Tag Archives: geraldine nah

12 May, Saturday – Ask Your Father

12 May – Memorial for Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St. Pancras, Martyr

Nereus and Achilleus (d. 98) were soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and members of the Praetorian Guard. They were converts to Christianity and baptized by St. Peter the Apostle. They were exiled for their faith, suffered with St. Flavia Domitilla, and were martyred together by beheading.

– Patron Saint Index

Pancras (c. 290) was a 14-year-old orphan brought to Rome by his uncle St. Dionysius. He was a convert to Christianity, and was martyred with St. Nereus, St. Achilleus, and St. Domitilla for publicly proclaiming his faith.

Pope St. Vitalian sent his relics from the cemetery of Calepodius in Rome to the British Isles as part of the evangelization of England, so they would have the relics of the Church at large, and to install in altars in new churches. St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church in England to St. Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named after him.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 18:23-28

Paul came down to Antioch, where he spent a short time before continuing his journey through the Galatian country and then through Phrygia, encouraging all the followers.

An Alexandrian Jew named Apollos now arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, with a sound knowledge of the scriptures, and yet, though he had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they took an interest in him and gave him further instruction about the Way.

When Apollos thought of crossing over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote asking the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived there he was able by God’s grace to help the believers considerably by the energetic way he refuted the Jews in public and demonstrated from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

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John 16:23-28

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
anything you ask for from the Father he will grant in my name.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and so your joy will be complete.
I have been telling you all this in metaphors,
the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in metaphors;
but tell you about the Father in plain words.
When that day comes you will ask in my name;
and I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you,
because the Father himself loves you for loving me
and believing that I came from God.
I came from the Father and have come into the world
and now I leave the world to go to the Father.’

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If you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

When I was a child, I was told that if I wanted something badly enough, I had to work for it myself. Trying to manoeuvre from a teenager to emerging adulthood was hard enough, but having to figure things on my own was harder. Those years were not particularly easy. But somehow, I managed and became the person I am today. I didn’t turn out too badly I thought. From this, I learnt to be independent.

People closest to me tell me that I am too proud and stubborn to accept help from anyone. Well, was I to blame? I had been ‘hard-wired’ to think that I had to do it all myself. I wasn’t born with people around who mollycoddled me. So I learnt never to ask for help; so that I would never be disappointed. For most of my life, I relied on my own strength and ability that, sometimes, became just too overwhelming. I remember several times when I had meltdowns – angry and resentful of my family. Especially my father.

But God that Father never said we had to do everything ourselves. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. I have often come across this line in the scriptures and I knew it in my head, but not from the heart. I didn’t believe that God the Father would do anything for me if I didn’t do something for Him first. I found it so hard to accept His unconditional love. In fact many times, I think that God is punishing me for being an imperfect person. I measure myself by a different yardstick; the bar is set so high, I am just never good enough.

Recently I shared that I had gone for a retreat. During the retreat, I was told by God that I was trying too hard. I was told that, unlike my earthly father, God the Father did not need me to do anything to earn his love. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Asking God for something in Jesus’ name is different from asking it in our own name. We are to include him in our decision making, and try to see things the way He does. Me? I am always pre-empting God and running ahead of Him. He doesn’t want that of us, brothers and sisters. He wants us to give ii to Him, ask Him. When we do this, we transcend ourselves and are open to the will of God. God may not give us exactly what we ask but will never fail to give us what we need. Pray and ask for what you need today, in Jesus’ most mighty name!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: God our Father, for all our needs, we present them to you today. In your most mighty glorious name.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for receiving our gifts – broken hearts, broken lives, tears…. no matter how unworthy they are. Thank you for answering our prayers.

11 May, Friday – Pain Today, Is The Prelude To The Joy Of New Life

11 May

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Acts 18:9-18

At Corinth one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.’ So Paul stayed there preaching the word of God among them for eighteen months.

But, while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. ‘We accuse this man’ they said ‘of persuading people to worship God in a way that breaks the Law.’ Before Paul could open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘Listen, you Jews. If this were a misdemeanour or a crime, I would not hesitate to attend to you; but if it is only quibbles about words and names, and about your own Law, then you must deal with it yourselves-I have no intention of making legal decisions about things like that.’ Then he sent them out of the court, and at once they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue president, and beat him in front of the court house. Gallio refused to take any notice at all.

After staying on for some time, Paul took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut off, because of a vow he had made.

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John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you will be weeping and wailing
while the world will rejoice;
you will be sorrowful,
but your sorrow will turn to joy.
A woman in childbirth suffers,
because her time has come;
but when she has given birth to the child she forgets the suffering
in her joy that a man has been born into the world.
So it is with you: you are sad now,
but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy,
and that joy no one shall take from you.
When that day comes,
you will not ask me any questions.’

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You are sad now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and that joy no one shall take from you.

