Tag Archives: josephine dionisappu

24 February, Saturday – Love, Love and Love

24 February


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.’


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.’


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


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.’


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.’


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.

22 February, Thursday – Who Am I To You?

22 Feb – Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostle

The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome, Italy has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on Jan 18, in commemoration of the day when St. Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Antioch commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on Feb 22. At each place, a chair (cathedra) which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass was venerated.

– Patron Saint Index


1 Peter 5:1-4

Now I have something to tell your elders: I am an elder myself, and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and with you I have a share in the glory that is to be revealed. Be the shepherds of the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow. When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the crown of unfading glory.


Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’


You are Christ, the Son of the living God”

When there is a love interest, it is natural to know who you are to that person. You want to know what you mean to them and if you hold this special place in the beloved’s heart. I watched the scene in the Passion of Christ when Jesus asked Peter this question and how he replied so spontaneously. Jesus and Peter seems to have these candid yet ‘expecting-an-honest-response-conversation’, it shows their closeness but also shows how ‘real’ they are with each other. I for one know that I cannot ask everyone such questions, it can be blatantly awkward.

The friendship of Jesus and Peter is also special, they had the same mission and knew each other, only in the way best friends connected.

Peter, despite spending hours with the Lord, did not mistake Him as being his equal. He recognised the Lord because He was attuned with the Holy Spirit. It is the same for us, when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and rule our lives, we will be able to recognise Jesus in each person and situation.

Do you recognise Jesus today? Do you believe that He has formed this Church on the Rock?

I for one, never understand why people leave the Catholic faith and go on to start their own churches? Why are people leaving a banquet of the King to eat a home-cooked meal of their own? Jesus has laid a foundation that no one can topple and destruct, though many have failed.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, create a new heart and a new spirit within us. Help us to find our true selves in you, the Shepherd of our souls.

Thanksgiving: For you are gracious, merciful and you are Love. Receive O Lord, our contrite hearts, which yearns only for you. Thank you for your guiding staff.

21 February, Wednesday – Second Chance, Even More

21 Feb – Memorial for St. Peter Damian, bishop and doctor

Peter Damian (1007-1072) was the youngest child in a large family. When he was orphaned, he was sent to live with a brother where he was mistreated and forced to work as a swine-herd. He cared for another brother, a priest in Ravenna, Italy. He was well educated in Fienza and Parma and became a professor, but lived a life of strict austerity.

He gave up his teaching to become a Benedictine monk. His health suffered, especially when he tried to replace sleep with prayer. He founded a hermitage. He was occasionally called on by the Vatican to make peace between arguing monastic houses, clergymen, and government officials, etc. He was made Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, and he fought simony.

He tried to restore primitive discipline among priests and religious who were becoming more and more of the world. He was a prolific correspondent, and he also wrote dozens of sermons, seven biographies (including one of St. Romuald), and poetry, including some of the best Latin of the time. He tried to retire being a monk, but was routinely recalled as a papal legate.

He died on Feb 22, 1072 of fever at Ravenna while surrounded by brother monks reciting the Divine Office. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1828.

– Patron Saint Index


Jonah 3:1-10

The word of the Lord was addressed a second time to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. All are to put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done. Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’ God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.


Luke 11:29-32

The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, ‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. 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.’


Something greater than Jonah

Jonah is the man who was saved by God when He sent a fish to swallow Him. Though he was running and hiding, the Lord our great pursuer did not give up. Just as God did not give up on Jonah, He will continue to be our most earnest pursuer.

In modern times, the concept of being pursued and being given a second chance is rare and few. It is common for people to do this only if it benefits them. They (we) are more likely to be tolerant and symphatic to clients and bosses and probably less to staff and vendors. But at the heart of our hearts, we are called to be like our Lord, who is constant and just.

King David, a mighty King was humble to a point of wearing a sackcloth and fasting. Today, though many of us are not as rich yet, we fail on the grounds of being a faithful Catholic in prayer, fasting and almsgiving – the three pillars of Lent and, I dare say, the pillars of our Catholic faith.

We have drifted in our own indulgence, yet we have a God of a zillion chances, who gives us many messages in the stillness of our hearts to help the needy, visit the lonely, understand those who are differently abled, fast so that we train our flesh to withstand temptations and to adore the Love or our lives – Jesus Christ in daily prayers. What is God asking of you today, this season Lent and this year?

