Tag Archives: nicholas chia

16 September, Saturday – One word at a time

Sep 16 – Memorial for Sts. Cornelius, Pope and Martyr; and Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

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

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

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1 Timothy 1:15-17

Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the greatest evidence of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who would later have to trust in him to come to eternal life. To the eternal King, the undying, invisible and only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Luke 6:43-49

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit: people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles. A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.

‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” and not do what I say?

‘Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and acts on them – I will show you what he is like. He is like the man who when he built his house dug, and dug deep, and laid the foundations on rock; when the river was in flood it bore down on that house but could not shake it, it was so well built. But the one who listens and does nothing is like the man who built his house on soil, with no foundations: as soon as the river bore down on it, it collapsed; and what a ruin that house became!’

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For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.

I am particularly sensitive to the words used by others in their conversations with me. Whilst others may not take it to heart regarding the sentences which are said, I tend to ponder upon the words which are used regardless of whether it comes in the written form like a text message or in the spoken manner. Perhaps the readings of today are instructive of why I am particularly sensitive to words.

Jesus reminds us that it is out of the heart from which words flow out. Hence the spoken or written word can be used as a source of blessing or of hurt to the receiving person. This means we need to allow God the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives to melt the hardness of our hearts. Our hearts have been filled with emotional wounds which sometimes have subtly affected the way we behave and our actions.

The solution to this is a multi-faceted approach: In the spiritual domain, we need to let Christ heal us. St Paul reminds us that Christ came into the world to save sinners. He would like to come to save us from our sins and free us from the chains which hold us back from being a joyful Christian. On a practical side, we will first need to acknowledge that we have an issue which we need to address. This requires us to have the courage to acknowledge our weaknesses. We can then proceed towards seeking help to allow the repair and healing within ourselves.

With prayer and our own efforts, we would have taken steps towards building our house on a solid foundation of rock which can withstand the trials of the world.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to forgive the people who have hurt us

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the counsellors in the world.

15 September, Friday – Forgiveness

Sep 15 – Memorial for Our Lady of Sorrows

Different sorrows of Mary have been honoured in the Church’s history, but since the 14th century these seven have come to be regarded as the seven ‘dolors’ (sorrows) of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon
  2. The Flight into Egypt
  3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days
  4. Meeting Jesus on the Way to Calvary
  5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
  6. Jesus Taken Down from the Cross
  7. Jesus Laid in the Tomb

By commemorating Our Lady of Sorrows, we call to mind the sufferings that Mary endured as part of her vocation as the Mother of the Redeemer. No one is closer to Christ than Mary, consequently no one has participated more intimately in the redemptive suffering of Christ than His Mother Mary.

  • http://www.catholic.net/RCC/Periodicals/Faith/1998-03-04/sorrows.html

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1 Timothy 1:1-2,12-14

From Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus appointed by the command of God our saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, true child of mine in the faith; wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith. Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance; and the grace of our Lord filled me with faith and with the love that is in Christ Jesus.

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John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.

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Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance

There are some people whom I know who believe in retribution for others who have caused them much hurt. They believe that every one will get their just punishment proportionate to the amount of harm they have caused. Some go even further and wish upon a greater punishment upon the aggressor. The readings of today remind us that sometimes the individual in question may actually not know what they are doing.

St Paul was very zealous in persecuting the Christians when he was still a Pharisee. He mistakenly believed that they were engaging in heretical behaviour. It was only after the encounter which he had with Christ on the roads in Damascus did he realise the folly of his ways. Sometimes people are not aware of how their actions have an impact on others and sometimes in a bad way.

At the foot of the Cross, Mary stood there looking at her Son slowly die due to a false accusation. She would have heard the words which Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is the mystery of forgiveness which we are called to reflect on today’s Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Amidst the sorrow of seeing her only Son pass away, she hears Him asking God to forgive his enemies.

If Jesus made an effort to forgive His enemies, I believe we should also do the same. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do; in fact it may also cause us to re-examine why we are so unwilling to let go of past hurts. Yet we need to trust that the process will allow us to grow in maturity only if we are willing to take the first step to let go.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who help others to forgive their enemies.

14 September, Thursday – The Wood of the Cross

Sep 14 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The feast was celebrated in Rome before the end of the 7th century. Its purpose is to commemorate the recovering of that portion of the Holy Cross which was preserved at Jerusalem, and which had fallen into the hands of the Persians. Emperor Heraclius recovered this precious relic and brought it back to Jerusalem on 3 May 629.

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Numbers 21:4-9

On the way through the wilderness the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is neither bread nor water here; we are sick of this unsatisfying food.’