I do not have many friends. As I grew older, I culled down my list of friends. Simply because I have less time to socialize and therefore want time spent with people to be special and meaningful. The few friendships I have today are deeper and more significant. Friends who walk with me in faith and the journey of life. Relationships mean a lot to me. As the saying goes ‘If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.’ So when a relationship ends or when I have to say ‘goodbye’, I take it badly. And if that person meant a lot to me, I’d quietly (but painfully) ‘wait’ for their return. And if or when they do come back, oh my heart bursts with joy!

If I had lived in the time when Jesus told the disciples the impact his death would have on them, I would have just died of a broken heart. “I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing… you will be sorrowful.” Jesus knew his disciples would experience great sorrow when he was taken away from them in death. However, he assures them that the sorrow will be but for a while. These feelings will not be forever. He assures them that his death and rising will spring forth a new life, sorrows and pain will turn into joy.

As I was reading the verses for today’s reflection, a line caught my attention in today’s Magnificat. In order to reach our destination in Christ, we inevitably pass through dark moments. But our sadness is transformed if we look towards the Risen Christ. I am slowly learning that my journey to holiness isn’t a rose garden. God’s pruning of me involves loss, sorrow and pain. I still struggle and fight with Jesus on this but am slowly finding the courage to let the process take its course. Because I know that these dark moments, however looming they seem now, will be so far away when the time comes – when I am transformed. My heart will be filled with joy again. Just as the pain of a pregnant woman is the prelude to the joy of new life. Brothers and sisters, be courageous, take heart and know that this too shall pass.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, we give you our sorrow, tears and pain in exchange for your comfort. Fill us with hope and joy as we look towards the Risen Lord.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the goodness and blessings in our lives. We hold and cherish in our hearts your gifts of life, breath, love and friendships.

10 May, Thursday – Only In His Time

10 May – Solemnity of The Ascension of The Lord

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Acts 1:1-11

In my earlier work, Theophilus, I dealt with everything Jesus had done and taught from the beginning until the day he gave his instructions to the apostles he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. He had shown himself alive to them after his Passion by many demonstrations: for forty days he had continued to appear to them and tell them about the kingdom of God. When he had been at table with them, he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. ‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’

Now having met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know times or dates that the Father has decided by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.’

As he said this he was lifted up while they looked on, and a cloud took him from their sight. They were still staring into the sky when suddenly two men in white were standing near them and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’

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Ephesians 1:17-23

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.

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Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

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With the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what the hope to which he has called you is.

I have an active mind. I try to plan ahead and have a Plan B, C, in case Plan A fails me. It must be a job hazard. Sometimes, I work myself into a frenzy thinking about what could go wrong. This may be a good thing on the work front. The secular world can be so unforgiving if things don’t ‘work to plan’. However, in spite of our most careful planning, the Road of Life is unpredictable. Our best-laid plans in life can be upended by unexpected changes. These could be either disappointing or exhilarating. Personal or other setbacks, the loss of loved ones, illnesses or accidents, broken hearts or betrayals, are not uncommon occurrences in our lives. On the other hand, fate can provide unanticipated good fortune or heartening experiences.

In our Christian faith, we are asked to surrender it all to God. I find that so hard to do with my overactive, rational mind. Recently, I experienced a period of desolation. I was overcome by darkness so overwhelming that it choked me. Everything seemed so bleak and stifling. I wished I could somehow find an avenue to let go of all that was welling up inside me. If I could cry or scream or hit something – but no. Years of conditioning myself to put forth a hard exterior, burying pain and disappointments was now working against me. I have a prayer list so long it is so onerous. ‘Why why? How and when?’ were questions I asked God. I tried all ways to restructure my prayers but still nothing. Zilch. God just wasn’t speaking to me. Just like the disciples in today’s first reading, I wanted God’s answers to my life issues right there and then.

I shared yesterday that I went on my much-needed retreat, to seek peace and yes – answers! Like the disciples in today’s first reading, I did not see the need to wait. They ask if “now” is the time to restore the kingdom to Israel. But for such things, we must wait and trust in God’s promise. God works to his own timing and also for our own good. “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

We try to avoid emotional or physical pain which distresses and saddens us; we bury them and hope to move on. For me, the message was loud and clear. The Lord needed me to first acknowledge what’s going on in my life. In the season of change, I needed to just acknowledge that certain events and people attached to them had to die. It’s in the dying that new shoots of change can spring forth and grow. With this enlightenment, I found the permission to grieve, to hurt, to feel sadness and anger. And with openness to what God is doing in my life, pruning and shaping, a new spring will come into my life. Today, as we celebrate the solemnity of The Ascension of the Lord, let us experience the joy and love that no one can take away from us!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: For the times when we closed our ears to the Holy Spirit, for the times we demanded immediate answers, forgive us. Come Lord and take away everything that is not of you; the need to control our lives without You. Give us patience and the knowing that You, in your time will reveal all the glory that’s in store for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the hope you promise us.

9 May, Wednesday – What If?

9 May

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Acts 17:15,22-18:1

Paul’s escort took him as far as Athens, and went back with instructions for Silas and Timothy to rejoin Paul as soon as they could.

