Tag Archives: life

20 April, Thursday – Life Stories

20 April 2017

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Acts 3:11-26

Everyone came running towards Peter and John in great excitement, to the Portico of Solomon, as it is called, where the man was still clinging to Peter and John. When Peter saw the people he addressed them, ‘Why are you so surprised at this? Why are you staring at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or holiness? You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses; and it is the name of Jesus which, through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration comes which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets. Moses, for example, said: The Lord God will raise up a prophet like myself for you, from among your own brothers; you must listen to whatever he tells you. The man who does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from the people. In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.

‘You are the heirs of the prophets, the heirs of the covenant God made with our ancestors when he told Abraham: in your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed. It was for you in the first place that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’

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Luke 24:35-48

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

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The author of life you put to death

For writers, the story that you tell gives a voice to the cause or message that you want to put through. For example, if your story is about pre-school pedagogies, you could be advocating early learning for children. If you are talking about paleo diets, you could be raising health awareness, so on and so forth. Whatever story that a writer tells though, is always entwined with the writer. Any raw emotion or experiences, the writer’s thoughts… some part of it will end up being sprinkled into the writer’s piece. The story also ends with the writer. If a writer stops writing, the story ends there. If a writer dies, the story dies with the writer, and no one knows how the story would have been intended to end.

When the people crucified Jesus, they thought that that was the end of the story. The Pharisees and high priests were probably relieved, the disciples and followers of Jesus, very depressed. Christ was no more…

But God works in His own way. The author of life, they may have put to death, but it was through his death that the story lives! The story could only be written with Christ’s death on the cross, as it was through death that He then resurrected on the third day. So much was said about Christ in his lifetime, and so much more was even said after his resurrection. His resurrection made witnesses of many people, and his resurrection opened up the eyes and ears of many others who finally understood the scriptures, and now more than ever, believed in the power of God!

Jesus said to the disciples, “everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”

Indeed, other people before Jesus had written these ‘stories’, but only Jesus could have provided life to them. Only through Jesus could these ‘stories’ finally have meaning, only by Jesus’ death on the cross could the message of the prophets finally come to pass. The ordinary people may have put the author of life to death, but they could not put an end to the story. The story did not, and does not die. God brought life back to us through the resurrection through Christ Jesus.

Every day, God’s story is written through us. His power and glory are manifested through our lives. Every day is a new chapter for God to write our story with us. Let us allow Him to do so, so that His message comes through via how we live our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

PrayerLord, I have been trying to write my life story on my own, but I pray now with Your guidance, I will write my story with You.

ThanksgivingThank you Lord, for giving us life through Your death and resurrection. It is because of You that we live.

11 November, Friday – Always Be Prepared

11 November – Memorial for St. Martin of Tours, Bishop

Martin (316-397) was born to pagan parents. His father was a Roman military officer and tribune. Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy, where he discovered Christianity and became a catechumen in his early teens. He joined the Roman imperia army at the age of 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acts as the emperor’s bodyguard, and was rarely exposed to combat. He became a cavalry officer and was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul.

Trying to live his faith, he refused to let his servant wait on him. Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (modern France), he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer’s cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later, he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.

Martin was baptized into the Church at the age of 18. Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. Charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms.

On a visit to Lombardy to see his parents, he was robbed in the mountains – but managed to convert one of the thieves. At home, he found that his mother had converted, but his father had not. The area was strongly Arian, and openly hostile to Catholics. Martin was badly abused by the heretics, and at one point even by the order of the Arian bishop. Learning that the Arians had gained the upper hand in Gaul and exiled St. Hilary of Poitiers, his spiritual teacher, Martin fled to the island of Gallinaria (modern Isola d’Albenga).

