Tag Archives: nicholas lee

22 October, Saturday – Repent in order to know Him

22 October – Memorial for St. John Paul II

Karol Józef Wojty?a was born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. After his ordination to the priesthood and theological studies in Rome, he returned to his homeland and resumed various pastoral and academic tasks. He became first auxiliary bishop and, in 1964, Archbishop of Kraków and took part in the Second Vatican Council. On 16 October 1978 he was elected pope and took the name John Paul II. His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world. Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich Magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Churches. In Rome on 2 April 2005, the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter (or of Divine Mercy), he departed peacefully in the Lord. He was canonized by Pope Francis on 27 April, the Second Sunday of Easter 2014.

– Universalis

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Ephesians 4:7-16

Each one of us has been given his own share of grace, given as Christ allotted it. It was said that he would:

When he ascended to the height, he captured prisoners,
he gave gifts to men.

When it says, ‘he ascended’, what can it mean if not that he descended right down to the lower regions of the earth? The one who rose higher than all the heavens to fill all things is none other than the one who descended. And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.

Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love.

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Luke 13:1-9

Some people arrived and told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, ‘Do you suppose these Galileans who suffered like that were greater sinners than any other Galileans? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell and killed them? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none. He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, “Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?” “Sir,” the man replied “leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”’

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‘…but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.’

It seems to me as though today’s first reading is a combination of the readings from the previous few days. Knowing God, growing in faith, and becoming the image and likeness of God. Indeed, when we have fulfilled the above and grow to become the Perfect Man, who is Jesus, then surely we can be gifted to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

But it is never that easy. Sin continues to knock at our door and causes us to fall often.

Fortunately for us, Jesus tells us today in the gospel, that unless we repent we will perish like the Galileans and the eighteen who were crushed under the weight of the tower of Siloam.

If we are willing to repent, God gives us the space and time to do it as in the parable of the fig tree. Even after being a barren fruit tree, the man who looked after it pleaded with the owner to leave it one year and allow him to tend to it.

Yes, God gives us the chance to grow and change our lives; yet we shouldn’t be taking our own sweet time to do it, because we do not know the hour the Son of Man is coming.

Today we also celebrate the feast of St. John Paul II. A great saint of our time. A great man who epitomises what it means to have faith in God. I recall his inaugural speech at the beginning of his pontificate where he exhorted the faithful three times to not be afraid to welcome Christ in our hearts and open the door wide for Him to enter.

Truly, if we take faith in following the Lord, we will get to know Him, love Him and serve Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

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Prayer: Father, show me the way to live a life that is worthy of Your calling. Help me never to turn away from You and reject Your love for me.

Thanksgiving: Lord, thank You for always showing me Your love and mercy, even if I fall over and over again.

21 October, Friday – Knowing the signs

21 October

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Ephesians 4:1-6

I, the prisoner in the Lord, implore you to lead a life worthy of your vocation. Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together. There is one Body, one Spirit, just as you were all called into one and the same hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all.

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Luke 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it will be hot, and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?

‘Why not judge for yourselves what is right? For example: when you go to court with your opponent, try to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the bailiff and the bailiff have you thrown into prison. I tell you, you will not get out till you have paid the very last penny.’

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‘How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?’

Are we sensitive to God’s presence? God is ever in our midst, but how do we tell that He is with us in our good times and bad times? Often, we rely on signs and wonders to see if God is really at work in our lives, just as we rely on signs in the sky to tell the weather. For example, when we miraculously complete a difficult project at work, we say that God was helping us along the way.

Yes, indeed God was and is helping us. But even in our smallest tasks at work or at home, something that we take for granted, God was there to give us a helping hand too, and sometimes we might fail to see that.

How feeble are we in faith, if all we ever do was to search high and low for signs and wonders to know the coming of the Lord.

Yet, if we really read the Word, we know that God is with us as He promised.

Today’s first reading also reminds us that we are one, and we should do all we can to preserve the unity. St Paul exhorts us to bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness. If we are to see the Lord in one another, then surely we need to love one another as commanded by the Lord.

At some point in our lives, we might have had certain people that we could see eye to eye with. This is when St Paul’s plea to us ring true: to lead a life worthy of our vocation: to love. How do we know if God is present in our lives? The most obvious, and maybe not so obvious way, is seeing God in the people around us.

Brothers and sisters, let us open our eyes and our hearts to learn to see and appreciate God’s presence not just in our lives but in the people around us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

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Prayer: Father, help me to see Your presence in my life and to learn to live my life worthy of my vocation. Help me to love my neighbour the way you love him or her.