So Paul stood before the whole Council of the Areopagus and made this speech:

‘Men of Athens, I have seen for myself how extremely scrupulous you are in all religious matters, because I noticed, as I strolled round admiring your sacred monuments, that you had an altar inscribed: To An Unknown God. Well, the God whom I proclaim is in fact the one whom you already worship without knowing it.

‘Since the God who made the world and everything in it is himself Lord of heaven and earth, he does not make his home in shrines made by human hands. Nor is he dependent on anything that human hands can do for him, since he can never be in need of anything; on the contrary, it is he who gives everything – including life and breath – to everyone. From one single stock he not only created the whole human race so that they could occupy the entire earth, but he decreed how long each nation should flourish and what the boundaries of its territory should be. And he did this so that all nations might seek the deity and, by feeling their way towards him, succeed in finding him. Yet in fact he is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live, and move, and exist, as indeed some of your own writers have said:

“We are all his children.”

‘Since we are the children of God, we have no excuse for thinking that the deity looks like anything in gold, silver or stone that has been carved and designed by a man.

‘God overlooked that sort of thing when men were ignorant, but now he is telling everyone everywhere that they must repent, because he has fixed a day when the whole world will be judged, and judged in righteousness, and he has appointed a man to be the judge. And God has publicly proved this by raising this man from the dead.’

At this mention of rising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing; others said, ‘We would like to hear you talk about this again.’ After that Paul left them, but there were some who attached themselves to him and became believers, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman called Damaris, and others besides.

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.

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John 16:12-15

Jesus said:

‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.

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When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

I was recently invited to join a couple of folks on a retreat in a town about 80km from Sydney. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I was both excited and anxious. Excited because I knew I needed the time of silence, but anxious because I was worried that I would not get the full ‘bang for the buck’ from this retreat. My mind has been so busy and active of late, filled with worries and plans of how to circumvent the obstacles I am facing. The questions that clouded my mind were — What if I don’t hear you? What if I can’t reflect? What is there is nothing to write in my journal?

Just like the Athenians in today’s first reading, I had built my own objects of worship –- in the form of plans and strategies on how I should move forward in my future. I felt that I had to make the effort and do all the work before God would show me the way ahead. ‘God helps those who helps themselves’ was what I subscribed to, unconsciously. But I am reminded of a homily given some years back that the line isn’t even in the bible! Nonetheless, even as I entered into the retreat, I was filled with the ‘what if’ questions. Then one afternoon, feeling dejected and frustrated with myself, I went into a small chapel and simply prayed. I reflected on Psalm 139. I had reflected on this Psalm before but that day, it brought new meaning and I broke down into uncontrollable loud sobs. What the Lord told me in that little chapel was ‘Why child are you trying so hard? Why are you trying to formulate all these plans? Why are you so controlling? Do you not think I already know?’

‘The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.’

That afternoon in that little chapel, I was given permission by God to stop overanalysing, stop overthinking; that I didn’t need to work so hard to earn His love. I finally felt free to simply take the vacation with Him and allow Him to speak to me in the silence of my heart and mind.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit who will guide us to all truth. When we reject his guidance, we abuse our freedom. However, when we allow ourselves to be guided by him, we are truly free. I was finally free to take walks with Him, sing to Him and draw with Him. And in those moments, He led me to a new vision of what the future could be. No, I still don’t have all the answers, but He put a fresh new exciting desire in my heart. One step at a time.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.’ For now, I don’t have to know the destination of his greater plan. But I will simply just walk with Him on this journey.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, help us to surrender all to you. In your goodness and love, lead us. You have many things to say to us. But you know that in our human-ness, we may not comprehend everything now. So Lord, give us enough light for the step we are on. Give us the faith to follow you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your love. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit in guiding us to the truth. In your time, not ours.

13 March, Tuesday – Drink Up

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.

As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.

The following readings are available for reflection:

Holy Saturday

7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

Epistle + Responsorial Psalm

Gospel

This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless

Oxygen Core Team

 

13 March

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Ezekiel 47:1-9,12

The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He took me further, then brought me back to the bank of the river. When I got back, there were many trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’

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John 5:1-3,5-16

There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move; One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.

Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.

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It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.

I never appreciated rain until I lived in the Middle East, where the weather is dry and land is rather barren. Summer is oppressively hot, you could fry an egg on the bonnet of your car – temperatures soar to almost 50 °C (though it’s rarely reported). You can hardly walk from the car to the office without a mini meltdown. It’s so hot you can hardly breathe. So on the odd chance that it rains, I am always very happy. Never mind that the roads start to flood but rain provides a welcome respite. A time of refreshing coolness, washing the dust and dirt away.

The common theme in today’s first reading and gospel is water. In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel is given a glimpse of what Israel will be like when the Lord returns and establishes his kingdom. What starts out as a gentle stream from under the temple, flowing through the temple, to the outer gate, and finally a raging river as it flowed to the Dead Sea. In a barren and parched land like the Middle East, water is a symbol of great blessing; ever flowing life giving and refreshing. And everything that is by this river bed is teeming with abundance and life. Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.

