Tag Archives: holiness

11 September, Wednesday – Seek Him

11 Sept 2019

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Colossians 3:1-11

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry. And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up: getting angry, being bad-tempered, spitefulness, abusive language and dirty talk; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

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Luke 6:20-26

Fixing his eyes on his disciples Jesus said:

‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.
Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.
Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

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If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above.

I had my conversion experience some 8 years ago and was baptized a Catholic 27 years ago. I’d like to believe that I am a follower, and a practicing Catholic. So, I am risen in Christ! To be risen also means that I first had to die. I am to consider myself dead to sin, dead to the earthly patterns and desires. But sometimes, I fall. Actually, I tumble and roll into the trenches.

Today’s first reading tells us “Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above.” I worry about the most human of things – what is my life’s purpose? Am I adding value each day? What happens if I have cancer? Will I have enough to last through my golden years? (CPF’s marketing haunts me till today).

Today’s reading reminds us that if we want to break away from the past as well as the lies in our lives, where we place our gaze is important. Instead of looking down, or looking behind, Paul challenges us to look up, look out, look in and look around.

Recently, I was scrolling through my social media feeds. I came across this teaching by a certain pastor, who preached ‘I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received.’ (Ephesians 4:1). However before we walk, we have to sit. How well we walk is how well we sit (or rest). We must know what has been accomplished for us through Christ. Know what has been accomplished for us. Rest in what Christ has done, rest in the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to do before you are. Rest. And out of the rest comes spirit directed activity. We need to have a revelation of who we are, and what we do comes out of who we are. Through our baptism, we share in Christ’s threefold mission as prophet, priest, and king. What we do comes from knowing who we are. I am a prophet, priest and queen!

My problem is, and has been, one of busyness and activity. I am seeking, searching, and doing a lot. I am looking everywhere but within. I am reminded in the most creative ways by Jesus (he knows how distracted I am) that before I try to run and do, I need to be still and rest in Him

Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. This is hard for me. As I shared, I worry and fret about so many things. I worry that I don’t plan for things. And I reprimand myself for a lack of faith when I do plan for things. Not that taking action and planning is wrong; but I’ve learnt the need to be silent and still, to hear where the Lord is leading us. And to move with the Holy Spirit as it leads. I’ve also learnt that what is ‘right’ and logical for me (and perceived by the world as acceptable), isn’t always what our Lord has planned for me. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” Yup, it’s hard to fully let go, nor is it easy to understand. But God has written the blueprint of our lives in his big book.

Therefore, since we died with Christ, we don’t have to follow the rules of a hollow and deceptive philosophy. Since we’ve been raised with Christ, we have a new status and therefore, a new way of life. We now have a power source for living.

Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. The word “seek” is present tense, which in Greek indicates continuing action. In other words, Paul is telling us to seek and to keep on seeking the things that are above. It is a lifetime quest.

As Christians, God wants us to be aware of many things: the power of prayer, the sufficiency of the cross, the depth of His love, the power of forgiveness, the need for patience. He wants us to know from where we have come and where we are going.  He wants us to put away the old man and put on the new man.

But God also wants us to use our minds and our mental faculties in a holy, constructive, and faithful way. He wants our attitude to be positive. He wants our focus to be on Him and what is Holy. He wants us to know that we are dearly loved by Him.

So brothers and sisters, let us fully die to ourselves and live in the new life of our baptism as priests, prophets and kings. Let us not be burdened by our past lives, our own expectations and that of others. Let us let go of our past and cast our eyes fully on the Lord and seek what is of Him, of above. Through His strength, grace and love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Loving Father, help us to understand the precious relationship we have with Christ and what it means to be in Christ and to be seated with Him in heavenly places. Help us to set our hearts on the wonderful things that You have prepared for those that love You, and more and more may we be a reflection of Christ to all those we meet today, in His name, pray AMEN.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for the blessed hope that is set before all those that trust in Christ Jesus. Thank You that each of us are in Christ and He is in us. That the day is coming when He will return to take us home to be with Him in heaven. Help us to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things and to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to You, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

25 August, Sunday – Stand Corrected

25 Aug 2019

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Isaiah 66:18-21

The Lord says this: I am coming to gather the nations of every language. They shall come to witness my glory. I will give them a sign and send some of their survivors to the nations: to Tarshish, Put, Lud, Moshech, Rosh, Tubal, and Javan, to the distant islands that have never heard of me or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory to the nations. As an offering to the Lord they will bring all your brothers, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules, on dromedaries, from all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem, says the Lord, like Israelites bringing oblations in clean vessels to the Temple of the Lord. And of some of them I will make priests and Levites, says the Lord.

