spiritual Director just attended a pastoral care course called ‘Empowering the Wounded Healer’. He was all fired up, full of passion and energy. I could tell from the tone of his WhatsApp messages to us. However, he did ‘escape’ the retreat one evening to come and conduct the ‘Revival Friday’ session for us; but went back straight after to the retreat. Very disruptive for him I’d imagine.  But he did this out of love and his commitment to us — his community.

For those who know him, our Spiritual Director is a very fiery and passionate shepherd. And over the years, his passionate ‘showmanship’ became less about himself and more because he genuinely loved his community family. (He only stepped into this role some 2 years ago).

Last evening, during our weekly music practice, he came to pray with us. I had braced myself for another fiery session, having had feedback from a previous evening’s session with another ministry. But what surprised me was it was it turned out exactly the opposite. He was actually very calm, serene and peaceful.

Last night he shared with us that in ministry service, we get so caught up with the doing that we sometimes forget to care and love ourselves. We push aside a part of our lives (that child, that teenager) that was painful, shameful or downright degrading. We suppress that child to forget that part of our history and move forward. Yes, sometimes we get a conversion experience and we feel we are healed – then we charge forward and serve! We do so much, serve at the parish, a community and we get disillusioned. And that pain and the hurt of our childhood or growing up years never really goes away, right? In reality it makes us who we are today. ‘What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’ as the saying goes. But being ‘stronger’ in that sense sometimes makes us really hard people. We are hard and tough because we don’t want anyone to see that vulnerable side of us. That combination of a wounded person, thinking that they are healed and ministering to others – can sometimes do more harm than good.

For me, it means accepting a part of my growing up years when suddenly that cushy carpet was drastically pulled from under my feet. I always felt anger, sadness and shame about those years of my life that drove me to working harder and accumulating. What we need is to come to terms with, and to accept and love that ‘child’. Only when we accept our past, can we really move on. And to do that we need Jesus’ help. To meet Him in prayer and let Jesus just love us.

In today’s gospel, we see how Jesus is so busy in His ministry; preaching the Good News, healing the sick and oppressed. Yet He always made time to be alone and prayed. Jesus continually withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with the Father and pray.

I felt that calmness I saw last night in our Spiritual Director come from time spent alone with Jesus. I felt that he was beginning to let go of what is expected of him — as a priest, being judged and watched by others, as a spiritual director, as a person who is wounded. He is finally learning to get off that stage and just be. Maybe he just learnt to cut himself some slack. And in that calmness, I saw a real love shine through him.

Can we spend some time in the adoration room today? Be silent, no need to babble and pray in many bombastic words, but just bask in God’s love?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, help us to learn from you. To not rely on our own strength, to navigate the challenges in life or simply to get through the day. Teach us to turn to Our Father in silent prayer.

Thanksgiving:  Jesus, we thank you for your constant and ever available presence in our lives. We thank you for the gift of a quiet place, in our adoration chapels, our rooms or simply in the quietness of our hearts, where we can run to at any time – to just bask in your love. To draw strength from you.

8 July, Saturday – Learning new tricks

8 July 2017

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Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29

Isaac had grown old, and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see. He summoned his elder son Esau, ‘My son!’ he said to him, and the latter answered, ‘I am here.’ Then he said, ‘See, I am old and do not know when I may die. Now take your weapons, your quiver and bow; go out into the country and hunt me some game. Make me the kind of savoury I like and bring it to me, so that I may eat, and give you my blessing before I die.’

Rebekah happened to be listening while Isaac was talking to his son Esau. So when Esau went into the country to hunt game for his father, Rebekah took her elder son Esau’s best clothes, which she had in the house, and dressed her younger son Jacob in them, covering his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skins of the kids. Then she handed the savoury and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.

He presented himself before his father and said, ‘Father.’ ‘I am here;’ was the reply ‘who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your first-born; I have done as you told me. Please get up and take your place and eat the game I have brought and then give me your blessing.’ Isaac said to his son, ‘How quickly you found it, my son!’ ‘It was the Lord your God’ he answered ‘who put it in my path.’ Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come here, then, and let me touch you, my son, to know if you are my son Esau or not.’ Jacob came close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice but the arms are the arms of Esau!’ He did not recognise him, for his arms were hairy like his brother Esau’s, and so he blessed him. He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ And he replied, ‘I am.’ Isaac said, ‘Bring it here that I may eat the game my son has brought, and so may give you my blessing.’ He brought it to him and he ate; he offered him wine, and he drank. His father Isaac said to him, ‘Come closer, and kiss me, my son.’ He went closer and kissed his father, who smelled the smell of his clothes.