In today’s gospel, water is represented as a pool. People who were sick sought healing when they dipped into the water when it is stirred. The paralyzed man had been waiting for 38 years for someone to put him in the pool. Are we like that man, just waiting and waiting to be healed of our paralysis, our deafness, our hurts, anger, sorrow and unforgiveness? But isn’t living water always available to us – though our baptism, His Word? Did Jesus not promise us living water that flows from within us to those who believe in him? Jesus is the source of living water that we can draw from. “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” and “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb”. Wherever the water goes, it brings life. Jesus tells us whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. – John 4:14

So today, will we draw from the living waters that Jesus so freely gives us? Do you want to get well? All we need to do is drink up my brothers and sisters.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: In the dryness of our lives, during the days of heat and thirst; when regrets and life choices leave us empty, when we doubt your love – give us your life giving water, Lord.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, that through you we experience physical and spiritual wholeness. Let us not forsake the living waters that you so freely give us, bringing us to life, unblemished, clean and new. We thank you and praise you, O God, that however we may thirst, whatever we may need to satisfy our souls, you offer it freely and abundantly in Christ.

12 March, Monday – We will be reborn, renewed, and very much alive.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.

As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.

The following readings are available for reflection:

Holy Saturday

 

7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

Epistle + Responsorial Psalm

Gospel

This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless

Oxygen Core Team

 

12 March

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Isaiah 65:17-21

Thus says the Lord: Now I create new heavens and a new earth, and the past will not be remembered, and will come no more to men’s minds. Be glad and rejoice for ever and ever for what I am creating, because I now create Jerusalem ‘Joy’ and her people ‘Gladness.’ I shall rejoice over Jerusalem and exult in my people. No more will the sound of weeping or the sound of cries be heard in her; in her, no more will be found the infant living a few days only, or the old man not living to the end of his days. To die at the age of a hundred will be dying young; not to live to be a hundred will be the sign of a curse. They will build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

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John 4:43-54

Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. He himself had declared that there is no respect for a prophet in his own country, but on his arrival the Galileans received him well, having seen all that he had done at Jerusalem during the festival which they too had attended.

He went again to Cana in Galilee, where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a court official there whose son was ill at Capernaum and, hearing that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judaea, he went and asked him to come and cure his son as he was at the point of death. Jesus said, ‘So you will not believe unless you see signs and portents!’ ‘Sir,’ answered the official ‘come down before my child dies.’ ‘Go home,’ said Jesus ‘your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus had said and started on his way; and while he was still on the journey back his servants met him with the news that his boy was alive. He asked them when the boy had begun to recover. ‘The fever left him yesterday’ they said ‘at the seventh hour.’ The father realised that this was exactly the time when Jesus had said, ‘Your son will live’; and he and all his household believed.

This was the second sign given by Jesus, on his return from Judaea to Galilee.

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Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating

We all think that we know best, but God constantly reminds me that ‘In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.’ – Proverbs 16:9.

I have been going through a period of drought in ministry life and was praying if it was time for me to move on. I questioned what my contributions were, how I was adding any value and, if my ‘gifts’ were of better use in some other ways. I was complaining no end as to why things were so ‘lacklustre’, so cold and empty and kept asking – so what is the leadership doing about this? I was angry and disappointed with people within the ministry for refusing to do their part. How proud that sounds but that was how I felt.

Our spirituality centre and also many of our ministries are going through a dry period. Early this year, our ministry leaders called for a meeting among some of us, to plan the way forward. Long story short, I find myself now a part of the leadership team – a team that will steer the ministry forward. How funny God is. It’s His way of saying ‘Quit complaining, do something!’ So now I am not in a position to ask what ‘the leadership’ is doing. Today’s first reading tells us that ‘I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.’ In a chat with a friend, she told me that perhaps we need to just let things naturally happen – that it is from ashes that the phoenix can rise.

Life throws us curve balls. And very often, in trying to make sense of it, we long for the turmoil to be over. We muster up all we have to pick ourselves up and move forward, we make plans to gain control of the situation. We are so busy making things happen that we actually overlook what is happening in the present. We let ourselves get into a frenzy. We pray that God will help us and change the situation. Nothing. Then we get discouraged and wonder if God actually heard us. But God knows everything and hears our prayers. I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. Sometimes, we need to simply let go and stop controlling; allow ourselves to go through the process of frustration, impatience, admit that there is so much we didn’t know and let go of trying to figure things out.

Just like what my ministry is going through, perhaps in our own lives, we need to let God take over and execute His plan. Even if it means letting everything burn to the ground (and that’s very scary I know), and like the phoenix rising from the ashes – we will be reborn, renewed, and very much alive. Remember my brothers and sisters, God says ‘I am about to create new heavens and a new earth’ Can we take courage and know that whatever situation or circumstance we are going through will pass?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us when we keep asking for signs & wonders. We pray for deeper faith, and courage to take a closer walk with you. Help us Lord, to trust in your greater plan.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for healing the broken and wounded parts of our lives. Thank you for your promise of new heavens and new earth. That the old ways shall pass and we can look forward to fresh new starts every single day as long as we stay close to you. Come Lord Jesus, come.

