Tag Archives: josephine dionisappu

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

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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.

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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.’

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… 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.

3 July, Monday – Believe yet not seen

3 July – Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle

Thomas (d. 72) was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem, but he is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christ’s wounds. He preached in Parthia, Persia and India, though he was so reluctant to start the mission that he had to be taken into slavery by a merchant headed that way.

He eventually gave in to God’s will, was freed, and planted the new Church over a wide area. He formed many parishes and built many churches along the way. An old tradition says that Thomas baptised the wise men from the Nativity into Christianity.

His symbol is the builder’s square. There are several stories that explain it:

  • – he built a palace for King Guduphara in India
  • – he built the first church in India with his own hands
  • – it is representative of building a strong spiritual foundation as he had complete faith in Christ (though initially less in the Resurrection)
  • – he offered to build a palace for an Indian king that would last forever; the king gave him money, which Thomas promptly gave away to the poor; he explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 2:19-22

You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

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John 20:24-29

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

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You believe because you can see me

It is interesting that we continue to have faith in the operators of theme parks, sellers of miracle skin care ranges and diet supplements, and even each other. But when it comes to believing God, we can sometimes be sceptical.

While writing this piece, I was trying to find out if the Apostle Thomas ever came to Malaysia, since he was in India. After spending some time researching I wondered why was it so important to me, that one of the apostles of Jesus walked on the same land as I do today. Would I have doubted Jesus’ resurrection like Thomas did?

We are all sinners and yet our perfect God continues to believe in us. We have failed, not kept to His word or ours and yet it is He who chooses to continue believing in us. Why would the Lord of all the earth, whose credibility is spotless and accountability unquestionable, be the object of our doubts? Sometimes it is because we simply lack faith; but sometimes, I think we feel that we are close enough to Jesus that we could ask Him as Thomas did. After journeying with Jesus, Thomas must have really loved Jesus and just as we would sometimes think of our departed loves, Thomas yearned to see His Lord again just once more. In his grief, he could have been disappointed that the others had seen Jesus, but not himself.

If I were in his shoes, I could imagine the pain he would have felt. That the Saviour appears to all his friends except him and the feelings that arose may not be of jealously and envy, but simply because of the deep yearning to see the One he loves. Look at his response, “My Lord and My God.” He did not question Him when they met face to face.

This could be a familiar feeling to some of us when a loved one who lives abroad comes home on a visit. One of my close friends lived abroad for 20 years. We kept in touch, writing letters, phone calls, emails, Skype sessions and sending each other cards for birthdays, Christmas and sometimes just for no occasion at all.  On most of her visits, we got to meet each other at the airport as she stayed at my place. On her more recent visits, it was challenging for us to meet. In her conversations, she would sometimes mention that she met one of our mutual friends and if on her trip home, we had yet to meet, I would yearn just to see her and be in her presence. In anticipation of our face to face meeting we both yearned just to see each other, which is not uncommon among good friends.

In Thomas’ case, he was not just friends with Jesus. He knew that Jesus Christ was his Lord. In that same sense, when we move away from Christ because of our lifestyles or because we stop praying and receiving Holy Communion, there is such a deep longing within us for Him that we feel lost and sometimes we even ache inside.

Today, let us continue to foster this friendship with our Father. Let us ask Him to come and show Himself to us. And when He does (because He surely will) let us embrace His words, His ways and His truth. Let us boldly place our hands in His wounds to address the suffering faced by others around us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Heal our unbelief in You. Lead us to a friendship and total sonship with You that in every situation we would believe, though we have not seen. St Thomas, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: O My Lord and My God, we long for You. Our souls are restless until they rest in You.

2 July, Sunday – Love Unveiling

2 July 2017

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2 Kings 4:8-11, 13-16

One day as Elisha was on his way to Shunem, a woman of rank who lived there pressed him to stay and eat there. After this he always broke his journey for a meal when he passed that way. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure the man wno is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small room on the roof, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.’ One day when he came, he retired to the upper room and lay down. He said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Call our Shunammitess. Tell her this: “Look, you have gone to all this trouble for us, what can we do for you? Is there anything you would like said for you to the king or to the commander of the army?”’ But she replied, ‘I live with my own people about me.’ ‘What can be done for her then?’ he asked. Gehazi answered, ‘Well, she has no son and her husband is old.’ Elisha said, ‘Call her.’ The servant called her and she stood at the door. This time next year,’ he said ‘you will hold a son in your arms.’

