Tag Archives: nicholas chia

12 July, Friday – Loving God through our lives

12 July 2019

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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.

21 June, Friday – Priorities in Life

21 June 2019

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2 Corinthians 11:18,21-30

If I am to boast, let me boast of my own feebleness

So many others have been boasting of their worldly achievements, that I will boast myself. But if anyone wants some brazen speaking – I am still talking as a fool – then I can be as brazen as any of them, and about the same things. Hebrews, are they? So am I. Israelites? So am I.

Descendants of Abraham? So am I. The servants of Christ? I must be mad to say this, but so am I, and more than they: more, because I have worked harder, I have been sent to prison more often, and whipped many times more, often almost to death. Five times I had the thirty-nine lashes from the Jews; three times I have been beaten with sticks; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked and once adrift in the open sea for a night and a day. Constantly travelling, I have been in danger from rivers and in danger from brigands, in danger from my own people and in danger from pagans; in danger in the towns, in danger in the open country, danger at sea and danger from so-called brothers. I have worked and laboured, often without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty and often starving; I have been in the cold without clothes. And, to leave out much more, there is my daily preoccupation: my anxiety for all the churches. When any man has had scruples, I have had scruples with him; when any man is made to fall, I am tortured.

If I am to boast, then let me boast of my own feebleness.

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Matthew 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be all darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkness, what darkness that will be!’

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For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

During my university studies, someone once shared with me that life is about priorities. This statement was made when I made a remark expressing my envy of schoolmates who could seemingly balance everything in their lives. They were able to get good grades, participate actively in non-academic life and also to maintain strong relationships. That statement got me thinking and the Gospel of today reminds me of the need to remain focused on what matters to me.

The time which we have is a gift which God has given to us. Every moment we spend cannot be returned and this is especially important for all of us as we will be called to account for every unit of our time in life when we meet God. As Christians, we are called to radiate God’s love to all the people around us. This is what our primary duty calls us to do – to be an example for the people around us. This is definitely not easy but the fact that we put in the effort is testimony to that we are aware of what we are supposed to do and are learning how to become better. Every fall in our attempt to live as a Christian is another opportunity for us to be a better Christian.

The same person in the first paragraph who shared with me the insight that life is about priorities then continued by saying that, “And I know what your priority is – that of being a good Christian.” Frankly, I was surprised by his observation and naturally asked him why. He shared that he noticed I would always make an effort to go for Mass whenever I could and that I was always trying to listen to the other person’s side of the story and not try to impose my perspective.

God has a plan for us and we will need to co-operate with Him to allow the plan to achieve its completion. We can follow the example of St Paul who shares with us how he suffered greatly for Christ. This was not something which is easy to do especially since St Paul was put through tremendous risk in his life to proclaim the Gospel. I do hope that when the time comes for us to face such trials, we may be able to handle them with grace and patience.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us the grace to bear with the challenges in life with patience and love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who teach us patience.

15 May, Wednesday – Aligning our lives to God

15 May 2019

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Acts 12:24-13:5

The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task and came back from Jerusalem, bringing John Mark with them.

In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.’ So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.

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John 12:44-50

I, the light, have come into the world

Jesus declared publicly:

‘Whoever believes in me
believes not in me
but in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me,
sees the one who sent me.
I, the light, have come into the world,
so that whoever believes in me
need not stay in the dark any more.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully,
it is not I who shall condemn him,
since I have come not to condemn the world,
but to save the world.
He who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already:
the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For what I have spoken does not come from myself;
no, what I was to say,
what I had to speak,
was commanded by the Father who sent me,
and I know that his commands mean eternal life.
And therefore what the Father has told me
is what I speak.’

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And therefore what the Father has told me is what I speak

The role of a voice recording is not to speak for itself but instead it is to faithfully transmit whatever the speaker has spoken. If the voice recording does not accurately reflect what was spoken, we would suspect of it being doctored. This is exactly what the Gospel of today is reminding us. As Christians, we are called to follow whatever God has called us to do.

The role of the Christian is to follow the identity of Christ. This means that we must learn how to surrender our will to God. This is not as easy as it seems because it requires the individual to realise that God is our creator. This means that we will need to learn how to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and allow God to take control of whatever we have in our midst.

