Tag Archives: Lorraine Wong

17 Aug, Saturday – Only in His presence can we see our true essence

 

17 Aug 2019

________________________

Joshua 24:14-29

Joshua said to all the people, ‘Fear the Lord and serve him perfectly and sincerely; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve, whether the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.’

The people answered, ‘We have no intention of deserting the Lord and serving other gods! Was it not the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery, who worked those great wonders before our eyes and preserved us all along the way we travelled and among all the peoples through whom we journeyed? What is more, the Lord drove all those peoples out before us, as well as the Amorites who used to live in this country. We too will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’

Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the Lord, because he is a holy God, he is a jealous God who will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you desert the Lord to follow alien gods he in turn will afflict and destroy you after the goodness he has shown you.’ The people answered Joshua, ‘No; it is the Lord we wish to serve.’ Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.’ They answered, ‘We are witnesses.’ ‘Then cast away the alien gods among you and give your hearts to the Lord the God of Israel!’ The people answered Joshua, ‘It is the Lord our God we choose to serve; it is his voice that we will obey.’

That day, Joshua made a covenant for the people; he laid down a statute and ordinance for them at Shechem. Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a great stone and set it up there, under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord, and Joshua said to all the people, ‘See! This stone shall be a witness against us because it has heard all the words that the Lord has spoken to us: it shall be a witness against you in case you deny your God.’ Then Joshua sent the people away, and each returned to his own inheritance.

After these things Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died; he was a hundred and ten years old.

________________________

Matthew 19:13-15

People brought little children to Jesus, for him to lay his hands on them and say a prayer. The disciples turned them away, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

________________________

“It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

There have been instances when I will go to mass or sit in an adoration room marveling in awe at His power and majesty — praising Him for His blessings and gifts; my heart buzzing with warmth as I soak in His presence and I pour my heart out to him; contemplating on His awesomeness, feeling blessed and grateful as I sit under His watchful eyes and simply adore Him, with no need for words.

Sadly, I have to admit, there were times too many to count, where I would sit in His presence physically, but my mind and soul would be somewhere else. As an adult, often I am distracted by worldly ways, burdened by responsibilities and worries. At times, pride, ego, the lure of fame, status and glory of this world consumes my soul and my entire being! And the noise of this world, these other gods, drowns out the precious moments I have set aside for God. How then, do we hang onto the innocence of a child as we approach God?

I am not sure if I have the answers and I continue to struggle. As one grows up, we are tainted by the environment and the people around us. This drives us to skepticism, to build up defenses to protect ourselves, inflate our ego to appear better than we are, just to be accepted by those around us and by the world at large. For the sake of survival, we mistakenly think that this is the only way to toughen ourselves, and the only way to get love and recognition, to belong. Through it all, we lose sight of the most fundamental truth and that is — we are a child of God!

I guess the more I seek Him in earnestness, the more He will reveal to me who He intends for me to be. Only in His presence can we see our true essence, our essence as a child of our Creator. And only by returning to Him with childlike disposition, can we feel complete and whole; for that is where we truly belong. In John 15:18-19 “we do not belong to this world”, no amount of trying to fit in with this whole world will give us the joy and happiness our heart desires.

To serve the Lord as little children seems like a life-long struggle. As I reflect further, I recall how my children were like and draw lessons from them. I will go to my Lord with trust, adoration, awe and wonder. With a pure and joyful heart, always happy to see Him, running to tell Him about my days and my life experiences. This is how I imagine what it will be like, and I take consolation that as long as I continue to strive, I believe He will see my yearning of my soul and lay his hands on me.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, have mercy on me for times where I have put other gods before you. For times where I have sought acceptance and consolation in others, and worldly things. Teach me Lord, to seek you and to serve you and you only, as a child of yours.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the reminder that nothing of this world will ever satisfy my soul, only in you Lord I truly belong.

15 Aug, Thursday – Saved through Christ

Aug 15 – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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.

