Tag Archives: paul wee

16 Aug, Friday – Unbreakable Love

16 Aug 2019

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Joshua 24:1-13

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem; then he called the elders, leaders, judges and scribes of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. Then Joshua said to all the people:

‘The Lord, the God of Israel says this, “In ancient days your ancestors lived beyond the River – such was Terah the father of Abraham and of Nahor – and they served other gods. Then I brought your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan. I increased his descendants and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountain country of Seir as his possession. Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt. Then I sent Moses and Aaron and plagued Egypt with the wonders that I worked there. So I brought you out of it. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, and you came to the Sea; the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen as far as the Sea of Reeds. There they called to the Lord, and he spread a thick fog between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea go back on them and cover them. You saw with your own eyes the things I did in Egypt. Then for a long time you lived in the wilderness, until I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan; they made war on you and I gave them into your hands; you took possession of their country because I destroyed them before you. Next, Balak son of Zippor the king of Moab arose to make war on Israel, and sent for Balaam son of Beor to come and curse you. But I would not listen to Balaam; instead, he had to bless you, and I saved you from his hand.

‘“When you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho, those who held Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites and Perizzites, the Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I put them all into your power. I sent out hornets in front of you, which drove the two Amorite kings before you; this was not the work of your sword or your bow. I gave you a land where you never toiled, you live in towns you never built; you eat now from vineyards and olive-groves you never planted.”’

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Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and to test him they said, ‘Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that the creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: This is why a man must leave father and mother, and cling to his wife, and the two become one body? They are no longer two, therefore, but one body. So then, what God has united, man must not divide.’

They said to him, ‘Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?’ ‘It was because you were so unteachable’ he said ‘that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: the man who divorces his wife – I am not speaking of fornication – and marries another, is guilty of adultery.’

The disciples said to him, ‘If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is not advisable to marry.’ But he replied, ‘It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. There are eunuchs born that way from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by men and there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’

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What God has united, man must not divide

I remember a conversation once with a colleague about her upcoming marriage. She had met her husband-to-be and after a short courtship, had decided to take the ‘big step’. Our chat soon turned to how we would know if our spouses were ‘the one’ for us. With a shrug, she told me, “Well, if it doesn’t work out, we can just break”.

I remember being surprised by her reply.

I come from a broken family, and never really had my very own ‘complete family’ to learn from. However, I was blessed to have read a lot growing up, and having started attending the Catholic Church from about the age of about 19, had many Catholic couples to model after.

One of the things I realised was that relationships evolve. An old couple (I can’t remember specifically who!) advised me that love goes through many phases. The first is one of romantic love, when the couple goes through the initial stages of courtship and intense feelings of love. This deepens into marriage and will continue to evolve with time, when the children come, when they grow, when they leave the home, when they get married and have children.

I realised that the romantic novels and movies place unrealistic ideals and expectations in our minds. In one recent conversation, a young lady confessed that she was no longer feeling quite so passionate about her partner. “I love him deeply”, she said, “but it’s not so intense anymore”. She felt troubled by that.

Our Lord instructs us that our love for each other needs to be a committed kind of love. We need to make a decision to continue to love each other, even after the initial pangs of intense, romantic love wears off. He teaches us to stand by each other regardless of the challenges and chides us never to be tempted to ‘break’ our relationships in the face of difficulty. Truly, we are never meant to break up what God has united.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will have the courage and tenacity to grow in our marriages. We ask for Your blessings and fortitude to grow in love everyday.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for showing the full extent of what a true loving relationship is. We are grateful for this important lesson for us, Lord.

14 Aug, Wednesday – Courageous Reconciliation

Aug 14 – St. Maximillian Mary Kolbe, priest, martyr

Maximillian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) was known as a mischievous child, sometimes considered wild, and a trial to his parents. However around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life. While still in seminary, he and six friends founded the Immaculata Movement (Militia Immaculatae, Crusade of Mary Immaculate) devoted to the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry (which was extremely anti-Catholic at the time), spread of the Miraculous Medal (which they wore as their habit), and devotion to Our Lady and the path to Christ. Stricken with tuberculosis which nearly killed him, it left him frail in health the rest of his life. His insights into Marian theology echo today through their influence on Vatican II.

He founded monastries and published a magazine to fight religious apathy in Poland and Japan. By 1939 the Polish monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities and a fire brigade staffed by the religious brothers. During his arrest by the Nazis, he volunteered to die in place of a married man with young children. He died as he had always wished – in service.

– Patron Saint Index

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Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Leaving the plains of Moab, Moses went up Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land; Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the stretch of the Valley of Jericho, city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, ‘This is the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying: I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross into it.’ There in the land of Moab, Moses the servant of the Lord died as the Lord decreed; he buried him in the valley, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but to this day no one has ever found his grave. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye undimmed, his vigour unimpaired. The sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days. The days of weeping for the mourning rites of Moses came to an end. Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. It was he that the sons of Israel obeyed, carrying out the order that the Lord had given to Moses.
Since then, never has there been such a prophet in Israel as Moses, the man the Lord knew face to face. What signs and wonders the Lord caused him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and his whole land! How mighty the hand and great the fear that Moses wielded in the sight of all Israel!
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Matthew 18:15-20

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

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

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

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“Have it out with him alone, between your two selves…”

I was queuing up for ice cream at a road-side vendor one day when a couple came up and waited behind me. A few minutes later, a lady also came by. However, rather than join the queue, she stood by my side and ‘joined’ the line, cutting behind me and in front of the couple.