At this God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.’ Moses interceded for the people, and the Lord answered him, ‘Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.

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John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.’

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For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.’

Symbols can carry great significance for human beings. Some of them remind us of a significant event or person in our lives which we want to hold closer to us. Even in the secular world, they have memorials, plaques and statues made so that we commemorate important events which happened in the history of the company or the country. Today’s Feast is more than just a symbolic memory for the Cross represents the central focus of our whole Christian life.

The Cross represents the sacrifice which Jesus Christ made for us because we have fallen into sin. Through the Cross, we have a chance to open the gates of heaven which was closed due to Original Sin. An instrument of torture has now become the sign where all of us can profess our belief in the Lord Jesus.

Sometimes I take the Cross for granted and think that everything will be ok. However, I am always reminded that whilst the war against sin has been won, the daily battle against sin is still present. God has put forth before me various struggles which I have to encounter and in doing so, the growth in my Christian journey is deepened.

Let us take some time today to reflect on the Cross and what it signifies in our own lives. How do we live the message of the Cross, which is one of sacrifice and love and let it triumph over all our sins, weaknesses and temptations?

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: We adore you O Christ and we bless you because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who continue to proclaim the Word of God despite facing tremendous difficulty.

13 September, Wednesday – Love of Christ

Sep 13 – Memorial for St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

John’s (347-407) father died when he was young, and he was raised by a very pious mother. It was for his sermons that John earned the title “Chrysostom” (golden-mouthed). They were always on point, they explained the scriptures with clarity, and they sometimes went on for hours.

As bishop, he criticised the rich for not sharing their wealth, fought to reform the clergy, prevented the sale of ecclesiastical offices, called for fidelity in marriage, and encouraged practices of justice and charity. St. John’s sermons caused nobles and bishops to work to remove him from his diocese; twice exiled from his diocese. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 451.

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Colossians 3:1-11

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry. And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up: getting angry, being bad-tempered, spitefulness, abusive language and dirty talk; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

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Luke 6:20-26

Fixing his eyes on his disciples Jesus said:

‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.
Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.

Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.
Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.

‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’

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There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.

As Christians living in the world, it is sometimes easy for us to lose sight of the purpose of our lives. We may be caught up with things such as the pursuit of prestige, the accumulation of wealth in this world or even the desire to being recognised by others. The readings of today remind us that such pursuits are not our main priority but rather Christ is the main focus.

Jesus came down to suffer and to die for us despite us being unworthy to have such a wonderful Saviour. We are known as Christians because we follow Christ. People around us have a high expectation of what we are supposed to do and will comment if we do not follow what is to be done.

It is not easy to be free from the sins mentioned in the First Reading today. Even in the time of St Paul, there has already been these matters which have hurt the community. We need to be on guard against these matters by reminding ourselves to put on our new self.

We know we are on the right track when we start to see the things which are happening in the Beatitudes occurring in our lives. Whilst I am not advocating we pick a fight, I do believe that we should be happy if we are to made to suffer for Christ. As we continue with our lives today, let us remember that it is Jesus who should animate our every action and word to the people whom we speak.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, let us always stay close to you despite all the troubles which we may face.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for those who are teachers.

12 September, Tuesday – A fallen community

Sep 12 – 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.

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Colossians 2:6-15

You must live your whole life according to the Christ you have received – Jesus the Lord; you must be rooted in him and built on him and held firm by the faith you have been taught, and full of thanksgiving.

Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some second-hand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ.

In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your own fulfilment, in the one who is the head of every Sovereignty and Power.

In him you have been circumcised, with a circumcision not performed by human hand, but by the complete stripping of your body of flesh. This is circumcision according to Christ. You have been buried with him, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.

He has overridden the Law, and cancelled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross; and so he got rid of the Sovereignties and the Powers, and paraded them in public, behind him in his triumphal procession.

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Luke 6:12-19

Jesus went out into the hills to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God. When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them ‘apostles’: Simon whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.
He then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. People tormented by unclean spirits were also cured, and everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.

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[A]nd he spent the whole night in prayer to God

Circumcision is a physical mark and indicator for Jews and Muslims that they adhere to the respective faiths which they belong to. It is like the setting aside of this group of people for God’s glory. St Paul reminds us that this physical act is not what Christians are called to do but instead we are called for a deeper conversion – a conversion of our lives of sin.

Sin prevents us from experiencing the love of God in a way which we cannot fully comprehend. By being separated from God, we risk losing focus on what our goal as Christian should be – which is to love and serve God. As Christians, we are called to love and support the community which we belong to in Church or any ministry found within the Church which allows us to radiate God’s love to the people around us.