________________________

all men will be brought to life in Christ

As the first disciple of our Lord, Mary certainly endured much trials and tribulations. Her life’s journey is plagued with difficulties and challenges — from the very moment the angel appeared to her and when she conceived by the Holy Spirit, there must have much fear and uncertainty. Even though she had no inclination of what is to come, she carried out her role as a mother to Jesus dutifully. And when she had to witness her beloved son’s passion, crucifixion and death, she remained faithful and trusted fully in God’s plan — a quiet witness to our Lord’s work here on earth.

Our lady showed us what being a true disciple is all about! Yes, the days are hard, and the road ahead uncertain, but she never once doubted our Father’s plan and love. She showed us what it means to be obedient, the importance of journeying on with Jesus by our side. For as long as we keep him close, we can face whatever life has installed for us. And at the end of it all, when our time here on earth comes to an end, our Father will reward us with a place in His heavenly kingdom.

There is sun after the rain, light after darkness, life after death. In the second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that our salvation comes from Jesus and Jesus alone. “Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ”! Through Him, with Him and in Him, we can conquer all difficulties and challenges along the way.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to grow in faith and obedience just like our blessed Virgin Mary. No matter how challenging or uncertain our paths may be, with Jesus we can conquer all!

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for giving us Mary to be our mother, who lovingly intercedes for us and shows us what being a disciple is all about.

 

29 June, Saturday – The Lord stands by us and gives us power

29 June – Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles

Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed ‘Peter’ (Rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.

Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.

He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.

– Patron Saint Index

_________________

Acts 12:1-11

King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. ‘The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’

___________________

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

____________________

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.’

____________________

The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom!

As I reflected on the fearlessness and courage of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, as well as the steadfastness of God’s love and protection over them, I am also reminded of the ways both saints failed Jesus – the first, in his cowardice renounced Jesus three times and the other, a zealous persecutor of Christians. In the eyes of the world, they would have been condemned for their betrayal, and yet, instead of writing them off, God touched their hearts and they became powerful instruments in His plans. This conversion of hearts drove them to proclaim the works of Jesus and proliferate Christianity throughout the world. From a place of love for God, they abandoned fully into the mission Christ had set forth for them, always trusting in His plans, and obedience unto death.

Recently, a member of the family was making some poor choices and the chosen behavior and actions really did not sit well with me. The person is someone I love very much, and it was difficult for me to reconcile her actions with our faith and values. However, speaking up might have caused a further rift in our relationship. This dilemma caused much heartache and many sleepless nights. It would have been easier for me to sweep it under the carpet and ignore the turbulence I felt in my heart. Instead, I sought solace in our Lord, turned to our Father in prayer and sought guidance from the Holy Spirit. Through the grace of God, I was prompted with a message and felt it was really God speaking through me. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the outcome was one of acceptance and respect on both sides. To be able to stand firm in my belief and faith while at the same time, conveying my feelings with clarity and in love, gave me peace. The courage and the power of conviction was so strong that I know only He could provide. Truth be told, I have never felt I had it in me to do something like that. Today, I am reminded of these words I once heard; God does not call the abled but enables those He calls. Despite our sinfulness, God calls us and uses us in ways unimaginable, all He asks of us, is to respond to Him in love!

For Jesus taught us and showed us that Love is the greatest commandment of all! The love of our Father though gentle and tender, is also powerful and strong. His love moves mountains and transforms hearts. And when we stand up in love for our faith, and for Christ, our Lord will in turn stand by us, protect us and bring us home safely to his heavenly kingdom!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, enable us, your sinful children, to always turn to you for inspiration and direction in all that we say and do. May our efforts be pleasing to you and when our work is done here on earth, bring us home safely to you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for calling us to be your children, for choosing us to be your instruments. Even though we are broken, you make us whole again through the work we offer you. Thank you for your mercy, your grace and your love! 

28 June, Friday – He will bring the lost sheep home

28 June 2019 – The Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Heart of the Shepherd

We celebrate the love of Christ the Good Shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.

