Tag Archives: love of God

5 September, Tuesday – See Good Things in the Land of the Living

5 Sept – St Teresa of Kolkata

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910 – 1997)

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on 26 August 1910 at Skopje in Macedonia. She left home at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland, where she received the name Sister Mary Teresa, after St Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1931 she was assigned to the order’s Calcutta house and taught at their school there. where she eventually became headmistress.

She received a new vocation to help the poor and destitute, and in 1948, obeying this call, she left the convent and took up a new life caring for them wherever they might be: lying sick in the street or even dying in dustbins. Some of her former pupils joined her, one by one, and the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was established in the Diocese of Calcutta in 1950, spreading across India and eventually onto every continent, even behind the Iron Curtain. Many related orders followed, involving men and women, clergy and laity, and both the active and the contemplative life. Mother Teresa died on 5 September 1997 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 19 October 2003 and canonized by Pope Francis on 4 September 2016.

Mother Teresa’s widespread appeal comes from the directness of her inspiration, and her direct response to it. She went out and did things where they were needed. When we think of big problems we inevitably think that they can only be solved by a big campaign. Perhaps that is true, perhaps not; but while the campaign is getting going, why not go out and help one person in the name of Mother Teresa? If there are 1,000 hungry people in your city, why not make it 999? If each of us did that – well, in most countries where this is being read, there are more Catholics than there are people in need.

As Monsignor Ronald Knox has said:
“I am not advocating world-movements or public meetings… my appeal is rather to the individual conscience than to the public ear; my hope is rather to see the emergence of a Saint, than that of an organization…

“There is no harm in besieging heaven for the canonization of such and such holy persons now dead. But should we not do well to vary these petitions of ours by asking for more Saints to canonize?”

(From Universalis)

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1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober. God never meant us to experience the Retribution, but to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that, alive or dead, we should still live united to him. So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.

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Luke 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil, throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all. Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.

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Dwell in the house of the Lord ….
In the past, I frequently found myself indulging in the self-talk that I will have a breakthrough in my life; that all my problems will be no more once I have reached my Father’s house, our eternal home. I thought that I had to endure life and all the pains it brings upon me, while I am still alive. But in today’s Psalms, we are reassured that we will see the great work of the Lord in the land of the living. It certainly takes a lot more faith to expect great things to happen in our lives while we are here on earth as mortal beings, living a life we already know. Today, we need to learn to confront and diminish anything that keeps us from claiming this promise that we will be blessed in the here and now.
Today’s readings remind us that we need to be alert and sober, stout-hearted even while others we know might be asleep and aloof. Clearly, we are called not to just set a standard; we are also called to lead and encourage others to live a life that prepares us to meet our Maker. We are called to bring others along, to follow the good deeds, to adhere to the call of His kingdom.
It is in those moments when we are tempted to do it on our own, when we really need to call our colleagues, friends and family members so as to share in His kingdom. He never meant for anyone one of us to perish and we are His instruments wherever we are planted, without any exceptions whatsoever.
In my dealings in church ministry, I have felt countless times the Lord urging me to reach out to others; to be patient with them, to believe in them. In some cases, He has even prompted me to slow down with certain brothers and sisters, knowing full well that everyone is at a different stage in their faith journey. It should never be about achieving targets and completing tasks for we Catholics are formed amidst people. While we realise and wholly accept this, let us not refrain from the temptation of judging others, dismissing others and even making assumptions that we are more spiritually superior that the others.
We need to walk with each other, stopping, pausing, reflecting, coaxing and challenging each other as Christ did with a heart full of love and wisdom, choosing the right approach for each person and situation. In a recent homily, a priest exhorted that Jesus loves the greatest sinner the most, so who are we to not accept His most beloved on our quest for holiness for His kingdom? If, in the past, we have done this, let us make a new start today, knowing that our Father wills us to walk together with our brothers and sisters, and not as lone individals towards Him.
Today, let us think of all the times we have failed to encourage others in our midst. Let us also receive with a contrite heart, the encouragement of others when we have failed to live as we have been called to. No finger pointing, no favourites, no judgments. We are all His and He loves us all.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Lord, we pray that you give the right dose of boldness and patience to lead people towards your Kingdom. We ask you to make a way for us to reach others.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for your great love that though we ‘sleep’ sometimes, you have sent your most precious Son to suffer and die for us sinners so that we may be yours forever.

