Tag Archives: gifts

26 January, Friday – Gifts

26 Jan – Memorial for Sts. Timothy and Titus, bishops

Timothy (d. 97) was the son of a Greek gentile, his mother Eunice was Jewish. He was converted to Christianity by St. Paul around the year 47. He was a partner, assistant and close friend of Paul. He was a missionary as well, and became head of the Church in Ephesus. He was the recipient of two canonical letters from St. Paul, and was stoned to death for opposing the worship of Dionysius.

Titus (d. 96) was also a disciple of St. Paul and was the recipient of a canonical letter from him. He was the first bishop of the Church in Crete.

  • Patron Saint Index

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2 Timothy 1:1-8

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

Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers; I remember your tears and long to see you again to complete my happiness. Then I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have; it came first to live in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I have no doubt that it is the same faith in you as well.

That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy.

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Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’

He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

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…fan into a flame the gift that God gave you…

It has been a long and tiring month (so what’s new?) and it wasn’t helped by the fact that I had the resignation of a valued staff to deal with. For me, he had been more than pulling his weight, especially when he shared that he had been covering for his direct report. I had suspected it all along but am dealing with the ‘consequences’ now – spending hours each week coaching, cajoling and mentoring a flawed senior staff in the hope of helping him realise that he has been living with a flawed concept of what ‘work’ and ‘success’ is.

I have never had things easy in my career and believe that aside from my gift of writing, God has moulded me into a leader who has a heart for the downtrodden and helpless. Yet, through my past experiences, I am also able to detach myself from the emotions that arise at work (apart from anger that wells when I see people trying to cut corners or justify inachievement with weak excuses). Some call me a taskmaster but I have come to realise that I have been called to this role in a somewhat circuitous manner.

And of late, a similar path is being carved out for me in ministry. I have answered the call bravely, but with some trepidation. Yet I know that just as He has sustained me throughout my career, He will sustain me on this new journey that I am undertaking. I will soon begin lessons to train myself to be a truly qualified leader and the decision was made after a discussion with a mentor who I value greatly. The way she communicated to me about exercising the gifts He has given to her over the years convinced me that I had nothing to fear. All I needed was a heart of love, one that burns brightly for our heavenly Father.

Looking back, I even surprised myself with the conviction in making the quick decision overnight. And while I look forward to how He is going to lead me along this new journey, I know that it is only by His grace that my talents will fully come to fruition.

Brothers and sisters, we are all called to be here on this earth for a reason. Unfortunately, many will never discern what the purpose of their human existence will be. Slowly but surely, I am beginning to discern and fathom a call that is extremely hard to ignore. I am not sure where it is going to lead me, but I know for certain that I will emerge from the experience with my heart still burning for Him and for those I care about.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Father, help us to fully appreciate your gifts by teaching us how to discern your calling for us and filling us with the courage to say ‘Yes’.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for the gifts you have bestowed us with here on earth.

3 December, Sunday – Abilities & Attitudes

3 Dec – 1st Sunday of Advent

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Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:1, 3-8

You, Lord, yourself are our Father, ‘Our Redeemer’ is your ancient name.

Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways and harden our hearts against fearing you?

Return, for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance.

Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!

– at your Presence the mountains would melt. No ear has heard, no eye has seen any god but you act like this for those who trust him.

You guide those who act with integrity and keep your ways in mind.

You were angry when we were sinners; we had long been rebels against you.

We were all like men unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing.

We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind.

No one invoked your name or roused himself to catch hold of you.

For you hid your face from us and gave us up to the power of our sins.

And yet, Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.

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1 Corinthians 1:3-9

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace.

I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ. I thank him that you have been enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers; the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you so that you will not be without any of the gifts of the Spirit while you are waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed; and he will keep you steady and without blame until the last day, the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God by calling you has joined you to his Son, Jesus Christ; and God is faithful.

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Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

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You will not be without any of the gifts

Today is the first day in the season of Advent. The opening and beginning in preparation for the coming of our Lord baby Jesus. If we are to look back to the year twenty-seventeen, and realise that we have not done much in terms of God’s work, being busy with our very own agenda, and have not given much charity, we may want to organise ourselves this Advent to enrich our daily living with works of the Spirit.