  • The Sunday Missal

_________________

Ezekiel 34:11-16

The Lord God says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I shall bring them out of the countries where they are; I shall gather them together from foreign countries and bring them back to their own land. I shall pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in every inhabited place in the land. I shall feed them in good pasturage; the high mountains of Israel will be their grazing ground. There they will rest in good grazing ground; they will browse in rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.

___________________

Romans 5:5-11

The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die – but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger? When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son? Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.

____________________

Luke 15:3-7

Jesus spoke this parable to the scribes and Pharisees:

‘What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours? “Rejoice with me,” he would say “I have found my sheep that was lost.” In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance.’

____________________

I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness

As parents these days, we find ourselves in constant tug of war with the influence of social media, what deem as norms in society today, prevalence of LGBTQ, the pro-choice movement, redefinition of what constitutes a family etc. How do we continue to instill our faith and beliefs with the insurgence of societal norms that goes against the core of Christianity? What is more heartbreaking is when our teenagers make choices in life that goes against the very grain of Christian values? How do we respond? As parents, we cling onto Jesus’ teachings that the greatest of all commandments is Love. We strive to love as Jesus did, tenderly and unconditionally but we stumble time and again due to our fallen nature. At times blaming ourselves for the choices our children make. At times, blaming them or the external influences, none of which solves the problem and we are left disheartened and broken.

Reflecting on today’s readings gives comfort and reminds  us of the mercy and love of our Abba Father. The reassurance that He watches over us and will never abandon us, no matter how far we stray, He will rescue us from darkness and despair! As long as, He is keeping watch; not a single one of us will be lost. The passage from Ezekiel paints such a vivid picture of how our Heavenly Father not only keeps watch but gives us the best and takes such good care of us like a good Shepherd does. Only the best will be given to His flock.

So today, we entrust ourselves and our children to our good good Shepherd, trusting in His ways and even though what may seem lost in our eyes, our Father in Heaven will bring the lost sheep home!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer Heavenly Father, continue to strengthen the bonds of marriage and family, for the evil one is attacking the foundation of our home. This tug of war is so real and at times, we are at a lost of what to do. Arm us with your Holy Spirit to love, inspire, and transform, with our words and deeds, so that more may return to your fold.

ThanksgivingThank you Father for giving us Jesus so that we may be reconciled with you in His dying and be saved in His resurrection.

27 June, Thursday – To take root and ground ourselves in Him, our rock and our foundation!

27 June 2019

_________________

Genesis 16:1-12,15-16

Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no child, but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘Listen, now! Since the Lord has kept me from having children, go to my slave-girl. Perhaps I shall get children through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai had said.

Thus after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan for ten years Sarai took Hagar her Egyptian slave-girl and gave her to Abram as his wife. He went to Hagar and she conceived. And once she knew she had conceived, her mistress counted for nothing in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, ‘May this insult to me come home to you! It was I who put my slave-girl into your arms but now she knows that she has conceived, I count for nothing in her eyes. Let the Lord judge between me and you.’ ‘Very well,’ Abram said to Sarai ‘your slave-girl is at your disposal. Treat her as you think fit.’ Sarai accordingly treated her so badly that she ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord met her near a spring in the wilderness, the spring that is on the road to Shur. He said, ‘Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ ‘I am running away from my mistress Sarai’ she replied. The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Go back to your mistress and submit to her.’ The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will make your descendants too numerous to be counted.’ Then the angel of the Lord said to her:

‘Now you have conceived, and you will bear a son,
and you shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard your cries of distress.
A wild-ass of a man he will be,
against every man, and every man against him,
setting himself to defy all his brothers.’

Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave to the son that Hagar bore the name Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

___________________

Matthew 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!

‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’
Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority, and not like their own scribes.