11 March, Sunday – Pride, hardness of heart and worldly influence got in the way?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.

As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.

The following readings are available for reflection:

Holy Saturday

7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

Epistle + Responsorial Psalm

Gospel

This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless

Oxygen Core Team

 

11 March 2018

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2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23

All the heads of the priesthood, and the people too, added infidelity to infidelity, copying all the shameful practices of the nations and defiling the Temple that the Lord had consecrated for himself in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their ancestors, tirelessly sent them messenger after messenger, since he wished to spare his people and his house. But they ridiculed the messengers of God, they despised his words, they laughed at his prophets, until at last the wrath of the Lord rose so high against his people that there was no further remedy.

They burned down the Temple of God, demolished the walls of Jerusalem, set fire to all its palaces, and destroyed everything of value in it. The survivors were deported by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon; they were to serve him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. This is how the word of the Lord was fulfilled that he spoke through Jeremiah, ‘Until this land has enjoyed its sabbath rest, until seventy years have gone by, it will keep sabbath throughout the days of its desolation.’

And in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, to fulfil the word of the Lord that was spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord roused the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation and to have it publicly displayed throughout his kingdom: ‘Thus speaks Cyrus king of Persia, “the Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; he has ordered me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God be with him! Let him go up.”’

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Ephesians 2:4-10

God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

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Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.

Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.

For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.

No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.

On these grounds is sentence pronounced: that though the light has come into the world men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil.

And indeed, everybody who does wrong hates the light and avoids it, for fear his actions should be exposed; but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

In today’s first reading, we read about the sad account of the ruin of Judah and Jerusalem – the slaughter of multitudes, plundering and burning of the temple and all the palaces, the desolation of the city, the idolatry of the people, as well as other shameful and sacrilegious practices. God, in all His goodness, sent messengers to his people but they would not listen. Though God is loving and compassionate, He too has his ‘limits’ and a terrible punishment befell the people.

Recently, our ministry had been going through a rather rough patch. Members have started to lose their energy and zeal, many of us have lost sight of why we were serving, attendance for our programmes has been gradually coming down. This did not happen overnight. It had been so for the past 5 months. Our ministry isn’t the only one encountering this desolate state; we are one of the last few to fall into such a dismal state. The other ministries in our community have seen similar ‘trends’, but much earlier. How did we end up this way?

I could offer up some rational reasons – we got tired from all the doing, we lost focus, our leaders lost focus (or, worse still, some feel our leadership lacked focus), our programmes are no longer attractive, we are a divided group etc. We could just as easily put the blame on the other team i.e. Satan Corp. But, as I reflected on today’s first reading and also the state of our ministry, I feel that the state of our ministry (and I daresay many of our church ministries or our own vocations), we are where we are because we have rejected God’s word. It is human nature to blame everyone else and external forces when things don’t go well. Yes, we even blame God. But if we got down to it to the core and, if we are true to ourselves, it’s all our own doing. Have we ‘mocked the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets.’? Did we let pride, hardness of heart and worldly influence get in our way?

On 1st January this year, after we said goodbye to 2017, feeling disheartened and tired with all that’s been ‘not happening’ on our ministry front, I whispered a prayer to God and asked if it was time to move on, if my gifts were better utilised elsewhere. God indeed wasn’t going to let me move on so quickly. He sent a messenger in the form of one of our leaders. Long story short, a few of us were called to be part of a forward team in our ministry. Much as I struggle to make sense of this (and also fight against it), I know in my heart that the Lord is telling me to persevere, to leave my pride and sloth at the door and quit standing by the sidelines. How could I, this weak, floundering, disobedient and spiritually dry child be called to do this work? I felt unprepared, unworthy, unmotivated and frankly I felt intimidated too. All eyes were upon us – people waiting for us to fail.

We’ve had several meetings with this new team since its formation, sometimes late into the night. But I feel alive, though there will be pain but new hope and new birth. And as I read the second reading today; ‘We are saved not through our own efforts but through the mercy of God.’ So as I plod on and feel good about what I ‘bring to the table’, I remember that it’s not my work nor my effort, but God’s grace that calls me and enables me to continue to be part of his ministry.

Brothers and sisters, many of us are blessed with material success, power and position in the secular world. Some of us are so blessed with the ability to serve as leaders in our parish community. Do not let pride and hardness of heart get in the way. For it is by God’s grace that we are given this ability.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, because we have been saved, healed and made whole, make us agents and channels of your salvation, hope and love. Help us not give in to the worldly ways and prideful thoughts. May we keep our eyes and hearts firmly focused on You. By Your grace, may our works be blessed.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for your grace and mercy. Thank you for saving us time and time again. For sending us your Son, Jesus Christ, such a visible and tangible example of your love.

