Tag Archives: geraldine nah

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


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


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.’


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.”’


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.


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.’


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


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.


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.’


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


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.


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.’


“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


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.


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.’


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.

8 November, Wednesday – Love Is A Two-way Street

8 November 2017


Romans 13:8-10

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.


Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’


Love is the answer to every one of the commandments.

Ahhh love…… It’d so easy to love those who are lovable, likeable, those who reciprocate your love. However, when faced with challenging situations and difficult people, it is another thing altogether. We’ve all heard homilies preached by our priests to: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, ‘Love and pray for those who persecute you’ and ‘Love those difficult people’.

I know I have been in those pews, rolled my eyes in my mind and said ‘Right, easier said than done.’ But Jesus tells us that love is the greatest commandment!

Of all the commandants, this one must be the hardest for me to follow. Even priests find it hard to keep that commandment, so we are in good company. Love has been described as a ‘two way street’. Many friendships and relationships end in disaster when one party forgets, and assumes that it has become a one-way expressway.

Recently, I was faced with a situation that put my faith to the test. I have had a business relationship with a very close relative of mine for the past 3 years. Though we are relatives, we are both like chalk and cheese — in personality, in the way we approach life and also how we approach business. Over time, I think we learnt to adjust to each other’s working style. However, because of issues which festered, she chose to sever our working relationship; and on my birthday to boot!

I believe that the way our little venture started is God’s gift to us. And working together would be beneficial to us and our clients. However, it is what it is and I have to honour the decision made and to move on. If the decision made was simply a difference in personality and ways we dealt with things, it would be easy for me to accept. However, the split was because of ‘personal motivations’. Even that I could accept. What hurts me most is the betrayal and the person I thought I’d known and loved all my life, turn into someone I barely know. What hurts me most is we are both Christians who continue to hurt each other.

With any cessation of a relationship, we have to deal with the difficult topic of ‘the split’. This has been an incredibly difficult process, you’d imagine. I liken it to a divorce. It brings out the monster in us. I have been praying about this and asking God what I should do. ‘Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.’(Rom. 12:9). I know that I have to be fair and Christ-like in handling this and I am trying really hard. Every hour of the day, I need his grace to carry me through. If it were my old self, I would fight tooth and nail and drive a really hard bargain. But as a Catholic, I keep asking myself “What would Jesus do?” But each time I receive a downright rude and war-declaring WhatsApp message, I feel like someone punched me again and I just want to throw this ‘Love your neighbour’ thing out the window and punch right back.

Remember the phrase, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you?’ I read in some article that whether you’ve been betrayed or not, don’t resort to betraying another. Following Christ is indeed not easy. It requires us to hate our father, mother, wife, children, brother, sisters, yes our own life too.

Don’t take it too literally, what Jesus is telling us is to put Him first above all other relationships and things. It asks that I give up my own ways of doing things and lean on Him to lead me. It continues to be an uphill climb today. But I know that I cannot deal with it on my own. For now, ironically, love is a one-way street. This makes no sense in the outside world. But with God, it’s the way. I have to forgive, let go and move on. Forgiving does not mean accepting the wrong behaviour of others; it means detaching from the pain, frustration, and bitterness buried within.

I continue to pray for her daily.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, in our humanness, we struggle each day to love, especially those who hurt and persecute us. But only if we walk with you, can love be possible. We pray for your grace to carry us through, especially through seemingly impossible situations. We pray to be more like you – when Peter betrayed you and yet you continued to love him.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the trials that come our way. In these times, you show us you are closer to us than ever. And also in these times, you teach us how to love and forgive as you do.

4 November, Saturday – Conducting Our Affairs With Humility

Nov 4 – Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop

Charles (1538-1584) was born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, and the son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Marghertita de’ Medici. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He suffered from a speech impediment, but studied in Milan, and at the University of Pavia, at one point studying under the future Pope Gregory XIII.

He became a civil and canon lawyer at the age of 21, and a cleric at Milan, taking the habit on Oct 13, 1547. He became Abbot of three different abbeys until Jan 13, 1560. He was protonotary apostolic participantium and referendary of the papal court to Pope Pius IV. He was also a member of the counsulta for the administration of the Papal States on Jan 20, 1560. He was appointed abbot commendatario for an abbey in Portugal, and an abbey in Flanders on Jan 27, 1560.

On Jan 31, 1560, he was apostolic administrator of Milan, Italy, on Feb 8, 1560, then a papal legate to Bologna and Romandiola for two years beginning on Apr 26, 1560. He was made a deacon on Dec 21, 1560, and appointed Vatican Secretary of State. He was made an honorary citizen of Rome on Jul 1, 1561, and founded the “Accademia Vaticana” in 1562.