____________________

It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord.”, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven

To do the Father’s will and submit to His ways is often plague with much uncertainty & difficulty. In the last 18 months, having left a well-paying corporate job to embark on a new profession, I have many times questioned my choice, did I really do the right thing? Was it really what Our Lord intended? Perhaps I was mistaken about this calling? Even though, I know then as I do now, that this is His will.

Especially when the going gets tough, moments of doubts, anxieties and fears surface. There is a desire to go back to what was familiar, even though it had its downside, simply because it is recognizable, it is more predictable. As human beings, well, I guess I speak for myself, there is a need to know what lies ahead. The downfall of our first parents, came from this place of wanting to know, wasn’t it? It is so ingrained in us – this desire to know, to control and to strive towards a so-call better place where our current suffering or challenges can be eliminated. Don’t get me wrong, this ability to plan and look ahead is too a gift given to us by God, but done to the extreme, it can cripple us and create an illusion that we are god, and has the power to control the future, the outcome. This in turn causes unhappiness, unfulfillment and disappointment as it is after all, an illusion.

So instead of competing with God by seeking to take control of our lives, today’s Gospel reminds us to do the will of our Father by grounding ourselves in the word of the Lord and taking action from this foundation that is Christ. I was given this passage during a recent retreat, Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. It takes a different orientation to live as Christians, from this place of connecting with God. It is counterintuitive to slow down but this is exactly what Christ is inviting us to do today. To take root and ground ourselves in Him, our rock and our foundation! In so doing, we are not charging ahead based on our own intellect or strength but one that is informed by our Father’s will. It is in hearing Him that we can move ahead to act. It is through gaining His wisdom and understanding that the actions we take in life, is grounded in Him and united with His will. So, I am learning to slow down, to take root in Our Lord, learning to spend time with him; to be with Him. For we are after all, “human beings and not human doings”.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: My Lord and my God, as many great saints before us, who were all honored for their actions and their faith, one unifying thread in their lives is that they all have a beautiful intimate relationship with you, that formed their will which is united with yours. Teach us to be still so that we can hear your will, and in turn inspire our actions that comes from this place of deep knowing.

Thanksgiving: Our Father, thank you for the gift of Christ who shows us 2000 years ago, what it means to do your will; unto death He remained obedient because He is so intimately united with you. He has role model for us what it is to be call Christians!

27 April, Saturday – Proclaim in words and in deeds

27 April 2019

_______________________

Acts 4:13-21

The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen; and they recognised them as associates of Jesus; but when they saw the man who had been cured standing by their side, they could find no answer. So they ordered them to stand outside while the Sanhedrin had a private discussion. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘It is obvious to everybody in Jerusalem that a miracle has been worked through them in public, and we cannot deny it. But to stop the whole thing spreading any further among the people, let us caution them never to speak to anyone in this name again.’

So they called them in and gave them a warning on no account to make statements or to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John retorted, ‘You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God. We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard.’ The court repeated the warnings and then released them; they could not think of any way to punish them, since all the people were giving glory to God for what had happened.

_______________________

Mark 16:9-15

Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them. But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him.

After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.

Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’

______________________

Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation

The Lord said, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” However, often there is a tendency to tell ourselves we are not good enough, or we need to be better, or worse, we need to be perfect in order to do God’s work. Are we giving enough justice to God in our unwillingness to step forward as his disciples? This is the devil’s doing, to stop God’s work from even beginning by having us think ourselves as too small or unworthy! So don’t let the evil one manipulate us this way!

In today’s account in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John were considered uneducated laymen, yet the rulers, elders and scribes (learned men themselves) were intimidated by and, dare I say, afraid of the disciples’ fervor and conviction! When we have the fire of Christ in us, and when we are doing God’s will, he enables us!