17 February, Saturday – Humble enough to let Him lead

17 Feb – Memorial for Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites

The Order of the Servants of Mary (Servites) was named the fifth mendicant order by Pope Martin V. It was founded in 1233 by Sts. Alexis Falconieri, Bartholomew degli Amidei, Benedict dell’Antella, Buonfiglio Monaldi, Gherardino Sostegni, Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni, and John Buonagiunta Monetti.

They were beatified on 1 December 1717, and canonized on 1887 as The Seven Holy Founders. On the Feast of the Assumption in 1240, the Founders received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand a black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading “Servants of Mary”. Mary told them:

“You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of St. Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.”

From their first establishment at La Camarzia, near Florence, they moved to the more secluded Monte Senario where the Blessed Virgin herself conferred on them their habit, instructing them to follow the Rule of St. Augustine and to admit associates. The official approval for the order was obtained in 1249, confirmed in 1256, suppressed in 1276, definitely approved in 1304, and again by Brief in 1928. The order was so rapidly diffused that by 1285, there were 10,000 members with houses in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, and early in the 14th century, it numbered 100 convents, besides missions in Crete and India.

The Reformation reduced the order in Germany, but it flourished elsewhere. Again meeting with political reverses in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it nevertheless prospered, being established in England in 1867, and in America in 1870.

The Servites take solemn vows and venerate in a special manner the “Seven Dolours of Our Lady”. They cultivate both the interior and the active life, giving missions and teaching. An affiliation, professing exclusively the contemplative life is that of the “Hermits of Monte Senario”. It was reinstated in France in 1922.

Cloistered nuns, forming a Second Order, have been affiliated with the Servites since 1619 when Blessed Benedicta di Rossi called the nuns of her community “Servite Hermitesses”. They have been established in England, Spain, Italy, the Tyrol, and Germany.

A Third Order, the Mantellate, founded by St. Juliana Falconieri under St. Philip Benizi (c. 1284) has houses in Italy, France, Spain, England, Canada, and the United States. Secular tertiaries and a confraternity of the Seven Dolours are other branches.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 58:9-14

The Lord says this:

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.

He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.

You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’,
‘Restorer of ruined houses.’

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day,
if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’,
and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’,
if you honour it by abstaining from travel,
from doing business and from gossip,
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord
and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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Luke 5:27-32

Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.
In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’

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Follow me and leaving everything, he got up and followed him.

At the beginning of 2017, I had just concluded my tenure as Co-Chairperson of our parish’s fund raising committee with the culmination of an event called ’10,000 Reasons’. It was an evening of music and testimonies – a thanksgiving for our parish, our shepherds and the community. We were so blessed with people who came forward to give of their time and talent. They were producers, creative directors, musicians and yet, when we asked them to be involved in our ‘little’ production, they said a resounding yes! The months of work culminated with a wondering evening — a huge production, it was almost like a concert. The singing and the people who shared their life stories are testimonies of God’s gift to us. It was a fitting event to mark the end of my tenure.

When my other half and I started on this journey, we were wet behind the ears and had no idea where we should start. Actually we were ‘tricked’ by our then parish priest into the role. He kind of said “Follow me.” And we blindly did. At the start, when we planned the events, we were in the driving seat. We felt we needed to take on the responsibility that was given to us, to ‘lead’ the way.

However, ’10,000 Reasons’ taught me a lesson in humility by humbly ‘following’ people who were better positioned to put this evening together. I will admit I was uncomfortable at first. The whole event took on a life of its own and I was not part of the ‘steering team’, I was not in control. But I finally learnt that I had to let go and let the professionals do the work. I had to admit that I had no clue how to even begin putting this whole event together. And because I followed their lead, the results spoke for itself. It was simply awesome. My biggest contribution for the evening was to ring the bell to signal the start of the evening!

The Sunday that followed after the event, the Lord continued to teach me what it means to follow him. Again, He spoke to me at mass, in a way that I could understand – the unteachable, stubborn person that I am. The example He showed me was ’10,000 Reasons’. Just as I had to let go and let the professionals take over, He showed me that I too need to let go the steering wheel of my life and He (the professional and the writer of my life’s script) can finally do the work. And then shall you find happiness in the Lord and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land. 

It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. No I am not physically sick, but my heart is weak and my head keeps trying to take over – complete disaster. It’s indeed time to let go and follow.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, you are all-knowing and an awesome God. You know everything about us, what we think, what we feel, our hopes, dreams, fears and anxiety. Teach us to give it all to you, to surrender our lives to You. Teach us to know what it really means to follow you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being so ever present to us. For being our Friend, Comforter, Cheerleader and Captain of our lives.

11 November, Saturday – Heart Matters

Nov 11 – Memorial for St. Martin of Tours, bishop

Martin (316-397) was born to pagan parents. His father was a Roman military officer and tribune. Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy, where he discovered Christianity and became a catechumen in his early teens. He joined the Roman imperia army at the age of 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acts as the emperor’s bodyguard, and was rarely exposed to combat. He became a cavalry officer and was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul.

Trying to live his faith, he refused to let his servant wait on him. Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (modern France), he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer’s cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later, he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.