He blessed him, saying:

‘Yes, the smell of my son

is like the smell of a fertile field blessed by the Lord.

May God give you dew from heaven,

and the richness of the earth,

abundance of grain and wine!

May nations serve you and peoples bow down before you!

Be master of your brothers; may the sons of your mother bow down before you!

Cursed be he who curses you;

blessed be he who blesses you!’

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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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New wine into fresh wineskins and both are preserved.

For years I have read this verse and wondered how this is relevant to our lives today. Wine is not made this way in this day and age. Today, wine is fermented in large fermentation tanks and aged in stainless steel or oak barrels. Of course I am simplifying the process here. But you get the point – it’s not in wineskins.

Today, we are faced with change every day. The way we view the workforce, structure our companies, work and interact with each other – these are changing. Millennials and the iGeneration will be faced with a different work environment – automation and new technology ‘taking over’ traditional jobs. Organisations will be looking at replacing the traditional structures and the way we work with more cost effective models. Our world spins faster and keeps on shifting gears. People stuck in the ‘old way’ of doing things start getting more and more frustrated. They get stuck, get dizzy and the world spits them out in the process. Bleak isn’t it?

In the secular world – that’s what happens if we don’t constantly improve and upgrade ourselves. That’s why our government implemented SkillsFuture – to get us to change and move with the times. To change our perspective on how we can make a living.

Are we stuck in old ways or are we people who enjoy the ride, the speed, the new experience. Do we explore new opportunities, new ways of working? The people who do, will grow and thrive!

As I reflected on this further today – somehow the line ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ came to mind. Only that in our Christian faith, we are indeed able to learn ‘new tricks’ if we let God work in us. Most of us live a transactional kind of faith – go to church on Sunday, do good works and think that we can win God’s favour. That’s living a false Christian life. That is not what God wants of us. Our old habits and religious practices no longer matter here. When we go to church each Sunday and then proceed to lead our superficial, lukewarm or worse still, sinful lives the moment we walk out of church, we are like old wine. Our faith walk will not go very far.

Our Christian faith calls us to be more agile, spontaneous and open to where He wants to lead us. We say we are not good enough, not holy enough. Sure, we all need work in our spiritual lives; we need mending, healing and building. But if we are not open enough to God’s calling, too afraid and fear change, how are we to live out God’s purpose for us? Surrender our pain, fear, anger, addictions, stress and worries to God. He is calling us to a life with greater purpose, to be much more than our tiny minds can fathom. We are called to be new wineskins – elastic and flexible. Allow God to stretch, build, and grow us. Only then can we soar and thrive according to His plan for us. We were not meant to be void, empty and helpless.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: God, make us into new wineskins. May your greater plans for us be fulfilled in our lives. Use us and give us a deeper purpose. May we live a life of devotion to You and share sincere love for others.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, that your will is always for our happiness. Teach us to abandon our old ways and allow your good works to begin in us. Thank you for stretching, building and growing us for our greater purpose.

7 July, Friday – The unconditional love of God

7 July 2017

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Genesis 23:1-4, 19, 24:1-8, 62-67

The length of Sarah’s life was a hundred and twenty-seven years. She died at Kiriath-arba, or Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn and grieve for her.

Then leaving his dead, Abraham spoke to the sons of Heth: ‘I am a stranger and a settler among you,’ he said. ‘Let me own a burial-plot among you, so that I may take my dead wife and bury her.’

After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah opposite Mamre, in the country of Canaan.

By now Abraham was an old man well on in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to the eldest servant of his household, the steward of all his property, ‘Place your hand under my thigh, I would have you swear by the Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, that you will not choose a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live. Instead, go to my own land and my own kinsfolk to choose a wife for my son Isaac.’ The servant asked him, ‘What if the woman does not want to come with me to this country? Must I take your son back to the country from which you came?’ Abraham answered, ‘On no account take my son back there. The Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, took me from my father’s home, and from the land of my kinsfolk, and he swore to me that he would give this country to my descendants. He will now send his angel ahead of you, so that you may choose a wife for my son there. And if the woman does not want to come with you, you will be free from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.’

