Tag Archives: God’s saving grace

5 December, Wednesday – Saved

5 December

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Isaiah 25:6-10

On this mountain,
the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all peoples
a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines,
of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines.
On this mountain he will remove
the mourning veil covering all peoples,
and the shroud enwrapping all nations,
he will destroy Death for ever.
The Lord will wipe away
the tears from every cheek;
he will take away his people’s shame
everywhere on earth,
for the Lord has said so.
That day, it will be said: See, this is our God
in whom we hoped for salvation;
the Lord is the one in whom we hoped.
We exult and we rejoice
that he has saved us;
for the hand of the Lord
rests on this mountain.

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Matthew 15:29-37

Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he went up into the hills. He sat there, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.

But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.

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We exult and we rejoice that He has saved us.

When was the last time someone ‘saved’ you, either from a potential accident or an embarrassing situation? Can you recall the relief that you felt as you thanked the person? Or did you even bother to thank the one who ‘rescued’ you? In today’s first reading, we see how God has lavished us with a banquet fit for a king, and how he has destroyed death and all that hinders us from fulfilling our true mission. What more can we ask for?

So how are we, mere mortals, ever going to repay a single ounce of what God has given to us? Our God is a benevolent and kind God; one who merely asks for us to strive to love each other as He has loved us. I, for one, would never be able to fathom the love a parent has for his child but for God to give up his only son in order to save humanity is something that can never be repaid no matter how much of the riches of this earth one can muster.

And so we are faced with a dilemma – can we ever do anything to return God’s love, even as a gesture of thanks? I know many who strive each day to spend time with Him in adoration or at daily mass. Those who give of themselves to others via charitable works. Volunteers who spend time with the elderly, the needy and the disadvantaged. These people have received in order to give and I believe they have acknowledged God’s presence in their lives – which means they know that they are saved.

Brothers and sisters, an act of kindness usually elicits a simple ‘Thank you’. But when our God has sacrificed his only Son in order to save us and prepare for us a place in heaven, then perhaps we should truly look deep within ourselves to see if we are doing what we can to thank our heavenly Father for rescuing us. And while we can never, ever repay God in this lifetime, perhaps we should stop using that as an excuse for not even trying. Whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, let us always appreciate that there are others around us who do need saving – through a simple act of kindness requiring a small sacrifice on our part.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Abba Father, give us the wisdom and strength to acknowledge the sacrifices that others have made for us so that we, in turn, can give as much.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your ultimate sacrifice of love that saved us all.

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

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

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

The following readings are available for reflection:

Holy Saturday

7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

Epistle + Responsorial Psalm

Gospel

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

God bless

Oxygen Core Team

 

11 March 2018

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2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23

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

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

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

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Ephesians 2:4-10

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

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

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Jesus said to Nicodemus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

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

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