Last week, God reminded us that, however we have treated our neighbours, we do it unto Him. Today’s reading and Gospel reassures us that, as our heart lies in the Spirit of Christ, we are not short of the ability to do God’s work. We are filled with the Holy Spirit, the gifts from our Lord are ever so powerful and generous for us to show His work onto others. We are called to enrich others as the Lord has enriched us with His love and generosity. Following the reading, now that we know we have the abilities through the Spirit, we will need the attitude. The attitude to want to do the right thing, to always be present and being ready to invite God into our lives where we make the best decisions and actually do the work. To ‘Sleep’ is to switch off and not be prepared for what is ahead of us, such that we may feel lost and dejected. To be ‘Awake’ is to have our hearts prepared in receiving Christ into our lives, that we are always open in our hearts in seeing Jesus in every situation. We are not to be blinded by distractions and temptations that lead us away from the Spirit.

If I am to look back on the past two years, I thought twenty-sixteen was a year where God provided me with the right foundation and stepping stone in my career and personal life; that, I am very thankful for. But twenty-seventeen was an even more eventful year where those foundations and stones built in the previous year began to take place and enable me to see the generosity that He has provided me with. This Advent, I would like to move forward more through preparing myself in being His fully-awake servant, that more works of charity will come out of my daily habits. If you have been experiencing a rather difficult year, let this Advent be an encouraging one, that the coming of Jesus gives you hope and joys, to never forget that He has implanted the abilities in us. And now is for us to raise the right attitude in ourselves.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We pray for those who are having difficult moments in their household, that the Spirit of Advent shows them a new beginning, that it is never too late with Christ.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for a generous and loving God, who watches over us and builds our pathways the way He wants them to be.

13 July, Thursday – Freely, Freely

13 July – Memorial for St. Henry II

Henry II (972–1024) was the son of Gisella of Burgundy and Henry II the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria. He was educated at the cathedral school in Hildesheim by Bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg. He became Duke of Bavaria himself in 995 upon his father’s death, which ended Henry’s thoughts of becoming a priest. He ascended to the throne of Germany in 1002, and was crowned King of Pavia, Italy on 15 May 1004. He married St. Cunegunda, but was never a father. Some sources claim the two lived celibately, but there is no evidence either way.

Henry’s brother rebelled against his power, and Henry was forced to defeat him on the battlefield, but later forgave him, and the two reconciled. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII; he was the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors. He founded schools, quelled rebellions, protected the frontiers, worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and to reform the Church while respecting its independence.

He fostered missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a centre for missions to Slavic countries. He started the construction of the cathedral at Basel, Switzerland; it took nearly 400 years to complete. Both Henry and St. Cunegunda were prayerful people, and generous to the poor.

At one point he was cured of an unnamed illness by the touch of St. Benedict of Nursia at Monte Cassino. He became somewhat lame in his later years. Following Cunegunda’s death, he considered becoming a monk, but the abbot of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France refused his application, and told him to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29, 45:1-5

Judah went up to Joseph and said, ‘May it please my lord, let your servant have a word privately with my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord questioned his servants, “Have you father or brother?” And we said to my lord, “We have an old father, and a younger brother born of his old age. His brother is dead, so he is the only one left of his mother, and his father loves him.” Then you said to your servants, “Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.” But you said to your servants, “If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not be admitted to my presence again.” When we went back to your servant my father, we repeated to him what my lord had said. So when our father said, “Go back and buy us a little food,” we said, “We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, we will go down, for we cannot be admitted to the man’s presence unless our youngest brother is with us.” So your servant our father said to us, “You know that my wife bore me two children. When one left me, I said that he must have been torn to pieces. And I have not seen him to this day. If you take this one from me too and any harm comes to him, you will send me down to Sheol with my white head bowed in misery.” If I go to your servant my father now, and we have not the boy with us, he will die as soon as he sees the boy is not with us, for his heart is bound up with him. Then your servants will have sent your servant our father down to Sheol with his white head bowed in grief.’

Then Joseph could not control his feelings in front of all his retainers, and he exclaimed, ‘Let everyone leave me.’ No one therefore was present with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers, but he wept so loudly that all the Egyptians heard, and the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.

Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?’ His brothers could not answer him, they were so dismayed at the sight of him. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ When they had come closer to him he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not grieve, do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here, since God sent me before you to preserve your lives.’

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Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge. Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the workman deserves his keep.

‘Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you. And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet. I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town.’