Isaac, who lived in the Negeb, had meanwhile come into the wilderness of the well of Lahai Roi. Now Isaac went walking in the fields as evening fell, and looking up saw camels approaching. And Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. She jumped down from her camel, and asked the servant, ‘Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?’ The servant replied, ‘That is my master’; then she took her veil and hid her face. The servant told Isaac the whole story, and Isaac led Rebekah into his tent and made her his wife; and he loved her. And so Isaac was consoled for the loss of his mother.

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Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus was walking on he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.

While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’

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‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’

Recently, Archbishop William conducted a Clergy Renewal Retreat for some priests from Johor and Malacca. He turned down conducting this retreat several times but Bishop Bernard convinced him. And so, for the love of his brother priests and in obedience to the Holy Spirit, the first retreat for priests was held.

I was blessed to be part of the lay team supporting this retreat, our very first outreach retreat in several years. How excited and nervous we were. In all there were 20 of us. Normally a retreat like this for the lay people, would see a 2:1 support – 2 volunteers to every retreatant. For this special retreat, as we were not on home ground, we were lean in support and had to learn to go back to basics; minus the ‘bells and whistles’. Our team had to double and triple up in several roles. In addition to our usual music ministering role, we were intercessors, catchers, lectors, sacristans … etc.

For the first couple of days, we were met with 29 stoic faces. They are shepherds and pastors themselves – a bishop, a monsignor, and some very seasoned priests. Surely a retreat like this would be nothing new to them. They were hard to read the first three days, especially during praise and worship sessions, when most of them just stood and mouthed the words, expressionless; some even looked bored. Maybe they were just reserved and shy. I think our Archbishop must have felt the pressure at some point in time. As we were not allowed to sit into the talks, we asked excitedly each day how the priests were doing and his reply was “Well, I don’t know what’s going on in their heads, but we leave it to the Holy Spirit and try our best.”

Then came the day when they were to make a deathbed confession. They could go to the 3 Singaporean priests who had come to help, or confess among themselves. Frankly, I was a bit sceptical as to whether they would go. Thinking back on my own confession experience, it must be hard to acknowledge your deepest most shameful sins to a priest, let alone your own brother priests.

In today’s gospel, Jesus said ‘It is not the healthy who needs the doctor, but the sick.’ Not that our priests are sick. But in their priestly ministry, they too meet with struggles, hurts and pain – with the laity, the demands and expectations placed on them; the daily requirements of ministry; stress and loneliness taking their toll on them — leaving them little time for themselves, for prayer and to bask in the love of Jesus. Many are burnt out and have forgotten their first love and their vocation.

After the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a transformation occurred. The unemotional, apathetic faces turned to smiles; a little more relaxed and free. We were even able to coax them into silly childish action songs and they gamely participated. No inhibitions. They were joyous and free. No longer conscious of themselves. The testimonies on the last day were nothing short of amazing – the unconditional love of God, the healing that took place and the renewal of their priestly passion. Indeed God showed his love and mercy towards his priests sons.

But not just for the priests, for we too received a lot from this retreat. It was indeed an honour to be called to journey and minister with our beloved priests. It gave me a fresh perspective – that beneath the cassock, they are just like you and I. They too need healing, encouragement, love and compassion.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, in your mercy you have forgiven us for our sins. We pray that we too may show the same mercy and compassion to our fellow brothers and sisters.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the gift of priests. These men that you have raised up for the priesthood. We thank them for the sacrifice of their lives for the Church. May you continue to anoint them and nourish them with Your love.

6 July, Thursday – Love till it hurts

6 July – Memorial for St. Maria Goretti, Virgin & Martyr

Maria Goretti (1890-1902) was a beautiful and pious farm girl, one of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. In 1896 the family moved to Ferriere di Conca. Soon after, Maria’s father died of malaria, and the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive.

In 1902, at the age of 12, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought, yelled that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her 14 times. She survived in hospital for two days, forgave her attacker, asked God’s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. She is counted as a martyr.

While in prison for his crime, Alessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he latter testified at her cause for beatification.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 22:1-19

God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’

Rising early next morning Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place God had pointed out to him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there; we will worship and come back to you.’

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ he said ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.’ Then the two of them went on together.

When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son. Abraham called this place ‘The Lord Provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain the Lord provides.

The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’

Abraham went back to his servants, and together they set out for Beersheba, and he settled in Beersheba.

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Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus got in the boat, crossed the water and came to his own town. Then some people appeared, bringing him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.’ And at this some scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ Knowing what was in their minds Jesus said, ‘Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts? Now, which of these is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘get up, and pick up your bed and go off home.’ And the man got up and went home. A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for giving such power to men.