The apostles were a group of men who came from diverse backgrounds but each one of them were brought together in Faith and Love. Yet Judas chose not to abandon his previous way of life and ultimately succumbed to sin. We do not know enough of his background to get a clear understanding behind why he chose to betray Jesus. What we can infer is that the community which Judas lived in was not a choir of saints but rather men who had to be corrected and shown what is the way to live in union with God’s love.

Being open to correction is the first step towards staying in touch with Christ. We will need to continue to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and correct us so that we are reminded to remove the flesh of sin and put on the spirit of love in our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Lord, we pray that you show guidance to all who are seeking meaning in their life.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all counsellors who take time to listen to their client’s needs.

11 September, Monday – In God we trust

11 September 2017

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Colossians 1:24-2:3

It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church. I became the servant of the Church when God made me responsible for delivering God’s message to you, the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his saints. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to them and to show all the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ. It is for this I struggle wearily on, helped only by his power driving me irresistibly.

Yes, I want you to know that I do have to struggle hard for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for so many others who have never seen me face to face. It is all to bind you together in love and to stir your minds, so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know God’s secret in which all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

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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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This is the Christ we proclaim

The US dollar has the phrase “In God we Trust” and I always found it strange that money and God can be close associates with each other. Both of them represent two different views – money represents the most material side of humans whilst the phrase reminds us that it is not money but God whom we should put all our trust in. This is the message of the readings of today. They remind us of the importance to entrust all our lives to God; both the happiness and the sorrows.

St Paul willingly bore all the sufferings which arose from the mission to proclaim Christ to all around Him because he trusted that Jesus Christ will take good care of him. St Paul went through tremendous hardship of being shipwrecked, flogged and stoned to death in his desire to spread the belief in Christ to all whom he met. Was he foolish to do so? Perhaps from the eyes of the world but he was willing to do all he could for God just so that the message of the Good News could be spread.

Jesus was also determined to bring the message of love to all around him and he cared not for human opinion. In the Gospel of today, He shows us that He would rather cure the man with the withered hand on the sabbath instead of following the law.

This is indeed what we are called to do in our lives. In our daily encounters with the people whom we meet, we must always realise that they are observing us to see how we respond to the situations which life puts before us. If we can respond in love, that will certainly distinguish us from the others who do not profess the Christian Faith. As we begin the week, let us remind ourselves of the purpose of our lives and how we can use it to glorify God’s name.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us remember that you have called us to love you and in return to show that love to all who meet us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for all who have forgiven their enemies.

10 September, Sunday – Debt of Mutual Love

10 September 2017

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Ezekiel 33:7-9

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows: ‘Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. If I say to a wicked man: Wicked wretch, you are to die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.’

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Romans 13:8-10

Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.

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Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’

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Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour

St Martin de Porres, a Dominican lay brother, was responsible for the infirmary in the Convent of the Holy Rosary in Peru. Once, during an epidemic, he continued to care for the sick despite orders from his superior not to do so for fear of spreading the disease to the rest of the community.

St Martin’s reply to the superior disciplining him is an example for all of us to follow:

“Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity”

The readings of today remind us of the need to demonstrate universal love to all those around us. St Paul in the second reading instructs the Romans to love our neighbour as ourselves. In the first reading, the Prophet Ezekiel is given an important duty to instruct the sinful to return to God.

God is a merciful God who does not want us to be eternally separated from Him after our time on Earth. He gives us many opportunities to return to Him and be faithful to Him so that we can one day be together with Him in the heavenly kingdom. What matters then is an understanding of the rules and precepts of the Church. Sometimes we can view them in a legalistic manner but as St Martin demonstrates to us, we need to be charitable in all our actions and words.

Obedience to the letter of the law goes counter to what the Christian Faith is about – which is that of love. Love is the thread which binds all its children together and to whom the principles and basis are all built upon. As we continue with our daily lives, let us look at a situation in our workplace not from laws and principles but from a spirit of charity and how we can help the other party in kindness and patience.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us always discover what it means to practise a spirit of humility in our lives

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the Missionaries of Charities who demonstrate God’s love to the poorest of the poor.

15 July, Saturday – God’s plans for us

Jul 15 – 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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Genesis 49:29-33, 50:15-26

Jacob gave his sons these instructions, ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me near my fathers, in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave in the field at Machpelah, opposite Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial-plot. There Abraham was buried and his wife Sarah. There Isaac was buried and his wife Rebekah. There I buried Leah. I mean the field and the cave in it that were bought from the sons of Heth.’

When Jacob had finished giving his instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, and breathing his last was gathered to his people.