In 361, Martin learned that the emperor had authorized Hilary’s return, and Martin ran to him and became a hermit for ten years in the area now know as Ligugé. A reputation for holiness attracted other monks, and they formed what would become the Benedictine abbey of Ligugé. He preached and evangelised through the Gallic countryside. Many locals held strongly to the old beliefs, and tried to intimidate Martin by dressing asthe old Roman gods, and appearing to him at night, but Martin continued to win converts. He destroyed old temples, and built churches on the land.

When the bishop of Tours died in 371, Martin was the immediate choice to replace him. Martin declined, citing unworthiness. Rusticus, a wealthy citizen of Tours, claimed his wife was ill and asked for Martin. When he arrived in the city, he was declared bishop by popular acclamation, and was consecrated on Jul 4, 372.

He moved to a hermit’s cell near Tours. Other monks joined him, and a new house, Marmoutier, soon formed. He rarely left his monastery, but sometimes went to Trier to plead with the emperor for his city, his church, or his parishioners. Once when he went to ask lenience for a condemned prisoner, an angel work the emperor to tell him that Martin was waiting to see him; the prisoner was reprieved.

Martin himself was given to visions, but even his contemporaries sometimes ascribed them to his habit of lengthy fasts. An extensive biography of Martin was written by Sulpicius Severus. When he died, he was buried, at his request, in the Cemetery of the Poor. Martin was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of saint. His relics rested in the basilica of Tours, a scene of pilgrimages and miracles until 1562 when the cathedral and relics were destroyed by militant Protestants. Some small fragments on his tomb were found during construction excavation in 1860.

St. Martin of Tours is patron against poverty; alcoholism; hotel-keepers; quartermasters; soldiers, among others.

Prayer to Continue to Fight for God

“Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner.” – St  Martin of Tours, Italian Soldier, Hermit, Bishop

– Patron Saint Index

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2 John 1:4-9

It has given me great joy to find that your children have been living the life of truth as we were commanded by the Father. I am writing now, dear lady, not to give you any new commandment, but the one which we were given at the beginning, and to plead: let us love one another.

To love is to live according to his commandments: this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of love.

There are many deceivers about in the world, refusing to admit that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. They are the Deceiver; they are the Antichrist. Watch yourselves, or all our work will be lost and not get the reward it deserves. If anybody does not keep within the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it, he cannot have God with him: only those who keep to what he taught can have the Father and the Son with them.

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Luke 17:26-37

Jesus said to the disciples:

‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.

‘When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, the other left; two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.’ The disciples interrupted. ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked. He said, ‘Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.’

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“They are happy who follow God’s law”

My son has had the wonderful opportunity to learn and play 2 sports: table tennis and judo, although he has played the former for a much longer time. Since he started some 4 years ago, he has gone through so many sessions with coaches to hone his skills.

Last year, in a table tennis competition, my son came face to face with a player who was known for his ‘chopping’ skills.  This involves playing the ball in a defensive way, ‘chopping’ the ball (with a strong backspin).  Because he had never trained to play against such a player, my son’s coach spent a few minutes teaching him the strategy to play against such a player, focusing on the type of strokes to use.  Guess what happened in this match?

Unsurprisingly, my son lost, and by quite a huge margin.

This happened mainly because of the lack of preparation.  Following that competition, a lot more time was spent on preparing and training for future games against ‘choppers’ and while he still finds it challenging, my son is now much more prepared.

In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us of what to expect at perousia, or during the time Christ returns.  We need to be prepared, and not be caught off guard like some of the bridesmaids (Matthew 25).

Like many others, I am guilty of not keeping myself ready as well. In my mind, I somehow think and feel that Perousia would never happen during my lifetime; but this is a dangerous attitude. It is this similar attitude that the bridesmaids had as well, resulting in them missing the bridegroom.

Brothers and sisters, let us all pray that we always remain vigilant for when God calls on us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

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Prayer: Lord, help us to keep our eyes upon You. Help us to be prepared for the day of your return, and for the time that we will meet you in heaven.

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Jesus, for your repeated reminders to us to be always prepared, and for showing us the right things to do in order to do so. Amen!