10 October, Monday – Free from all distress

10 October

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Galatians 4:22-24,26-27,31-5:1

The Law says, if you remember, that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave-girl, and one by his free-born wife. The child of the slave-girl was born in the ordinary way; the child of the free woman was born as the result of a promise. This can be regarded as an allegory: the women stand for the two covenants. The first who comes from Mount Sinai, and whose children are slaves, is Hagar – The Jerusalem above, however, is free and is our mother, since scripture says: Shout for joy, you barren women who bore no children! Break into shouts of joy and gladness, you who were never in labour. For there are more sons of the forsaken one than sons of the wedded wife. So, my brothers, we are the children, not of the slave-girl, but of the free-born wife.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

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Luke 11:29-32

The crowds got even bigger and Jesus addressed them, ‘This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. On Judgement day the Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here. On Judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’

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Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

 The yoke of slavery is a curious one. It comes under the guise of various distractions and addictions. The notion of what makes us slaves is often coloured by the impression of being chained and forced into hard labour. Yet in our daily lives, there are so many ways in which one can unwittingly become a slave without awareness.

One of these is the slavery to approval from others. An inordinate and constant seeking of approval can sometimes be an addictive drug that masks the deeper longing of a soul for real love. No one is completely free from the desire to be approved of, regarded well, and favoured. However, if this need overshadows a healthy understanding of our own worth and perception of our intrinsic loveliness, it is crucial to hang back and sit with Jesus on this thorn in our flesh.

I recall one recent evening, I attended Mass seeking solace for a stone weighing on my heart. A part of my heart was nursing a disappointment of some friends and wondering if I was cherished as much as I had hoped, and as much as I treasured them. I experienced that familiar feeling of being ‘not good enough.’ My head told me that I am according some incident too much significance and I sensed that I could be over-thinking it, yet my heart was still hung up on the feeling of hurt. I often say, “my heart hasn’t yet caught up with my head.” In the midst of this seemingly trivial turmoil, I knelt and gazed at our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, offering up my need for approval and struggles in placating my anxiety.

What happened next struck me deeply.

In the exposed Eucharistic Host, I saw Jesus’ steady gaze at me and a compassionate revelation.

“My child, I love you and I affirm you. I long for your return in love. Is this not enough for you?”

At that point, I had a glimpsed of Jesus’ downcast eyes and his feelings of unrequited love. I thought of the disciples who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus prayed alone and scared: “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). I thought of Peter’s fear and denial of knowing Jesus; who slipped away from association leaving Jesus to face condemnation alone. I thought of the wretched thief who mocked Jesus while beside him on the cross, and challenged him to save them all.

And I saw myself: very human and too caught up with being favoured by those around me, to realise the love that Jesus offers me is not conditional on my likeability or my congeniality. He sees me – whether in my imperfections and uncertainty or joy and confidence – and still he loves the woman he beholds. As I considered my unrequited feelings, I could feel the heartbeat of our Lord for me when I turn away from him.

It was a mysterious yoke of connection with Jesus. Not a yoke of slavery, but a yoke that completely freed me from the weight of worldly trappings. I am infinitely loved by the God who formed me. And Jesus on the cross is testament. His ever-present love is my reality. Is this enough for you too?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

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Prayer:

When I look into Your holiness, when I gaze into Your loveliness.
When I’ve found the joy of reaching Your heart, when my will becomes enthralled in Your love.
When all things that surround become shadows in the light of You.
I worship You Jesus, the reason I live, is to worship You.

Thanksgiving: Let us spend an hour with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to keep watch with him and allow His love to envelope our will.

12 September, Monday – Received With Heart

12 September – Memorial for The Most Holy Name of Mary

This feast is a counterpart to the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (January 3); both have the possibility of uniting people easily divided on other matters. The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

– Patron Saints Index

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1 Corinthians 11:17-26,33

On the subject of instructions, I cannot say that you have done well in holding meetings that do you more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you all come together as a community, there are separate factions among you, and I half believe it – since there must no doubt be separate groups among you, to distinguish those who are to be trusted. The point is, when you hold these meetings, it is not the Lord’s Supper that you are eating, since when the time comes to eat, everyone is in such a hurry to start his own supper that one person goes hungry while another is getting drunk. Surely you have homes for eating and drinking in? Surely you have enough respect for the community of God not to make poor people embarrassed? What am I to say to you? Congratulate you? I cannot congratulate you on this.

For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, So to sum up, my dear brothers, when you meet for the Meal, wait for one another.

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Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum. A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death. Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him. ‘He deserves this of you’ they said ‘because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.’ So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends: ‘Sir,’ he said ‘do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this.’ And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.