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Your sins are forgiven

I recently attended a weekday mass where the priest preached about love. Love your neighbour as you would love yourself. That’s a hard one to follow in our Christian faith. It’s so easy to love those who are likable, but for those who are less likable, obeying that commandment is tough. The priest went on to challenge us – to love till it hurts.

I have been struggling to love a friend of mine. I do love this friend to the point that I would do almost anything for her. Until she did something that hurt me tremendously. My love moved from anger, to sadness to immense pain. I felt very sad and disappointed and asked God, why should I love this person when she continues to hurt me so? Why can’t I simply forget her, move on and never think of her again? Truth is, I still do love her but the pain is still so real. And she has never been out of my mind, no matter how hard I push the thoughts away. Love till it hurts.

As I read today’s first reading, my heart goes out to poor Abraham. As if giving up and sending away Hagar and Ishmael wasn’t enough. Today, God is asking him to make a burnt sacrifice of his son, Isaac whom he loved. And Abraham, in obedience and with much pain did as God asked of him. He loved God so much that he would give up the very person he loved. Can you and I do this? Tough.

Today’s gospel reading shows Jesus and his ability to be a living form of God’s immense love for us. Seeing their faith, Jesus said ‘Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.’ The paralytics’ friends (or were they merely acquaintances) loved the man enough to bring him to Jesus, so that he could be healed. Jesus, saw that beyond just the physical healing, the man needed to be forgiven for his sins too. His immense love for us gives us complete healing both spiritually, emotionally and physically so that we can live our lives in true peace and freedom.

Today, let us ask for God’s grace to fill our hearts with His love, so that we can love and forgive those who have hurt us. Can we lift them up in prayer and ask God to bless them and heal us?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, we pray for the grace to follow your commandment. To love others as we love ourselves. We empty ourselves of anger, unforgiveness, jealousy and pride. Fill us with your love overflowing. So that we may truly be like you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for healing our hurts and forgiving our sins. Many times we fall short and are so underserving of your love. Yet you said “Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.” Thank you, Jesus.

5 July, Wednesday – Priest, Prophet and King

5 July – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest

St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 21:5, 8-20

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham gave a great banquet on the day Isaac was weaned. Now Sarah watched the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. ‘Drive away that slave-girl and her son,’ she said to Abraham; ‘this slave-girl’s son is not to share the inheritance with my son Isaac.’ This greatly distressed Abraham because of his son, but God said to him, ‘Do not distress yourself on account of the boy and your slave-girl. Grant Sarah all she asks of you, for it is through Isaac that your name will be carried on. But the slave-girl’s son I will also make into a nation, for he is your child too.’ Rising early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water and, giving them to Hagar, he put the child on her shoulder and sent her away.

She wandered off into the wilderness of Beersheba. When the skin of water was finished she abandoned the child under a bush. Then she went and sat down at a distance, about a bowshot away, saying to herself, ‘I cannot see the child die.’ So she sat at a distance; and the child wailed and wept.

But God heard the boy wailing, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven. ‘What is wrong, Hagar?’ he asked. ‘Do not be afraid, for God has heard the boy’s cry where he lies. Come, pick up the boy and hold him safe, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well, so she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy. He grew up and made his home in the wilderness, and he became a bowman.

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Matthew 8:28-34

When Jesus reached the country of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs – creatures so fierce that no one could pass that way. They stood there shouting, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?’ Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ And he said to them, ‘Go then’, and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off and made for the town, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. At this the whole town set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave the neighbourhood.

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I will make of him a great nation

“I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring.” How wonderful and comforting it is to hear God’s promises to us. As I read today’s first reading, I thought to myself, how much ‘easier’ it was for Abraham. If God spoke to me square in the face so directly, I too would have the courage to move ahead with His calling. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tough situation for Abraham to be placed in, hard decisions had to be made. After all, Ishmael too was his son and now he is called upon to send away Hagar and his own flesh and blood. How torn and distressed he must have felt. However, to be able to hear God’s voice tell you “Do not be distressed” made it so much more comforting for Abraham.

I wish God would speak to me so directly and clearly too when I am called to make important life decisions. For most times, God is silent. And when I think I do hear Him, something else happens and I wonder if I heard correctly.

