Tag Archives: mission

21 October, Sunday – Being models of Christ

21 October 2018 – Mission Sunday

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Isaiah 53:10-11

The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering.
If he offers his life in atonement,
he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life
and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over,
he shall see the light and be content.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.

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Hebrews 4:14-16

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

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Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

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“The cup I must drink you shall drink”

I started my Christian life when I was 12 by attending a protestant church near my home. I was there at the invitation of my then-neighbour David. I remember that fateful day, when there was a call to approach the front of the church to be prayed over. I looked around and saw people, many emotional, deep in prayer.

For many years after that, I never felt a complete connection with our Lord. Despite the many prayers I prayed, and the songs I had sung, I yearned for the closeness that I saw other people had with Him. For me, Jesus was disconnected; someone far away, just observing me.

I only realised that Jesus was much closer to me than I had known much later. During the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) that I attended, we prayed the Stations of the Cross. Then, and only then, did it hit me that not only did my Lord know what it meant to be human, but that He suffered more for me than I ever would. He was there all along.

In Matthew 28, our Lord Jesus sent us on a great mission, to make disciples of all nations and to baptise them.

How are we to go about this? In our encounters with our fellow humans, do we take on a position of pointing out the weaknesses of other people, highlighting areas of their lives where they think they could and should change?

Jesus, in Matthew 22:37-39, tells us that the greatest commandment is to love “the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” and that the second greatest is to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Surely, in the way He lived, our Lord Jesus showed us, as an example, of how we should live.

Let us be a reflection of the same, as we go about working to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by our Lord.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray Father that we may put on the eyes of love as we continue to do what our Lord has commissioned us to do.

Thanksgiving: Father, we thank You for showing us how to live our lives as Your children. Thank You for continuing to strengthen us and being with us as we journey.

18 October, Thursday – Accompaniment

18 October – Feast of St Luke; Evangelist

Born to pagan Greek parents, and possibly a slave. One of the earliest converts to Christianity. Physician, studying in Antioch and Tarsus. Probably travelled as a ship‘s doctor; many charitable societies of physicians are named for him. Legend has that he was also a painter who may have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, but none have ever been correctly or definitively attributed to him; this story, and the inspiration his Gospel has always given artists, led to his patronage of them. He met Saint Paul the Apostle at Troas, and evangelized Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome, and stayed in Rome for Paul‘s two years of in prison. Wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul, interviews with early Christians, and his own experiences. Wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Timothy 4:10-17

Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful helper in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on your guard against him yourself, because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But 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.

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Luke 10:1-9

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”

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“if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you.”

 In today’s 1st reading, we see St. Paul talking about being challenged by someone, saying that he has been “bitterly contesting everything that we say”. In the Gospel, Jesus was telling the disciples that if they visit a house where there isn’t a man of peace, their peace will return to them. At the time Jesus was saying this to his disciples, Paul or Saul, as he was called, was on the other side being the persecutor.

I remember a time in my life that I was a persecutor too. Not in the way Saul was advocating stoning but if I might have done just as much damage with harsh words. Therefore, I’ve come to believe that for most of us, Jesus will come along one day and offer to change us from Saul to Paul. It is very much up to us to recognise who it is that is calling, and then to accept the invitation.

Also, much like Saul the persecutor, maybe some of his followers too, God will use people around us, like Ananias to help us. Maybe to help us to get back on our feet, to help us decipher this voice that has been calling out to us? Much in the way Jesus sent his disciples out in two’s. And similarly in the first reading Paul is saying that only Luke was with him at that time and telling Timothy to come to him with Mark.

The journey of Christianity is seldom a journey of solitude. The ascent of the castles of the spiritual life is a journey that probably starts with someone else too, and as the ascent get steeper the path becomes narrower until you find yourself walking in solitude. Unfortunately few are strong enough. I know I’m not ready, I still need fellow pilgrims to support me on this journey even if I do not readily admit it.

Jesus chose to come and walk among us in order to bring us to him for eternity. May we do the same in our respective mission fields, let us be among those we wish to help instead of above them like a supervisor. Maybe if we saw more of the people around us as brother and sister, would we bring more of them to church with us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daryl De Payva)

Prayer: Just like iron sharpens iron and the early Christians spread the faith by word of mouth and friendships, grant us Lord a desire to journey into church with the people you wish us to.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for walking among us so that we may do the same and for not leaving us alone on this journey. Thank you for the person who brought me to know you.