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Romans 6:3-4, 8-11

When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.

But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

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Matthew 10:37-42

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.

‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’

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Can something be done for her

In today’s reading, we hear of the woman without a child. In the times of Elisha and even in modern day Malaysia, women are expected to be life-giving by having their own offsprings. Society is rather unforgiving of this and some may utter hurtful words to ladies who do not have children.

God’s favour comes upon the lady in today’s gospel in the form of a son. But that need not be the only way God chooses to bless us – through children. Are we rooted enough to see all His works in our life? Are we able to look beyond the murmuring of people and trust in our Lord?

In the gospel, He clearly says that we are not worthy of Him if we love our children or parents more. This is a tough one for me as I simply adore my parents. Yet I know that God is my primary Father and He is my all in all. In matters of giving him a first class place in my heart, I have to rely on Him; there is no other way.

Recently, there was a brutal murder of a young man in Malaysia. He was 19 and was tortured for hours by his peers. There had been other such cases recently — young people being bullied to death by people they knew. As the investigations unfolded, it was revealed that these children had been bullied before by the same assilants and even other adults knew about it. Why did the other adults not speak up? This could have saved lives. Sadly, many people I spoke with on this admitted that they would not do anything if they saw a child being bullied, simply because the child was not their own.

Children are a gift from God. As adults, we have a duty of care towards any child, even strangers. If people loved God more than they loved their own children, they would have done or said something. Because they would have seen God in the child that was being bullied. The Beautitudes state – “blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth.”

My dear sisters and brothers, let us learn to talk when it matters and when it really counts, knowing that, that will not make us empty vessels but rather ones that love God more than we love anyone else. This world desperately needs to see the love of Christ through our words and deeds.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the victims and assailants in the recent bullying cases, also those who have chosen not to act. Be our voice and protector of all danger. St Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord, for giving us a longing so deep so that we cannot ignore you, the Love or all Loves, you who are Love.

2 May, Tuesday – Jezu Ufam Tobie – Jesus I trust in You

May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor

Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism, which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.

He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.

He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 7:51-8:1

Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’

They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.

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John 6:30-35

The people said to Jesus, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’

‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:

‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’

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I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Sometimes, we try to intellectualise things overly, by totally ignoring the voices in our heart. We think that it is not humanly possible to withstand hunger and thirst or, taking it further, to think that it is impossible to always trust in God. If you are in that place in your lives or you see that you are approaching it, run back to God. I say run because it has to be immediate and prompt so that any unbelief that you have does not grow. It is our little act of running to Him that can snap out any roots of unbelief.

In today’s reading we read of Saul who consented to the death of St Stephen. Can we trust God that He restores the situations of death which we have consented to?

Trust has become a rare virtue and could be difficult to some of us. But the Lord promises us in today’s gospel that those who believe in Him will never thirst. It is possible that some of us can relate to the time in our lives when we never stopping believing in God, and how that gave us peace and joy despite our hardship. Could we revisit that place of belief and trust in our hearts?

In my life, I am blessed to have been in that place of trusting God, despite my personal suffering. But I could not have done it without reading the scriptures, attending mass and praying fervently. I am not implying that trusting God takes a lot of effort. But rather I have experienced that if I wanted to continue to ensure that I never distrust Him and doubt Him, I have to seek Him fervently in prayers, and have others carry my prayers to the Lord. I know that even to trust Him is a blessing from Him.

When I do not trust Him, I am in shambles, I am lost, broken and troubled. I feel like my life wire has been unplugged. To go on in peace and in joy, I have to ensure that I am connected to Him. Maybe some of you can relate to this? Maybe you cannot. But either way, you and I need to trust in the Lord all the time.

He is not a magician nor a medium but He is the all in all, our everything. Without Him, there is no you and me. Our hunger and thirst for Him can be fulfilled if we continue to walk with Him and at times, race to Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Jesus, my precious Lord, I trust in you. Help me while I run, I walk and I crawl to you, also when I turn my back on you. Free me from living a life without You.

Thanksgiving: Lord, I thank you for the bread from heaven. I thank you for teaching me each time that you are worthy of trust.