Martin was baptized into the Church at the age of 18. Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. Charged with cowardice, he was jailed and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms.

On a visit to Lombardy to see his parents, he was robbed in the mountains – but managed to convert one of the thieves. At home, he found that his mother had converted, but his father had not. The area was strongly Arian, and openly hostile to Catholics. Martin was badly abused by the heretics, and at one point even by the order of the Arian bishop. Learning that the Arians had gained the upper hand in Gaul and exiled St. Hilary of Poitiers, his spiritual teacher, Martin fled to the island of Gallinaria (modern Isola d’Albenga).

In 361, Martin learned that the emperor had authorized Hilary’s return, and Martin ran to him and became a hermit for ten years in the area now know as Ligugé. A reputation for holiness attracted other monks, and they formed what would become the Benedictine abbey of Ligugé. He preached and evangelised through the Gallic countryside. Many locals held strongly to the old beliefs, and tried to intimidate Martin by dressing asthe old Roman gods, and appearing to him at night, but Martin continued to win converts. He destroyed old temples, and built churches on the land.

When the bishop of Tours died in 371, Martin was the immediate choice to replace him. Martin declined, citing unworthiness. Rusticus, a wealthy citizen of Tours, claimed his wife was ill and asked for Martin. When he arrived in the city, he was declared bishop by popular acclamation, and was consecrated on Jul 4, 372.

He moved to a hermit’s cell near Tours. Other monks joined him, and a new house, Marmoutier, soon formed. He rarely left his monastery, but sometimes went to Trier to plead with the emperor for his city, his church, or his parishioners. Once, when he went to ask lenience for a condemned prisoner, an angel woke the emperor to tell him that Martin was waiting to see him; the prisoner was reprieved.

Martin himself was given to visions, but even his contemporaries sometimes ascribed them to his habit of lengthy fasts. An extensive biography of Martin was written by Sulpicius Severus. When he died, he was buried, at his request, in the Cemetery of the Poor. Martin was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of saint. His relics rested in the Basilica of Tours, a scene of pilgrimages and miracles until 1562 when the cathedral and relics were destroyed by militant Protestants. Some small fragments on his tomb were found during construction excavation in 1860.

St. Martin of Tours is patron against poverty; alcoholism; hotel-keepers; quartermasters; soldiers, among others.

Prayer to Continue to Fight for God

“Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner.” – St Martin of Tours, Italian Soldier, Hermit, Bishop

  • Patron Saint Index

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Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27

My greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked death to save my life: I am not the only one to owe them a debt of gratitude, all the churches among the pagans do as well. My greetings also to the church that meets at their house.

Greetings to my friend Epaenetus, the first of Asia’s gifts to Christ; greetings to Mary who worked so hard for you; to those outstanding apostles Andronicus and Junias, my compatriots and fellow prisoners who became Christians before me; to Ampliatus, my friend in the Lord; to Urban, my fellow worker in Christ; to my friend Stachys; Greet each other with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.

I, Tertius, who wrote out this letter, greet you in the Lord. Greetings from Gaius, who is entertaining me and from the whole church that meets in his house. Erastus, the city treasurer, sends his greetings; so does our brother Quartus.

Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages, but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith. This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be. He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.

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Luke 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him. He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’

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“You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Recently, we had fellowship tea after a community meeting. Each of us contributed an item of food to share with the group. One of our ministry members brought 3 curry puffs (of which he downed one) to share amongst some 20 of us. We all joked that that’s how rich people get richer. I could not help but be a little disgusted with him. He has got to be one of the more well of people in the group and yet he was less than generous.

A year ago, I was the co-chairperson of our parish’s fund raising committee, raising money needed for the renovation of our new church annex building. I was very nervous and unsure if we could raise the amount needed because of donor fatigue – there were many other churches also raising money, and we were tapping on the same Catholics to contribute. However, I was humbled by the generosity of our parishioners and friends of the parish. They contributed so generously that we met our target amount and more. Yes, we have some well-to-do donors who were very generous. But what touched me most were the contributions from the everyday, working class parishoners who pitched in so wholeheartedly. Many donated anonymously, and they contributed generously according to their means.

I am reminded of the story of the widow’s mite – the humble gift of a poor widow. Jesus said she had contributed more than anyone else that day. But how could it be when the rich people had contributed large sums? The difference is one of proportion. The rich were giving large sums, but they still retained their fortunes; the widow put in everything, all she had to live on. Hers was a true sacrifice; the rich had not begun to give to the level of her sacrifice.

Why do I share these 3 stories? The theme of good stewardship continues from my sharing of yesterday’s readings. Whatever we possess today, belongs to God – our wealth, our health, our jobs, our homes… everything. We are called to be generous in the way we use these gifts. It’s not about how much we give to others but it’s the intent and what’s in our hearts that matter to God. Are we fair and just as employers in how we remunerate our staff? Are we giving monies to the school fund so that we can ‘buy’ a place in that school for our kids? Why do we choose certain charities to contribute to? Because it is a good cause or for the tax incentives? Are we only good and kind to people because we genuinely love them or is it because they are ‘important’ and of use to us? When we see a brother or sister struggling, do we render our help?