7 October, Sunday – Marriage Vows

7 October 2018

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Genesis 2:18-24

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:

‘This at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’

This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.

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Hebrews 2:9-11

We see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.

As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers.

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Mark 10:2-16

Some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, ‘Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?’ They were testing him. He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ ‘Moses allowed us’ they said ‘to draw up a writ of dismissal and so to divorce.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘It was because you were so unteachable that he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’ Back in the house the disciples questioned him again about this, and he said to them, ‘The man who divorces his wife and marries another is guilty of adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another she is guilty of adultery too.’

People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.

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What God has united, man must not divide

From the very beginning, when He created Adam and Eve, God instituted and intended a union between a man and a woman, they are to become one in marriage. In fact, it is one of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church and a fundamental building block of society.

Marriage is not just between two people, but a calling from God to enter into a mission, whether it is to grow spiritually together or bringing up children in the faith, it is a vocation nonetheless.  Unfortunately, the current climate of marriage and divorce is very distressing. We have many friends, Christians and non-Christians alike, that are divorced or are in the process of separating. Divorce has become such an easy option and a normal occurrence that couples that remain married for a lengthy period are an oddity.

It is apparent that the institution of marriage is under attack, and the difficulties are a result of the fall of man. The ideals of married life are harder to enter into and require continued deepening of love and commitment. With sin, hurtful memories, stresses, distractions, misplaced passions and temptations bombarding us every day and in every way; it is more difficult and more challenging for married couples to live out the glorious vocation of love and unity that is marriage.

Like a garden that needs sunshine, water, and nutrients to thrive; a marriage requires love, compassion, forgiveness, understanding and commitment to thrive.  Above all, it needs the Son. A marriage is not only between two people, it needs a third party – Jesus. With God at the apex and as the focus, not only will the marriage flourish, but the marital bond will only get stronger.A marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church he established; as Jesus is often referred to as the bridegroom and the church as His bride. With that in mind, how can we deny the sanctity of marriage?

In my years of marriage, there were two major crises and a myriad of minor conflicts that could have and would have ended my marriage. If it wasn’t by the grace of God, my husband and I would be divorced right now, our lives and the lives of our children will be deeply and forever affected. We are still in the healing process and rely on the Lord’s grace, mercy and strength to get us through difficult times. It is precisely during these trying times, that I turned to Jesus and Mother Mary in fervor. Prayers and more prayers to our Lord, petitions and more petitions for Mother Mary’s intercession, gave me a sense of peace and calm in the emotional storm. At first, the peace that came upon me was brief, and then the angst and anger would come back. But as the prayers and petitions continued, and as I deeply relied on our Lord for wisdom, Mother Mary for comfort, relying on the grace of God, for the strength and love that I lack, the peace I sought is now lasting longer and the wounds are starting to heal.

Like our spiritual life and the health of our soul, marriage requires constant tending, love and prayers.  Even then, it doesn’t mean that it will be smooth sailing from here on. There will be mountains to climb and valleys to cross. Through it all,if we remain faithful to our covenant with God and with each other, marriages will stand the test of time, temptation and come what may. For man, it may be impossible, but for God, everything is possible.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that You grant us the strength, wisdom and love to honor the covenant of marriage, and may we reflect the covenant between Jesus and His Church in every way.

Thanksgiving: Thank you,our Heavenly Father, forgiving us the Sacrament of marriage and teaching us to love as Christ loves.

1 October, Monday – Humility

1 October – Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor, Patroness of Missions

Born to a pious middle-class French family of tradesmen, Francoise-Marie Therese Martin (1873–1897) was the daughter of Blessed Louis Martin and Blessed Marie-Azelie Guerin Martin, and all four of her sisters became nuns. Her mother died when Francoise-Marie was only four, and the family moved to Lisieux, Normandy, France to be closer to family.

She was cured from an illness at the age of 8 when a statue of the Blessed Virgin smiled at her. She was educated by the Benedictine nuns of Notre-Dame-du-Pre, and confirmed there at the age of 11. Just before her 14th birthday, she received a vision of the Child Jesus. She immediately understood the great sacrifice that had been made for her, and developed an unshakeable faith.

She tried to join the Carmelites, but was turned down due to her age. She was a pilgrim to Rome for the Jubilee of Pope Leo XIII whom she met and who knew of her desire to become a nun. She joined the Carmelites at Lisieux on 9 April 1888 at the age of 15, taking her final vow on 8 September 1890 at the age of 17.

