Tag Archives: josephine dionisappu

2 November, Friday – From the Foundation of the World

2 November – All Souls Day

Today we celebrate a feast in commemoration of the faithful departed in purgatory, that is, the faithful departed who have not yet been purified and reached Heaven. After Abbot Odilo of Cluny instituted it in the monasteries of his congregation in 998, other religious orders took up the observance, and it was adopted by various dioceses and gradually by the whole Church. The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy on this day and Pope Benedict XV granted to all priests the privilege of saying three Masses of requiem: one for the souls in purgatory, one for the intention of the Holy Father, one for the priest’s.

– Patron Saint Index

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Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,
no torment shall ever touch them.
In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,
their going looked like a disaster,
their leaving us, like annihilation;
but they are in peace.
If they experienced punishment as men see it,
their hope was rich with immortality;
slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be.
God has put them to the test
and proved them worthy to be with him;
he has tested them like gold in a furnace,
and accepted them as a holocaust.
When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out;
as sparks run through the stubble, so will they.
They shall judge nations, rule over peoples,
and the Lord will be their king for ever.
They who trust in him will understand the truth,
those who are faithful will live with him in love;
for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.

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Romans 5:5-11

Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.

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Mark 15:33-39,16:1-6

When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you deserted me?’ When some of those who stood by heard this, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling on Elijah.’ Someone ran and soaked a sponge in vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it him to drink saying; ‘Wait and see if Elijah will come to take him down.’ But Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The centurion, who was standing in front of him, had seen how he had died, and he said, ‘In truth this man was a son of God.’

When the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising.

They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But when they looked they could see that the stone – which was very big – had already been rolled back. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right-hand side, and they were struck with amazement. But he said to them, ‘There is no need for alarm. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here. See, here is the place where they laid him.’

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The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want

Most of us city dwellers have never seen a sheep nor a shepherd. I have seen a few while I was growing up in the suburbs and sometimes, in the fields near the campus I work at. There are still cow herds and shepherds in Malaysia. For most of the people I know, the term shepherd is made in reference to Jesus predominantly. 2000 years later as Catholics, we are used to referring to Jesus, our bishops and priests as our shepherds.

In a self-seeking  and driven world it can be quite a challenge to accept bible verses such as “the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” and “His grace is sufficient for me”. It takes a lot of dependence, trust and surrender – things that the world will sum up as weaknesses. Logically, can this be true? That all we need is our shepherd and His grace? We all know that He is our mighty teacher and one who never lies to us nor deceives us, and that alone is a clear indication that He is all we need.

Personally, I recite Psalm 23 when I am walking down a secluded alley in the dark, alone. On one particular night in 2008, when I was in Venice, I went out on my own to watch a jazz performance. After wandering about, I realised that I had alighted at the wrong water taxi stop. Feeling rather adventurous, I thought I could walk through the canals and reach my hostel that night. However, after walking alone for some time and with no one in sight, I started whispering to myself, “When I walk through the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear.” It is a very powerful prayer and I have prayed this many times, especially while travelling alone.

However, I realise that trying to fully embrace ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want’ takes me out of my own human nature. I constantly have many wants — I want to travel, I want to cook all the cute dishes, I want to spend more time with my loved ones, I want to be able to pay all my bills seamlessly and I want to have beautiful babies. So wanting to submit to my Lord, though He is worthy, can be somewhat of a tall order. I love to be in control of the situation and its outcomes. Lately however, I realised how my controlling nature is detrimental to submitting to God and trusting Him totally. At that point, I also had a strong desire to want to honour my parents, especially my father, without seeing the connection. By the grace of God, I came to know that I had to let my father lead me, love me and nurture me in his own terms and that required trust and maturity on my part. The more I began to release the ‘controlling ways’ in our relationship, the more I began to see what a wonderful man (and father) he really is. Therefore, submitting to him is truly worthy and warranted of me. I find myself reflecting on how I can truly depend on him and trust him and love him. I acknowledge that honouring my father has helped so much in this process; after all, we are still talking of the Father’s Love. As a woman, I foresee this trait will be crucial in my relationship with my future spouse as well.