Recently, I was serving in an outreach retreat. While riding in our bus, I got to speaking to a fellow ministry member. We never really knew each other prior to this trip. We were in different ministries in our community and never really crossed paths. We were chatting along the way and he shared with me his story. Naturally, our conversation started with what he does for a living. Jeremy shared that he stopped work since 2012 at the height of his career. Everything had been going swimmingly well for him then and he was travelling quite a bit, setting up regional offices for his organisation. Then something went wrong and, feeling empty, he left that job. He had plenty of other opportunities, given his experience. However, after attending the Conversation Experience Retreat, he was prompted to give it all up and follow Jesus. Jeremy sold his home, the home that he and his family had lived in for many years and moved in with his father. He felt that he was called to live and look after his dad in his twilight years. His wife, too, left her job after her own retreat.

Not long after, Jeremy joined a ministry in our community. However, after a few years, he felt that he wanted to leave that ministry. However, he was prompted in prayer to stay on. So despite his own jaded feelings, he stayed on. Fast forward to today, Jeremy is helping out in our music ministry as we were in need of musicians. I asked him if he had left his own ministry and he replied ‘No, I am still part of it.’ The Lord has used him and his talents to help where he is needed. I needed to ask him that one very human question “So how are you and your family coping with no income?” His frank answer — “The Lord has provided.” They live a simpler lifestyle and continue to trust in where God leads them. Jeremy is truly a gift to our music ministry (though borrowed) and he continues to be an active member in his own ministry.

I half joked (and was also serious) when I told him, “Be careful when you surrender everything to the Lord.” He will use us and take us places where we don’t necessarily want to go. But trust that He will make great nations of us.

I left a corporate job 3 years ago. It started off as a sabbatical of no more than 2 years. Where the Lord has led me is beyond my wildest imagination. Not necessarily a plan I would have made for myself if left to my own devices. With time on my hands, I created and started Tabby’s Tail some 2 years ago. It started off as nothing more than helping a few priest friends make liturgical apparel. This is my passion and it fuels the creative side of me. I didn’t think it would get very far. But through word of mouth, it has since grown and we are now embarking on bigger and more creative projects. I do wrestle with God now and again. But I know He has got other plans for Tabby’s Tail. I may not fully understand it right now, but He has shown me throughout this year that if I place my plans with Him and trust in God, He will lead me on a journey. A vocation is never static. It is a journey. He will use the gifts and talents He has given us for greater good. And yes, He will take care of the rest.

So my brothers and sisters, trust that the Lord is indeed speaking to us. We just need to peel our ears a little more and quieten that noisy head and heart of ours. And He will indeed make great nations of each and every one of us!

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

 Prayer: Lord, we pray for docility to follow where you lead. For courage to take the very first steps and for fortitude to continue on this journey when things appear hard. For ultimately, the blueprint of our lives has already been drafted by you. And you know best how to use us to glorify Our Father.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for making each one of us special and in your likeness. Despite our weakness and sinfulness, you have deemed us worthy of being called Priests, Prophets and Kings.

6 May, Saturday – I will run to you

6 May 2017

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Acts 9:31-42

The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Peter visited one place after another and eventually came to the saints living down in Lydda. There he found a man called Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you: get up and fold up your sleeping mat.’ Aeneas got up immediately; everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they were all converted to the Lord.

At Jaffa there was a woman disciple called Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek, who never tired of doing good or giving in charity. But the time came when she got ill and died, and they washed her and laid her out in a room upstairs. Lydda is not far from Jaffa, so when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two men with an urgent message for him, ‘Come and visit us as soon as possible.’

Peter went back with them straightaway, and on his arrival they took him to the upstairs room, where all the widows stood round him in tears, showing him tunics and other clothes Dorcas had made when she was with them. Peter sent them all out of the room and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to the dead woman and said, ‘Tabitha, stand up.’ She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up. Peter helped her to her feet, then he called in the saints and widows and showed them she was alive. The whole of Jaffa heard about it and many believed in the Lord.

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John 6:60-69

After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?

‘It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit
and they are life.

‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.

Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’

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Lord who shall we go to?

I recently watched a movie called ‘The Shack’. It’s about a man named Mack who leads a wonderful life with his wife and three children. One day however, his youngest child went missing during a camping trip and is abducted by a serial killer and presumed dead. This turns the man’s life upside down, his faith is questioned and he spirals into deep depression. Until one day, a note mysteriously appears in his mailbox signed off as ‘Papa’ inviting him to go back to the very place — ‘the shack’ – where his daughter was presumably murdered.