Do we continue to look for signs by reading horoscopes and being enslaved by the what others say about our future, even if they are so called ‘qualified’ by some quarters. Surely we are different because we are His alone. Would you obey your own father or the one given to you by someone’s father. What we allow into our lives, we give it power to rule over us. In today’s Gospel, Christ says there is something greater than Jonah, why would we not want to live in that richness and fullness of life.

We are His heirs and we should cleave to Him for everything. For it is through Him that we are truly ourselves. If you are struggling to find yourself, dig deep into the Father’s heart, because therein lies His beloved child, you.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, create a new heart and a new spirit within us. Help us to find our true selves in you.

Thanksgiving: For you are gracious merciful and you are Love. Receive, O Lord, our contrite hearts which yearn only for you.

7 November, Tuesday – We Are One With The Lowly

7 November 2017


Romans 12:5-16

All of us, in union with Christ, form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other. Our gifts differ according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophecy, then use it as your faith suggests; if administration, then use it for administration; if teaching, then use it for teaching. Let the preachers deliver sermons, the almsgivers give freely, the officials be diligent, and those who do works of mercy do them cheerfully.

Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.

Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor. Do not allow yourself to become self-satisfied.


Luke 14:15-24

One of those gathered round the table said to him, ‘Happy the man who will be at the feast in the kingdom of God!’ But he said to him, ‘There was a man who gave a great banquet, and he invited a large number of people. When the time for the banquet came, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, “Come along: everything is ready now.” But all alike started to make excuses. The first said, “I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies.” Another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies.” Yet another said, “I have just got married and so am unable to come.”

‘The servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the householder, in a rage, said to his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” “Sir” said the servant “your orders have been carried out and there is still room.” Then the master said to his servant, “Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and force people to come in to make sure my house is full; because, I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet.”’


…make people come in that my home may be filled

As Catholics, we are One in Christ, through His body. How wonderful is that really – that He has made me, the lowly, One with Him.

A year ago, I had started spending more time at my hometown. It is a suburban town and people seem rather different to what I had become accustomed to in the city. Initially, I found it hard to accept their social mannerisms. Thankfully, this label unpeeled itself to reveal to me the sincerity and simplicity of these people. Truth be told, they have the values of Christ just as my community in the city parish.

It was a battle for me to see beyond my human eyes and mind. And just like that, I feel the ‘lowly’ are people we continue to dismiss because they do not live up to our expectations. Expecting others to meet our expectations is not sincere love; rather, it is self-seeking and bluntly put, pathetic. None of us want to be pathetic but that is what we are when we are insincere.

Recently, one of my friends was defending insincerity; she said that “they were just being clever”. That statement made me a little anxious and I continued to pray about it. A few days ago, that same friend mentioned that she had to entertain colleagues who were insincere and she was rather anxious of having to do that alone. It is possible that since our initial conversation, she sees sincerity as being crucial.

In today’s reading we are told to love another and not to grow wary in our zeal, to rejoice in hope and to pray unceasingly. When things are going downhill, it is not hard to remain sincere and loving, if we continue to do as the readings suggest. Our flesh is not too weak that God cannot strengthen it.

Rejoice with those who are rejoicing and weep with those who are weeping – simply put, we need to celebrate the success of others, because it can eliminate any traces of envy and we should comfort those who are suffering. One of the best things of being human is that we can ‘feel for each other.’ Even animals are good at that. When one of our dogs Caro, died, I cried together with my other dog who though not human, was a sincere friend to me and to Caro.

Are we not better than dogs? Surely that is up to us, in how we see our sisters and brothers, the way we embrace being One, even with the lowly ones and striving towards our faithfulness to attend mass every Sunday. Our essence of oneness is encapsulated in the body of Christ and we should constantly partake in these gifts of love and sincerity.

If we do all this and continue to be one with the lowly, you and I will be like a weaned child who has survived our infancy, ready to consume the solids (which is our lives on earth) in anticipation of arriving at our eternal home. Brothers and sisters, I cannot think of greater joy than that.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, forgive us for missing our Sunday masses and that of the days set aside for worship. We had failed to accept your invitation to your banquet and though we are not worthy, we plead you to purify us and make us love like You did, so that we can become One with you and all those whom you have invited.