Today, if you are a single woman, are you submitting to your father? And, as a married woman, are there areas in your life that may be holding you back from submitting to your husband? Men, are you honouring your wife the way Christ honours sinners like us, in order for us to be one with Him? As single men, are you honouring your mothers who love you more than she loves herself? As children of God, are we prepared to honour the One true God as our shepherd, allowing Him to father us, mould us and lead us and to live as if He is all we will ever need.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Daddy God, you are worthy of local trust and submission. Help us Lord to be faithful to you and to trust you in every season of our lives. Forgive us for the times we have failed to let you be God. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your love and for the hope that you have given us through the Holy Spirit. We thank you, dear God, for keeping all our loved ones who have gone before us safe in your loving embrace.

24 Jul, Tuesday – Brother And Sister

Jul 24 – Memorial for St. Charbel Makhluf, Priest

St. Charbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, St. Charbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice and prayer by the way he lived his life.

http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/082002.shtml

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Micah 7:14-15,18-20

With shepherd’s crook, O Lord, lead your people to pasture,
the flock that is your heritage,
living confined in a forest
with meadow land all around.
Let them pasture in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
As in the days when you came out of Egypt
grant us to see wonders.

What god can compare with you: taking fault away,
pardoning crime,
not cherishing anger for ever
but delighting in showing mercy?
Once more have pity on us,
tread down our faults,
to the bottom of the sea
throw all our sins.
Grant Jacob your faithfulness,
and Abraham your mercy,
as you swore to our fathers
from the days of long ago.

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John 20:1-2,11-18

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

Meanwhile Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.

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For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Are you and I living the will of the Father? To answer that question, we must first understand what is the will of the Father in our lives? I tend to think that His will in my life is personalised, He does not have the same will for your life. So how do we go about finding this perfect will, these plans that will make us prosper? Here are some suggestions:

Walk with Him daily

How do wives know what their husbands prefer to eat daily? For example, do they prefer taste over healthier options? If they are in tune with each other, surely this cannot be hard to know. Also you can simply ask and clarify, even get feedback. The same principle can be applied if we spend time with God; quiet time in prayers and reading the Gospel daily gets us in tune with God. We need to be in tune and the way to do it is to plug in to the right networks, through prayers and the intercession of Saints.

Be open to the prompting of the Spirit

God had promised us an advocate, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a mere symbol, but is God Himself. As baptised Catholics, we receive the Holy Spirit during baptism. We are the bearer of this sweet spirit, who guides us and protects us. The Holy Spirit though within us, will not act if we do not cooperate. Let us be open, just as we are when we meet a new love interest. We give it time and we let ‘things’ bloom and unfold without having too many preconceived notions.

Spiritual Direction

Everyone should have a spiritual director, someone who journeys with them in their walk of faith. I used to have one some two years ago. It is a misconception that we have it all figured out? Is that even possible, regardless of our age and life experience?

In my walk with my spiritual director, a Jesuit priest, I had someone to confide in and share and learn from. It was a safe space to confide in and to grow and explore my thoughts and hopes, even express my fears. It was also a chance for me to bounce my ideas, to ensure that I was truly listening to the voice of God and not being led by other voices.

Stay close to Mama

The intercession of our Mother Mary has never failed me. She has been holding me close enough so that I will never lose my God. Some 20 years ago, when I felt my world tumbling down, I started praying the rosary daily, and it was She who kept me faithful to my Lord. She will do the same for anyone of Her children.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, please make us your children by showing us your will. Mama, pray for us, and help us your children to never lose our God.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for calling us your brother and your sister, your child and your lover.

23 Jul, Monday – Is This A Sign?

Jul 23 – Memorial for St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious

Coming from a noble yet religious background, St. Bridget (1302-1373) was friend and counsellor to many priests and theologians of her day. As chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur, she counselled and guided the Queen and King Magnus II. She was harassed by others at the court for pursuing a religious life.

She eventually renounced her title of princess and became the foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines), chastening and counselling kings and Popes Clement VI, Urban VI, and Gregory XI. St. Bridget encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion, and of Jesus Crucified.