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Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.

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Luke 13:22-30

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”
‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves turned outside. And men from east and west, from north and south, will come to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

‘Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.’

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Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons

I would like to base this reflection on a teaching by a priest on growth, which best captures that learning is part of suffering.

Growth encompasses four aspects – Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given. Growth is essential for all Christians and this also brings about blessings. And these blessings come about when you accept all these components.

Taken

As in the parable of the rich young man who was asked to give away his wealth, God will take away the very things that we hold on to. It can mean different things to each of us. God will take our time, demand our effort, even our money. He will remove from us the very thing that stops us from growing.

Blessed

We all crave to be blessed by God but are usually not ready to accept purification and sanctification. And honestly, I am no different, though I know that He wants to sanctify me, as His daughter sometimes, I question His choices in this process of sanctification.

Recently I had a fall out with someone and I was very surprised how God was leading me and this person towards a blessing. Indeed God surprises me when He demands that I be the bigger person despite being very hurt. But I also realised that God cannot choose to bless one of His children at the expense of the other. And that is also when I am embraced — that both me and my trespasser are called by Him — as His own as stated in Isaiah 43:1 – You are mine.

It is no coincidence, that from the very start of my interactions with this person, I would seek counsel through scriptures and found this verse as a reminder that despite this person’s shortcomings, the Lord of all the earth had summoned him as His own. You and I are no exception.

Broken

This is rather self-explanatory, though it is necessary for it to be said so that we all have clarity. Christ will break you, so that you can be holy. He needs us whole so that we can live a complete and fulfilled life, like any good father would want for us. He wants us to live our best lives and for that to happen, He will break us from the whole being that we have created for ourselves, so that we are more of Him and less of ourselves and of the world.

Given

He will make us a holy sacrifice so that we become acceptable to Him. For scripture states: “Be holy as I am holy” – 1 Peter 1:16.

There is really no greater joy that to be a child of this Father who wants to remove all that hurts us and hinders us from the love and life He has created for us.

 (Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer:  Lord, help us to remain holy by having holiness as a goal. Let us wholly accept and embrace holiness as our lifestyle, so that we meet others we truly reflect your image. And when we meet you face to face, we are truly like you.

Thanksgiving: Father thank you for your sanctifying grace. Though it sometimes irritates me, I feel privileged that you are working in and through me so that I am fully feel and know that I am yours.

6 July, Saturday – Mixed Identities

6 July 2019 – Memorial for St. Maria Goretti, Virgin & Martyr

Maria Goretti (1890-1902) was a beautiful and pious farm girl, one of six children of Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini. In 1896 the family moved to Ferriere di Conca. Soon after, Maria’s father died of malaria, and the family was forced to move onto the Serenelli farm to survive.

In 1902, at the age of 12, Maria was attacked by 19-year-old farm hand Alessandro Serenelli. He tried to rape the girl who fought, yelled that it was a sin, and that he would go to hell. He tried to choke her into submission, then stabbed her 14 times. She survived in hospital for two days, forgave her attacker, asked God’s forgiveness of him, and died holding a crucifix and medal of Our Lady. She is counted as a martyr.

While in prison for his crime, Alessandro had a vision of Maria. He saw a garden where a young girl, dressed in white, gathered lilies. She smiled, came near him, and encouraged him to accept an armful of lilies. As he took them, each lily transformed into a still white flame. Maria then disappeared. This vision of Maria led to Alessandro’s conversion, and he latter testified at her cause for beatification.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 27:1-5, 15-29

Isaac had grown old, and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see. He summoned his elder son Esau, ‘My son!’ he said to him, and the latter answered, ‘I am here.’ Then he said, ‘See, I am old and do not know when I may die. Now take your weapons, your quiver and bow; go out into the country and hunt me some game. Make me the kind of savoury I like and bring it to me, so that I may eat, and give you my blessing before I die.’