Now Mack’s faith in God wasn’t as deep as his wife’s. He always felt it was silly for her to refer to God as ‘Papa’. At first, he was filled with anger, thinking his neighbour played a cruel joke on him. However, something moved him to take that trip back, half believing that it was God who sent for him. This led him to spend a weekend with God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Spirit and that time with them transformed his spiritual life. While initially angry and resentful with God for taking away his daughter, that encounter eventually allowed him to understand, heal and forgive.

No one could come to me unless the Father allows him.

In our own circumstances, can we see how God is working in us? Or are we so blinded with our anger and pain that it blindsides what the Trinity is doing for us? Many a time, we see things in our own way and we are so convinced that we are right. We question how God, in all His goodness, would allow these bad situations in our lives to happen. In the movie, Mack asks Papa that very same question. God did not allow those bad things to happen. Sin and evil probably had something to do with it. But really, we will never know from our own finite perspective. We may not be able to make out all the details of why certain things happen, but when we need the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives, He is there to illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us toward some conclusions that can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

All we need to do is just to open the door of our heart, just a wee bit and God will come through for us. Lord who shall we go to? Run to Him! All we need to do is believe and He will heal us, and give us that peace in our hearts. Peace that surpasses all human understanding.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: I believe. Help my unbelief.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Papa, for saving us from the depths of our despair — when we run to you, when we feel like giving up on ourselves; thank you for not letting us go.

5 May, Friday – Everyone deserves a second chance

5 May 2017

Acts 9:1-20

Saul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord’s disciples. He had gone to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he could find.

Suddenly, while he was travelling to Damascus and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he asked, and the voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.’ The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but even with his eyes wide open he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight, and took neither food nor drink.

A disciple called Ananias who lived in Damascus had a vision in which he heard the Lord say to him, ‘Ananias!’ When he replied, ‘Here I am, Lord’, the Lord said, ‘You must go to Straight Street and ask the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus. At this moment he is praying, having had a vision of a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to give him back his sight.’

When he heard that, Ananias said, ‘Lord, several people have told me about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your saints in Jerusalem. He has only come here because he holds a warrant from the chief priests to arrest everybody who invokes your name.’ The Lord replied, ‘You must go all the same, because this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name.’ Then Ananias went. He entered the house, and at once laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on your way here so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately it was as though scales fell away from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. So he was baptised there and then, and after taking some food he regained his strength.

He began preaching in the synagogues, ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’

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John 6:52-59

The Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.

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I am Jesus and you are persecuting me.

In today’s first reading, we learn about Saul’s conversion – Saul desired to rise to the level of prestige and power that he believed was his destiny. He was bent to prove his worth and went all out to destroy the believers in Jesus; he hunted down and persecuted Christians. Years later, in obedience to the vision of Jesus Christ, he was converted and became Paul. He was to become one of the greatest evangelists in spreading Christianity after his encounter with Christ Jesus on the road to Damascus. He also suffered much while preaching the gospel and eventually he was martyred in Rome. His writings make up much of the New Testament.

So you might be thinking now – how can Jesus pick someone as insolent and power hungry as Saul to become His instrument to bring the gospel to pagans? But Paul’s conversion proves that God can call and transform anyone he chooses, even the most hardened individual, to work for his kingdom.

I have heard stories of ex-convicts, the most hardened criminals convicted to life in prison or those facing death sentences change for the better. One such story is about a young man who was in prison and his job was to prepare meals for convicts in death row. Each time one of them was due to hang in a few days, the warden would alert him and he would take extra care in preparing their meals. He will even say a prayer for their souls. Eventually he got out of prison and started a social enterprise that employs ex-convicts to give them a second chance.

Everyone deserves a second chance. Yes, Jesus has a plan for everyone – even those we judge to be unworthy of our forgiveness and love. So each time we look at a fellow brother or sister who has made a wrong judgement along the way with disdain, we are persecuting Jesus. For those of us who have sinned and tell ourselves that God will never forgive us, you are wrong. Our God is a loving and merciful God. We have to open our hearts to be healed and forgiven. For those of us who have suffered under the burden of anger, resentment, unforgiveness, jealously – open your heart and let Jesus in. Don’t deprive yourselves of spiritual nutrients and every good and amazing thing God had planned for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: May we rise from the darkness of the tomb. That the Light of Christ shine in our hearts this Easter season. May we bring the light of love to those who we find hardest to love; may we be beacons of hope given to those who have given up on this life.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Jesus, for reminding us that each time we persecute others, we are in fact persecuting you. Thank you Risen Lord, for being our strength and our song.

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.