– Patron Saint Index

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Micah 6:1-4,6-8

Listen to what the Lord is saying:

Stand up and let the case begin in the hearing of the mountains
and let the hills hear what you say.
Listen, you mountains, to the Lord’s accusation,
give ear, you foundations of the earth,
for the Lord is accusing his people,
pleading against Israel:
My people, what have I done to you,
how have I been a burden to you? Answer me.
I brought you out of the land of Egypt,
I rescued you from the house of slavery;
I sent Moses to lead you,
with Aaron and Miriam.

– ‘With what gift shall I come into the Lord’s presence
and bow down before God on high?
Shall I come with holocausts,
with calves one year old?
Will he be pleased with rams by the thousand,
with libations of oil in torrents?
Must I give my first-born for what I have done wrong,
the fruit of my body for my own sin?’

– What is good has been explained to you, man;
this is what the Lord asks of you:
only this, to act justly,
to love tenderly
and to walk humbly with your God.

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Matthew 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. ‘Master,’ they said ‘we should like to see a sign from you.’ He replied, ‘It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.’

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The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth

It was a religious nun who pointed out to me that the question “Is this is a sign?”, is superstitious in itself. It was during a time in my life that I demanded signs, to affirm my choices and direct my paths. Looking back, I realise that it was so shallow of me to leave important decisions to these so-called signs instead of through proper discernment and guidance.

People continue to live their lives relying on signs; perhaps because they are not open to listening to the voice of God. Though sometimes demanding, the voice of God and the ways of the Lord, are always the right way.

God sent His only Son to earth, to suffer and die for our salvation. On the onset, none of it makes sense. It’s because none of us would allow our children, let alone our only son, to be sacrificed for the sake of others. Sadly, we are sometimes better at seeking the good of only ourselves and our families. Surely we have a responsibility to provide for and protect our families. However as a Christian, it is important that we realise that our family also consists of the poor, needy, the oppressed and the lonely. Have we done our part to serve our family?

When was the last time we encouraged our children and advised them so that they would consider vocations of religious life and mission? Many parishioners advise me to take on roles in ministry and though I never ask them, I always wonder where their children were (some are not even seen at Sunday masses).

Isn’t it beautiful to be the giver? Our Lord and master is a giver, surely as His disciples we can do the same. Can we nurture our children to have the heart that listens to the voice of God and gives glory to His name?

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, help us to have a heart that listens to you and is able to love like you. Divine Master, make us more like you. Help us to have a personal relationship with you till the end of time. Help us to help our families.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we hear your voice in every beat of our hearts. No signs are needed at all.

22 July, Sunday – I Have It All

22 July 

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Jeremiah 23:1-6

‘Doom for the shepherds who allow the flock of my pasture to be destroyed and scattered – it is the Lord who speaks! This, therefore, is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds in charge of my people: You have let my flock be scattered and go wandering and have not taken care of them.

Right, I will take care of you for your misdeeds – it is the Lord who speaks! But the remnant of my flock I myself will gather from all the countries where I have dispersed them, and will bring them back to their pastures: they shall be fruitful and increase in numbers. I will raise up shepherds to look after them and pasture them; no fear, no terror for them any more; not one shall be lost – it is the Lord who speaks!

‘See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David, who will reign as true king and be wise, practising honesty and integrity in the land.

In his days Judah will be saved and Israel dwell in confidence.

And this is the name he will be called: The-Lord-our-integrity.’

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Ephesians 2:13-18

In Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, actually destroying in his own person the hostility caused by the rules and decrees of the Law. This was to create one single New Man in himself out of the two of them and by restoring peace through the cross, to unite them both in a single Body and reconcile them with God: in his own person he killed the hostility. Later he came to bring the good news of peace, peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near at hand. Through him, both of us have in the one Spirit our way to come to the Father.

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Mark 6:30-34

The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

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Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while

Reflecting on this gospel today, I am reminded that I should schedule a retreat at some stage, as I had never been for one this year. Last June, I attended the Power Conference in Potta, Kerala around this time of the year and it raised questions among some Catholics on my motivation to do so. Well here goes the answer in the gospel of Mark today. My Dad asked that I do this, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

A retreat, is a honeymoon with Jesus. It is common that married couples take a break every now and then, to cherish and hang out with each other. When couples decide their holidays, it does not mean they do not have other responsibilities and constraints, yet they choose to focus on the need to ‘steal’ some time away to be with each other.