Thanksgiving: O Author of Love and Friend of the Lovely, thank you for calling us to your banquet.

6 November, Monday – Irrecoverable Investment

6 November 2017


Romans 11:29-36

God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.

Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience, so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually. God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.

How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything?

All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.


Luke 14:12-14

Jesus said to his host, one of the leading Pharisees, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.’


…blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous

Under my media relations portfolio at work, I get to advise which stories are newsworthy. The best stories get into all channels and, in deciding the newsworthiness of a story pertaining to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), one of the barometers is the amount raised through a particular initiative.

For one of the initiatives, I was convinced that a campaign was not big enough for the newsmakers. The person who ran this campaign is an ardent supporter of a particular home, and to my knowledge, she was fully committed towards helping this group of poor people; yet, her story was ‘small’. However, I trust that this colleague will receive her reward at the time of resurrection. It was a classic example of the unsung heroes who are faithful disciples and today’s gospel reassures of the greatest returns – righteousness. It is far better than any form of popularity or news coverage.

About a year ago, there was a trend in KL among youths to support a street-feeding initiative carried by well known soup kitchen. I had done it a few times myself with the youths in our parish, in preparation for World Youth Day. I always wondered about the commitment and intentions of people who participated in these efforts as I suspected that it seen more as a cool place to be noticed. And though we will never know the intentions of others, it was certainly not right of me to judge them.

My parents are also actively involved in our parish soup kitchen, which I am unfortunately not able join as it takes place during working hours. Sometimes, they are so busy and occupied, it took me a while to fully accept how necessary their ministry was in their role to feed the hungry.

A few weeks ago, I remembered an ex classmate, Amuthavalli. I got to find out then that she drank black coffee for lunch because they could not afford a meal. I spent sometime that year asking her (and another poor classmate Kunasuntari) about it because even as a child, I could not believe the extent of their poverty. Honestly in this day and age, it is more than just sad to see hunger among our own community as it should not be allowed.

We all know of an Amuthavalli, no matter how luxurious our lives are. She is the homeless person we choose to see, the migrant workers we encounter and the families who are struggling to make ends meet. Surely there is something we can do in addition to praying for the hungry. We can donate money, volunteer at a soup kitchen, run campaigns and spend our precious time with them. Let us ask for the grace and wisdom to know where and how Jesus is calling us to feed His own.

Personally I have never made a commitment towards feeding the poor. But when I see food leftovers and, if the host allows it, I bring home a few packs with me to distribute to the guards at my condo or the cleaners at my office. One day, I saw an elderly man rummaging through the trash can at my neighbours, and though it broke my heart, I was hesitant to approach him. So I did the only thing that I know which always works, I prayed and drove next to him so that I could pass him some money. Recently, I have been been prompted to bring a meal to the construction workers near my office. I ask that you pray for my willingness to do so very soon, and also to be committed towards the eradication of hunger and poverty.

Let us also remember to serve those who are poor in spirit – Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: We pray for all those unsung heroes among us who work in service of the poor. Help us Lord to act immediately to serve those who are poor, materially and spiritual. Lord, please feed the hungry through each of us.

Thanksgiving: Father in Heaven, thank you for generous acts as there are no acts of mercy which are too small in your eyes.

5 November, Sunday – Holiness is Humility

5 November 2017


Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10

I am a great king, says the Lord of Hosts, and my name is feared throughout the nations. And now, priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, if you do not find it in your heart to glorify my name, says the Lord of Hosts, I will send the curse on you and curse your very blessing. But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching. You have destroyed the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of Hosts. And so I in my turn have made you contemptible and vile in the eyes of the whole people in repayment for the way you have not kept to my paths but have shown partiality in your administration.

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why, then, do we break faith with one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?


1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13

Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well. Let me remind you, brothers, how hard we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming God’s Good News to you.

Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it.


Matthew 23:1-12

Addressing the people and his disciples Jesus said, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeted obsequiously in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

‘You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one master, and you are all brothers. You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’


Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

I am not a very humble person, and in the past years I have seen that this is exactly what the Lord wants of me — to let go of my ego, pride, self righteousness and be a servant like Him. He is Almighty and He wants the best of me and for me, and the same holds true for all His children. In my journey towards the destination of HUMILITY, I realise the fruits it brings — peace, joy and freedom — especially to me but also to those around me.