He was finally ordained on Sep 4, 1563, and helped reopen the Council of Trent, and participated in its sessions during 1562 and 1563. He was ordained Bishop of Milan on Dec 7, 1563 and was President of the commission of theologians charged by the pope to elaborate the Catechismus Romanus. He also worked on the revision of the Missal and Breviary, and was a member of a commission to reform church music.

He participated in the conclave of cardinals in 1565-66 that chose Pope Pius V, and he asked the new pope to take the name. Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of Oct 26, 1569. He was shot at, but not hit.

He also participated in the conclave in 1572 that chose Pope Gregory XIII. He worked with the sick, and helped bury the dead during the plague outbreak in Milan in 1576. He established the Oblates of St. Ambrose on Apr 26, 1578, and was a teacher, confessor, and parish priest to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, giving him his first communion on Jul 22, 1580.

Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese. He directed and fervently enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther, founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, hospitals for the sick, conducted synods, instituted children’s Sunday school, did great public and private penance, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example.

He is patron saint for bishops; catechists; catechumens; seminarians; spiritual directors; and spiritual leaders.

Prayer to St. Charles Borromeo

O Saintly reformer, animator of spiritual renewal of priests and religious, you organized true seminaries and wrote a standard catechism. Inspire all religious teachers and authors of catechetical books. Move them to love and transmit only that which can form true followers of the Teacher who was divine. Amen.

– Patron Saint Index


Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29
Let me put a further question: is it possible that God has rejected his people? Of course not. I, an Israelite, descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin, could never agree that God had rejected his people, the people he chose specially long ago. Do you remember what scripture says of Elijah – how he complained to God about Israel’s behaviour? Let me put another question then: have the Jews fallen for ever, or have they just stumbled? Obviously they have not fallen for ever: their fall, though, has saved the pagans in a way the Jews may now well emulate. Think of the extent to which the world, the pagan world, has benefited from their fall and defection – then think how much more it will benefit from the conversion of them all. There is a hidden reason for all this, brothers, of which I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do. One section of Israel has become blind, but this will last only until the whole pagan world has entered, and then after this the rest of Israel will be saved as well. As scripture says: The liberator will come from Zion, he will banish godlessness from Jacob. And this is the covenant I will make with them when I take their sins away.
The Jews are enemies of God only with regard to the Good News, and enemies only for your sake; but as the chosen people, they are still loved by God, loved for the sake of their ancestors. God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.


Luke 14:1,7-11
On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’


I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do.
Most of my friends will call me a no-nonsense kind of a person; take no prisoners. I simply cannot stand it when someone is constantly late for appointments or meetings. When something needs to get done, I see through a person’s excuse for not putting in their fair share of work.      I hate it that people worm their way out of things. I used to give my colleagues and friends the killer look or a sarcastic one-liner. They would know when I am annoyed.
But there is another side of me not many people see – I am a real softie at heart. I hate seeing the wee old man selling tissue packs (though I know that it’s a syndicate fleecing us), or the little old lady painstakingly collecting cardboard boxes and peering into trash bins looking for cans. My heart aches just a little when I hear personal stories about how they give up ‘normal lives’ that you and I take for granted, for far more noble vocations.
I have been a benefactor of sorts for a particular individual for some time. Simply because this person has given up much. It gives me immense joy to be able to do something for this person and I really do not expect anything in return. Or so I thought. Recently, I felt a little taken for granted. And I started to resent what I was doing. I started to resent the person as well. Why was I doing so much without getting a single ‘Thank you. That was nice of you!’ In fact, to this person, I am hardly visible. So for a long while, I simply stopped. I harboured hurt, indignation and disappointment.
Today’s gospel reading tells us that the person who deems himself distinguished, may well have to take a hit in his own self-importance.  But the humble will be exalted. In both scenarios, I am far from humble.
In Scenario 1, I was judging people by my own ridiculously high standards, refusing to see or acknowledge that there might be a really good reason for people being late, or not doing something they were meant to do. Even if they were really just lazy or disrespectful of other people’s time, who am I to judge?
As for Scenario 2, I was brought down to earth! One afternoon, I was reflecting on Luke 16: 19-31 (The story of the rich man & Lazarus). “Who would have gladly eaten his fill of scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” At this time, I was still in ‘resentment’ mode. These words sprung to my mind….Be humble and not haughty. You think you are generous?  For it is easy to be generous with those we love. Are you doing this for them or yourself? It appeared I was being reprimanded by our Lord. As I thought about it more, was I really doing this for the love of a brethren? Or was I doing this to feel good about myself?
“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a lavish giver. The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave, and then you will find favour with the Lord; for great is the power of God, by the humble he is glorified” Sirach 4:17-19.
In today’s first reading, Saint Paul told the Romans ‘I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do.’ Do I know everything and the circumstances about the person who has hurt me? Am I being too quick to jump to conclusions and thus end up judging someone indiscriminately?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Father, teach us to not be so judgmental and self-important that we don’t take the time to walk in the other person’s shoes. Forgive us for our wilful and stubborn ways. May we not get so caught up in getting things done in the busy-ness of life that we hurt and trample upon others with our callous words. Teach us Lord, humility, in every aspect of our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank You Lord, for caring for each and every one of us as individuals. Though You are perfect, You are God; You never expected us to be perfect. Flawed as we are, You still love us so much. Thank You, Lord.