Jesus is a spouse to each of us, and time with Him only helps us know Him in a way that we are convicted that we do actually have it all in Him. He is our Shepherd and there is nothing we shall want, as we have Him.

During my retreat at Potta, it was also summer graduation week at the university where I work, making it a really a tough choice to pack up and go. I chose to stay for proceedings with prominent people and left the next morning, members from our retreat group who flew on that morning had to fly back after reaching Kerala as the situation warranted. When I reached there the next morning, I found out that we had no rooms because the ladies who arrived earlier decided, upon arrival, to share a room with their families instead, leaving us with the only option of a room with 2 other men in it. I went to this retreat alone and as I was trying to sort our rooming, I realised that an elderly lady also did not have a room; so we ended up as roommates.

At the retreat, I received physical healing from my swelling feet and my allergy to lentils, a common ingredient in the food we consume at home. I received a lot of inner healing and spiritual graces too. There were two main groups at the Power Conference and, as a single person who has never married, I qualified to be with the youths. I heard many testimonies of young people who had witnessed the grace and mercy of God in their lives when they were faced with failure in their exams and in their careers. This wisdom really helped me when, a few weeks after the retreat, I failed an exam. Who would have thought that I would be in the same situation as others one day, and that their testimony could strengthen me?

During the week-long retreat, I was able to re-immerse myself with the wonders and beauty of a Lord who is love, mercy and grace – all of this in abundance.

Is it time for us to schedule some time with the Lord? If you really cannot get away, an hour by the Blessed Sacrament is an option, a commitment to daily personal prayers and a commitment towards looking for short day/weekend retreat are options too. I sometimes have this conversation with myself when I cannot find the time to attend a retreat, leaning on the fact that I cannot give ‘time’ to the One who gave me everything, including ‘time’ itself.

Where is the Lord calling you and me today? He is calling us to peaceful restful waters, a place where we can be His sheep, fully trusting God and knowing that He is all we need.

What is the distance between where we are right now to the destination of a place in our lives and hearts where we can truly say and believe: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”

The Lord loves us even if we don’t acknowledge Him, yet it is our choice if we want to continue to live in the shadow of our own preoccupations, doubt, fear, sin, shame and stubbornness. Now is the best time to return to a Shepherd who knows your heart, let us allow Him to own it too.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, make a way in our lives so that we can ‘steal away’ to your restful waters daily. Guide us to a retreat that you would want us to attend. Open a door in our lives so that we can be witnesses by sharing your goodness all the days of your life.

Thanksgiving: Lord, you are my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. I know you and I am found in you, my Lord and God.

17 May, Thursday – I Am The Father’s Gift

17 May

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Acts 22:30,23:6-11

Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.

Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’

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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them.
and so that I may be in them.’

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You have loved me before the foundation of the world

It is possible that we have heard this before, that “we are a gift from God”. Today’s reading stresses this point, that we are the Father’s gift to Jesus — He says that in today’s gospel. The love which Jesus speaks of can be a little complex. It is enormous and eternal in nature and something that the human mind may not be able to comprehend, nor the human heart hold.

Imagine the tender heart of Jesus when He says that each of us is a gift to him, though he knows our shortcomings and failures and even the parts of our lives which still displeases Him. My brothers and sisters, that is unconditional love.

He loves us so much that He wants to love us as much as the Father loves Him. Isn’t that simply an outstanding sort of love?

Can we, as human parents, wish to love the members in our ministry or our parishioners as much as we love our own children? Do we even desire to share this parental love which we have with others? It is not always easy, but we must try. Regardless of the circumstances, we are children of a Father with such great love that we must try and love at all times.

This, I admit is a struggle for me too. Though I know I am capable of great love, I withhold myself, selfishly choosing who should receive my love and whom I consider as the Father’s gift. That is certainly not the Father’s way of love. As His precious gift, I could and should do way better than this.

Sisters and brothers are loving only those who love us and those who conform to our ideals. Are we able to be an extension of the Father’s love to a world who does not know Him? Are we able to stand up with love together with those who have fallen, even those who refuse to return to the Lord?