Man loves to be in control. Uncertainty is unacceptable in this day and age. Yet God does not call us to a period of uncertainty but instead to trust in God. Trusting in God is not the easiest task to do but it does allow us to discover what it means to remain obedient to him. St Paul and Barnabas was obedient to the Holy Spirit’s direction to preach the word. This is also what we are called to do. As we continue with our daily lives, let us never forget to realign our lives back to God and yes, to submit to His will because God knows best.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that we remain docile to the workings of your spirit in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the many people who have shown us what it means to trust God.

13 May, Monday – Trust in God

13 May – Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

This feast commemorates the visions of Our Lady seen near Fátima in Portugal in 1917 by three shepherd children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The visions occurred on the 13th day of each month from May to October, and by October huge crowds were gathering at the site of the visions and reporting visions and miraculous occurrences themselves.

Pope John Paul II was devoted to Our Lady of Fátima and attributed his survival of an assassin’s bullet on 13 May 1981 to her intervention. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who died in the great Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919-20, were beatified on 13 May 2000.
– Universalis
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Acts 11:1-18

The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that the pagans too had accepted the word of God, and when Peter came up to Jerusalem the Jews criticised him and said, ‘So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them, have you?’ Peter in reply gave them the details point by point: ‘One day, when I was in the town of Jaffa,’ he began ‘I fell into a trance as I was praying and had a vision of something like a big sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners. This sheet reached the ground quite close to me. I watched it intently and saw all sorts of animals and wild beasts – everything possible that could walk, crawl or fly. Then I heard a voice that said to me, “Now, Peter; kill and eat!” But I answered: Certainly not, Lord; nothing profane or unclean has ever crossed my lips. And a second time the voice spoke from heaven, “What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane.” This was repeated three times, before the whole of it was drawn up to heaven again.

‘Just at that moment, three men stopped outside the house where we were staying; they had been sent from Caesarea to fetch me, and the Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going back with them. The six brothers here came with me as well, and we entered the man’s house. He told us he had seen an angel standing in his house who said, “Send to Jaffa and fetch Simon known as Peter; he has a message for you that will save you and your entire household.”

‘I had scarcely begun to speak when the Holy Spirit came down on them in the same way as it came on us at the beginning, and I remembered that the Lord had said, “John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.” I realised then that God was giving them the identical thing he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and who was I to stand in God’s way?’

This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God. ‘God’ they said ‘can evidently grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to life.’

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John 10:1-10

Jesus said:
‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’

Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.

So Jesus spoke to them again:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
I am the gate of the sheepfold.
All others who have come
are thieves and brigands;
but the sheep took no notice of them.
I am the gate.
Anyone who enters through me will be safe:
he will go freely in and out
and be sure of finding pasture.
The thief comes
only to steal and kill and destroy.
I have come
so that they may have life and have it to the full.’

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I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full

I have seen how pet owners take good care of their pets. This is especially so when they are very young and the owner has seen the pet grow up. The pet trusts in the owner’s decisions and willingly obeys whatever the pet asks. In the same way, God our creator, calls us to a plan which we are unaware of in our lives. This plan requires us to trust in God in faith and love.

The sheep of the Good Shepherd will listen to the voice of the Lord. This is sometimes difficult for us to do especially since we do not know what is the plan which God has for us. The world we live in demands that we live in certainty. This comes in the form of endless confirmations, reducing risk and uncertainty and sometimes even doubt of what God has called us to do.

The mystery of the Christian Faith asks that we trust in God’s plan for us and that we allow Him to act in our lives. We may not know what to expect but we can trust in God that He has the best plans for us. In the world we live in, it is difficult for us to surrender our will to the Father because what He wants from us is different from what we want. Let us take it to the Lord in prayer today to see what God calls us to do and then let us be courageous to accept this call.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to accept your will.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who continue to show us how to live our life as Christian

