Tag Archives: nicholas chia

18 November, Saturday – Expectations of a Christian

Nov 18 – Memorial for the Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul

The Basilica of St. Peter is located within the Vatican City. It occupies a unique position as one of the holiest sites and as the greatest of all churches of Christendom. It is the burial site of St. Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and, according to tradition, was the first Bishop of Antioch and later the first Bishop of Rome, and therefore the first in the line of the papal succession.

Catholic tradition holds that St. Peter’s tomb is below the altar of the basilica, which is why many popes, starting with the first ones, have been buried there. There has been a church on this site since the fourth century. Construction on the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on Apr 18, 1506, and was completed in 1626.

While St. Peter’s is the most famous of Rome’s many churches, it is not the first in rank, an honour held by the Pope’s cathedral church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Contrary to popular misconception, St. Peter’s is not a cathedral, as it is not the seat of a bishop. It is properly termed a basilica.

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside The Walls is one of four churches considered to be the great ancient basilicas of Rome. This basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over what was believed to be the burial place of St. Paul where it was said that after the Apostle’s execution, his followers erected a memorial over his grave.

In 386 Emperor Theodosius I began the erection of a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept. The work including the mosaics was not completed till the pontificate of Leo I. Under Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), the basilica was again extensively modified. As it lay outside the Aurelian walls, this basilica was damaged during the Saracen invasions in the ninth century. Consequently, Pope John VIII fortified it, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry forming the town of Joannispolis which existed until 1348 when an earthquake totally destroyed it.

On 15 Jul 1823, the negligence of a workman repairing the roof resulted in a fire which almost totally destroyed the basilica. Alone of all the churches in Rome, it had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. The whole world contributed to its reconstruction. The Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, and the Emperor of Russia sent the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal façade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian government, which declared the church a national monument.

The basilica was reopened in 1840 but was reconsecrated only 15 years later at the presence of Pope Pius IX with 50 cardinals. On 31 May 2005, Pope Benedict XVI ordered the basilica to come under the control of an archpriest. On the same day, he named Archbishop Andrew Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo as its first archpriest.

  • Wikipedia

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Wisdom 18:14-16,19:6-9

When peaceful silence lay over all,
and night had run the half of her swift course,
down from the heavens, from the royal throne, leapt your all-powerful Word;
into the heart of a doomed land the stern warrior leapt.
Carrying your unambiguous command like a sharp sword,
he stood, and filled the universe with death;
he touched the sky, yet trod the earth.

For, to keep your children from all harm,
The whole creation, obedient to your commands,
was once more, and newly, fashioned in its nature.
Overshadowing the camp there was the cloud,
where water had been, dry land was seen to rise,
the Red Sea became an unimpeded way,
the tempestuous flood a green plain;
sheltered by your hand, the whole nation passed across,
gazing at these amazing miracles.
They were like horses at pasture,
they skipped like lambs,
singing your praises, Lord, their deliverer.

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Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

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But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?

Expectations are created when people make promises and disappointments occur because expectations are not met. Perhaps some of us have experienced deep disappointments in our lives and this could be due to unfulfilled expectations. In the readings of today, Jesus reminds us of the need to remember what our expectations as Christians are so that we can be ready to receive our eternal reward.

We live in a world filled with much sin and discord. The role of the Christian is then to spread God’s love to the people in this world. Perhaps it may not be as easy to do so because of certain limitations on our part but we can certainly in our own little way find a method to reach out to the people around us in the world. This can occur through a kind word which we can say or a small action which we must do so that we can bring the joy of Christ to those around us.

Jesus has a certain expectation of us as Christians and we should be ready to meet it. The actions and words which we must do to achieve this expectation is spelt out clearly in the Gospel – to love God and love our neighbour. Let us now take time to reflect on what we need to do to achieve this outcome.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that we may carry out what you have called us to do with loving obedience.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have forgiven us.

17 November, Thursday – The Creator

Nov 17 Memorial for St. Elizabeth of Hungary, married woman, religious

Elizabeth (1207-1231) was a princess, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary, and the great-aunt of St. Elizabeth of Portugal. At the age of 13, she married Prince Louis of Thuringia. She built a hospital at the foot of the mountain on which her castle stood, and tended to the sick herself. Her family and courtiers opposed this, but she insisted she could only follow Christ’s teachings, not theirs.