She is known by all for her complete devotion to spiritual development and to the austerities of the Carmelite Rule. Due to health problems resulting from her ongoing fight with tuberculosis, her superiors ordered her not to fast. She became novice mistress at the age of 20, and at age 22 was ordered by her prioress to begin writing her memories and ideas. The material would turn into the book History of a Soul.

She defined her path to God and holiness at The Little Way, which consisted of child-like love and trust in God. She had an ongoing correspondence with the Carmelite missionaries in China, often stating how much she wanted to come work with them. Many miracles are attributed to her and she was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II.

“You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them.”
– Saint Therese of Lisieux

– Patron Saint Index

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Job 1:6-22

One day the Sons of God came to attend on the Lord, and among them was Satan. So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you been?’ ‘Round the earth,’ he answered ‘roaming about.’ So the Lord asked him, ‘Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth: a sound and honest man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Yes,’ Satan said ‘but Job is not God-fearing for nothing, is he? Have you not put a wall round him and his house and all his domain? You have blessed all he undertakes, and his flocks throng the countryside. But stretch out your hand and lay a finger on his possessions: I warrant you, he will curse you to your face.’ ‘Very well,’ the Lord said to Satan ‘all he has is in your power. But keep your hands off his person.’ So Satan left the presence of the Lord.

On the day when Job’s sons and daughters were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job. ‘Your oxen’ he said ‘were at the plough, with the donkeys grazing at their side, when the Sabaeans swept down on them and carried them off. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The fire of God’ he said ‘has fallen from the heavens and burnt up all your sheep, and your shepherds too: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘The Chaldaeans,’ he said ‘three bands of them, have raided your camels and made off with them. Your servants they put to the sword: I alone escaped to tell you.’ He had not finished speaking when another messenger arrived. ‘Your sons and daughters’ he said ‘were at their meal and drinking wine at their eldest brother’s house, when suddenly from the wilderness a gale sprang up, and it battered all four corners of the house which fell in on the young people. They are dead: I alone escaped to tell you.’

Job rose and tore his gown and shaved his head. Then falling to the ground he worshipped and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
naked I shall return.
The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!’

In all this misfortune Job committed no sin nor offered any insult to God.

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Luke 9:46-50

An argument started between the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child and set him by his side and then said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.’

John spoke up. ‘Master,’ he said ‘we saw a man casting out devils in your name, and because he is not with us we tried to stop him.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you.’

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“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I shall return. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken back. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Two beautiful readings that bring out what really life is about. It’s never about what we have on earth but who we have as our eternal Father. The understanding of our identity, the purpose of our lives, the only one aim we all should have is to return to unity with God, our Father, with the world in love.

Putting ourselves in the shoes of Job, sometimes our lives are so smooth that we simply cannot comprehend why God would want us to suffer after everything we’ve done for Him. But truly there are indeed many times that we need to be reminded of who gave us this life and our possessions. If all these can save us from eternal damnation, maybe it’s good that we all continuously suffer on earth.

Or we can look at it from the point of view of the Gospel where it says, “For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.” Maybe our “sufferings” have much wisdom for us to digest, to see the world in a new light, to appreciate the things/people that we have taken for granted of, to treasure life and to show love. For when we are at our lowest, not only is the way only up, but that’s exactly where we find Christ because that’s where He lives, not in the limelight and the material distractions that we have, but in the simple, in the ordinary, in our hearts, where we can truly be ourselves.

For is it then that we can also see who is with us and who is merely using us. For “anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me”.

Let us invite Christ in our lives in order that we may invite all, to see the Christ in others as well as to be Christ to others. We will be the greatest when we recognise that we have the greatest gift of all, who is Christ Himself, when He gave His life for us. Let us now live for Him, to glorify Him. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, many times we are so caught up with doing and finishing what we have to do, we occupy ourselves with so many things till we leave you out. Help us to drop those in order that we may see you clearer and depend on you, in order that we will lead all to glorify you. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your example, that you are not a king that is associated with wealth, fame or power. Thank you Lord for your humility, for understanding, for listening and for your love.

7 September, Friday – Never Judge A Book By Its Cover

7 September

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1 Corinthians 4:1-5

People must think of us as Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God. What is expected of stewards is that each one should be found worthy of his trust. Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you, or indeed any human tribunal, find me worthy or not. I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge. There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes; he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions of men’s hearts. Then will be the time for each one to have whatever praise he deserves, from God.