1 May, Monday – Beautiful are those who follow His law

May 1 – Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

Joseph (d. 1st century) was a descendant of the House of David. He was a layman, a builder by trade; traditionally a carpenter, but may have been a stone worker. He was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ. He was a visionary who was visited by angels. He was noted for his willingness to immediately get up and do what God had told him to do. He died of natural causes, prior to the Passion of Christ.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 6:8-15

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said.

So they procured some men to say, ‘We heard him using blasphemous language against Moses and against God.’ Having in this way turned the people against him as well as the elders and scribes, they took Stephen by surprise, and arrested him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. There they put up false witnesses to say, ‘This man is always making speeches against this Holy Place and the Law. We have heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene is going to destroy this Place and alter the traditions that Moses handed down to us.’

The members of the Sanhedrin all looked intently at Stephen, and his face appeared to them like the face of an angel.

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John 6:22-29

After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water. Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’

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“Rabbi! When did you get here?

Today’s reading illustrates the splendour of a man filled with the Holy Spirit. I am always in awe when I read about these fervent saints; and that includes St Stephen. And after praying various novenas seeking their intercession, I sometimes feel a little inclined to want to be like these saints. Though very quickly, I feel like running in the other direction to avoid ‘having to live the life of a saint.’ This is, in some sense, like the apostles who seek Jesus but only for their own gain. Why do we seek Jesus today?

Can we seek Him so that we become like Him? Are we ready to be like Him only during the resurrection? Have we forgotten that there is no resurrection without the crucifixion?

The Lord knows that we pick and choose, that sometimes we are half-hearted. Are we ready to turn our hearts to Him, just as it is right now? There are things that He is ready to do for us that only He can do.

How beautiful are the ones who obey his laws and yearn for His will. Brothers and sisters, let us be such as these today.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, heal my heart and ways that are self-seeking. Bless me with the grace to receive your body and blood every Sunday. Ignite me with your love and teach me your ways.

Thanksgiving: Lord, I believe in the one who was sent for me.

30 April, Sunday – Did I not recognise you?

30 Apr – Memorial for St. Pius V, pope

Antonio Ghislieri (1504-1572) was born to impoverished Italian nobility, the son of Paolo Ghislieri and Domenica Augeria. He worked as a shepherd as a boy, and received an excellent education in piety and holiness, including a scholastic education from a Dominican friar. He joined the Order in 1518, taking the name Michele. He studied in Bologna, Italy, and was ordained in 1528 in Genoa.

He was appointed teacher of philosophy and divinity in Genoa, and was a professor of theology in Pavia for 16 years. He was the Master of novices and prior of several Dominican houses, and he worked for stricter adherence to the Order’s rule.

He was an inquisitor in Como and Bergamo, and the commissary general of the Roman Inquisition in 1551. On Sep 4, 1556, he was ordained Bishop of Nepi and Sutri against his will. He was Inquisitor in Milan and Lombary in the same year, and created cardinal on Mar 15 the following year, made Grand Inquisitor on Dec 14, 1558, and was part of the conclave of 1559. He was appointed Bishop of Mondovi, Italy on Mar 17, 1560. As bishop, he worked to lead his flock with words and examples, and served as a continual messenger encouraging personal piety and devotion to God.

He became the 225th pope in 1566, and immediately faced the task of enacting the reforms of the Council of Trent. New seminaries were opened, a new breviary, new missal, and new catechism were published. Foundations were established to spread the faith and preserve the doctrine of the Church. He spent much time personally working with the needy. He built hospitals and used the papal treasury to care for the poor. He faced many difficulties in the public forum, both in the implementation of the Tridentine reforms and interaction with other heads of state. He created 21 cardinals. At the time of his death he was working on a Christian European alliance to break the power of the Islamic states.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 2:14,22-33

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’

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1 Peter 1:17-21

If you are acknowledging as your Father one who has no favourites and judges everyone according to what he has done, you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home. Remember, the ransom that was paid to free you from the useless way of life your ancestors handed down was not paid in anything corruptible, neither in silver nor gold, but in the precious blood of a lamb without spot or stain, namely Christ; who, though known since before the world was made, has been revealed only in our time, the end of the ages, for your sake. Through him you now have faith in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.