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Not worthy to have you

In today’s reading, we look at the importance and solemnity of Holy Communion. Many people outside of the Catholic Church sees that the invitation to the Lord’s supper is very exclusive. So exclusive that only baptised Catholics can receive the Eucharist and we cannot receive communion in other churches of another denomination. And so I would like to share my experience as a Catholic and own personal views on why I believe that the Church is the most inclusive one that I have even encountered. I may not have gone to churches of every denomination neither is this a comparison. I believe the Eucharist is very Holy and that receiving Jesus is the utmost exclusive act of closeness to Christ in our world. Receiving the Eucharist is not an act, nor is it just a usual banquet. It is Christ, it is community, it is the believe, it is faith, it is serious. There are a lot of emotions when receiving Holy Communion, and it is the centre of our masses.

Today’s first reading writes on the words spoken by Jesus at the last supper. The meaning of community among the faithful, and the believe of His presence in the form of bread and wine shows the seriousness of how intimate Christ is with us through the Eucharist. The inner faith in us has to be strong in order to receive Him, even as a Catholic ourselves. The church may seem exclusive on the surface of this but we invite everyone to celebrate mass with us. There are several occasions where a ‘deranged’ person steps out in front of the altar and shouts, regardless of the church, they are never taken away by anyone, nor does the priest ask the person to leave. Fortunately, the person usually just walk away after awhile. I think we care least about who sits or stand or kneel at the appropriate sections of mass. We may not have pointed visitors out individually on a Sunday mass because we have already included you in the solemnity in celebrating the Eucharist.

Thus communion is for us to dig deep into ourselves, having the deep faith in believing in Jesus as said by the centurion, which is being echoed right before we receive Christ at every mass. ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed’ and that is when we go on to say ‘Amen’ (I Believe).

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me look into the week with a changed of heart, for the better, may the power of the Eucharist be in me.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the loving people around me, the community that is there to help me and my loved ones deepen and grow in faith.

5 September, Monday – Stretch Out Your Hand

5 September

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1 Corinthians 5:1-8

I have been told as an undoubted fact that one of you is living with his father’s wife. This is a case of sexual immorality among you that must be unparalleled even among pagans. How can you be so proud of yourselves? You should be in mourning. A man who does a thing like that ought to have been expelled from the community. Though I am far away in body, I am with you in spirit, and have already condemned the man who did this thing as if I were actually present. When you are assembled together in the name of the Lord Jesus, and I am spiritually present with you, then with the power of our Lord Jesus he is to be handed over to Satan so that his sensual body may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

The pride that you take in yourselves is hardly to your credit. You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

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Luke 6:6-11

On the sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees were watching him to see if he would cure a man on the sabbath, hoping to find something to use against him. But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up! Come out into the middle.’ And he came out and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, ‘I put it to you: is it against the law on the sabbath to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to destroy it?’ Then he looked round at them all and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was better. But they were furious, and began to discuss the best way of dealing with Jesus.

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Stretch out your hand.

Like any given Monday, many of us find ourselves returning to work, coming back to the hustle and bustle of a new week ahead. At the same time, many of us will find ourselves bogged down with the work that we need to do in the coming week. But so often, we forget that the week does not really start on Monday. Many of us would have encountered calendars that begin the week with a Sunday.

We also know that Sunday is the sabbath day. It is the day of rest, the seventh day on which even God himself took a break. But in the readings today, we see Jesus healing the man with the withered hand on the day of Sabbath. This was what enraged the Pharisees — that Jesus worked on the Sabbath day. But Jesus did all this knowing that this would be the response He would elicit.

Indeed, Jesus is telling us that as Christians, there is no demarcation of when and where we are to do God’s work. Similarly, there should be no demarcation between our rest times, daily work, and time with God. Furthermore, Jesus’s act of healing re-emphasizes his two ‘new’ laws: (1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; (2) Love your neighbour as yourself.

Like healing the man with the withered hand, love has no rest days. No matter the circumstance, we are called to reflect God’s love to others. And we need to receive God’s love from others. So often, we think about giving but forget about receiving. When we receive love (whether a kind act, a compliment, or simply a prayer), we allow others to exercise the holiness that God has implanted in them.

Whether giving or receiving, we are called to stretch out our hands. To reach out to fellow men and women, especially those who are in need. So as we go through our day, let us remember to continue doing God’s work by loving and caring for each other, even if we are bogged down with our daily work. Let us remember that our Saviour loved despite the circumstances; and so, we must do the same.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for those who are lonely, scared or intimidated by the circumstance and situations that they have been born into, placed in, or simply find themselves in. Lead them back to your love.

Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for his unceasing love and unfailing help. May we never lose the eyes of faith that allow us to see Him in everything we do.

9 August, Tuesday – Rank and title

9 August – Memorial for St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Martyr

After witnessing the strength of faith of Catholic friends, Teresa (1891-1942), originally a Jew, became interested in Catholicism and studied a catechism on her own, and she eventually ended up “reading herself into” the Faith.

She became a Carmelite nun, teaching and lecturing at two schools. However, anti-Jewish pressure from the Nazis forced her to resign both positions. She was smuggled out of Germany, and assigned to Holland. When the Nazis invaded Holland, she and her sister Rose, also a convert to Catholicism, were captured and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where they died in the ovens like so many others.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 2:8-3:4

I, Ezekiel, heard a voice speaking. It said, ‘You, son of man, listen to the words I say; do not be a rebel like that rebellious set. Open your mouth and eat what I am about to give you.’ I looked. A hand was there, stretching out to me and holding a scroll. He unrolled it in front of me; it was written on back and front; on it was written ‘lamentations, wailings, meanings.’ He said, ‘Son of man, eat what is given to you; eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel.’ I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat and said, ‘Son of man, feed and be satisfied by the scroll I am giving you.’ I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey.

Then he said, ‘Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said.’

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Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.

‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

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Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

The pursuit of recognition, status and title is often a popular one amongst people who believe that these things are how we can be recognised by all around us. This happens in all cultures, settings and across various millennia. Yet, if we reflect upon the purpose and meaning of why we are doing such an action, we will discover that all these will become like straw blown away by the wind. There will not be anything left at the end of our lives. Jesus reminds us of whom we need to follow to become the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The child is often used as an example because it is assumed that he does not have any prejudices and trusts in the behaviour and outcomes of the world. What is it that causes a child to evolve from being trusting, without doubting, to a cynical adult who is careful of what he says and does so as not to appear to be irresponsible? I believe it is the fear of being hurt. There are people amongst us who have a propensity to hurt people through either their actions or words. It is through this process that we ask God for the wisdom to discern the intentions of the person and to show us what we need to do to overcome what is before us.

God loves us for who we are, just as we are. Following the way of the child in loving God is important and something we must share with all around us in spite of what they do to us. Yet, it is not just a matter of willpower but a matter of asking God to work within our lives to effect that change. To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “God does not call us to do great things to love him but to do small things with great love” Let us continue with our Christian journey in sharing this important lesson of life.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for your grace to illuminate our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to all who seek you with a sincere heart.

15 July, Friday – The Power Gifted To Us

15 July – Memorial for St. Bonaventure, Bishop, Religious, Doctor

St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) entered the Franciscan Order when he was 22. At the age of 35 he was chosen General of his Order and restored a perfect calm where peace had been disturbed by internal dissensions. He did much for his Order and composed The Life of St. Francis. He also assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua.

– http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=169

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Isaiah 38:1-6,21-22,7-8

Hezekiah fell ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, ‘The Lord says this, “Put your affairs in order, for you are going to die, you will not live.”’ Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and addressed this prayer to the Lord, ‘Ah, Lord, remember, I beg you, how I have behaved faithfully and with sincerity of heart in your presence and done what is right in your eyes.’ And Hezekiah shed many tears.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, “The Lord, the God of David your ancestor, says this: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will cure you: in three days’ time you shall go up to the Temple of the Lord.” I will add fifteen years to your life. I will save you from the hands of the king of Assyria, I will protect this city.”’

‘Bring a fig poultice,’ Isaiah said, ‘apply it to the ulcer and he will recover.’ Hezekiah said, ‘What is the sign to tell me that I shall be going up to the Temple of the Lord?’ ‘Here’ Isaiah replied’’ ‘is the sign from the Lord that he will do what he has said. Look, I shall make the shadow cast by the declining sun go back ten steps on the steps of Ahaz.’ And the sun went back the ten steps by which it had declined.

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Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus took a walk one sabbath day through the cornfields. His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them. The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath.’ But he said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God and how they ate the loaves of offering which neither he nor his followers were allowed to eat, but which were for the priests alone? Or again, have you not read in the Law that on the sabbath day the Temple priests break the sabbath without being blamed for it? Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple. And if you had understood the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’

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I will cure you.

We are surrounded by authorities who set rules and guidelines as to what we can or cannot do. We experience life with authority as a baby, when our parents watch over us because we are just helpless beings. In civil society, there are various authorities, led by people who are a little more powerful than ourselves. For some of us, we are in positions that require us to set rules and guidelines for others to follow. As much as we would like the parties affected to adhere to them, we eventually realise that some of the decisions we make will affect the lives of others.