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Luke 5:33-39

The Pharisees and scribes said to Jesus, ‘John’s disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but yours go on eating and drinking.’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely you cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.’

He also told them this parable, ‘No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.

‘And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost. No; new wine must be put into fresh skins. And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. “The old is good” he says.’

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Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes

Prompted by my Spiritual Director a few months back, I started to take art lessons. I took art as a subject back in school and since then, never drew again until that one afternoon at the retreat centre. Unable to reflect or journal anymore, I found myself in the art room of the centre and started doodling an image of The Good Shepherd, it being Good Shepherd Sunday. That drawing turned out pretty alright, I felt. So my art journey started again. I have been painting now for 4 months.

Out of the many art studios here, I was led to this particular studio. It is run by a lovely Christian lady. From Day One, I felt that this was the hand of God. The owner of the studio shared her story of how her studio came about — for someone who really need not work (she obviously is well to do), and for someone who had no formal art training. It started with a desire in her heart. She wanted to provide a little pocket money for a family who was struggling. Sure, she could have asked her husband for the money but she really wanted to do this on her own. So she prayed about it – and that’s how her studio started. Today, she continues to provide for this family and, through her studio, she has been able to do so much more for the kingdom of God. What an inspiration that has been for me, for I too have been praying and searching for a mission, and how I can use the gifts that God has blessed me for His Kingdom.

At this time in my life, I am also going through some pretty drastic life changes. It’s a time of detachments to my ideals of what my life should be. Painful and uncomfortable as it is, I know that this is where the Lord is leading me and I have to be open. But even as I ponder upon it, I thought about my teacher. Sure it’s easy for these rich people to do more, right? They have the resources to do so. I built this image of her in my mind – where she lived, and the people she’s exposed to – easy for her to live out her mission. We all judge others – like in today’s first reading. As God’s servant, Paul must not be judged by human standards.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that she casually mentioned that she and her husband live in the public housing flats nearby. I was completely floored! All this while I thought she lived in a swanky house in some swanky district. She had. Until at some point, they felt that they were going to be more pragmatic. Not that they were unable to afford it. Something she said struck a chord with me, ‘Do not live according to the ideals of others but live for yourself.’ Her rich friends and her husband’s banking fraternity all thought that they must have run into financial difficulties to make the switch to public housing. But she shared that this change has given her so much more freedom and joy. She is blessed to be doing something she is passionate about, make a little money but more importantly bless others.

When we pray and ask God to show us our life’s mission; when we say ‘We surrender!’ are we ready to allow Him to pull the rug from under you? Can we allow God to work through us and use us in His mission field, and ignore how our secular society rates and judges us? I am slowly letting go and learning not to let others’ ideals of what my life and work should be rule me – as long as it pleases my God. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: God, as we pray today, we ask you to show us our vocations and life missions, give us the courage and steadfastness to move forward, according to your will. Help us to live not just for ourselves, or by others’ standards. May our lives be pleasing to you, Lord.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your love and your providence. For counting us worthy to serve in your vineyard.  

25 October, Wednesday – Readiness

25 October 2017

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Romans 6:12-18

You must not let sin reign in your mortal bodies or command your obedience to bodily passions, you must not let any part of your body turn into an unholy weapon fighting on the side of sin; you should, instead, offer yourselves to God, and consider yourselves dead men brought back to life; you should make every part of your body into a weapon fighting on the side of God; and then sin will no longer dominate your life, since you are living by grace and not by law.

Does the fact that we are living by grace and not by law mean that we are free to sin? Of course not. You know that if you agree to serve and obey a master you become his slaves. You cannot be slaves of sin that leads to death and at the same time slaves of obedience that leads to righteousness. You were once slaves of sin, but thank God you submitted without reservation to the creed you were taught. You may have been freed from the slavery of sin, but only to become ‘slaves’ of righteousness.

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Luke 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘You may be quite sure of this, that if the householder had known at what hour the burglar would come, he would not have let anyone break through the wall of his house. You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, do you mean this parable for us, or for everyone?’ The Lord replied, ‘What sort of steward, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you truly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time coming,” and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.

The servant who knows what his master wants, but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.’

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…when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him.

I have been struggling of late, with a ‘second in command’ who has not had the benefit of ever being guided in his career/job. As such, he has not learnt how to lead a small team of communications professionals, nor ever budgetted for a small unit, let alone how to ‘let go’ and delegate work to others.

