Tag Archives: letting go

15 August, Monday – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

15 August – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mass during the day)

Dear Readers,

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These are the readings for the day of the feast itself – Monday.

_____________________

Mary is taken up body and soul into the glory of Heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of Heaven and earth. And is she really so remote from us? The contrary is true. Precisely because she is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, “within” all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a “mother” to whom we can turn at every moment. – Pope Benedict XVI

– http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050815_assunzione-maria_en.html

_____________________

Apocalypse 11:19,12:1-6,10

The sanctuary of God in heaven opened and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and an earthquake, and violent hail.

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother. The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready, for her to be looked after in the twelve hundred and sixty days.

Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, ‘Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now that the persecutor, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.’

_____________________

1 Corinthians 15:20-26

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death, for everything is to be put under his feet.

_____________________

Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

_____________________

“Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste”

The first verse in today’s gospel comes immediately after the angel’s annunciation to Mary. So why would Mary, a young and newly pregnant mother, make that arduous trip from Nazareth to the hill country of Judah, a journey that from all accounts, was about 100 miles long? Why do we ever do anything that is impulsive or illogical? Because in our hearts, we feel moved by faith – we just ‘know’ it’s the right thing to do.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a given time for everything and a time for every happening under heaven” (Ecc 3:1). Mary knew instinctively that it was time and that she was going to be the agent of change through which salvation would be manifest into the world. She knew, and trusted that it would be alright, even if she did not have all the facts just yet. These moments of grace are truly special. Touched by God, we are blessed with a sense of ‘knowing’, a certainty to act outside of ourselves without seeing the whole picture – a job turned down, a proposal not consummated, a road untravelled. In that moment, we have an inkling that we have received grace, even if full realization comes with the passage of time.

I experienced being touched by His grace last Sunday. I have been angry for a long time, frustrated by politics in the ministry, dejected and disillusioned by the glacial pace at which things are achieved within the bureaucracy of the church. And I confess to allowing these dark thoughts to take a hold of my heart. But when I least expected it, certainly when I least deserved it, God granted me a grace whose significance I can only guess at. I’m humbled by the experience. When it happened, it was like a bolt of lightning. I was overcome with an awareness that He does see, that He is in control and that He hears my deepest thoughts. It was as if He wanted to remind me that I am not as alone as I thought myself to be. And that I should know, things will happen but in His time, not mine. Being ‘caught out’ in my thoughts like that is both terrifying and uplifting. He knows! He hears! And He’s gently reminded me that I should take Mary’s lead; I ought to know too.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We ask for His forgiveness, when we give up too easily, and lose faith in His ability to effect change.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for His unending love and mercy, that even when we least deserve it, He offers us a measure of grace to save us from ourselves.

18 July, Monday – The Sign

18 July

_____________________

Micah 6:1-4,6-8

Listen to what the Lord is saying:

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

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

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

_____________________

Matthew 12:38-42

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

_____________________

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

Many of us find ourselves asking, “What is the Lord’s will for me?” We desire to do God’s will but God doesn’t seem to be giving us a sign or showing us the way.

Today’s readings focus on this point, where in the first reading, God clearly explains to us, what He asks of us: “What is good has been explained to you, man; this is what the Lord asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” Something so simple, but yet so difficult to live out. Many times we find ourselves complicating matters in our lives, continuously asking God for a sign when the sign already has been given as mentioned in the Gospel.

As with Jonah and the Queen of the South, what they needed wasn’t a sign; what they needed was faith. Not just faith in themselves but faith in God. We are in our positions today because God has a plan with our lives. It is not about what we can do but about we allowing Him to work in our lives. However, most of us find ourselves in the person of Jonah, where we see such a task of following Christ and being His disciple is one that is not suited for us; a task in which we are bound to fail. We run away from our problems, avoid conflicts, we fail to respond and eventually we find ourselves inadequate, unworthy, insufficient. Or we can be like the Queen of the South where seeing is believing, where we are consumed by what one has rather than who one is. We chase fame and glory in the material world and we will go to the ends of the Earth to attain it.