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Luke 24:13-35

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

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Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”

In the past few days, I wondered what was making my heart burn. I was fully aware of how I let myself and my self-worth stand on the words and deeds of others. It made me realise that when I allow myself to be consumed by the works and words of mere men, I am setting myself up for disappointment and, more importantly, creating room for drifting from my Lord. I have no doubt that I was made for Him and that without Him I am not just nothing, I am definitely not me. Do you, like me, give room for the words of others to take hold in your life? Are you holding on to words of hurt, sin and anger? Isn’t this the time to ask the Lord to take His rightful place, right at the centre of our lives and our hearts?

I was recently reading an article written by a man who faces same sex attraction. In his sharing, he said that his ways were bad and God knew it; but He kept praying even though he continued to be attracted to men. He shares that it’s because God knew his heart and knew that he wanted to be attracted to women so that he could be immoral like most men he knew. He realised that God was interested in his heart and wanted to make it right first and foremost – to want God above everything. We could have been there, praying for something and waiting in vain with our unanswered prayers. It can be hard, it can hurt and be painful. What are we called to do here? We are asked to look to Him, to help us carry this cross with faith. And despite a horrendous burden on our backs, to help our sisters and brother carry their cross – this is the call of Christianity.

We need to constantly let our hearts burn with the Scriptures, sacraments and devotions. Give Him your whole heart, let Him mould it, heal it, guard it and fill it in the way we need it to be filled. Only He can and knows how to do it. Trust in Him to inflame your heart and recognise His gentle presence.

I will be praying for you at mass today, that He inflames your heart for the rest of your days.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, show us your path, let us hear your voice. We are desperate for you.

Thanksgiving: My lips and my hearts will sing of your praises.

28 February, Sacrifices of My Heart

28 February 2017

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First reading
Ecclesiasticus 35:2-15

A man multiplies offerings by keeping the Law;
he offers communion sacrifices by following the commandments.
By showing gratitude he makes an offering of fine flour,
by giving alms he offers a sacrifice of praise.
Withdraw from wickedness and the Lord will be pleased,
withdraw from injustice and you make atonement.
Do not appear empty-handed in the Lord’s presence;
for all these things are due under the commandment.
A virtuous man’s offering graces the altar,
and its savour rises before the Most High.
A virtuous man’s sacrifice is acceptable,
its memorial will not be forgotten.
Honour the Lord with generosity,
do not stint the first-fruits you bring.
Add a smiling face to all your gifts,
and be cheerful as you dedicate your tithes.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously as your means can afford;
for the Lord is a good rewarder,
he will reward you seven times over.
Offer him no bribe, he will not accept it,
do not put your faith in an unvirtuous sacrifice;
since the Lord is a judge
who is no respecter of personages.

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Mark 10:28-31

‘What about us?’ Peter asked Jesus. ‘We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’

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Receive a hundred times more now in this present age

In today’s reading the God promises that we will receive blessings in a hundredfold. This was similar to a promise He made in Mark 9:1 “I tell you solemnly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God comes to power.”

Do we believe that God is talking to us and offering this promise to us? Are we being evasive and wondering that He must be talking to some self-righteous dude, someone holy and almost saintly? Let us deny that way of thinking!

Let us get it right from this day forward, that our God (my God) does not have favourites and he will repay you sevenfold. As our Father, He teaches us to pay within our means and with joy, to be generous, to refrain from evil and not to bribe. How have we fared as obedient children to our loving Father?

In my walk of life, I know that God is asking me to be calm and patient, revealing areas that are challenging to me. This is my challenge especially when I feel the need to stand up for myself. Some well-meaning friends told me, use these situations for the glory of God. Yes how true and my failure to do so reminds me that I am weak and I am relying on my Father to rescue me.

Who would be relying on today? Is it an astrologer, our doctors, our bosses, our teachers or even our parents and spouses? My strength is in the Lord. When everyone is bound to fail, my Lord remains steadfast and constant. He promises to bless you and me a hundredfold and repay us sevenfold, He is at work right now. We sometimes may not be plugged into the right network, help us Lord to disconnect from all false networks so we get the see the strength of your ‘signal’.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord break down these walls, break all my fears, I am here ready to receive from your blessings.

Thanksgiving: Your amazing love has captured me, all the days of my life I will sing of your praises.