Rebekah happened to be listening while Isaac was talking to his son Esau. So when Esau went into the country to hunt game for his father, Rebekah took her elder son Esau’s best clothes, which she had in the house, and dressed her younger son Jacob in them, covering his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skins of the kids. Then she handed the savoury and the bread she had made to her son Jacob.

He presented himself before his father and said, ‘Father.’ ‘I am here;’ was the reply ‘who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your first-born; I have done as you told me. Please get up and take your place and eat the game I have brought and then give me your blessing.’ Isaac said to his son, ‘How quickly you found it, my son!’ ‘It was the Lord your God’ he answered ‘who put it in my path.’ Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come here, then, and let me touch you, my son, to know if you are my son Esau or not.’ Jacob came close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, ‘The voice is Jacob’s voice but the arms are the arms of Esau!’ He did not recognise him, for his arms were hairy like his brother Esau’s, and so he blessed him. He said, ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ And he replied, ‘I am.’ Isaac said, ‘Bring it here that I may eat the game my son has brought, and so may give you my blessing.’ He brought it to him and he ate; he offered him wine, and he drank. His father Isaac said to him, ‘Come closer, and kiss me, my son.’ He went closer and kissed his father, who smelled the smell of his clothes.

He blessed him, saying:

‘Yes, the smell of my son

is like the smell of a fertile field blessed by the Lord.

May God give you dew from heaven,

and the richness of the earth,

abundance of grain and wine!

May nations serve you and peoples bow down before you!

Be master of your brothers; may the sons of your mother bow down before you!

Cursed be he who curses you;

blessed be he who blesses you!’

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Matthew 9:14-17

John’s disciples came to him and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunken cloth on to an old cloak, because the patch pulls away from the cloak and the tear gets worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’

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And they will fast

In yesterday’s reading, we saw Rebekah as someone attuned to God’s will but in today’s reading, she was deceitful in her ways and changed the course of God’s plans. Are we able to recognise the ‘Rebekah’ in us? We sometimes are so carried away about our godly deeds and then we fall right into sin with our faces flat on the ground. This is what makes us human, and therefore we must be watchful over ourselves, and understand ourselves better.

Rebekah suffered the wrath of the Lord because she changed God’s plans; don’t we sometimes do that too? We know what is right and we hear a gentle voice telling us to stay faithful, but we ignore it and go against it. We are called to ‘sin-proof’ our lives but also to be so much more and shine His light. Avoiding the occurrence of sin alone will not allow us to shine His light, but it has to be coupled with us praising and adoring the Lord.

We need Jesus in the Eucharist and the sacraments, read the bible and follow the teaching of the Church.

Recently, I was healed from gastritis and anemia. When I was diagnosed, I stopped fasting on Fridays. And today in a conversation with a friend, I realised that I have not resumed fasting. Do we have set dates for fasting?

How does our prayer life look like? Do we have daily prayer time? Do we attend mass on Sundays? What about spending some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

Are we able to distinguish the old wineskin from the new? Do we allow ourselves to be nourished by the wisdom and knowledge of our Catholic tradition, so that we are able to live our best lives yet?

For the grace that we need, let us pray diligently today and remain steadfast for the rest of our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer:  Lord, help us to remain holy by having holiness as a goal. We know that you made us for so much more and that you don’t want us only to defuse sins but to eat and drink at your table as your children.

Thanksgiving: Praise you God, who has chosen me as your own possession. My God and saviour.

17 October, Wednesday – Of Virtues and Vices

17 October – Memorial for St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (not used in 2010)

Ignatius (c. 50–107) was a convert from paganism to Christianity. He succeeded Peter as bishop of Antioch, Syria. He served during persecution of Domitian. During the persecution of Trajan, he was ordered to be taken to Rome to be killed by wild animals. On the way, a journey which took months, he wrote a series of encouraging letters to the churches under his care. He was the first writer to use the term The Catholic Church. He was an apostolic father and a martyr. His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Legend says he was the infant that Jesus took into his arms in Mark 9.

– Patron Saint Index

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Galatians 5:18-25

If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you. When self-indulgence is at work the results are obvious: fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things. I warn you now, as I warned you before: those who behave like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. There can be no law against things like that, of course. You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.

Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.