I would like to share a story of a gentleman that guided my parents in their conversion to Catholicism. Uncle A, an elderly gentleman who spoke only English and Malay in his early years, was instrumental in bringing many non-English speaking elderly people to Christ. He once told me that he will go before our Lord, asking for His graces each time before he ministers to the old and frail. He would then travel about in Singapore riding his motorbike, to speak about our Lord to the old folks either in the hospital or at their home, in a smattering of broken Mandarin and dialect. After more than 40 years in this ministry, Uncle A is now fluent in many different dialects. Not to mention the many souls he has saved for God! He heeded our Lord’s call, and with a sincere heart and fearlessness, God empowered him in His ministry. Whenever I falter or have my moment of doubt, Uncle A is my inspiration. So fear not, God has our back!

In a different way, I am reminded that even in our broken states, we can be powerful instruments for God. The image of our beloved Saint Pope John Paul II in his final days, clinging onto his staff and still ministering to his flock. This image of him alone touches many, and without speaking a word, he bore witness to the world.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Jesus, empower us to step forward in proclaiming your word! In whatever ways you deem fit, use us! For we are your instruments on earth, take away the doubt, take away the fears so that the light you have placed in us at our baptism can be seen by all and they will come to know you!

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us with the many gifts and talents, those we embrace today, and those yet to be fulfilled. We thank you!  

26 April, Friday – Be Transformed this Easter

26 April 2019

_______________________

Acts 4:1-12

While Peter and John were talking to the people the priests came up to them, accompanied by the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees. They were extremely annoyed at their teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead by proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. They arrested them, but as it was already late, they held them till the next day. But many of those who had listened to their message became believers, the total number of whom had now risen to something like five thousand.

The next day the rulers, elders and scribes had a meeting in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, Jonathan, Alexander and all the members of the high-priestly families. They made the prisoners stand in the middle and began to interrogate them, ‘By what power, and by whose name have you men done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’

_______________________

John 21:1-14

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

______________________

The name of Jesus Christ is the only one by which we can be saved

In today’s gospel, it appeared that the disciples were feeling lost without Jesus. Not knowing what to do, they went back to doing what they were familiar with, that is, fishing. But our Lord, knowing their confusion and disheartened state, appeared to them with breakfast! Oh, how loving our Lord is. Upon recognizing Jesus, Simon Peter jumped into the waters immediately and swam towards our Lord. And it is the same Peter that proclaimed fearlessly to the chief priests, rebuking them for rejecting our Lord, the keystone.

In many ways, today’s readings showed us how the lives of the disciples were transformed after encountering the resurrected Lord. Many became martyrs, laid down their lives for Him, no longer were they fishermen but “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Easter signifies new birth, so how are we being transformed today? Do we continue to reject Jesus as our keystone, like the chief priests of old, with our sinful ways? Do we just go back to our old ways? Or are we stepping into a better version of ourselves to glorify our Lord?

When we find ourselves in the unchartered waters of life, be it illness, a new job, loss of a loved one, etc., let us be reassured that Jesus is here, always on standby to provide for us. He is the keystone — He is the way, the truth and the life, the only one by which we can be saved.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: My Lord and my God, as we renew our baptismal vows this Easter, let our lives be transformed as we step forth, in your name, with courage and strength to do the Father’s will.

Thanksgiving: Our Father, thank you for all the blessings and gifts you have given us, the biggest of all Our Lord Jesus Christ!

25 April, Thursday – He reigns triumphant, in the end so will we

25 April 2019

_______________________

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.’

_______________________

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.’

______________________

Everything written about me…. has to be fulfilled

Time and time again in scripture, and even Jesus himself during his ministry, foretold his death and resurrection. Yet, how many of us truly appreciated it? Sure, it is understandable in the days right after his resurrection, there was excitement coupled with bewilderment, to see Jesus alive and well walking among men – I imagine it probably caused a mayhem. There must have been such disbelief at seeing Jesus walk into the room to dine with the apostles! And many other ‘Ah-ha’ moments!

But what about today? Are we still in shock? Do we still question even after all these years? With all the witnesses before us, all the martyrs and lives of the saints; with all the evidence and knowledge, do we still doubt? Are we just going through the motion and downplaying the significance of the resurrection?

