Tag Archives: happiness

13 October, Thursday – Saying ‘Yes!’

13 October

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Ephesians 1:1-10

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, to the saints who are faithful to Christ Jesus. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.
Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ,
to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence,
determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ
for his own kind purposes,
to make us praise the glory of his grace,
his free gift to us in the Beloved,
in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.
Such is the richness of the grace
which he has showered on us
in all wisdom and insight.
He has let us know the mystery of his purpose,
the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the beginning
to act upon when the times had run their course to the end:
that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head,
everything in the heavens and everything on earth.

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Luke 11:47-54

Jesus said:

‘Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.

‘And that is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute, so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet’s blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary.” Yes, I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.

‘Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to.’

When he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions, setting traps to catch him out in something he might say.

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He chose us in Christ

 By the time you read this reflection, I would have celebrated a milestone birthday. Last week, my better half threw me a huge surprise birthday party, with the help of some close friends. Quite frankly, I am happy to let the event slip by quietly. If you know me well enough, I absolutely abhor surprises and I do not like being the centre of attention. I am not the ‘fade into the background’ kind of person, but am happy to be added entertainment to a party. Not the main act. My friends told me after the fact that they were afraid that I’d throw a hissy fit over this surprise, ruining everything my loved ones had planned. But I went along with the evening’s festivities and really enjoyed myself. It was great to see a sea of familiar faces screaming ‘Surprise!’ It’s like a tapestry of my life made up of family (I have a huge, extended one), old and new friends. Just looking at all of them, I was reminded about different phases of my life, where I have been, where I came from and where I am today.

So as I celebrate this milestone birthday, I reflect upon my life and am amazed at where I am today. Before the world was made, he chose us….. for his own kind purpose.  Indeed He has chosen me. Recently, I was asked what my conversion story was. I responded “It was a matter of time!” I converted to the Catholic faith some twenty four years ago, with the blessing of my parents. Unlike some of you who have amazing ‘hit you square in the eye’ type of conversion stories, mine is slow, gingerly but definite. And because our Lord knows I do not like huge surprises, He has been kind with me as well. Slowly and gently coaxing me along into a life that (I think) He has chosen for me.

Ten years ago, when I celebrated my then milestone birthday, I had quite definite ideas and plans about my goals and where my life would lead. Today, I have no idea where my life is leading me, except I trust that our Lord already has it all mapped out. Yeah, I freak out time and again wondering what on earth am I to do – and He continues to surprise me with events that unfold, projects he decrees and people that I meet. Is it anything I had envisioned my life to be ten years ago? Certainly not! Not by any measure of the imagination. Then again, what we imagine is but a small scene of a larger feature film; the vastness of what God sees and plans. Do I like what I am experiencing? Nope. I hate surprises remember? God may have chosen us, but we also need to co-operate in His plans. He needs us to say ‘Yes!’ And that one single decision could change everything and set you on an amazing adventure you never dreamed possible. That ‘Yes’ is actually the perfect path for God’s plan for your life. Just like my surprise birthday party – I simply let go of my natural tendency to control; and what an amazing time I had! Will you say ‘Yes; to God’s plan? He has chosen you, my brothers and sisters.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

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Prayer: Teach us Lord, to be obedient to your will. To be silent and to heed your call. For you have chosen us to be your sons and daughters. Give us the courage to take that very first step and allow you to work in our lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for choosing us – to be holy and spotless. For your spiritual gifts. For working you perfect plan in our lives the moment we said ‘Yes!’ For taking us on this amazing life journey and giving us this perfect opportunity to be and to show love to our fellow brothers and sisters.

11 May, Wednesday – Happiness

11 May

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Acts 20:28-38

Paul addressed these words to the elders of the church of Ephesus:

‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood. I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.

‘I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’

When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms round Paul’s neck and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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“There is more happiness in giving than in receiving”

Reflecting upon the readings from today, the phrase above just really stood out for me. This especially in a world that has become so transactional – even when it comes to love. Before “investing” in something or a relationship, we need to ensure we are able to benefit. We need to be able to receive far more and be better off than without.