Thanksgiving: Lord, thank You for loving me and revealing Your love for me through the people around me.

20 October, Thursday – Knowing the truth

20 October

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Ephesians 3:14-21

This is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name:

Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.

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Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

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I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!’

I have to admit that today’s gospel was quite a challenge to read and reflect on. How could Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and whom the prophets spoke of His coming, bring division? These are such contradictory statements. So I had to read up commentaries and reflections by priests and eventually found: The Truth!

Indeed, Jesus came to bring division. But this division, as I have read, stems from the truth. Families are divided because of the truth. And yes, the truth hurts. Jesus is the way, the TRUTH and the life, as He said it Himself. Hence, following the truth, following Him will bring division.

In Luke 14:26, Jesus said: “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple!” And more than anything, we as Christians are called to be followers of Jesus above all else. In other words, if we know the truth, we will have to follow Him, Jesus.

Often, I am selective about the truth. If it benefits and sits well with me, it is the truth. If it doesn’t, then I try to justify my actions. That in itself causes a division within myself. If I am to follow Jesus, I have to follow Him wholeheartedly and not selectively. Yet, as St Paul prays in today’s first reading, may God give us the power through His Spirit for our hidden selves to grow strong, so that Christ may live in our hearts.

My brothers and sisters, God will give us the strength to grow strong and walk in His love. And as St Paul says, God can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

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Prayer: Father, help me to know Your truth and to stand by it. Knowing that You are the way, the truth and the life. Grace me to live my life according to Your truth.

Thanksgiving: Lord, thank You for giving me the grace to differentiate right from wrong, truth from falsehood. Thank You for guiding and leading me in Your righteousness daily.

19 October, Wednesday – Knowing God

19 October – Memorial for Sts. John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, martyrs; Memorial for St. Paul of the Cross, Priest

John de Brebeuf (1593–1649) was a French Jesuit. He wanted to enter the priesthood since young, but his health was so bad there were doubts he could make it. His posting as a missionary to frontier Canada at the age of 32 was a literal godsend. He spent the rest of his life there, and the harsh and hearty climate so agreed with him that the Natives, surprised at his endurance, called him “Echon”, which means “load bearer”. His massive size made them think twice about sharing a canoe with him for fear of sinking.

John had great difficulty learning the Huron language. “You may have been a famous professor or theologian in France,” he wrote in a letter home, “but here you will merely be a student, and with what teachers! The Huron language will be your Aristla crosse.” However, he eventually wrote a catechism in Huron, and a French-Huron dictionary for use by other missionaries.

According to the histories of the game, it was John who named the present-day version of the Indian game “lacrosse” because the stick used reminded him of a bishop’s crosier (la crosse).

He was martyred in 1649, tortured to death by the Iroquois. By 1650, the Huron nation was exterminated, and the laboriously built mission was abandoned. But it proved to be “one of the triumphant failures that are commonplace in the Church’s history”. These martyrdoms created a wave of vocations and missionary fervour in France, and it gave new heart to the missionaries in New France.

– Patron Saint Index

Isaac Jogues (1607–1646) joined the Jesuits at Rouen, France in 1624. He was ordained a priest and taught literature. He became a missionary to New France (Canada) in 1636, starting in Quebec and working among the Hurons and Petuns in the area of the Great Lakes. This was a rough assignment – not only were the living conditions hard, but the locals blamed the “Blackrobes” for any disease, ill luck, or other problems that occurred where they were.

He was captured on 3 August 1642 by the Mohawks, enslaved, tortured and mutilated for 13 months, but he taught the Faith to any who would listen. With the help of local Dutch settlers he finally escaped and was sent back to France to recover.

In 1644, he returned to Canada to continue his work with the natives and negotiate peace with the Iroquois. He was martyred with fellow Jesuit priest John de Brebeuf and several lay missionaries when the natives blamed Christian sorcery for an epidemic and crop failure. He is one of the North America Martyrs.

– Patron Saint Index

Paul of the Cross (1694–1775) was the son of a merchant and a pious youth. After receiving a vision and while still a layman, he founded the Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion (Passionists) in 1721 to preach about Jesus Crucified. He was a preacher of such power that hardened soldiers and bandits were seen to weep.

The community lived a penitential life, in solitude and poverty, teaching people in the easiest possible way how to meditate on the Passion of Jesus. He was ordained in 1727 along with his brother John Baptist by Pope Benedict XIII. After ordination, they devoted themselves to preaching missions in parishes, particularly in remote country places where there were insufficient priests pastorally involved. Their preaching apostolate and the retreats they gave in seminaries and religious houses brought their mission to the attention of others and gradually the community began to grow.