Like the people of Jerusalem in days of old, I too have this mixed feeling of joy and doubt. I am ashamed to admit it, but it is true. Our human logic simply cannot fathom this possibility and yet, I know deep down, my Saviour lives. And I guess I will just have to hang on to that! There will be days of darkness and doubt, and we cannot see the path ahead of us. But I am assured of not only His love but I know I have a God who truly understands. A God who entered the darkness of sin, yet all light, just so He can say to me, “I know it is difficult, I know it is painful and I know it hurts.”

And brothers and sisters, that… is enough for me.  For He reigns triumphant, in the end so will we!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: O Lord my God, you came to show us the way. In the season of Easter, we want to celebrate your victory over death. Teach us too, to celebrate the little victories in our lives; to look for the moments of new beginnings around us, and cling onto your promises that we too will reign triumphant, if we have you at our side.

Thanksgiving: Our Father, thank you for never giving up on us, and for Jesus our Saviour to show us the way back to you.

9 March, Saturday – Spiritual Reset

9 Mar – Memorial for St. Frances of Rome, religious

St. Frances (1384-1440) was an aristocrat by birth. She married at the age of 12, and her marriage lasted 40 years. She was a mother of three before becoming a widow. She joined the Benedictines, and was the foundress of the “Oblates of the Tor de’ Specchi” (Collatines). She is said to have been guided by an archangel only she could see. She spent her life and fortune, both as a laywoman and a religious, in the service of the sick and the poor, including the founding of the first home in Rome for abandoned children. She dictated 97 “Visions”, in which she saw many of the pains of Hell.

On her feast day, priests bless cars due to her patronage of cars and drivers. Frances certainly never drove, but legend says that when she went abroad at night, her guardian angel went before her lighting the road with a headlight-live lantern, keeping her safe in her travels.

Prayer to St. Frances
Dear Frances, you were an exemplary wife, ever faithful to your husband. After his death, you founded and governed the Congregation of Mount Olivet, revealing your great devotion to our Lord’s Passion. Your faith in Angels was rewarded by frequent visions of them. Please pray for Catholics in our day that they may be as dedicated to God as you were. Amen.

– Patron Saint Index

_______________________

Isaiah 58:9-14

The Lord says this:

If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry,
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness,
and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you,
giving you relief in desert places.

He will give strength to your bones
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water
whose waters never run dry.

You will rebuild the ancient ruins,
build up on the old foundations.
You will be called ‘Breach-mender’,
‘Restorer of ruined houses.’

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
and doing business on the holy day,
if you call the Sabbath ‘Delightful’,
and the day sacred to the Lord ‘Honourable’,
if you honour it by abstaining from travel,
from doing business and from gossip,
then shall you find your happiness in the Lord
and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land.
I will feed you on the heritage of Jacob your father.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

_______________________

Luke 5:27-32

Jesus noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, sitting by the customs house, and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything he got up and followed him.

In his honour Levi held a great reception in his house, and with them at table was a large gathering of tax collectors and others. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples and said, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘It is not those who are well who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.’

______________________

You will be like a spring whose waters never run dry

How wonderful and delightful to read of the promises of Christ in today’s first reading. He has made all these great and mighty plans for us, for me, imagine that! I want to be all those things He promised, full of life, strong and resourceful; filled with joy, happiness with endless possibilities. He has painted such a beautiful picture, that my heart yearns to live up to His promises.

I see this passage as an instruction manual — a clear step-by-step guide on how to attain this promise of His. It has also become clearer for me, what this season of Lent is all about. It is a purification process, ridding us of all the darkness that consumes us, a spiritual reset button. Not that we shouldn’t repent and return to God throughout the year, but the Church has given us this period to focus on cleansing ourselves so that we can rise again with our Lord on Easter Sunday, to fully live in His glory.