Seeing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph intends to treat us as enemies and repay us in full for all the wrong we did him?’ So they sent this message to Joseph: ‘Before your father died he gave us this order: “You must say to Joseph: Oh forgive your brothers their crime and their sin and all the wrong they did you.” Now therefore, we beg you, forgive the crime of the servants of your father’s God.’ Joseph wept at the message they sent to him.

His brothers came themselves and fell down before him. ‘We present ourselves before you’ they said ‘as your slaves.’ But Joseph answered them, ‘Do not be afraid; is it for me to put myself in God’s place? The evil you planned to do me has by God’s design been turned to good, that he might bring about, as indeed he has, the deliverance of a numerous people. So you need not be afraid; I myself will provide for you and your dependants.’ In this way he reassured them with words that touched their hearts.

So Joseph stayed in Egypt with his father’s family; and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children, as also the children of Machir, Manasseh’s son, who were born on Joseph’s lap. At length Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die; but God will be sure to remember you kindly and take you back from this country to the land that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ And Joseph made Israel’s sons swear an oath, ‘When God remembers you with kindness be sure to take my bones from here.’

Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten; they embalmed him and laid him in his coffin in Egypt.

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Matthew 10:24-33

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. It is enough for the disciple that he should grow to be like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, what will they not say of his household?

‘Do not be afraid of them therefore. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.

‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’

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The evil you planned to do me has, by God’s design, been turned to good.
My former parish priest used to share in his homily that God can write straight on crooked lines. It appears that despite all the great plans and intentions of Man, God can still intervene and create a situation in which we can never expect. The readings of today share with us the wonderful plan of God, which can fit in the lives of those around us.
Joseph’s siblings were rightfully scared that he would hurt them because of the bad things which they had done to him in the past. However, through Divine Providence, they learnt about the importance of the mercy of God in their lives. God cannot be outdone in mercy and this is why we need to realise the importance of co-operating with God’s will. There needs to be an action on our part to want to agree to work with God. This means we need to be willing to be upfront with the belief of our Catholic Faith even if it hurts publicly. We will need to show to others the importance of remaining steadfast in a world where every moral standard is changing.
God comes to us as we are with our flaws and weaknesses. Our flawed self can show to others that Christians understand the difficulties whom others face. He only wants us to accept Him for who He is by giving up our former ways of a sinful life and to love Him. Are we ready to do so?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
 Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the courage to surrender our will to you.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who love us just as we are.

14 July, Friday – Loving God through our lives

Jul 14 – Memorial for St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest

St. Camillus (1550-1614) used to be a gambling addict. He lost so much he had to take a job working construction on a building belonging to the Capuchins; they converted him. Because of a persistent injury, he moved into San Giacomo Hospital for the incurable, and eventually became its administrator.

Lacking education, he began to study with children when he was 32 years old. St. Camillus founded the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick (the Camellians) who care for the sick both in hospital and home. He honoured the sick as living images of Christ, and hoped that the service he gave them did penance for his wayward youth.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30

Israel left Canaan with his possessions, and reached Beersheba. There he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in a vision at night, ‘Jacob, Jacob’, he said. ‘I am here’, he replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father’, he continued. ‘Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I myself will go down to Egypt with you. I myself will bring you back again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.’ Then Jacob left Beersheba. Israel’s sons conveyed their father Jacob, their little children and their wives in the waggons Pharaoh had sent to fetch him.

Taking their livestock and all that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, they went to Egypt, Jacob and all his family with him: his sons and his grandsons, his daughters and his grand-daughters, in a word, all his children he took with him to Egypt.

Israel sent Judah ahead to Joseph, so that the latter might present himself to him in Goshen. When they arrived in the land of Goshen, Joseph had his chariot made ready and went up to meet his father Israel in Goshen. As soon as he appeared he threw his arms round his neck and for a long time wept on his shoulder. Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I can die, now that I have seen you again, and seen you still alive.’

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Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.

‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. I tell you solemnly, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’

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The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you
Fear of public speaking is certainly an issue which many people grapple with. I believe that for us as Catholic Christians, it is perhaps the fear of publicly proclaiming the Word of God to the people around us. The readings today share with us that such a fear is unfounded and that we have Jesus with us who will guide us in what to do.
Jesus has shown us the importance of trusting in Him. Unfortunately, not all of us can remember this point well. Sometimes we go about our own actions and think that this is probably what God wants us to do, resulting in us engaging in behaviours which may not be the most prudent, nor the wisest to engage in. It is prudent for us to pause and ask ourselves if what we are doing is grounded in a solid foundation of love for God and love for our neighbour. The importance of this cannot be overstated because it will allow us to bear with the pain and suffering of persecution which is mentioned in the Gospel. Deepening our prayer life will allow us to trust in God and this will help guide our actions in our daily life.
The love of God must animate all our actions. We need not always speak out loud to the people around us, of how God has worked wonders within us; although, that is certainly one way. The way we treat our parents, siblings, relatives, friends, colleagues and strangers is perhaps the most visible way we can share the Gospel message to the people around us. Let us ask God to help us with this wonderful task.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the love to share your Word to all around us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all missionaries.