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Luke 11:42-46

The Lord said to the Pharisees:

‘Alas for you Pharisees! You who pay your tithe of mint and rue and all sorts of garden herbs and overlook justice and the love of God! These you should have practised, without leaving the others undone. Alas for you Pharisees who like taking the seats of honour in the synagogues and being greeted obsequiously in the market squares! Alas for you, because you are like the unmarked tombs that men walk on without knowing it!

A lawyer then spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘when you speak like this you insult us too.’

‘Alas for you lawyers also,’ he replied ‘because you load on men burdens that are unendurable, burdens that you yourselves do not move a finger to lift.’

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Happy indeed is the man…whose delight is in the law of the Lord

An elderly relative of mine commented to me during a family celebration as we were watching my younger nieces and nephews argue that they bore a striking resemblance to their parents in both aspects of appearance and behaviour. Indeed, this probably was the surest sign that they were really “a chip of the old block”. Today’s first reading reminds us that the same lesson can be applied to our lives as Christians.

The behaviour of a Christian who seeks to follow the way of God closely and sincerely will surely bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit which has been planted in his heart at the Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation. These stand in stark contrast to the ways of the world which bear awful consequences that bring about much destruction and dissension in society. The world is a chaotic and noisy place because of the many tensions that exist within society brought about by sin.

I believe that all of us possess the ability to live a life of holiness in a world of evil and sin. We will face much persecution and derision for having to embark on a route that is unconventional and different but I believe that the joy of receiving the fruits at the end of our journey far outweigh the criticism that we presently suffer.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for sending the Holy Spirit down to guide us in our way of life.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who remind us of the need to depend on God for all that we do.

2 June, Thursday – Living Out Love

2 June – Memorial for Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs

Marcellinus, a priest, and Peter, an exorcist, died in the year 304. According to a legendary account of their martyrdom, the two Romans saw their imprisonment as just one more opportunity to evangelise and managed to convert their jailer and his family. The legend also says that they were beheaded in the forest so that other Christians wouldn’t have a chance to bury and venerate their bodies. Two women found the bodies, however, and had them properly buried.

Source: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=77

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2 Timothy 2:8-15

Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.
Here is a saying that you can rely on:

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.
If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.
If we disown him, then he will disown us.
We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful,
for he cannot disown his own self.

Remind them of this; and tell them in the name of God that there is to be no wrangling about words: all that this ever achieves is the destruction of those who are listening. Do all you can to present yourself in front of God as a man who has come through his trials, and a man who has no cause to be ashamed of his life’s work and has kept a straight course with the message of the truth.

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Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

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“So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.”

In yesterday’s reflection, I shared about witnessing to God’s goodness without fear. For me, today’s readings are all about living my own life for His glory. If I am His instrument, then I must live a life of holiness.

St Paul, in today’s first reading, says: “If we have died with him, then we shall live with him. If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.”

If we have died in the Lord and to our sinfulness, then surely we will rise to live with Him. How then, am I living my life worthy of the love of God? Have I given up my own sin to walk in His light?

What are some of the areas of my life that are coming between me and the light of God?

Yes, it is difficult to live a life of holiness. But I truly believe that God is faithful to us. Even St Paul says it himself, “We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful”. As long as we open up our hearts to the Lord and allow His grace and hand to take over, I’m certain He provides the grace to walk in His ways. There will be times when we will be put to the test. But let us take courage and continue to persevere in living out our baptismal promises.

Today’s gospel gives a very simple way of living a life of holiness, summarised in one commandment: Love. Loving God and loving neighbour.

To me, loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength is to worship Him. And loving my neighbour as myself, is to offer myself as a sacrifice to my neighbour. Doing both allows me to be selfless, to deny myself and in turn live a life of holiness.

Let us take courage my brothers and sisters, to love God in all our ways, by giving Him the glory in all that we do, and to also be loving to our brothers and sisters. Again, let us remember that He is faithful in giving us the grace to do what He commands us to. All we need to do is to say “Amen.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are the source of love. Help me to love You and love my neighbour as myself. When it is difficult to love someone, grace me Lord to depend on Your faithfulness in love. Amen!

Thanksgiving: Thank You Lord for your love and faithfulness. When I struggle to love as you do, teach me to deny myself.