Sadly, I have destroyed many opportunities and friendships around me because of my lack of humility. I am getting better at this, but in the past I tried to prove myself and drew unnecessary attention to myself. Sadly, this had some damaging effects to people around me. But today, I know that only God can restore those who have been wounded by my words and actions, because even my best attempts will not result in anything.

In 2014, I become a member of the core team of the youth ministry at my parish. On that night of commissioning, as I was about to leave church, I checked my phone and my bible app opened with this verse, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted”. God knows I needed to see it. It was His gentle reminder to prepare me for what was ahead and throughout those 2 years in the team, I drew on those verses when I felt the need to stay aligned. One of the youths, bluntly asked me why I was ‘chosen’ and I was able to share this verse, explaining to her that my role was to be a servant of youths in this parish. That verse soothed her cares as her tone changed immediately. What a powerful verse it is!

In the workplace and in relationships, humility at the onset may be construed as a weakness and sometimes attributed to a lack of self confidence. I don’t know how we can get so evil to even believe that. Most good leaders in the workplace are humble as I have worked with a few, both in church and at work, and to me, they were good role models. They never slacked on their responsibilities neither were they afraid to stay their ground; yet they mastered the art of putting their employees before them. I had noticed that during staff lunches, the bosses are the last one to eat because conversations and selfies with staff usually stood between them and the food.

As I begin to recognise the fruits of humility, I realise that I am calmer, I laugh and smile more and the actions and words of others don’t bother me as much. It is my dear Lord that reminds me that my identity is not defined by my grades, salary, the size of car and house, the clothes I wear, my physical appearance nor even my humility (or the lack of it). My true identity is that I am His and His alone.

I thank God for the failures in my life and for not always nodding to my whims and fancies. It is also the “No” and “Not yet” that has drawn me closer to Him, my family and friends, my community and towards His home of holiness through humility.

As I journey towards humility, I continue to fall down but my Father and Mother continue to reassure me that I can do this with their help.

If today, you think that you are better than others or that others have failed you, I urge you to embrace humility very tightly so that the pain you carry is lifted up. My path towards humility was unlocked through prayer, the humility to rise again, to face those who know my weaknesses, never to run away but always, always to run to God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: We pray Lord, that you will lead us to holiness, help us to always put others before ourselves, even when we think they don’t deserve it. Father and Mother, please hold our hands and lead us.

Thanksgiving: Daddy Jesus, we thank you for the failures in our lives that have made us better. Thank you for showing that true heroes die for their villains, just as you had.

5 September, Tuesday – See Good Things in the Land of the Living

5 Sept – St Teresa of Kolkata

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910 – 1997)

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on 26 August 1910 at Skopje in Macedonia. She left home at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland, where she received the name Sister Mary Teresa, after St Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1931 she was assigned to the order’s Calcutta house and taught at their school there. where she eventually became headmistress.

She received a new vocation to help the poor and destitute, and in 1948, obeying this call, she left the convent and took up a new life caring for them wherever they might be: lying sick in the street or even dying in dustbins. Some of her former pupils joined her, one by one, and the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was established in the Diocese of Calcutta in 1950, spreading across India and eventually onto every continent, even behind the Iron Curtain. Many related orders followed, involving men and women, clergy and laity, and both the active and the contemplative life. Mother Teresa died on 5 September 1997 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 19 October 2003 and canonized by Pope Francis on 4 September 2016.

Mother Teresa’s widespread appeal comes from the directness of her inspiration, and her direct response to it. She went out and did things where they were needed. When we think of big problems we inevitably think that they can only be solved by a big campaign. Perhaps that is true, perhaps not; but while the campaign is getting going, why not go out and help one person in the name of Mother Teresa? If there are 1,000 hungry people in your city, why not make it 999? If each of us did that – well, in most countries where this is being read, there are more Catholics than there are people in need.

As Monsignor Ronald Knox has said:
“I am not advocating world-movements or public meetings… my appeal is rather to the individual conscience than to the public ear; my hope is rather to see the emergence of a Saint, than that of an organization…

“There is no harm in besieging heaven for the canonization of such and such holy persons now dead. But should we not do well to vary these petitions of ours by asking for more Saints to canonize?”

(From Universalis)


1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober. God never meant us to experience the Retribution, but to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that, alive or dead, we should still live united to him. So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.