As such, his small team have been struggling to produce work that I deem acceptable because everything has to go through his approval first. Inevitably, because of a lack of in-depth knowledge on his part, and the inability to spot errors, the drafts end up being sent back by me for repeated improvements and clean ups. It got to a point where I started dealing with each of his team, just to determine each one’s strengths and weaknesses. Naturally, after 2 to 3 weeks, I discovered that the weak link was in fact their direct report. Because on their own, the three actually could produce good work.

I have always told them that the true worth of a good team is that they produce in spite of having the odds stacked against them. And that they stand on their own two feet because of the work they produce, not because of who their boss is. So that no matter what happens, they will always be regarded well on their own merits. To get to that level, we must always be prepared and always ‘ahead of the curve’ in terms of knowledge and readiness. We must never just accept the easy victories, the ‘low-hanging fruit’. Because that does not build character. It actually encourages complacency.

Brothers and sisters, in today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us yet again to stand watch and be ready. Because the minute God calls us, we must be equipped to spring into action. For He has entrusted each of us with a mission here on earth. Whether as a religious, a lay person, a parent, godparent, brother, sister, cousin, confidant, spouse, teacher, counsellor…the list goes on. Each of us has been given life by God in order to help Him fulfil His plan for humankind. Yes, all of us have a purpose here on earth. And whatever that purpose is, God will take us on a journey that will eventually end.

The question is, once that journey ends, whose lives will we have made a difference to? Can we truly say that we have impacted on someone else’s life and, in so doing, given that person hope? How ready are we to stand up and be counted when the time comes?

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: We pray that you always give us the prompting to remain steadfast and ready to serve at a moment’s notice.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for being our Truth and our Way.

1 June, Wednesday – Witnessing Without Fear

June 1 – Memorial for St. Justin, martyr

He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and studied many systems of philosophy before being led, through Platonism, to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known, and travelled from place to place proclaiming the gospel. In 151 he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived: it can be found in today’s Office of Readings.

Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. In contrast to the Hebrew tendency to view God as making revelations to them and to no-one else, he follows the parable of the Sower, and sees God as sowing the seed of wisdom throughout the world, to grow wherever the soil would receive it. When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. This is harder to do – not least, because we have to take the trouble to understand our own faith thoroughly – but it is ultimately more worthwhile.

– Universalis

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2 Timothy 1:1-3,6-12

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers. That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the Appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News; and I have been named its herald, its apostle and its teacher.

It is only on account of this that I am experiencing fresh hardships here now; but I have not lost confidence, because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.

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Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees – who deny that there is a resurrection – came to him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first married a wife and then died leaving no children. The second married the widow, and he too died leaving no children; with the third it was the same, and none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Is not the reason why you go wrong, that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.’

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Because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.

I am quite an introvert. More often than not, I have a fear of speaking up. And it doesn’t stop there. I have a fear of this and a fear of that. So much so, that eventually I give up my right to speak, because I fear what others might think of me.

All these boil down to one thing: Pride. Because of my own pride, I fear what opinions others have of me.

But today’s first reading truly speaks to all of us who have a certain fear in our hearts. St Paul says: “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord…”

Recently, Archbishop William Goh in his homily at the Pentecost Rally spoke about the need for Christians to evangelise, saying that it is not an option but an obligation to do so. Indeed, witnessing to the Lord is not an option but an obligation, with all its hardships and trials.

It is really not an easy task to speak about what God has done for us in our lives. I find it tough too. And sometimes I take the easy way out and choose not to do so; after all, I’m an introvert (and introverts would rather stay out of the party and hide at a corner).

But all the more, it is with suffering of hardships that we show how God is working in our lives. Sometimes words are not needed, but just pure actions. Living our sufferings with grace, by grace.

This also means that whatever our limitations and fears, we continue to depend on the grace of God to witness to His goodness. May I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to have a spirit of openness to rely on God as we live our lives to testify to love and tell of His greatness. This is also something which I am constantly reminding myself as well.

As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said: “We are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.” So let us be faithful to our mission — to be evangelisers of God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

Prayer: Dearest Father, You have given us the grace to call you Abba Father. Help us to always be faithful to our calling and mission to be witnesses to Your greatness. Enable us always to be courageous in the face of negativity when we are called to make Your name known. This prayer we make in Your name, Jesus. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for Your empowerment. Thank you for your abundant grace which gives us the courage to be missionaries of Your love.