1 November, Tuesday – A happy future

1 November – Solemnity of All Saints

All Saints’ Day is celebrated in honour of all the saints, known and unknown. In terms of Roman Catholic theology, the feast commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in heaven. The beatific vision is the eternal and direct perception of God enjoyed by those who are in Heaven, imparting supreme happiness and blessedness. St. Thomas Aquinas defined the beatific vision as the ultimate end of human existence after physical death.

The origin of this feast as celebrated in the West dates to 13 May 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs; the feast of the dedication Sanctae mariae ad Martyres has been celebrated at Rome ever since. The chosen day, May 13, was a pagan observation of great antiquity, the culmination of three days of the Feast of the Lemures, in which the malevolent and restless spirits of the dead were propitiated.

The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III (731-741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, with the day moved to Nov 1.

– Wikipedia

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Apocalypse 7:2-4,9-14

I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.

After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’

One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’

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1 John 3:1-3

Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.

Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.

My dear people, we are already the children of God
but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed;

all we know is, that when it is revealed
we shall be like him
because we shall see him as he really is.

Surely everyone who entertains this hope
must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.

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Matthew 5:1-12

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:

‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

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Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

There are days when I wonder if all the stress I go through now in this world is all worth it. There are many deadlines to meet for various projects and having to manage the expectations of many people around us. The readings of today remind us that our time on this world is meant to be temporary. It does not mean that it is supposed to be meaningless because God has placed us on this world to spread the love He has shown us to all around us. In doing so, we will receive the eternal reward which will belong to us in the future.

The Beatitudes are a beautiful way of instructing us on what actions will receive a blessing from God. It is for us to emulate such behaviour as many before us have already done so. For example, the martyrs who would rather suffer torture and persecution, instead of renouncing the faith, are a good reference point for us. They lived out the Beatitudes with their lives and were willing to use their lives to bring people closer to God. The Gospel reading of today is a blueprint for us to live our lives. Indeed, if all of us could even strive towards this standard, we will definitely be on route to heaven.

St John reminds us that we are God’s children and as God’s children we will definitely become like him in the future. As such, we should look forward to the reward which God is granting us and to always anticipate the future. This world may be tough for some of us but we should not let it hinder us in our final aim, which is to be in union with God. Persecution is indeed something which all of us go through – be it physical, mental, emotional and intellectual, regardless of where we live. What distinguishes us from others is the hope we have in God and the certainty of our eternal reward.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

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Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to live out the Beatitudes.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who bring peace to the world.

24 October, Monday – The Rage In Her Heart

24 October – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop

Anthony Mary Claret (1807–1870) was a weaver and a seminary student with Blessed Francis Coll. He was ordained on 13 June 1835, and became a missionary in Catalonia and the Canary Islands. He directed retreats and founded the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians). He became Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba on 20 May 1850, and founded the Teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
Following his work in the Caribbean, Blessed Pope Pius IX ordered him back to Spain where he became confessor to Queen Isabella II and was exiled with her. He had the gift of prophecy and miracles, and was reported to have preached 10,000 sermons, published 200 works. He spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ephesians 4:32-5:8

Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.

Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. Among you there must be not even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity: this would hardly become the saints! There must be no coarseness, or salacious talk and jokes – all this is wrong for you; raise your voices in thanksgiving instead. For you can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity – which is worshipping a false god – can inherit anything of the kingdom of God. Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light.

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Luke 13:10-17

One sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright. When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are rid of your infirmity’ and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.

But the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, and he addressed the people present. ‘There are six days’ he said ‘when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the sabbath.’ But the Lord answered him. ‘Hypocrites!’ he said ‘Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the sabbath and take it out for watering? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years – was it not right to untie her bonds on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at all the wonders he worked.