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You received without charge, give without charge.
The talents we have received in our lives may all appear to be of our own doing. Be it the wondrous intelligence we have, the great culinary skills or even that of a good voice, we often believe that these traits are our own gifts and sometimes forget that it is God who has granted us the use of these gifts.
One may then wonder why God has put at our disposal these gifts? These gifts are given to us to glorify the name of God to the people around us. Through our intellect, we can share with others the reasons for believing in God and the use of culinary skills could be the starting point for a discussion over a meal on how God has worked within our lives. The voice we possess could be the way in which others hear the Gospel through the joyful proclamation of the mercies and grace which God has granted to us.
We need to realise that the talents we have are meant to be the leaven of God’s word in a world thirsty and hungry for the Good News. Jesus offers to each one of us a wonderful opportunity to enter into a journey of love and communion with Him. This journey will then become for each one of us the source of which we can continue to spread the Word of God to those around us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us discern on how to use the gifts we have to spread your Word.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all Spiritual Directors.

3 September, Saturday – Our gifts are not our own

3 September – Memorial for St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor

St. Gregory (540-590) collected the melodies and plain chant so associated with him that they are now known as Gregorian Chants. He was elected by unanimous acclamation for pope. Incidentally, he was also the first monk to be pope. Before his papacy, he turned his home into a Benedictine monastery, and used his money to build six monasteries in Sicily and one in Rome. He became a missionary to England upon seeing English children being sold in the Roman Forum.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Corinthians 4:6-15

Take Apollos and myself as an example and remember the maxim: ‘Keep to what is written.’ It is not for you, so full of your own importance, to go taking sides for one man against another. In any case, brother, has anybody given you some special right? What do you have that was not given to you? And if it was given, how can you boast as though it were not? Is it that you have everything you want – that you are rich already, in possession of your kingdom, with us left outside? Indeed I wish you were really kings, and we could be kings with you! But instead, it seems to me, God has put us apostles at the end of his parade, with the men sentenced to death; it is true – we have been put on show in front of the whole universe, angels as well as men. Here we are, fools for the sake of Christ, while you are the learned men in Christ; we have no power, but you are influential; you are celebrities, we are nobodies. To this day, we go without food and drink and clothes; we are beaten and have no homes; we work for our living with our own hands. When we are cursed, we answer with a blessing; when we are hounded, we put up with it; we are insulted and we answer politely. We are treated as the offal of the world, still to this day, the scum of the earth.

I am saying all this not just to make you ashamed but to bring you, as my dearest children, to your senses. You might have thousands of guardians in Christ, but not more than one father and it was I who begot you in Christ Jesus by preaching the Good News.

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Luke 6:1-5

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

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“What do you have that was not given to you?”

When I was working in the banking sector, I came across many accounts which had a ‘Power of Attorney’ privileges accorded to representatives of the account holders. These representatives had the authority to operate these accounts similar to that of the actual owners.

These powers, however, are not permanent, and can be revoked by the account holders. Similarly, the authority would disappear upon the death of the account holder.

Peter alludes to the authority and power given by God to men. He reminds us that we are nothing without that that is given to us, and that we should not be proud and arrogant. What we have does not come from us. As such, we should not take this power and lord it over others.

Yet, many of us forget that.

I used to manage teams of employees within the banks I worked with. With the responsibilities came the ability to affect the lives of others. With the roles came the perks, business meetings where senior management meet and junior staff deferred to us. I was wined and dined and attended countless meetings where people sought to impress.

When I left banking some 2 years ago, all this disappeared overnight. Nobody from amongst my previous business contacts called, wanting to spend time over a meal and the hustle and bustle I had previously ‘enjoyed’ evaporated into thin air.

I was blessed with this experience and was reminded that whatever we have on this Earth is temporal. I was reminded that what was important was for me to learn God’s ways and to serve Him as His child.

What about you? Have you been swept up by all the gifts, talents and power that God alone has given us?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, may we always be mindful of Your gifts for us. Help us to be good stewards of all the resources that You have given us to honour You!

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for everything You have given us. Thank You for your constant reminders in Your Holy Word to not be arrogant, but instead to do our best for You.

27 May, Friday – God Doesn’t Call the Qualified

27 May – Feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury

Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King Æthelberht who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.

He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.

-Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 4:7-1

Everything will soon come to an end, so, to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind. Above all, never let your love for each other grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin. Welcome each other into your houses without grumbling. Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire.

There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you. If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.

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Mark 11:11-26

After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ he said. And his disciples heard him say this.

So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, ‘Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’ This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.

Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. ‘Look, Rabbi,’ he said to Jesus, ‘the fig tree you cursed has withered away.’ Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.’ But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’

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There is nothing extraordinary

Today, I had the privilege of spending some quality time with a friend. We hadn’t had time to catch up over the last few months. We shared how ironic it was that God would call us to do the very things that we were uncomfortable with.