13 July, Thursday – Freely, Freely

13 July – Memorial for St. Henry II

Henry II (972–1024) was the son of Gisella of Burgundy and Henry II the Quarrelsome, Duke of Bavaria. He was educated at the cathedral school in Hildesheim by Bishop Wolfgang of Regensburg. He became Duke of Bavaria himself in 995 upon his father’s death, which ended Henry’s thoughts of becoming a priest. He ascended to the throne of Germany in 1002, and was crowned King of Pavia, Italy on 15 May 1004. He married St. Cunegunda, but was never a father. Some sources claim the two lived celibately, but there is no evidence either way.

Henry’s brother rebelled against his power, and Henry was forced to defeat him on the battlefield, but later forgave him, and the two reconciled. Henry was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1014 by Pope Benedict VIII; he was the last of the Saxon dynasty of emperors. He founded schools, quelled rebellions, protected the frontiers, worked to establish a stable peace in Europe, and to reform the Church while respecting its independence.

He fostered missions, and established Bamberg, Germany as a centre for missions to Slavic countries. He started the construction of the cathedral at Basel, Switzerland; it took nearly 400 years to complete. Both Henry and St. Cunegunda were prayerful people, and generous to the poor.

At one point he was cured of an unnamed illness by the touch of St. Benedict of Nursia at Monte Cassino. He became somewhat lame in his later years. Following Cunegunda’s death, he considered becoming a monk, but the abbot of Saint-Vanne at Verdun, France refused his application, and told him to keep his place in the world where he could do much good for people and the advancement of God’s kingdom.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29, 45:1-5

Judah went up to Joseph and said, ‘May it please my lord, let your servant have a word privately with my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord questioned his servants, “Have you father or brother?” And we said to my lord, “We have an old father, and a younger brother born of his old age. His brother is dead, so he is the only one left of his mother, and his father loves him.” Then you said to your servants, “Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.” But you said to your servants, “If your youngest brother does not come down with you, you will not be admitted to my presence again.” When we went back to your servant my father, we repeated to him what my lord had said. So when our father said, “Go back and buy us a little food,” we said, “We cannot go down. If our youngest brother is with us, we will go down, for we cannot be admitted to the man’s presence unless our youngest brother is with us.” So your servant our father said to us, “You know that my wife bore me two children. When one left me, I said that he must have been torn to pieces. And I have not seen him to this day. If you take this one from me too and any harm comes to him, you will send me down to Sheol with my white head bowed in misery.” If I go to your servant my father now, and we have not the boy with us, he will die as soon as he sees the boy is not with us, for his heart is bound up with him. Then your servants will have sent your servant our father down to Sheol with his white head bowed in grief.’

Then Joseph could not control his feelings in front of all his retainers, and he exclaimed, ‘Let everyone leave me.’ No one therefore was present with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers, but he wept so loudly that all the Egyptians heard, and the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.

Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?’ His brothers could not answer him, they were so dismayed at the sight of him. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ When they had come closer to him he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not grieve, do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here, since God sent me before you to preserve your lives.’

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Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge. Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the workman deserves his keep.

‘Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you. And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet. I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town.’

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You received without charge, give without charge.
The talents we have received in our lives may all appear to be of our own doing. Be it the wondrous intelligence we have, the great culinary skills or even that of a good voice, we often believe that these traits are our own gifts and sometimes forget that it is God who has granted us the use of these gifts.
One may then wonder why God has put at our disposal these gifts? These gifts are given to us to glorify the name of God to the people around us. Through our intellect, we can share with others the reasons for believing in God and the use of culinary skills could be the starting point for a discussion over a meal on how God has worked within our lives. The voice we possess could be the way in which others hear the Gospel through the joyful proclamation of the mercies and grace which God has granted to us.
We need to realise that the talents we have are meant to be the leaven of God’s word in a world thirsty and hungry for the Good News. Jesus offers to each one of us a wonderful opportunity to enter into a journey of love and communion with Him. This journey will then become for each one of us the source of which we can continue to spread the Word of God to those around us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us discern on how to use the gifts we have to spread your Word.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all Spiritual Directors.