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And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit

­My grandmother died with anger in her heart. Hers was a slow deterioration — a long, sad, bewildering goodbye. I feel she lost herself before she left us. Towards the end, she seemed to obsess over things that had happened years ago, old hurts that had been inflicted on her, but she would forget what you said to her ten minutes before. She was like a different person altogether. Who was once a loving, happy force in my life, changed into someone I didn’t recognize. It was as if a black pall came over her. When she finally let go and breathed her last, it felt like she had been set free. Whatever evil had taken hold of her mind, it was gone and she had returned to God.

I’ll never understand why her manner changed towards the end. I read that the dying know their time is up, and as the days pass, they relinquish more of the banalities of life, until what’s left is just the essence of their soul. It hurts me to think it was anger that resided at the core of her heart. Anger and bitterness. Because in life, she wasn’t like that. She was a beautiful person. I still don’t know what could have happened to change her at the end, or how the unresolved conflicts in her life became so large that they consumed her.

In today’s gospel, we read that the woman was gripped by an evil spirit. That’s what anger does to the heart when we hold on to it. Grudges, nurtured by resentment and unforgiveness, become hatred with the passage of time. Caught up in our rage, love dies in our heart. My grandmother pushed everyone away at the end. She didn’t mean to, she just couldn’t help herself. Her anger defined her and she died holding on to it.

I want to believe that she is with Jesus now, that he has freed her from the rage that held her hostage at the end. I pray he frees us too, those of us who loved her but were stung by her sharp words at the end. Those of us she left behind, who are still holding on to the hurt and confusion in our hearts. I want to only remember the loving, devoted woman who was so much a part of my happy childhood. I pray that she is at peace now. I pray she is with God now.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

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Prayer: We pray for those who have passed on, may they find the peace that eluded them in life.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Holy Spirit, who calms us during the storms of our life, who saves us from ourselves.

18 September, Sunday – Be Still and Know that I am God

18 September

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Amos 8:4-7

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob,
‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’

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1 Timothy 2:1-8

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.

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Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’

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I urge that entreaties and prayers… be made on behalf of all men… that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

My life is a constant buzz right now. From dawn to dusk, I am constantly on the move. My sleep is not one of peacefulness nor full rest, and most of the time I wake up feeling tired, not energized. The reason for my whirlwind of activity is my role as a new mother; had I been single say ten years ago, I would have said that my job was the reason. Or my social life. Now in the dim glow of my night light while I attend to my infant son, I sometimes call out to God in desperation. And in the quiet of the night, sometimes God answers.

Nothing could have quite prepared me for motherhood. You can read all the books ever written on the subject, but until your child arrives on the scene, you never quite know the extent that your life can be turned around. I used to be a stickler for house chores and having my home in right order and cleanliness. Now I would be lucky if I can get ahead of my ever-piling laundry. In the past, I would dream and cook up elaborate meals; I would be satisfied now to have something that I could whip up or reheat instantly. I tried to do it all. I still try to do it all, the cooking, cleaning, caring of baby. Between work and home and being a mother, I have not even had the time to look for hired help. I confess for an OCD person like me, it was hard to get used to this “new way of life”. Sometimes I feel like a tightly wound up toy let loose, and I can’t stop.

And so something gave in me during that time, and unfortunately it was my time with God. I stopped seeking Him as much as I used to, seeking Him only in my sleep-deprived state of mind, which was when the busy-ness of my life got out of control. My need to be on top of my hectic life not only pushed God out, it also pushed other people out, relationships that matter to me.

Have we ever felt that way before, when we are so busy with life – our work, social commitments, extra -curricular activities, even church activities – that we forget who the Lord of our work is? He made all this possible for us, giving us the responsibilities because He knew we could be trusted with our roles. At the same time, He also hoped that in challenging us to strive to be our best, we would also call out to Him to help us. Or perhaps sit a while with Him to thank Him for the blessings or just to talk about how our day has been, chaotic or otherwise.