My friend is quite an active ministry member at a community where we both serve at. She has also just been asked to serve at her parish– to which she readily accepted. She explained that being an introvert, she was happy to be a ‘wallflower’ and just work behind the scenes. Hence any work that entails administration, organizing activities and operations suited her fine. As my friend’s ministry in our community was on a hiatus, she was recently asked to discern where she would like to continue serving. The choices open to her – choir, operations or cell group leader. My friend was ‘okay’ with anyone of those choices. Cause she could perform any of these ‘with her eyes closed’.

But my friend has a special gift. And that is the gift of evangelization. I am always in awe when I hear her speak. How could someone possibly know so much and be so passionate when she speaks. So naturally, I thought she would make a great cell group leader, right? Well, our God is a humorous God. He has other plans for her. She felt prompted to go beyond what she was comfortable with. She was promoted instead to be a worship leader – a role she is still fighting hard against, given her introverted nature. When she told me this, I thought that it was brilliant! She would be a great worship leader!! But my friend is still resisting – never in her wildest dream would she entertain the thought of being one. I told her (in all my ‘wisdom’) that God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called. Later this evening, she sent me a text message saying that that was the exact line was used in a worship session this evening. Now, is that a message from God or what?

In today’s first reading, St. Peter said ‘Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others.’ We are all given different talents and gifts. We are called to exercise our gifts for the service of God. And as we grow in faith, we are called to go deeper into the unknown. Faith cannot be stagnant. God leads us into a different phase of our faith formation. Yes, we all fear the unfamiliar and the unknown. I too am fighting my own spiritual battle of where God is leading me today. The gospel reading tells us today ‘everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already’. So we never asked to be led into the unknown. But will you let God shape and mould you? Will you let God lead you to be the spectacular being that He intends for you to be? Will you let Him lead you out of your comfort zone, step out of the boat and walk on the water? Pray, my brothers and sisters for the grace to let go and let God lead.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, as we grow in our faith journey, You call us to go where we don’t want to, into the unknown. We fear what You are asking of us. We feel inadequate and unqualified. Give us the grace to heed Your calling and give us the courage to take that very first step, knowing that You will lead us as we go along. We want to be the wondrous person You intend for us to be.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for believing in us. For being ever so patient with us, whenever we resist Your calling. You Lord are the Master Potter, and we are but lumps of clay. Thank you for calling us to your side. Teach us Lord to live our lives through your eyes.

5 May, Thursday – Passing on the Baton

5 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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Luke 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

  ‘And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.’

  Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.

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You are witnesses to this

In the Ascension of the Lord, we might conjure up images of Jesus floating upward into the sky. In fact, fundamentally, heaven is not a locale at all but our definitive relationship with God, just as hell is the eternal severing of our ties with God. Heaven is where God is, and to be with God is to be in Heaven. And so what Ascension celebrates is that Jesus is fully, totally and forever reunited with the Father. It is the final prize that we all look forward to, since Jesus has paved a way for us.

Father Joachim Chang, the priest who has been tasked with building the new Church of the Transfiguration that will serve the community in Punggol, wrote recently on FaceBook – “When one cannot understand why he is born, he will find it hard to understand why he will die.” Indeed, just as the Ascension is about Jesus’ reunion with God the Father, it is also about Him passing on the baton to his apostles. For He said, “you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed the ends of the earth.” And I do believe that in the same way, He has breathed life into each living person with a purpose and a meaning for each of us. It is our responsibility and our urgent need to live out that purpose.

If we were to distill it down to our terms, this might mean a journey of discernment about marriage or religious life, or the type of work to go into. Personally I am trying to discern the type of work I should commit my life to – accounting, or social work, or early childhood care, or theology? As I ponder on personal questions more deeply, I realize that even the journey of discernment has a God-purpose. Our journeys, rather than our destinations, are our purpose. And if we are authentic and genuine in our desires to follow the Lord’s ways, these journeys can become a testament to his greatness and ignite conversion experiences for others close to us, who observe us on our journey. For evangelization is the duty of each and every Catholic who has found the treasure that is God.

(Today’s OXYEGEN by Serene Frances Wong)

Prayer – Dear Jesus, help us discover our purposes in You, that we may live lives glorifying Your name. Amen.

Thanksgiving – We give thanks for the gift of time on this Earth, that we may enjoy the adventure before our time is up to return to the Lord.