12 May, Sunday – Role Model in Faith

12 May 2019

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Acts 13:14, 43-52

Paul and Barnabas carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the Sabbath and took their seats.
When the meeting broke up many Jews and devout converts joined Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.
The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly. ‘We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:
I have made you a light for the nations,
so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’
It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.
But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
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Apocalypse 7:9, 14-17
I, John, saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. One of the elders said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb, they now stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’
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John 10:27-30
Jesus said:
‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’
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Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.
The role of the Christian is called to evangelise to the people around them. This does not mean going out to a stranger to share with them the Gospel although if that is a suitable way to reach out to them, then one could consider using it. However, in order to be good people of evangelisation, we will need to have good role models which we can draw an example from. The readings of today show us the traits of a role model which we can emulate.
The apostles in the first reading were very happy to have heard the Word of God and diligently shared the word with the people in the world. They continued to spread the word to the non-Jewish community. God’s salvation is not limited only to one group of people but is extended to the entire world. This means that we will need to continue to spread the word of God to the people in the world who matter to us.
Sometimes we can share the faith with the Christian community who are living in our midst. Fellow Christians also need reminders to know of the need of why God is needed in their lives. The faith journey which they are in could be at a low point – they might need some encouragement in order to push themselves out of the situation they are in.
Jesus reminds us that His sheep know Him. To know Christ requires us to spend time in reading the Bible and also to spend time in prayer. Only by being in contact with God can we learn how to trust in His plan for us. The world we live in is one which keeps us occupied and distracted from be in touch with God. We need to constantly be in touch with God to discover what He wants from us. God is the role model which we should emulate and this will definitely allow us to discover the plan which He has in store for us.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that we remain faithful to the message of love which you have preached.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who continue to show the way to Heaven.

4 May, Saturday – In God we Trust

4 May 2019

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Acts 6:1-7

About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; we will hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.’ The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.

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John 6:16-21

In the evening the disciples went down to the shore of the lake and got into a boat to make for Capernaum on the other side of the lake. It was getting dark by now and Jesus had still not rejoined them. The wind was strong, and the sea was getting rough. They had rowed three or four miles when they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming towards the boat. This frightened them, but he said, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid.’ They were for taking him into the boat, but in no time it reached the shore at the place they were making for.

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It is I. Do not be afraid

Fear has a way of creating trouble for people. It has an ability to make people doubt about their own capabilities, their faith and also the people around them. This was exactly what the apostles faced in the Gospel of today. They were fearful of the bad weather around them and how it would cause them to lose their lives.

Our lives are also not smooth sailing. To be a Christian does not mean that the circumstances in our life changes. Rather, it is a situation where we trust the Lord Jesus to be the centre of our life. He is to be in charge of us despite the various storms that life brings us. Be it emotional challenges, problems at work or medical problems, these are all storms in our lives which will continue to challenge and afflict our daily lives.

I believe that it is our response which matters. As we continue with the demands of our lives, we should always trust in God that He has a plan and that by co-operating with that plan – all will indeed turn out well.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Jesus, I trust in You

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who continue to spread the faith.

2 May, Thursday – Remember your purpose in life

May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor

Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism, which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.

He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.

He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 5:27-33

When the officials had brought the apostles in to face the Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded an explanation. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said,

‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’

This so infuriated them that they wanted to put them to death.

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John 3:31-36

John the Baptist said to his disciples:

‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.’

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Obedience to God comes before obedience to men

I have always wondered why there is a need to obey. In this day and age where everybody values freedom, it appears that the need to obey is antiquated and some would say outdated. Yet the readings of today remind us that obedience is not that of compliance but more of a response to a loving relationship.

The apostles continued to boldly preach the Gospel because they have had a real encounter with the Lord Jesus. They knew what the good Lord did for then and experienced his love first hand. This does not mean that the path was all smooth. They must have had their ups and downs too but they never lost sight of their mission – to spread the word of God to all over the world.

Their mission to spread the word of God is still our mission – we are still called to show God’s love to the people around us. The methods may be different but the message is still the same. As we continue with our journey in life, let us never forget what God has called us to do. Our response to his love is just as important for we discover the depth of God’s mercy for each one of us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us remember that you love us and that we should always trust in you.

Thanksgiving:  We give thanks for all who have the capacity to forgive others.

1 May, Wednesday – Staying faithful to God

1 May 2019

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Acts 5:17-26
The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol.
But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, ‘Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.’ They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach.
When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin – this was the full Senate of Israel – and sent to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, ‘We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.’ When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what this could mean. Then a man arrived with fresh news. ‘At this very moment’ he said, ‘the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.’ The captain went with his men and fetched them. They were afraid to use force in case the people stoned them.
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John 3:16-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘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.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’
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They did as they were told

I have observed how young sportsmen and musicians seek to continue to train for their sport even though sometimes it is taking too much effort. They do it because they feel very strongly in their cause. They will not hesitate to spend countless hours and even money to travel down to the place just to ensure that they achieve the desired outcome. The readings of today remind us of the need to stay focused on the task and to never forget the purpose of why we are called to be in the world.