18 October, Tuesday – No excess baggage

18 October – Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist

Luke (d. 74) was born to pagan Greek parents, and possibly a slave. He was one of the earliest converts, and a physician studying in Antioch and Tarsus. He probably travelled as a ship’s doctor, and many charitable societies of physicians are named after him. Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, but none have ever been correctly or definitively attributed to him; this story, and the inspiration his Gospel has always given artists, led to his patronage of them.

He met St. Paul at Troas, and evangelised Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome, and stayed in Rome for Paul’s two years in prison. He wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul, interviews with early Christians, and his own experiences. He also wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was likely to have been martyred for his faith.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Timothy 4:10-17

Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful helper in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself, because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

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Luke 10:1-9

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”’

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Peace to this household

Would you go on a journey without a change of clothes and money? Imagine the freedom of not having to pack or unpack nor having to lug along a heavy piece of luggage to the airport – that can sure sound refreshing to some of us.

Some of us are all too familiar with the meaning of excess baggage – of dragging along items in our lives which we do not need anymore — hoarding ill feelings, unforgiveness, hurt, anger, resentment and even unrequited love. It is sensible for us to realise what sort of baggage we still carry. Just as car which is overloaded with things consumes more fuel, a part of us works extra hard to carry the burden that is no longer ours to bear. What baggage do we carry today which you can check in to God?

On my recent pilgrimage to Poland for World Youth Day, I was under the impression that I travelled light. I carried 4 t-shirts, 2 pants, a light jacket, clothes for our performances and my prayer books and bible as well as souvenirs. It was easy to handle my luggage and there was still room for the other material we received there. I felt liberated to carry a bag which I could handle. One of the other things that I had to do was to apply for 15 days of annual leave, leaving me with 3 days of leave from August to the end of the year.

In September, my dad feel ill. There were days when I could not follow him for doctor’s appointments or even send my parents to the hospital. While he was hospitalised, my mum had to take a cab each morning from my house to visit him. I found myself in a constant dilemma about how best to utilise the 3 days of leave. The guilt was eating me when I could only take time off work; when I would rather be by his bedside or even to be around and talk to the doctors. I was desperately wishing that I had not gone for World Youth Day. Over the 3 weeks of hospital visits and doctor’s appointment, I started realising that I had to learn to lean on God, to send us the right person or the solution to fulfil my needs. It was then that I realised that those few weeks were not so stressful at work and I managed to take time off, as and when required. Thankfully, my other family members were around for my parents on the days that I could not.

My pilgrimage was an experience of mercy and peace and during my dad’s illness, everything seemed like it was swept away. But I realised His peace remained and so did His mercy. The only change was my perception.

As members of the International Centre of Evangelisation at World Youth Day, we were reaching out to so many people. On a daily basis, my group would be out in the streets handing out leaflets on our faith, talking to people and praying with and for them. It is not much different from what the 72 did in today’s gospel. We ate the food that was served as I had run out of funds and walked endlessly although most of us travelled by car everywhere on a daily basis. Was it too big a price to pay for the salvation of others? This cannot be the case.

What is God asking of you today, so that you bring His peace to others? What is He asking us to check in at His counter of mercy, the mercy which He offers in equal measure to both you and your trespassers. Are you convinced of His blessings in your life? Do you believe that you are made an instrument of His peace and mercy to a world who knows you and not Him?

How can you be like the faithful 72 disciples he sent out, today and for the rest of your life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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Prayer: Lord help me to trust in you, believe in your providence and be always aware that I can expect it. Mary, let me never lose my God. St Luke, pray for us and all the doctors who treat us.

Thanksgiving: Lord I thank you for your peace and mercy. I will pass it on.

17 October, Monday – You are handmade with love

17 October – Memorial for St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

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

– Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 2:1-10

You were dead through the crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world, obeying the ruler who governs the air, the spirit who is at work in the rebellious. We all were among them too in the past, living sensual lives, ruled entirely by our own physical desires and our own ideas; so that by nature we were as much under God’s anger as the rest of the world. But God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.

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

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Luke 12:13-21

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend,’ he replied, ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?.” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’

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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you, it is a gift, so no one may boast.

I like to make greetings cards, and behind it I sign off as ‘handmade with love by Josephine Dionisappu, especially for you’ . My boss, who likes to make soaps, has the same label ‘handmade with love’ stuck on her handmade soaps. Both she and I have an unspoken understanding that when something is handmade, it is indeed made out of love, especially since it takes much of our time. In Genesis, we learn that men (we), were created on the 6th day by God and “He breathed His breath on us and that we are made in His image”. We were surely made by love by God and we should never doubt that our being and existence is founded by love. You and I are handmade with love and so are the people who love us and the ones who hate us too.