This has also given me a different perspective of the season — it is not about the doom and gloom of our sinful nature that we should focus on. Yes, we need to repent and do our part, however, in today’s gospel Jesus declared it is for you and me that He became man and walked this world, it is for our salvation that He came. So, yes we are sinful and we need saving, that’s a fact! Nevertheless, He is with us, by our side, there’s nothing to fear but, more importantly, we ought to cast our sight further, to that image and vision He has created us for, to claim that promise He has given; to be that spring whose waters never run dry!

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer – Dear Lord, how wonderful to be called to greatness, how delightful that, in you, we can be the light that rises in darkness. As we continue our Lenten observances, let us cast our sight a little further, while we mourn for our sinful ways, to see the promises you’ve made knowing we will rise again victoriously in you.

Thanksgiving – Thank you Father, for your promises and for the gift of this season, for the chance to re-examine our sinful ways, to have the opportunity to hit the reset button time and time again.

8 March, Friday – Conversion from the inside out

8 Mar – Memorial for St. John of God, religious

Juan (1495-1550) grew up working as a shepherd in the Castile region of Spain. He led a wild and misspent youth, travelling over much of Europe and north Africa as a soldier in the army of Charles V, and a mercenary. He fought through a brief period of insanity. He peddled religious books and pictures in Gibraltar, though without any religious conviction himself.

In his 40s, he received a vision of the Infant Jesus who called him “John of God”. To make up for the misery he had caused as a soldier, he left the military, rented a house in Granada, Spain, and began caring for the sick, poor, homeless and unwanted. He gave what he had, begged for those who couldn’t, carried those who could not move on their own, and converted both his patients and those who saw him work with them.

He was a friend of St. John of Avila, on whom he tried to model his life. John founded the Order of Charity and the Order of Hospitallers of St. John of God.

– Patron Saint Index

_______________________

Isaiah 58:1-9

Thus says the Lord:

Shout for all you are worth,
raise your voice like a trumpet.
Proclaim their faults to my people,
their sins to the House of Jacob.

They seek me day after day,
they long to know my ways,
like a nation that wants to act with integrity
and not ignore the law of its God.

They ask me for laws that are just,
they long for God to draw near:
‘Why should we fast if you never see it,
why do penance if you never notice?’

Look, you do business on your fast-days,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

_______________________

Matthew 9:14-15

John’s disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

______________________

They seek me day after day, they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the law of its God

The longing of God’s people is there, we have the right intention to want to draw closer to God through self-denial and fasting. However, whatever penance we choose to do, it ought to be more than just an outward act of reparation. Fasting needs to lead to repentance and a true conversion of the spirit, for without which, it is just vain and hypocritical. We all need earnestly to pray for God’s assistance in examining ourselves; in purifying our intentions and motivations. Ultimately, whatever we choose to do as a sacrifice is with the aim of having a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father.

As in today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us not to fast as the Pharisees do, without clear intention and purpose just for the sake of following the laws. Purpose driven actions are imperative, and as Christians, our purpose must be Christ-centered and focussed on our Heavenly Father.

Conversely, be mindful of falling into the trap of thinking we can do without any outward signs. In our egocentricity, convincing ourselves that we do not need any acts of penance and charity, because we are saved and have attained conversion. Pride stands in our way, for if we truly love God and are sorry for our transgressions, then this conversion of the spirit will manifest into works of charity and sacrifice.

For me, a simple way of looking at it is an inside-out conversion journey. Conversion of heart, mind and spirit translates into outward signs of right actions and deeds.

In this season of Lent, let us walk closer to God with Jesus by our side, with purification of our heart every step of the way, and we shall be light of world and salt of the earth.

(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer – Dear Lord, help us to purify our hearts, to examine our intentions and motivations, for we love you and want to draw closer to you during this season of Lent. We yearn for a deepening of our faith and to come face to face with our Father. In you we draw strength and power. Help us O, Lord.

Thanksgiving – Our Father, we are so grateful for your faithfulness and love. For never abandoning us despite our iniquities, thank you Father.