How can we be a reflection of God’s love to everyone today?

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, help us to love like you. Set your standard of ‘Love of the Lord’ in our lives, in our families and in this world.

Thanksgiving: Lord I thank you for loving me so very much and for claiming me as a gift to you.

16 May, Wednesday – Your Word, O Lord

16 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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Consecrate them in the truth … Your word is truth

It is getting more difficult to know what the truth is. We live in a world of false promises and fake people, counterfeit relationships and superficial words. Yet in this same world, the Truth exists through Christ our Lord. And we are told today that His word is truth and Jesus Himself wants us to be consecrated in the truth.

The word of God is a double-edged sword and it breathes life into our lives, it gives light and hope to places in our lives which may seem very hopeless.

Contrary to love letters which spell out the sentiments of the human heart, this Love Letter is God’s promise to keep us safe and provide us a life of protection. He indeed has promised that He will guard us from all danger, and He has.

Is there any reason for anyone to believe that Our God is lesser than the truth? Are there areas in our heart which are wretched by unbelief or sin? To these areas, we cry out that His truth will set us free.

Are we still reserving areas in our lives, closing some doors to our Lord? He made us and He knows us better than we do; what are we then afraid of? During our Sunday mass, let us offer our lives and all that it entails to God, when the priests offer up the Body and the Blood. Let us show ourselves to Him. Let it be ugly, He will beautify it so that we can live a full life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, consecrate us in the truth and help us to be people who speak the truth and advocate the truth. May we find ourselves blameless before you, O Lord.

Thanksgiving: Jesus, thank you for writing a love letter which is 100 percent true, alive and filled with Love.

15 May, Tuesday – Not A Counterfeit

15 May

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Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When they arrived he addressed these words to them:

‘You know what my way of life has been ever since the first day I set foot among you in Asia, how I have served the Lord in all humility, with all the sorrows and trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I have not hesitated to do anything that would be helpful to you; I have preached to you, and instructed you both in public and in your homes, urging both Jews and Greeks to turn to God and to believe in our Lord Jesus.

‘And now you see me a prisoner already in spirit; I am on my way to Jerusalem, but have no idea what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough that imprisonment and persecution await me. But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.

‘I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so here and now I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God’s purpose.’

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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Father, the hour has come:
glorify your Son
so that your Son may glorify you;
and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him,
let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth
and finished the work that you gave me to do.
Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me
with that glory I had with you
before ever the world was.
I have made your name known
to the men you took from the world to give me.
They were yours and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now at last they know
that all you have given me comes indeed from you;
for I have given them the teaching you gave to me,
and they have accepted this, that I came from you,
and have believed that it was you who sent me.
I pray for them;
I am not praying for the world
but for those you have given me,
because they belong to you:
all I have is yours
and all you have is mine,
and in them I am glorified.
I am not in the world any longer,
but they are in the world,
and I am coming to you.’

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…the ones you have given me

Isn’t it amazing that the One true God is concerned about you and me, to the point that He wanted to make sure we still had God to care and guide us, even when He was about to die?

When a spouse or a parent is at their deathbed, somehow I get the feeling that they have the same concern over the people whom God had entrusted to their care. Even good bosses and friends think of the welfare of their subordinates and friends if they have to be away. But our Lord Jesus was more concerned beyond our welfare, He was interested in our souls.

Some years back, I attended a talk on same sex attraction. The speaker was a mother and one of the participants challenged her, asking her if would want her daughter to be happy if her daughter had same sex attraction. She calmly agreed that she wanted her daughter to be happy but she testified that above happiness, she “wanted heaven for her daughter”. How true and how apt.

More recently, my mother, in a conversation with a parishoner, found out that he and his children attend Sunday service at his wife’s church, which is of a different denomination. Is this wrong, or is that ok? Are we doing similar things of missing the Sunday Eucharist and denying our children the chance to partake in the One true God at mass? Our children are God’s gifts to us, just as we are entrusted to Jesus and the Holy Spirit by the Father, it’s our greatest duty to mould our children in the faith.