Have we then been like Jonah where we are running away from the sign that has already been given? Or have we been like the Queen of the South, spending time, effort and money on a journey that ultimately leads us away from God?

Instead of asking, let us maybe focus on what we have been given and who we are now. For not only is the sign there but we are also called to be signs to others, witnesses of the truth and examples of love. Let us not just ask for a sign but let us respond to the sign that God has already given us. Amen.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that you may continue to strengthen our faith, especially when it comes to doing something out of our comfort zone. That we may continue to find you already in our lives as well as to be you to all around us. We also pray for a greater awareness and surrender for those who have not encountered you yet. That they may not just keep asking but to also be still and to listen. To not just believe but to live it out every day in our lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the many signs you have given us, through the people you have sent in our lives. Help us to treasure and cherish those who help lead us to you.

24 May, Tuesday – Free Your Mind

24 May

_____________________

1 Peter 1:10-16

It was this salvation that the prophets were looking and searching so hard for; their prophecies were about the grace which was to come to you. The Spirit of Christ which was in them foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would come after them, and they tried to find out at what time and in what circumstances all this was to be expected. It was revealed to them that the news they brought of all the things which have now been announced to you, by those who preached to you the Good News through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, was for you and not for themselves. Even the angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.

Free your minds, then, of encumbrances; control them, and put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Do not behave in the way that you liked to before you learnt the truth; make a habit of obedience: be holy in all you do, since it is the Holy One who has called you, and scripture says: Be holy, for I am holy.

_____________________

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.’

_____________________

Free your minds… of encumbrances; control them…put your trust in nothing but the grace that will be given you

Sometimes I put people and situations in boxes. I put parts of myself in neat boxes too. It is my way of taming things I do not fully comprehend. It is my way of control. I have a crippling habit of over-analysing conversations and happenings that destabilise me. I need to get a hand on stuff, and the best way I know how is to label them – whether rightly or wrongly. On one hand it helps me troubleshoot and fix things. On the other, it can be an obstacle to freely receive and understand things from another perspective.

The scriptures seem to point out that in order to be a channel for the grace of Christ’s Spirit, one must free the mind of encumbrances. Saint Peter was giving the early church an account of their Jewish prophet forefathers. He spoke of their wisdom which allowed them to prophesy about Christs’ coming sufferings and glories. But he gave credit to the Holy Spirit at work within them, which they generously transmitted to latter generations.

To experience this freedom of mind and spirit, our minds need to be controlled. Not to control things, events, people. But to control our inward frenetic thoughts, incessant distractions, and self-centred schemes. How much of our time spent over-strategising and plotting to tackle ‘worst case scenarios’ is also time spent stressing out ourselves and the people around us with things truly beyond our control? God did give us our mental faculties to calculate and make effective plans. But often, our strong suit can also be an Archilles’ heel. Have we ever experienced the breakdown of communication and plans, simply because we sought to control and tame every aspect of relationships and situations? This is when both our hearts and minds are enclosed and not free to receive and respect others.

We hear the first disciples remind Jesus of all the relationships they have given up to follow him, after they witnessed the poor rich man going away sadly. They say: Look at how much we have given up already! It is not easy. Jesus does not make light of our sacrifices – he replies solemnly but firmly that our ‘repayment’ is not in equal value and terms, but “a hundred times over – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29). Indeed it is impossible to predict the rewards of a life following Christ. It truly overflows.

If our hearts and minds are free from the encumbrances of always ensuring a fail-safe plan, strategising to come in first, and getting the better end of all deals, we are more likely to take the risks that Jesus beckons us to in order to join him in eternity. Because this does not come easy, Jesus teaches us to make a habit of obedience to follow him. Obedience in small mundane things leads to obedience in big plans, and therefore even grander works. But step by step. What are the acts of obedience the Lord is calling you to today? Is there a situation of control which you find hard to give up on and put your trust in nothing but the grace of God?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to relinquish unhealthy control on the way people around me behave or on the way my plans turn out. I trust that you are the Lord of my life and you are the one holding the world and my life together.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for always giving me better gifts than the ones I try to pick out for myself.