Brothers and sisters, we are all sinners and we certainly fall short of His glory. But as we mature in our faith and grow closer to Him, God shows us our sins and ugliness and purifies our heart. Will we shut our eyes to what He is showing us, or allow Him to work in our lives? Our God is an omniscient God. He knows and sees everything. There is nowhere we can hide. I am not perfect and, in many areas, I know I fail miserably. But today I choose God. He leads and guides me. It’s not always where I want to go, but He knows best.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, you know and see everything, past and future. You see the condition of our hearts. Though we hide behind masks of love and charity, you see the ugliness and the selfishness. Help us to be more giving and loving. Teach us to be faithful and honest in the small things today. Prepare us for the true riches of heaven.

Thanksgiving: For everything that we have today, we thank you. Thank you for giving us a discerning heart, to know what’s right and what’s wrong. And with this knowledge, may we always do what’s right, just and life giving.

10 November, Friday – Stewardship

Nov 10 – Memorial for St. Leo the Great, pope, doctor

Leo (c.400 – 461) was born of Italian nobility. He was a strong student, especially in scripture and theology. As a priest, he was an eloquent writer and homilist.

He was pope from 440-461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun. When Attila marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to St. Peter, it is generally believed that the first pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns. When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo’s sanctity and eloquence saved the city again.

Pope Leo called the Council of Chalcedon to condemn the heresies of the day, which were Nestorianism (Christ as a human person joined to the divine person of God’s Son), Monophysitism (Christ’s human nature ceases to exist when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it), Manichaeism (Gnostic system resting on a dualistic concept of the world’s structure), and Pelaianism (no supernatural grace is needed for one to choose good).

He built churches and wrote letters and sermons encouraging and teaching the flock, many of which survive today. It is for these writings that Leo was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1574.

“Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife.” – Pope St. Leo the Great

 – Patron Saint Index

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Romans 15:14-21

My brothers, I am quite certain that you are full of good intentions, perfectly well instructed and able to advise each other. The reason why I have written to you, and put some things rather strongly, is to refresh your memories, since God has given me this special position. He has appointed me as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am to carry out my priestly duty by bringing the Good News from God to the pagans, and so make them acceptable as an offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

I think I have some reason to be proud of what I, in union with Christ Jesus, have been able to do for God. What I am presuming to speak of, of course, is only what Christ himself has done to win the allegiance of the pagans, using what I have said and done by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus all the way along, from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have preached Christ’s Good News to the utmost of my capacity. I have always, however, made it an unbroken rule never to preach where Christ’s name has already been heard. The reason for that was that I had no wish to build on other men’s foundations; on the contrary, my chief concern has been to fulfil the text: Those who have never been told about him will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand.

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Luke 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.’

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Being wasteful with his property

The parable of the dishonest steward has stumped me for a long time. Why would the master praise the steward for his astuteness? Didn’t he just ‘double cross’ his boss again, using his boss’ resource for his very own gain? How is that astute? I would have kicked his butt up to high heaven.

However, if we understand that everything we have and own comes as a gift from God, then we are simply stewards and God is the owner of all things. So be it wealth, talent or time, we are called to be good stewards and use these to benefit others.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I had plans for everything in life. And most of my career and financial goals fell into place. I was really pleased with myself, feeling that I had done well. At that young age, it was all about me. But as I grew older, I had to be responsible for my family, as most of you are. And as I grew in my faith journey, I began to see that it was God who gave me all I needed, it was not by my own steam.

One incident that showed His providence remains vivid on my mind. It was during a most trying period – I was extremely busy at work. I was in the midst of moving homes, finding a suitable temporary rental and renovating a new one. To top it all, my helper was due for her trip home and my wheelchair-bound dad needed a place to go. 2 weeks before everything had to happen, I still hadn’t sorted out anything. The date was looming and I was panic-stricken. I prayed so hard to God and in his mercy, He found me the perfect apartment that would allow dad to move around freely. He also led me to a Catholic nursing home which dad was happy with. It isn’t just that he gave me the solutions to my problems; He also provided me with the means to do those things. For the first time in my life, I learnt that I cannot control everything. He does. And it is He who provides. Not by my own efforts.

God can give us what we need today, and if we are not good stewards, He can quite quickly take it from us. Brothers and sisters, you may be blessed with wealth, a good job, health and talents.

But are you good stewards of his gifts? Are you thinking that this is all from your own efforts? Are you making good use of all that you have to benefit others?

Whatever we possess today is a responsibility. How we use them is test of character, values and stewardship. So if we have not been trustworthy in handling possessions that produce unrighteousness, who will trust us with true riches?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: God, giver of all good things, help us to remember that everything we have and possess comes from you. Help us to be good stewards of the gifts and talents that you have given us, for the benefit of others, especially those in need. Teach us to be humble and giving.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for everything you have blessed us with today. Let us not take anything for granted.