It is funny that I am realizing this whilst writing this reflection, that my life has just been so busy that I have not reached out to ask God for the one thing that I crave the most at this point: a quiet and tranquil moment, where I can sit for a while and reflect. I know it is not too late, for God is everywhere. We only have to seek Him, and He will be there.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

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Thanksgiving: Lord, it has taken me this long to reach out to You for help. I thought I could do it all, but I know I can’t. Help me to take a step back, quieten down, and reflect. Help me to appreciate the small but wonderful moments in life that You have blessed me with. Help me to realize that in peace, shall I find sanity, serenity, and You.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for helping me to realize that I should slow down before I self-destructed. Let me remember always, to “be still and know” that You are God.

17 September, Saturday – The Richness Within

17 September – Memorial for St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor

Robert (1542-1621) wrote the most complete work of his day to defend Catholicism against Protestant attack. He also wrote a children’s catechism and a catechism for teachers. As cardinal-priest, he gave most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that “the walls won’t catch cold”.

He was involved in settling various disputes including that of King James I and the Vatican in 1607 and 1609 concerning control of the Church in England, action against Galileo Galilei with whom he established a friendly correspondence, but was forced to deliver the order for the scientist to submit to the Church, and issues concerning clerical discipline and Vatican authority. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 17 September 1931.

– Patron Saints Index

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1 Corinthians 15:35-37,42-49

Someone may ask, ‘How are dead people raised, and what sort of body do they have when they come back?’ They are stupid questions. Whatever you sow in the ground has to die before it is given new life and the thing that you sow is not what is going to come; you sow a bare grain, say of wheat or something like that, It is the same with the resurrection of the dead: the thing that is sown is perishable but what is raised is imperishable; the thing that is sown is contemptible but what is raised is glorious; the thing that is sown is weak but what is raised is powerful; when it is sown it embodies the soul, when it is raised it embodies the spirit.

If the soul has its own embodiment, so does the spirit have its own embodiment. The first man, Adam, as scripture says, became a living soul; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. That is, first the one with the soul, not the spirit, and after that, the one with the spirit. The first man, being from the earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven. As this earthly man was, so are we on earth; and as the heavenly man is, so are we in heaven. And we, who have been modelled on the earthly man, will be modelled on the heavenly man.

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Luke 8:4-15

With a large crowd gathering and people from every town finding their way to him, Jesus used this parable:

‘A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell on the edge of the path and was trampled on; and the birds of the air ate it up. Some seed fell on rock, and when it came up it withered away, having no moisture. Some seed fell amongst thorns and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell into rich soil and grew and produced its crop a hundredfold.’ Saying this he cried, ‘Listen, anyone who has ears to hear!’

His disciples asked him what this parable might mean, and he said, ‘The mysteries of the kingdom of God are revealed to you; for the rest there are only parables, so that

they may see but not perceive,
listen but not understand.

‘This, then, is what the parable means: the seed is the word of God. Those on the edge of the path are people who have heard it, and then the devil comes and carries away the word from their hearts in case they should believe and be saved. Those on the rock are people who, when they first hear it, welcome the word with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of trial they give up. As for the part that fell into thorns, this is people who have heard, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life and do not reach maturity. As for the part in the rich soil, this is people with a noble and generous heart who have heard the word and take it to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverance.’

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Embodies the spirit

Today’s first reading is actually a very good reflection written by Saint Paul. It shows that the greatness of the Lord cannot be appreciated and understood without first being understood on earth. We were being created in the image of God, and life is being given to us. Sometimes it makes me wonder if Earth is the transitional world, where we are given the opportunity to go good, to do the best we can in the name of our Lord with the talents and help surrounding us. This is regardless of which country we are born into, or the richness that we have from the start. It has never been about the aesthetics of life, but how we are living it. But if we have been given more and graced with much fortunate events, then I believe we would be expected to give more and make someone else’s life better.