The first reading reminds us of how faithful the two apostles remained despite being imprisoned. They had no regret of what they did previously and they were willing to stay the course despite the possible punishments which they may face. They had a deep encounter with the Lord Jesus and this was what motivated them to continue to stay the course come what may.

Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of the need to stay faithful to the light of the world. This is what he stood for and he paid the ultimate price for us. As we go about our daily lives, we could spend time to reflect upon what God has called us to do. Only by orienting our lives towards God will we be able to remain faithful, even unto death.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to continue to love you with all our heart.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people who show us what it means to love you.

15 March, Friday – Life of Virtue

15 March 2019

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Ezekiel 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord:

‘If the wicked man renounces all the sins he has committed, respects my laws and is law-abiding and honest, he will certainly live; he will not die. All the sins he committed will be forgotten from then on; he shall live because of the integrity he has practised. What! Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man – it is the Lord who speaks – and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?

‘But if the upright man renounces his integrity, commits sin, copies the wicked man and practises every kind of filth, is he to live? All the integrity he has practised shall be forgotten from then on; but this is because he himself has broken faith and committed sin, and for this he shall die. But you object, “What the Lord does is unjust.” Listen, you House of Israel: is what I do unjust? Is it not what you do that is unjust? When the upright man renounces his integrity to commit sin and dies because of this, he dies because of the evil that he himself has committed. When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die.’

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Matthew 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court; if a man calls his brother “Fool” he will answer for it before the Sanhedrin; and if a man calls him “Renegade” he will answer for it in hell fire. So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering. Come to terms with your opponent in good time while you are still on the way to the court with him, or he may hand you over to the judge and the judge to the officer, and you will be thrown into prison. I tell you solemnly, you will not get out till you have paid the last penny.’

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‘If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

We live in a world where the adage “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” is often practiced. People form alliances and befriend each other for the purpose of mutual benefit instead of with the intention of wanting to help the other party.

This is not what we are called as Christians to do. Instead we are called to extend love and generosity to the people around us. This means that we need to accept the people for who they are regardless of the faults which they have. Yet sometimes we are tainted by the ways of the world. We make friends only with the people who are of gain to us and whom are able to help us achieve the means in our lives.

The first reading reminds us of the need to live a life of virtue and not abandon the ways which have been taught to us. We must stay close to God and not deviate away from the path which God has set out for us. It is not difficult for us to stay on the straight and narrow path but we are called to do so in this season of Lent where God has allowed us to experience him more deeply through the tools of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us discover what it means to be your children and walk in the way of your love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who guide us towards the path of righteousness.

14 March, Thursday – Trust in God

14 March 2019

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Esther 4:17

Queen Esther took refuge with the Lord in the mortal peril which had overtaken her. She besought the Lord God of Israel in these words:

‘My Lord, our King, the only one,
come to my help, for I am alone
and have no helper but you
and am about to take my life in my hands.

‘I have been taught from my earliest years, in the bosom of my family,
that you, Lord, chose
Israel out of all the nations
and our ancestors out of all the people of old times
to be your heritage for ever;
and that you have treated them as you promised.

‘Remember, Lord; reveal yourself
in the time of our distress.

‘As for me, give me courage,
King of gods and master of all power.
Put persuasive words into my mouth
when I face the lion;
change his feeling into hatred for our enemy,
that the latter and all like him may be brought to their end.

‘As for ourselves, save us by your hand,
and come to my help, for I am alone
and have no one but you, Lord.’

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Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. Is there a man among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.’

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‘Remember, Lord; reveal yourself in the time of our distress.

This week has been a tough week for some of my friends. They are facing challenges at work such as difficult bosses. Some are also worried about the renewal of their employment papers. Another is dealing with too much work which causes a breakdown in his marriage. In all these issues, we ask ourselves where God is in their lives.

The first reading can provide us with some clue. The people of Israel were facing tremendous persecution and Queen Esther was feeling troubled. Torn between the identity as a Jew and the danger of losing her life for fear of offending the king, she went to the Lord in prayer. Indeed, she was facing the same issues that all of us face – the inability to understand what God desires and wants from us.

Sometimes we ask God why he puts us through these troubles in our lives. We ask for the ability to be freed from these concerns yet our prayer is not answered. Perhaps it is a sign for us to remember that we need to trust in God and not depend on our own human power. Only by surrendering to God can we allow ourselves to achieve the plan which he has set out for us. In this season of Lent, let us remember that we should try to mortify ourselves of whatever holds us back from entering into a relationship with God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us discover what it means to surrender our will to you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the people who love us.