We also see this in our communities, whether we give feedback or even complain when our expectations/standards are not met. But how many of us have even contributed before we shoot away about how we haven’t received enough? Society has influenced us in such a way where giving can only happen after we have received.

Only when I have enough money, life is stable, and so I will then start supporting charities. Only when I’m the best in my field will I then consider helping others in their work. Unless you trust me, I won’t trust you. Unless I’ve seen a sign will I then believe that You are real?

Those are some of the things we might have thought of before or even mentioned to others. But the reality is if everyone simply just waits to receive, we are not going to receive anything if no one actually gives.

I am a firm believer of the statement above that giving in itself is a blessing. In order to give, we are already given. A change in mind set but a whole new different outlook on our own lives as a whole. Happiness can’t be bought. Happiness in a way is a choice. What we want versus what we need. If we already have what we need, why aren’t we happy? If we have attained what we wanted, why aren’t we happy? We desire more. The happiness that we have experienced may have only been temporary. Hence we continue to go on this search to find a happiness, but not yet realise what is the eternal happiness that we are searching for.

For me, it’s about making others happy. Knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of others. Giving. Not for anything in return but because I have already been given to. There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Are we ready to give?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see by Your example, by the giving of Your son, Jesus Christ. Give us the wisdom to see beyond materialism and to realise what is it we are in search of. Give us courage to be givers, not just of money and material goods, but givers of life and love. Amen.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to You for giving Jesus’ life for us on the cross and eventually by Your giving of the Holy Spirit. In that, we have already been given.

27 April, Wednesday – Declaring Our Dependence

27 April

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Acts 15:1-6

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

  All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.

  But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.

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John 15:1-8

Jesus said:

‘I am the true vine,
and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in me that bears no fruit
he cuts away,
and every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes to make it bear even more.
You are pruned already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.
As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself,
but must remain part of the vine,
neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine,
you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me, with me in him,
bears fruit in plenty;
for cut off from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers;
these branches are collected and thrown on the fire,
and they are burnt.
If you remain in me
and my words remain in you,
you may ask what you will
and you shall get it.
It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit,
and then you will be my disciples.’

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Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

As a father, I really like it when my kids come to me to ask for help. It makes me feel like I’m needed in their lives. It’s good to know that my kids place their trust in me to help them through the problems that they otherwise couldn’t (yet) solve on their own. However, as a son, I find it quite difficult to turn to my own parents for help. The last thing I want them to think is that I’m incapable of figuring out problems for myself. The dilemma we all face is our constant desire for independence, while still remaining in a loving situation with the ones closest to us.

In the Gospel reading from today, Jesus is trying to teach His disciples about the importance of remaining connected to Him through the Word. Even Jesus declared that He was only doing what His Father had commanded Him “so that the world may learn that I (Jesus) love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” Whoever loves Christ should lean on Him for strength, ask Him for wisdom and obey His commands.

That is quite a contrast to how most of us are conditioned to live by our society. We are told that as individuals, we need to be independent and to love ourselves first; that our primary goal is for our own self-fulfillment. That we are entitled to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Is there anything wrong with that?

Nothing. Except that it fails to see that the road to eternal happiness is the road paved by the Lord. And as we travel that road, we either opt to follow the world or be led by Jesus Christ. Even as undeserving, sinful people, we are blessed with the goodness and mercy of a God who has promised us eternal salvation when we remain in Him. As the United States Declaration of Independence states – “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”

Brothers and sisters, let us be reminded that the Lord has granted us numerous blessings, especially the freedom of choice. Do we choose to worship the fleeting things of this world or be slaves to Christ?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)

Prayer – Lord, we ask that You soften our stubborn hearts and help us to constantly seek You out in our daily lives.

Thanksgiving – Father, we thank you for being an eternal God that has blessed us more than we can possibly understand. May the truth of Your sacrifice be self-evident to all men and women of this world.