In today’s readings we are reminded of grace that we have received, grace that has saved us and yet does not come from us, something we cannot take credit for. Why does God give us grace? Grace, just like the gift of our lives, is unmerited. God gives us grace for our sanctification so that we can share a home with Him forever. And while earth is our home, we are able to live our lives in a manner that is worthy of Him.

A gift of grace can be seen in the person of our priests and religious. They have taken vows of obedience, poverty and chastity so that they can serve God’s people as a priority. I have been in conversation where people challenge these vows and the need for it. An agnostic colleague once told me why should we pay the priests, we did not ask for them to serve us. Our tithes are not our gifts; it’s our offering, not a repayment of sorts. It is hard for us to fully comprehend why we receive something when we have not expressed an interest in it and valuing it is a bigger challenge.

On a simpler note, let’s look at home-cooked meals. Many people I know will not expect to have meals cooked for them daily, but many of them have hot meals waiting for them each evening. We are aware that we can buy take-away for our dinner instead, or just skip our meal as an option. The home-cooked meal we receive is something like grace — we cannot expect it and it does not come from us, but it is prepared out of love by our mothers and/or spouses.

Are we thankful for the gift of grace? How can we show are gratitude? How can we live out this grace daily? How have we cherished those who have shown us grace?

Are we sharing our inheritance and blessings or are we hoarding and storing?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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Prayer: Lord give us a heart of generosity so to that we share what we have for we cannot take credit for anything that we own for all good things come from you.

Thanksgiving: Lord you handmade us with love, we belong to you.

16 October, Sunday – Fear of the Lord and respect for human beings

16 October

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Exodus 17:8-13

The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick out men for yourself, and tomorrow morning march out to engage Amalek. I, meanwhile, will stand on the hilltop, the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua did as Moses told him and marched out to engage Amalek, while Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek. But Moses’ arms grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and on this he sat, Aaron and Hur supporting his arms, one on one side, one on the other; and his arms remained firm till sunset. With the edge of the sword Joshua cut down Amalek and his people.

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2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

You must keep to what you have been taught and know to be true; remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the holy scriptures – from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching.

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Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

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When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?  Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.  But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?

No one of us is exempted for doubting the Lord at some point in our lives, especially when we have being praying persistently, about something that may appear to us as God being too slow to answer.  What do we tell ourselves when we feel like that? Surely if we were truly patient, and had steadfast faith, we would not think that God is too slow.

In my faith journey, I have asked the Lord many times to work on my timing. I know that I am impatient and should learn how to be satisfied with what I have now. I know too, that I falter in trusting my Lord with the simple issue of time; after all, He is the author of time.

Most recently when I was down again in my quest to find out ‘why do I have to wait so long?’ I attended an adoration service during which I found a gentle voice telling me, that He is in control. He loves me and my loved ones, more than I can and that He will come through for me and for my loved ones.

It is as simple as that, my dear friends. He is our father, our best friend, our saviour and Lord – He will come to rescue us all the time, every time. What we do while we wait is entirely up to us. It’s a choice — for us to learn how to trust Him and to work on the areas in our lives which are prone to sin. We are obviously more prone to sin in areas which we find hard to trust the Lord with. We can also work on growing this plant of perseverance by constantly watering it with our patience, trust and dependence on the Lord while still dying to our own will.

Is there something that you want so much that you cannot live without? That is your idol. Turn it over to Him immediately and let us remember that we are princes and princesses because we are heirs; let us not choose to stand like slaves and be served food to the pigs. He has prepared a banquet for us and a room in His house. A house which He promised has many rooms, so let us eat and live with Him.

Why are we impatient? Why is our faith so shallow? What can we do today to start growing in our faith? For the rest of the days, how do we plan to live up to our commitment towards our faith?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

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Prayer: Father increase our faith, that we will never have to doubt your perfect timing and your plan for us, your children. Help us to commit to steadfast faith for the rest of our days. Lord, teach us everyday that you do just what you say, in your time.

Thanksgiving: You make all things beautiful in your time.