In today’s reading and Gospel, we witness the power of our Lord God, the power to cure a dying man. Even in today’s context, for a very sick person to be suddenly well again, can be a miracle according to the professional doctors, because our body begins to heal itself — a very powerful sign of our God who cures from the inside. Our Father is a very simple God. He does not see your richness, nor your looks, neither does He judge the status of whom He loves. He loves everyone and, most importantly, He listens to your prayers and deep faith in Jesus. It is a simple message in today’s passages, we are strongly reminded of God’s power and the authority He has when He is among us. Nothing is able to topple his intentions for us, and what He has planned in our mission to spread His love, for Him and love of Him.

Allow ourselves to get organised in our very comfortable and perhaps fulfilled life, to be able to arrange our priorities that the Lord God is taking charge of us. By placing God in the centre of our lives, we do not have to feel afraid or get led astray by evil temptations. We are surrounded by the right guidance in living a faithful and fulfilling life, bound by the commandments of our one true God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Today, we pray for our faith, that in times of disappointments and or hopelessness, we do not turn to anger or any other form of non-genuine help, but only to be assured that the Father who love us is already by our side to embrace us, keeping us safe. Increase our faith O Lord.

Thanksgiving: I thank you Lord for giving my life each morning when I wake up.

11 July, Monday – I Friend God

11 July – Memorial for St. Benedict, Abbot, Religious founder

Born to Roman nobility, Benedict (c. 480–547) was the twin brother of St. Scholastica. He studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed at the lack of discipline and lackadasical attitude of his fellow students. He fled to the mountains near Subiaco, living as a hermit in a cave for three years. He was reported to have been fed by a raven.

The virtues that St. Benedict (480-547) demonstrated as a hermit prompted an abbey to request that he lead them. His discipline was such that an attempt was made on his life; some monks tried to poison him, but he blessed the cup and rendered it harmless. He destroyed pagan statues and altars, and drove demons from groves sacred to pagans.

At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule that he wrote, which can be summed up as “Pray and work”.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 1:10-17

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.

‘What are your endless sacrifices to me?
says the Lord.
I am sick of holocausts of rams
and the fat of calves.
The blood of bulls and of goats revolts me.
When you come to present yourselves before me,
who asked you to trample over my courts?
Bring me your worthless offerings no more,
the smoke of them fills me with disgust.
New Moons, sabbaths, assemblies–
I cannot endure festival and solemnity.
Your New Moons and your pilgrimages
I hate with all my soul.
They lie heavy on me,
I am tired of bearing them.
When you stretch out your hands
I turn my eyes away.
You may multiply your prayers,
I shall not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood,
wash, make yourselves clean.

‘Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.’

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Matthew 10:34-11:1

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

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

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

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

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

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A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

I came across my friend’s kid who came back from school and was sharing with his mum about his day at school. He had just started primary school and was beginning to make new friends and forming tight bonds; he most likely already knew whom his best friend in school would be. He began by sharing about the subjects he learnt, about his teacher scolding a classmate, what he ate for lunch, and then began to sulk about how his good friend (I’m guessing he actually meant his best buddy) went off to another activity without him knowing. Kids, being kids, can be sensitive at times and he told his mum that he may not like to have him at his birthday party. However, that best friend of his was invited and attended his birthday party recently.

I think each of us is sure to have been a little sensitive and jealous at some point, whether it was towards someone we love or we were just plain selfish ourselves. In today’s Gospel, our loving Father is truly selfish about wanting our individual selves to belong to Him. On the surface, it seems rather contradictory for the Word to tell us to love our family and here we are told that our enemies are within our household. My reflection on this is that God wants us to realise that it is alright to discover the true peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ. To make peace is an action and gift that our God encourages and is born out of the love of Jesus. Then, we are reminded to put God on top of all priorities. Our creator asks for the attention that is to be given Him, and then to the others. He will give and provide all things beautiful to us and with that peace and joy, we will turn away from the wrongdoings and do good for our family, for our neighbours, for strangers.

When we begin to read of inspirational stories and beautiful heartwarming encounters, it truly requires no form of monetary richness. It is all from the heart and goodness of each one of us. It is about the peace and kindness and understanding and love that is absolutely free. In winning hearts, none of these needs to be bought with extreme luxury.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that through the works of the Church, people will see that the true beauty lies in the wonders of our Lord and not secular richness, that we are jealous over the right issues.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the necessities provided to us, the ability for us to earn the basics and that our excess can be shared to all those who are in need.