Luke 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil, throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all. Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.


Dwell in the house of the Lord ….
In the past, I frequently found myself indulging in the self-talk that I will have a breakthrough in my life; that all my problems will be no more once I have reached my Father’s house, our eternal home. I thought that I had to endure life and all the pains it brings upon me, while I am still alive. But in today’s Psalms, we are reassured that we will see the great work of the Lord in the land of the living. It certainly takes a lot more faith to expect great things to happen in our lives while we are here on earth as mortal beings, living a life we already know. Today, we need to learn to confront and diminish anything that keeps us from claiming this promise that we will be blessed in the here and now.
Today’s readings remind us that we need to be alert and sober, stout-hearted even while others we know might be asleep and aloof. Clearly, we are called not to just set a standard; we are also called to lead and encourage others to live a life that prepares us to meet our Maker. We are called to bring others along, to follow the good deeds, to adhere to the call of His kingdom.
It is in those moments when we are tempted to do it on our own, when we really need to call our colleagues, friends and family members so as to share in His kingdom. He never meant for anyone one of us to perish and we are His instruments wherever we are planted, without any exceptions whatsoever.
In my dealings in church ministry, I have felt countless times the Lord urging me to reach out to others; to be patient with them, to believe in them. In some cases, He has even prompted me to slow down with certain brothers and sisters, knowing full well that everyone is at a different stage in their faith journey. It should never be about achieving targets and completing tasks for we Catholics are formed amidst people. While we realise and wholly accept this, let us not refrain from the temptation of judging others, dismissing others and even making assumptions that we are more spiritually superior that the others.
We need to walk with each other, stopping, pausing, reflecting, coaxing and challenging each other as Christ did with a heart full of love and wisdom, choosing the right approach for each person and situation. In a recent homily, a priest exhorted that Jesus loves the greatest sinner the most, so who are we to not accept His most beloved on our quest for holiness for His kingdom? If, in the past, we have done this, let us make a new start today, knowing that our Father wills us to walk together with our brothers and sisters, and not as lone individals towards Him.
Today, let us think of all the times we have failed to encourage others in our midst. Let us also receive with a contrite heart, the encouragement of others when we have failed to live as we have been called to. No finger pointing, no favourites, no judgments. We are all His and He loves us all.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Lord, we pray that you give the right dose of boldness and patience to lead people towards your Kingdom. We ask you to make a way for us to reach others.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for your great love that though we ‘sleep’ sometimes, you have sent your most precious Son to suffer and die for us sinners so that we may be yours forever.

4 September, Monday – Bringing Good Tidings to the Poor

4 September


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that it will be the same for those who have died in Jesus: God will bring them with him. We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that any of us who are left alive until the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have died. At the trumpet of God, the voice of the archangel will call out the command and the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and then those of us who are still alive will be taken up in the clouds, together with them; to meet the Lord in the air. So we shall stay with the Lord for ever. With such thoughts as these you should comfort one another.


Luke 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.

He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’

But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.


They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town

Jesus walked upon this earth and came to live like you and me. Yet there were some quarters who never believed in Him. Over 2000 years later, there are still people who do not believe in Him.

I can imagine like me, you believe that He is the Son of God and He is the Almighty. This is really great and so what are we to do, we have found God and we have identified that it is Him we long for in our hearts. Today’s gospel is a reminder of our call to be active Christians, to reach out to the downtrodden and marginalised, and to be a witness where we are today in our lives.

How faithful are we towards this call? Are random acts of kindness and charity sufficient? I would think not, simply because our benchmark is always to do as Christ would have done. I sometimes cannot believe that He would want me to love that person who constantly ridicules my faith; that I should be merciful to the person in my ministry who never shows up on time nor does any work; the colleague who backstabs; the reckless driver on the road; the person who hurts my loved ones; the migrant workers I see daily at work and at my apartment. Let us reflect today on our choice of words and deeds in order to bring sight to the blind and to make the captives free.