However, the austere life of the Passionists did not encourage large numbers and at one point all the brothers in the Order deserted him. But Paul preferred a slow, at times painful, growth to something more spectacular. In 1741 his Rule was approved by Pope Benedict XIV, and the community began to grow again.

During his lifetime, Paul of the Cross was best known as a popular preacher and a spiritual director. More than two thousand of his letters, most of them letters of spiritual direction, have been preserved. By the time of his death, the congregation had 80 fathers and brothers. He is considered among the greatest Catholic mystics of the 18th century.

– Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia

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Ephesians 3:2-12

You have probably heard how I have been entrusted by God with the grace he meant for you, and that it was by a revelation that I was given the knowledge of the mystery, as I have just described it very shortly. If you read my word you will have some idea of the depths that I see in the mystery of Christ. This that has now been revealed through the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets was unknown to any men in past generations; it means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel. I have been made the servant of that gospel by a gift of grace from God who gave it to me by his own power. I, who am less than the least of all the saints have been entrusted with this special grace, not only of proclaiming to the pagans the infinite treasure of Christ but also of explaining how the mystery is to be dispensed. Through all the ages, this has been kept hidden in God, the creator of everything. Why? So that the Sovereignties and Powers should learn only now, through the Church, how comprehensive God’s wisdom really is, exactly according to the plan which he had had from all eternity in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is why we are bold enough to approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him.

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Luke 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:

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

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

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

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‘…because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

A question that I find myself asking often is “Do I really know the Lord?” Do I really know His love and mercy?

One popular hymn I remember singing when I was a young boy is ‘The Greatest Thing’. The gist of the song is about how the greatest thing in one’s life is knowing you (God), followed by loving God, and then serving God. It is in that particular order for a reason, as I have learnt, because before we can talk about serving God, we need to love Him. And before we can love Him, we need to come to know Him.

So the next question that comes to mind is, “Do I know the full measure of His love and mercy?” St Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, tells us that the mystery of God and His grace has been made known through scripture so that we now “share the same inheritance…”, and “parts of the same body”. In that respect, do I spend time to read the Word (scripture) in order to know God and His grace?

We know that cultivating a relationship requires spending time with each other before it blossoms. The same goes for knowing God and developing a relationship with Him. It requires spending time and effort in reading the Word and, where possible, spending time before God who is ever-present in the Blessed Sacrament. Developing such a relationship allows us to be ever-mindful of the Lord’s presence and keeping ourselves in check, and ultimately living in holiness.

Today’s gospel is exactly that. Living in holiness and being mindful of God’s presence, and preparing for the coming of the Son of Man at an hour which we least expect it. May we continue to live in holiness and wait in anticipation for the coming of our Lord. The hour known to Him only.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

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Prayer: Father, help me to stand ready at all times. Ready to know You, ready to love You and ready to serve You. May I always be mindful of Your loving presence in my life.

Thanksgiving: Lord, thank You for calling me Your child and giving me the grace to know, love and serve You.

4 June, Saturday – Openness of Heart

4 June – Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary began as early as the twelfth century. During the seventeenth century in France, St John Eudes popularised this devotion along with that to the Sacred Heart. St Luke’s Gospel twice mentions that Mary ‘kept all these things in her heart’, pondering the word of God. Mary shows us how to listen to the words the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the depths of our hearts, and how to respond in faith.

Source: Universalis

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The attention of Christians was early attracted by the love and virtues of the Heart of Mary. The Gospel itself invited this attention with exquisite discretion and delicacy. What was first excited was compassion for the Virgin Mother. It was, so to speak, at the foot of the Cross that the Christian heart first made the acquaintance of the Heart of Mary. Simeon’s prophecy paved the way and furnished the devotion with one of its favourite formulae and most popular representations: the heart pierced with a sword. But Mary was not merely passive at the foot of the Cross; “she cooperated through charity”, as St. Augustine says, “in the work of our redemption”.

In the midst of the second world war Pope Pius XII put the whole world under the special protection of our Savior’s Mother by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart, and in 1944 he decreed that in the future the whole Church should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is not a new devotion. In the seventeenth century, St. John Eudes preached it together with that of the Sacred Heart; in the nineteenth century, Pius VII and Pius IX allowed several churches to celebrate a feast of the Pure Heart of Mary. Pius XII instituted today’s feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the whole Church, so as to obtain by her intercession “peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue” (Decree of May 4, 1944).

Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-06-04

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2 Timothy 4:1-8

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths. Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.