I am praying that we put away our counterfeit ways and return to the Lord. He is waiting for us and if you had ever known what it is to wait for someone you love, you would not make Him wait. Turn to Him, He is our Lord, present in the sacraments, blessed and broken for us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for seeking the counterfeits and leading others astray. We need you and we want you. Our Loving Mother, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for giving us an advocate, the Holy Spirit to guide our paths.

13 May, Sunday – Not One Was Lost

13 May

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

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1 John 4:11-16

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.

No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.

We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.

We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.

God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

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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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God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in Him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals that none of His were lost except the son of destruction – the evil one. The evil one left by choice, exercising his free will. Because of His great love, God gives each of us free will in deciding our thoughts, actions and words. Indeed, true love is free.

But the love of God cannot be considered as something that is just free; it is a free gift to us, which was paid for by His blood.

Today’s gospel tells us that God is love and whoever who chooses to remain in God, remains in love and God resides in Him. Though this may sound like an exchange of sorts, it is really more a consequence of the grace of God.

Love is often misunderstood as a passing feeling, or even as lust; none of them is love. Ironically, even God is misunderstood as the provider of comfort and joy. And by looking at the bible passage which equates God to love, it is evident that ‘love’ is divine, it seeks the good of the other, and it is kind, patient and not jealous. Love never fails. If you read the passage on 1 Corinthians 13, it spells out what love is and it really makes sense that you replace the ‘word’ love in the passage, to ‘God.’

Let us not be complacent and limit our thoughts that love has its place only at weddings. Indeed, the love shared by husband and wife is a foretaste of heaven. But love is present in the Eucharist, in the sacraments, in our acts of wanting to seek the best of the other despite our own circumstances.

Recently, I had to get my driver’s license renewed and, in conveying the message to my dad, I was less than loving. Out of his love for me, He advised that I should be more vigilant of such important matters so that I can improve myself. But my pride got in the way, yet it did not extinguish the love of my dad, who made two trips to the registration office so that I could renew my license. To me, knowing that my dad puts up with me, despite my failures, is a reminder that my Father in heaven rejoices over this one sinner whom He does not want to lose. Though the fact remains that when we choose to act unlovingly, there are consequences — and in this instance, I hurt my father’s feelings.

I also read this, “it is easier to love people who are far away than people whom we see daily.” How very true, that we take our families and friends for granted and treat them in a manner that is lacking of love. God knows I need Him in putting out the fumes in my words which are unloving, my actions that need purification and my thoughts that need sanctifying. I urge you also my sisters and brothers, to offer to God everything that is not of love in your lives, in your families, in your relationships and within yourself. Remember, our precious Lord cried out to God, His Father, so that we would not be lost, that we would be one with Him, just as He is one with the Father. How can we deny Him that noble desire?

Today, I pray that all we do, say, think, and breathe, is Love.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for all our unloving ways. Help us to remain in love and in you. Bless all our mothers today as we celebrate Mother’s Day.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for loving us and for choosing us. Thank you for the tender gift of motherhood and its life-giving ways.

24 February, Saturday – Love, Love and Love

24 February

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Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Moses said to the people: ‘The Lord your God today commands you to observe these laws and customs; you must keep and observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.

‘You have today made this declaration about the Lord: that he will be your God, but only if you follow his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and listen to his voice. And the Lord has today made this declaration about you: that you will be his very own people as he promised you, but only if you keep all his commandments; then for praise and renown and honour he will set you high above all the nations he has made, and you will be a people consecrated to the Lord, as he promised.’

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Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

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Pray for those who persecute you”

I had a very interesting conversation with my nephew, who is also my godson, one day before we went off to school. He had his arms extended and swung it from left to right while he was talking to me. He was upset with someone and I told him that, “Jesus said you must love your enemies and that you should pray for them.” He relented and said that he would not want to pray for them. Even an 8-year old knows that it does not make ‘sense’, he was in disbelief. But more often than not, I feel it is the way of our Lord. He asks of us and wills for something that makes us look at him in disbelief.