Once, when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Louis stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculously changed to roses. Upon Louis death, Elizabeth sold all that she had, and worked to support her four children. Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine-stricken Germany, led to her patronage of bakers and related fields.

Patron Saint Index

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Wisdom 13:1-9

Naturally stupid are all men who have not known God and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is, or, by studying the works, have failed to recognise the Artificer.

Fire however, or wind, or the swift air,
the sphere of the stars, impetuous water, heaven’s lamps, are what they have held to be the gods who govern the world.

If, charmed by their beauty, they have taken things for gods, let them know how much the Lord of these excels them, since the very Author of beauty has created them.
And if they have been impressed by their power and energy, let them deduce from these how much mightier is he that has formed them, since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author.

Small blame, however, attaches to these men,
for perhaps they only go astray in their search for God and their eagerness to find him; living among his works, they strive to comprehend them and fall victim to appearances, seeing so much beauty.
Even so, they are not to be excused:
if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge to be able to investigate the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?

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Luke 17:26-37

Jesus said to the disciples:
‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.
‘When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, the other left; two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.’ The disciples interrupted. ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked. He said, ‘Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather’

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Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe

The pieces of expensive artwork which often hang in the museums often depict the talent of the artist who could have conceptualised such an idea. Yet sometimes the people remember the artwork and not the artist. Indeed, the readings of today remind us that it is easy to forget God because we like created things.

The things of the earth remind us of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. This is something we must remember because through creation, God wants us to be drawn closer to him. The problem is that we focus too much on the created object and forget that God exists. This is something which we must never forget. God wants us to worship him and the purpose of our whole being is to love him.

The things of this world is temporary but God is eternal and will love us for who we are. When the time comes for us to account to God for all our actions, let us be ready to face him readily and not be like Lot’s wife. We must keep our eyes on the promise of eternal union with God and not turn back to our former way of life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us always remember the reason for why you created us – which is for us to love and serve you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all parents.

16 November, Thursday – God is in our midst

Nov 16 – Memorial for St. Margaret of Scotland; Memorial for St. Gertrude, virgin

Margaret (1045–1093) was the granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside of England, and the great-niece of St. Stephen of Hungary. She was born in Hungary while her family was in exile due to the Danish invasion of England. Even so, she still spent much of her youth in the British Isles.

While fleeing the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066, her family’s ship wrecked on the Scottish coast. They were assisted by King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland, whom Margaret married in 1070, and became Queen of Scotland. They had eight children, one of whom was St. Maud, wife of Henry I. Margaret founded abbeys and used her position to work for justice and improved conditions for the poor.

  • Patron Saint Index

Gertrude (1256–1302) may have been an orphan. She was raised in the Benedictine abbey of St. Mary of Helfta, Eiselben, Saxony from the age of five. She was an extremely bright and dedicated student, and she excelled in literature and philosophy. When she was old enough, she became a Benedictine nun.

At age 26, when she had become too enamoured of philosophy, she received a vision of Christ who reproached her. From then on she studied the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers. Gertrude received other visions and mystical instruction, which formed the basis of her writings. She helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her writings have been greatly praised by St. Teresa and St. Francis de Sales, and continue in print today.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Wisdom 7:22-8:1

Within Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy,
unique, manifold, subtle,
active, incisive, unsullied,
lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, sharp,
irresistible, beneficent, loving to man,
steadfast, dependable, unperturbed,
almighty, all-surveying,
penetrating all intelligent, pure
and most subtle spirits;
for Wisdom is quicker to move than any motion;
she is so pure, she pervades and permeates all things.
She is a breath of the power of God,
pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
hence nothing impure can find a way into her.
She is a reflection of the eternal light,
untarnished mirror of God’s active power,
image of his goodness.
Although alone, she can do all;
herself unchanging, she makes all things new.
In each generation she passes into holy souls,
she makes them friends of God and prophets;
for God loves only the man who lives with Wisdom.
She is indeed more splendid than the sun,
she outshines all the constellations;
compared with light, she takes first place,
for light must yield to night,
but over Wisdom evil can never triumph.
She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other,
ordering all things for good.

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Luke 17:20-25

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was to come, Jesus gave them this answer, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God does not admit of observation and there will be no one to say, “Look here! Look there!” For, you must know, the kingdom of God is among you.’