While we focus on all the good deeds so as to be more like Him, let us not lose sight of Him. Let us not act like someone who is in love, but who has completely lost sight of the lover. It becomes easier to give Him his rightful place if we continue to be faithful in our primary relationships as children, spouses, parents, employees, employers, students and teachers, parishioners, leaders and citizens. It is when we have been faithful to our loved ones and when we have performed our responsibilities do we realise that, none of this satisfies but Jesus alone. That way, we can go on to worship Him wholeheartedly, knowing that our relationships and our loved ones, our wealth, our status, our popularity and our beauty can never complete us. It is Jesus that we have desired all along and we belong, first and foremost, to Him. If we have move away today from our family and responsibilities or our Lord, let us come right back to it immediately.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, you are the ruler of the world and the prince of our hearts. We ask you to bless us and bless our nation, Malaysia which celebrated its Independence Day recently.

Thanksgiving: He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy. He is our Lord, yesterday, today and forever.

4 July, Tuesday – Who is that man?

4 July – Memorial for St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Elizabeth (1271-1336) was a princess with a pious upbringing who became Queen of Portugal before she was a teenager. Elizabeth suffered through years of her husband’s abuse and adultery, praying all the while for his conversion, and working with the poor and sick. She rode onto the battlefield to reconcile her family members twice; once between her husband and son when they clashed in civil war, and between her son and his son-in-law years later, preventing bloodshed. This led to her patronage as a peacemaker, and as one invoked in time of war and conflict.

– Patron Saint Index


Genesis 19:15-29

The angels urged Lot, ‘Come, take your wife and these two daughters of yours, or you will be overwhelmed in the punishment of the town.’ And as he hesitated, the men took him by the hand, and his wife and his two daughters, because of the pity the Lord felt for him. They led him out and left him outside the town.

As they were leading him out he said, ‘Run for your life. Neither look behind you nor stop anywhere on the plain. Make for the hills if you would not be overwhelmed.’ ‘No, I beg you, my lord,’ Lot said to them ‘your servant has won your favour and you have shown great kindness to me in saving my life. But I could not reach the hills before this calamity overtook me, and death with it. The town over there is near enough to flee to, and is a little one. Let me make for that – is it not little? – and my life will be saved.’ He answered, ‘I grant you this favour too, and will not destroy the town you speak of. Hurry, escape to it, for I can do nothing until you reach it.’ That is why the town is named Zoar.

As the sun rose over the land and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord. He overthrew these towns and the whole plain, with all the inhabitants of the towns, and everything that grew there. But the wife of Lot looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Rising early in the morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and looking towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and across all the plain, he saw the smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

Thus it was that when God destroyed the towns of the plain, he kept Abraham in mind and rescued Lot out of disaster when he overwhelmed the towns where Lot lived.


Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus got into the boat followed by his disciples. Without warning a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the waves were breaking right over the boat. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke him saying, ‘Save us, Lord, we are going down!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?’ And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and all was calm again. The men were astounded and said, ‘Whatever kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him.’


… but he was asleep

Don Moen songs say that ‘He never sleeps’, which is quite contrary to today’s gospel. But he was asleep when the boat was swamped by the waves. Today are we disappointed with God? Do we think that He can do much more for us?

One of the great things about love and friendship is to trust that the other person will come through for you. In several occasions I have trusted my friends, like how we used to hang out late into the night, I know that they would do anything to protect me if danger stricks. Even with my colleagues, I know that I can come to work without my wallet and not go hungry, because I know that they would not want to see me hungry and they to trust that I would pay them back the next day. Relationships are based on trust.

Our experience in life may have made it difficult for us to trust others. I once knew 2 loving sisters who would do anything for their friends but they found it hard to trust others and not choosing to trust brought a lot of stress to their relationships.

If today, we have a problem with trust in general, it is quite likely that we are disconnected and not in touch with the essence of what it means to be human.

Jesus is not asleep but really, I wonder what He is doing right now? Is He thinking about me and smilling at me? Is He waiting for me at the Eucharist? Is He holding the hands of the people I have failed? I am only human, I could never guess. But as a Catholic, I know that He loves me and His is my lover and my loving Lord; He adores me and Has great plans for me. Do I need to know more? I trust Him enough to know that He will feed me more than my colleagues can, trust me more than my friends do, accepts me even when I am disappointed with myself and when that is not enough for my restless heart, I will run hastily towards His bosom and even when I cannot go to Him, He will never let me go.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the people of America as they celebrate their independence day. May they (and we too) continue to trust in You.

Thanksgiving: Lord I run to you, all my hope and trust is in you. Jesu Ufam Tobie.