Is it possible to love our enemy? That to me is really hard because forgiving is one thing but loving them really, is a different ball game all together. I do not have any enemies, but I have ‘fallen friends’, people with whom I have estranged relationships with. I have been told that it is normal to have this group of people who have ‘fallen out of your list’. That never sat right with me, because I clearly know that Jesus is not like that. And so, I pray for them because that is the only thing that helps. Sometimes they don’t want to be friends, sometimes it’s me, but when it’s my decision, I feel really upset about it.

Friendships are important to me, although I have a tendency to grow out of people, and for this I seek His mercy and His grace. Because he wants me to be perfect, just like Him. During a recent sermon I heard, the priest said that Lent is a time of joy so that you have no more estranged relationships. “Let there be no lepers in your life”. Powerful and true. How are the enemies, lepers and perpetrators in our lives? Have we started loving them and praying for them? Today is the acceptable time for that because now is our time for salvation.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, you said blessed are those who follow your footsteps, make us and mould us into the blessed person today. Clean the cobwebs off from all our relationships, including the one we have with you and also the one we have with ourselves. All angels and saints, watch over our enemies and pray for them.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for keeping us free and for allowing us the grace to love and pray for people who most need it. Thank you Lord, for the difficult people in our lives, for through them we have learnt to see you.

23 February, Friday – New Heart, New Spirit, Renew Me

23 Feb – Memorial for St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr

St. Polycarp (69-155) was an associate of, converted by, and disciple of St. John the Apostle. He was a friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch, and he fought Gnosticism. He was the Bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), and was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century.

The Asia Minor churches recognized Polycarp’s leadership and chose him representative to Pope Anicetus on the question of the date of the Easter celebration. Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has survived – the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi, Macedonia.

At 86, Polycarp was to be burned alive in a stadium in Smyrna, but the flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger, and his body burned. The ‘Acts’ of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He is considered an Apostolic Father of the Church.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord:

‘If the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live; he will not die. All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on; he shall live because of the integrity he has practised. What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?

‘But if the upright man renounces his integrity, commits sin, copies the wicked man and practises every kind of filth, is he to live? All the integrity he has practised shall be forgotten from then on; but this is because he himself has broken faith and committed sin, and for this he shall die. But you object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’

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Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples, If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

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Whoever is angry with his brother is liable for judgement”

As I write this, I am angry with someone. So would you believe how appropriate God’s message is for me? In the workplace, there is a colleague who makes me feel like she is a bully. I for one, do not stand for anyone being a bully. So this was a very difficult one for me to accept. As the youngest child of three, I was bullied at home when we were still kids and I never found out if that was a reason or an excuse which I had when I bullied a few girls in school. So I am a renewed bully and a victim of bullying, I can admit this to all who read this because I know my Lord’s mercy has healed me, restored me as he had done so for my ‘victims.’

Some of the words of this colleague, really pierced me in ways I should not have allowed. And after a few days of feeling really ‘bad’ when I was going to work, I stumbled upon a newsfeed which said, “If their name isn’t God, their opinion should not matter so much.” and though the words are not from scripture, it sure made me realise that I have made my anger for the person and her hurtful words as a quasi God. And from the same newsfeed, even St Josphine Bakhita said “I have given everything to my Lord, He will take care of me”.

I was named after St Joseph (not St Josephine) and I have taken St Anthony of Padua as my favourite saint; and this list is growing. But just like role models, one cannot have enough intercessions of saints.

On reflecting upon this scripture, my anger vanished, indeed the word of God has such high power. Today I urge you as you walk through the desert of Lent, give your anger and hurt to Jesus. Do not let anger hold you for His dwelling place, your inheritance. Anger is stressful, tiring and has no real benefits, none at all. May our souls be waiting for the Lord more than sentinels wait for dawn.

We have a Lord who calls us to cast away our crimes and evils ways, adopting a new heart and a new spirit. What sin are we still holding on to? Time to nip it in the bud, God is offering a chance to start anew. This is an invitation to each one of us, no matter if we are 6 or 60, slender or obese, rich or poor, angry or loving – come to Him, only He offers the fullness of life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, today we offer up all instances of anger, ours and those of whom we used to consider our perpetrators. We are all your children, help us to love each other as your offsprings.

Thanksgiving: I wait for you O Lord, more eagerly that the waves that kiss the shore and the sun which appears from the horizon of the sea in the break of day.