He said to the disciples, ‘A time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man and will not see it. They will say to you, “Look there!” or, “Look here!” Make no move; do not set off in pursuit; for as the lightning flashing from one part of heaven lights up the other, so will be the Son of Man when his day comes. But first he must suffer grievously and be rejected by this generation.’

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For, you must know, the kingdom of God is among you.’

The depth of the prayer life within a Christian community can be seen in the way in which they demonstrate their love to one another in word and action. To an outsider, the manner in which each member speaks to another person is an indicator of the spiritual life of each member. In such a way, the kingdom of God can be seen within this community on earth.

Some people perceive the kingdom of God to be a very grand place. I have always thought of it as a place where the members are kind to one another with no malice in their heart. This may seem difficult for some to appreciate but we live in a world where there are many attacks from the evil one. Christian communities which have warmth and love demonstrate to others how heaven is on earth.

The Christian community is a visible representation of the love which God has shown to us. This is a love of sacrifice and care; one in which individuals discover that to love is to give and to give up. This means we need to give to each other continually the charity of love and to give up on things which hinder us from becoming closer to God.

This can only be accomplished through inner reflection and constant prayer with God. We will need to discover what are the issues holding us back from being a loving person and then ask God to give us the strength to face these issues head-on.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Dear God, let us discover what it means to love you deeply

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all Spiritual Directors

15 November, Wednesday – Source of all Power

Nov 15 – Memorial for St. Albert the Great, bishop, religious, doctor

Albertus (1206-1280) was the son of a military nobleman. A Dominican priest, he taught theology at Colgone and Paris and was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was an influential teacher, preacher, and administrator, and became the Bishop of Regensburg. He introduced Greek and Arabic science and philosophy to medieval Europe.

He is known for his wide interest in what became later known as the natural sciences – botany, biology, etc. He wrote and illustrated guides to his observations, and was considered on par with Aristotle as an authority on these matters. He was a theological writer, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1 John 4:8)” – St. Albert the Great

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Wisdom 6:1-11

Listen, kings, and understand;
rulers of remotest lands, take warning;
hear this, you who have thousands under your rule,
who boast of your hordes of subjects.
For power is a gift to you from the Lord,
sovereignty is from the Most High;
he himself will probe your acts and scrutinise your intentions.

If, as administrators of his kingdom, you have not governed justly
nor observed the law,
nor behaved as God would have you behave,
he will fall on you swiftly and terribly.
Ruthless judgement is reserved for the high and mighty;
the lowly will be compassionately pardoned,
the mighty will be mightily punished.
For the Lord of All does not cower before a personage,
he does not stand in awe of greatness,
since he himself has made small and great
and provides for all alike;
but strict scrutiny awaits those in power.

Yes, despots, my words are for you,
that you may learn what wisdom is and not transgress;
for they who observe holy things holily will be adjudged holy,
and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defence in them.
Look forward, therefore, to my words;
yearn for them, and they will instruct you.

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Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’

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For power is a gift to you from the Lord

Power and authority seems to be the craving of some people. We see this often in the workplace where everybody strives to receive a promotion to the next rung. Perhaps we accept it for what it is because it is the work place. However, what saddens me is that this pursuit of power also occurs in the parish ministries.

Parish ministries are a means by which God’s love is being shown. Through acts of service, people are able to see God in the actions of others. Yet there are some volunteers who yearn to be in a position of power. Sometimes they themselves are not aware of this failing of theirs. When they are informed of this pursuit of power, they are not willing to accept this shortcoming of theirs. What then, would allow an individual to carry out parish ministry with the right intention?

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of today that it is faith which would allow us to be healed of our own shortcomings. Perhaps it is true that we may not have the strongest faith but the desire to deepen our faith is probably what allows us to keep on going on in our faith journey. This awareness of a lack of faith on our part will ensure we maintain a spirit of humility and always willing to learn from others.

As we continue to use the talents we have, may we deepen our faith through prayer and reflection. We ask God the Holy Spirit to grant us the spirit of discernment to use the power we have to help the people around us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to acknowledge our weakness and to serve you in love and joy.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who love us despite our shortcomings.

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.

  • Patron Saints Index

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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.

  • Patron Saints Index

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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.

  • Patron Saints Index

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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.