As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

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Luke 2:41-51

Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When they were on their way home after the feast, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was with the caravan, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem looking for him everywhere.

Three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have, you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’

‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied ‘Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?’ But they did not understand what he meant.

He then went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart.

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Be careful always to choose the right course; be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.

Am I open to the will of God? Am I open to His teaching? Am I living out His commands for me?

These, to me, are relevant questions that pop up in my mind once in a while.

Occasionally, I find myself cherry-picking at some of the teachings of the church at my own will, or when I feel like it and give myself reasons to justify why it is ok to do certain things.

But is that what holiness is about?

The first reading today tells us that we need to be careful always to choose the right course. That is, whatever is holy, righteous and good, we should be doing it. But sometimes because of our own human frailties, we easily give in to temptation and sin.

Sometimes, we forget the teachings of God and rather turn to our own human strength and knowledge to live our life. At times, when we are faced with a difficult situation, we trust what we read or hear from other sources instead of trusting fully in the Lord.

St Paul urges us to “refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience”.

Do we correct the errors of others with love and patience? Or do we simply turn a blind eye?

To be honest, I tend to choose to mind my own business and not correct others for fear of being rejected or ridiculed. And when others try to correct me, sometimes I get defensive because of my own pride.

Yet, God in His faithfulness continues to keep the door open for all of us. He still welcomes the repentant sinner back into His embrace. He is patient in teaching and correcting us.

Let us like St Paul say when our time comes: “I have fought the good fight, to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me…”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

Prayer: Dearest Father, teach me to be open to You in all things. Help me to always trust in Your unconditional love for me. Grant me Your love and patience in helping others to know You. Amen!

Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for Your faithfulness. Thank you for the people in my life that have helped me to understand Your teaching and will in my life.

2 June, Thursday – Living Out Love

2 June – Memorial for Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs

Marcellinus, a priest, and Peter, an exorcist, died in the year 304. According to a legendary account of their martyrdom, the two Romans saw their imprisonment as just one more opportunity to evangelise and managed to convert their jailer and his family. The legend also says that they were beheaded in the forest so that other Christians wouldn’t have a chance to bury and venerate their bodies. Two women found the bodies, however, and had them properly buried.

Source: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=77

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2 Timothy 2:8-15

Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.
Here is a saying that you can rely on:

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.
If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.
If we disown him, then he will disown us.
We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful,
for he cannot disown his own self.

Remind them of this; and tell them in the name of God that there is to be no wrangling about words: all that this ever achieves is the destruction of those who are listening. Do all you can to present yourself in front of God as a man who has come through his trials, and a man who has no cause to be ashamed of his life’s work and has kept a straight course with the message of the truth.

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Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’ The scribe said to him, ‘Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to question him any more.

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“So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.”

In yesterday’s reflection, I shared about witnessing to God’s goodness without fear. For me, today’s readings are all about living my own life for His glory. If I am His instrument, then I must live a life of holiness.

St Paul, in today’s first reading, says: “If we have died with him, then we shall live with him. If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.”

If we have died in the Lord and to our sinfulness, then surely we will rise to live with Him. How then, am I living my life worthy of the love of God? Have I given up my own sin to walk in His light?

What are some of the areas of my life that are coming between me and the light of God?

Yes, it is difficult to live a life of holiness. But I truly believe that God is faithful to us. Even St Paul says it himself, “We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful”. As long as we open up our hearts to the Lord and allow His grace and hand to take over, I’m certain He provides the grace to walk in His ways. There will be times when we will be put to the test. But let us take courage and continue to persevere in living out our baptismal promises.

Today’s gospel gives a very simple way of living a life of holiness, summarised in one commandment: Love. Loving God and loving neighbour.

To me, loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength is to worship Him. And loving my neighbour as myself, is to offer myself as a sacrifice to my neighbour. Doing both allows me to be selfless, to deny myself and in turn live a life of holiness.

Let us take courage my brothers and sisters, to love God in all our ways, by giving Him the glory in all that we do, and to also be loving to our brothers and sisters. Again, let us remember that He is faithful in giving us the grace to do what He commands us to. All we need to do is to say “Amen.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are the source of love. Help me to love You and love my neighbour as myself. When it is difficult to love someone, grace me Lord to depend on Your faithfulness in love. Amen!

Thanksgiving: Thank You Lord for your love and faithfulness. When I struggle to love as you do, teach me to deny myself.

1 June, Wednesday – Witnessing Without Fear

June 1 – Memorial for St. Justin, martyr

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

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

– Universalis

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2 Timothy 1:1-3,6-12

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

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

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

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Mark 12:18-27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)

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

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