As I reflect further on today’s reading, it points out to me that indeed it is not about the biggest house or most luxurious car one own when your heart is just mediocre. What we perhaps aim to live is about life-giving. As I grew older, and begin to realise what touches us, in our hearts, is truly not about what materials we buy but what relationships we have with others. This may only happen to me, but do try this, when you open your Facebook account and begin to look at the friends and their behaviours and the stories being posted, you will tend to realise that those with more ‘likes’ is a lot about family, love, emotions with loved ones, precious moments with family, post that require encouragement as compared to posts on new cars, new house, food posts, vacation posts and any luxury items. Essentially, as we build our earthly family, we tend to know what is important and what matters to us. We grow from young adults, to being a responsible spouse, to being a parent, to being responsible for the elderly and sometimes, posts that opens up for us to face the death of a loved one.

A lot of successful businessmen says, it is not about what you have or built, but it is very much about how you get there. Thus, the greatness lies in what have we done to touch the lives of others, but not how much have we possessed for ourselves.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Lord, I know we can get busy with work and family and looking out for non-important things, make me put in the time and effort that enrich the life of my family and the lives of others.

Thanksgiving: Praise you O Lord Jesus Christ for a fulfilling week, that it has been peaceful and loving.

16 September, Friday – The Church Ain’t No Lie

15 September – Memorial for St. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr; and St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

Cornelius (d. 253) was elected after a year-and-a-half period during which persecutions were so bad that papal ascension was a quick death sentence. He worked to maintain unity in a time of schism and apostasy. He called a synod of bishops to confirm him as rightful pontiff, as opposed to the anti-pope Novatian. Cornelius was eventually exiled by Roman authorities to punish Christians in general, who were said to have provoked the gods to send plague against Rome.

Cyprian (190-258) was baptised when he was 56. By the time he was bishop, he had been a Christian for only 3 years! When the Roman emperor Decius persecuted Christians, Cyprian lived in hiding, covertly ministering to his flock; his enemies condemned him for being a coward and not standing up for his faith. He supported St. Cornelius against the anti-pope Novatian. He too was exiled and martyred when the Decius’ successor continued with persecution of Christians.

– Patron Saints Index

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1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Now if Christ raised from the dead is what has been preached, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ himself cannot have been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is useless and your believing it is useless; indeed, we are shown up as witnesses who have committed perjury before God, because we swore in evidence before God that he had raised Christ to life. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.

But Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep.

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Luke 8:1-3

Jesus made his way through towns and villages preaching, and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.

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In fact been raised from the dead

Christ rising from the dead is the greatest mystery in our faith. Paul is right that the preaching in the Church is useless if the belief of Christ’s resurrection is not true at all. Our believe in eternal life will not be true and all hopes have perished right at he moment our life in this moment ends. Many people still believes that Christianity as a religion is all a lie, all fabricated to build community of believers out of nothing, making it seem like a worldwide influence that has riches in different parts of the world and promoting false hope and blind faith followers.

However, just by looking at how much the Church has done for the world, it has reached to the rich as well as the very poor. It has reached to all ages, both men and women. What the Church has set up since the beginning of church building by the apostles, has always been bringing Christ to us. Of course, being men, we are not perfect and we are unfortunate to have leaders who have fallen into temptations. Strict rules and old traditions that might not fit this century being put aside, the Church has grown to reach every single one of us. It is not about the riches, but the richness of faith. Support groups being set up to fulfil an obligation for the needy. I do realise that every new building, every new church, every new missionary trip support has always been the people and believers who have come out to get things going. It is indeed difficult to deny that this faith is a hoax when you look into the developments of the Church and what has been done by her across the world.

Jesus Christ is in fact being raised from the dead and sent his Holy Spirit down on us. He is one who have saved us from death, bringing us back to the Father in eternal life. Giving us the hope and love we so often preach about, and by loving God and others just as He command. Praise you Lord Jesus Christ, and to Mother Mary for watching over us.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Your will be done, do not lead us into temptations and deliver us from evil.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Church which is forever evolving, and that leaders who are tempted be strong and repentant, so they may reach to the community with the fullness of heart.