3 November, Friday – Immense Love

Nov 3 – Memorial for St. Martin de Porres, religious

Martin (1579-1639) was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Juan, and a young freed black slave, Anna Velasquez. He grew up in poverty and spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick.

At the age of 11, he became a servant in the Holy Rosary Dominican priory in Lima, Peru. He was promoted to almoner and begged more than $2,000 a week from the rich to support the poor and sick in Lima. He was placed in charge of the Dominican’s infirmary, and was known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order” and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother in 1603.

He established an orphanage and children’s hospital for the poor children of the slums. He set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. He lived in self-imposed austerity, never eating meat, fasting continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation with a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He was a friend of St. John de Massias.

He was venerated from the day of his death. May miraculous cures, including raising the dead, have been attributed to Brother Martin, the first black saint from the Americas.

– Patron Saint Index


Romans 9:1-5

What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.


Luke 14:1-6

On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. ‘There in front of him was a man with dropsy, and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees. ‘Is it against the law’ he asked ‘to cure a man on the sabbath, or not?’ But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away. Then he said to them, ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a sabbath day without hesitation?’ And to this they could find no answer.


I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.
Which of us would not do anything in our power to pull our loved ones out of a difficult situation no matter what it takes? Which parent would not gladly trade their lives for that of a terminally ill child? I know I would.
In today’s first reading, we see the anguish and grief Saint Paul felt for the Jews because of their stubborn persistence, and rejection as a nation, and the many miseries which he foresaw to be coming upon them. Yet his affection was so great for his brothers and sisters that he was willing to be condemned, disgraced and be in the deepest distress and cut off from Christ. All this he would suffer, if it meant he could rescue them from destruction that was about to befall them because of their unbelief.
Recently, I came across a story which moved me so much that it stuck in my mind. This is about what a child would go through, not only for herself, but for her parent. I felt a mixture of sadness and anger at our affluent society.
This is the story of a young 17 year old girl. Her parents divorced and their lives turned upside down. Both mother and daughter were left without a home. They had no financial means to rent one and no one could offer them a place to stay. Mother and daughter had to separate – a relative took the mother in, while the daughter stayed for short periods with whomever could offer her a place to sleep for the night. At times, when there was no place she could go, she would stay up at void decks or at the beach.
At the time, she was also on scholarship at a local arts academy. Her monthly allowance could not cover her mother’s medical bills and other expenses; not to mention her school materials. With the pressing issues at hand, she found herself skipping classes. She simply did not have resources to go to school. The school threatened to expel her. The local education ministry was going to pull the scholarship and wanted her to pay back what they had invested in her. She begged the school and the ministry to give her a second chance, determined to finish school.
She worked several jobs to make ends meet. The money she made enabled her to be reunited with her mother again – she was able to rent a room for them. It did not matter that it was a modest space, what was important was – they were together. To cut short the story, she eventually graduated with help and encouragement from her teachers and friends. Today she has a roof over her head together with her mother and is an art teacher.
This is a story of determination, courage and immense love for loved ones. She could have gone the other way. She could have given up and fallen in with unsavoury company. She could have fended for herself and not cared for her mother. Despite what our society threw at her, no help, no empathy, no support but pain and humiliation – she remained steadfast, determined and committed.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day?’ The Pharisees were so caught up in rules and legalism that they failed to see God’s intention for the Sabbath — which is to do good and to heal!
What have we, as part of this Singaporean family done to help her? Are we so caught up in legalism that we have lost all sense of compassion?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may our lives be testimony of the love and affection You have for us. Increase our faith, hope and charity. Fill us with Your love, that we may never hold back our love and compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters.
Thanksgiving: God of all blessings, thank You for the love of family and friends without which there would be no life. Thank you for this very day, one more day to love, one more person to love and by whom be loved. For these, and all blessings, we give you thanks, eternal, loving God, through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

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


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.


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.’


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.