Tag Archives: josephine dionisappu

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

17 May

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Acts 22:30,23:6-11

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

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

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John 17:20-26

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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

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You have loved me before the foundation of the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

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

16 May, Wednesday – Your Word, O Lord

16 May

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Acts 20:28-38

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

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

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

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

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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

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Consecrate them in the truth … Your word is truth

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

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

15 May, Tuesday – Not A Counterfeit

15 May

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Acts 20:17-27

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

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

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

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

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John 17:1-11

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

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

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…the ones you have given me

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

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

13 May, Sunday – Not One Was Lost

13 May

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

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

Let someone else take his office.

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

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

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1 John 4:11-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.

While I was with them, I kept those you had given me true to your name. I have watched over them and not one is lost except the one who chose to be lost, and this was to fulfil the scriptures.

But now I am coming to you and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full.

I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.

I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.

They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.

Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

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

24 February, Saturday – Love, Love and Love

24 February

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Deuteronomy 26:16-19

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

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

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Matthew 5:43-48

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

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Pray for those who persecute you”

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord:

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

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

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Matthew 5:20-26

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

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

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Whoever is angry with his brother is liable for judgement”

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

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

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

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

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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.

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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.’

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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

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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.

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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.’

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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

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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.

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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.”’

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…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

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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.

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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.’

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…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.