Soon, I could hear the couple grumbling to each other, about how this lady had wrongly cut in front of them. I waited for both of them to tell the lady to queue behind (which never happened). In the end, I asked the vendor to serve the couple first, as they were rightly next. I turned to the couple, who looked relieved.

So it is the same for many of our relationships. In our interactions with each other, there is bound to be unhappiness in how we all handle our opinions or how we do things. For many of these situations, rather than speak with the other party, we choose to lament and complain to others. We play the victim, and the more we talk about what has happened, we end up becoming angrier. Our relationships become estranged and far less authentic.

In the Gospel of today, our Lord Jesus instructs us not to fall into this trap. Instead of holding it in our hearts, we are to go to our brothers and sisters and address the issues head-on. Reconciliation is the goal, but Jesus does talk about what to do in the case where one cannot find a resolution to the problems.

What surprised me in this passage is not the face-to-face discussion, but the fact that our faith is not only a vertical one (i.e., between an individual and God) but also a horizontal one (i.e., between an individual and his community). I used to think that my faith was just a private one between myself and God. This passage clearly shows my previous understanding to be limited and short-sighted!

Brothers and sisters, may we always have the courage to speak truthfully and candidly with each other. Let us interact with each other as a stable and cohesive Christian community.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will be able to shed the trappings of our secular world. Help us Father, to be encouraging and loving with each other and without malice. Help us to grow in love for our community.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Jesus, for teaching us that we need to be with each other authentically and lovingly.

13 Aug, Tuesday – Like Empty Vessels

Aug 13 – Memorial for St. Pontian, pope, martyr, and St. Hippolytus, priest, martyr

Pontian was among the first victims of an anti-Christian new emperor. Rounded up with the antipope Hippolytus, Pontian was deported to the labour mines. While imprisoned, Hippolytus reconciled his differences with Pontian and even ordered his followers to bring themselves back to the Church. Before he succumbed to the harsh treatment of the mines, Hippolytus became a true confessor of Christ. Pontian, in the mines only two months, was brutally beaten to death by his jailers.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Deuteronomy 31:1-8

Moses proceeded to address these words to the whole of Israel, ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old now, and can no longer come and go as I will. The Lord has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” It is the Lord your God who will cross it at your head to destroy these nations facing you and dispossess them; and Joshua too shall cross at your head, as the Lord has said. The Lord will treat them as he treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their land, destroying them. The Lord will hand them over to you, and you will deal with them in exact accordance with the commandments I have enjoined on you. Be strong, stand firm, have no fear of them, no terror, for the Lord your God is going with you; he will not fail you or desert you.’
Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, ‘Be strong, stand firm; you are going with this people into the land the Lord swore to their fathers he would give them; you are to give it into their possession. The Lord himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be disheartened by anything.’

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Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

‘See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.

‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

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the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven

When I was in my late teens, about 18 or 19, I had a group of friends who enjoyed debating and thinking about the faith, especially the ‘debating’ part. We would talk about faith issues, and extend these arguments about how they would apply to social justice. We talked about the things that should be done. In my mind, these were the ways we should take in order to change the world.

One day, I was reading the Gospel of today and it hit me that perhaps my approach had been wrong.

As I was reading, I put myself in the shoes of a little child before our Lord… and waited. I looked within myself, at what I would do then. How would I behave? What would I think?

What came out surprised me. Firstly, I was curious. I sat there, expectantly looking at our Lord; waiting for Him to show me so I would know what to do. Secondly, I could hear… silence. Rather than opinions coming from me, I was waiting for instructions. Thirdly, I could sense no ego coming from myself. I was just me. There was nothing to prove, nothing to show off, nothing to impress anyone with.

This realisation changed the way I looked at my faith. Rather than bringing a full glass, I now (do my best) to empty this glass, and empty it continually. I sit at the foot of my Lord, and simply wait.

Another thing I realised is that children change their world by directly influencing what is within their immediate sphere of control. When they play and engage their peers, they are immediately able to change their world. Rather than holding lofty ideals and “doing big things”, children change their immediate environments. How I want to be like one again.

Let us pray that we may always remind ourselves to be like little children at the feet of our God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will always be able to surrender our ego and be like little children again. Help us Father to just ‘be’, and not be focused on the ‘doing’.

Thanksgiving: We bless You and thank You for reminding us, Lord Jesus. Thank You for showing how we should be living our lives and for showing how to be like You.

12 Aug, Monday – Our True North

Aug 12 – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here.” She found more than once that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ.  Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.

She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.

– http://www.wf-f.org/StJaneFdeChantal.html

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Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Moses said to the people:

‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today.

‘To the Lord your God belong indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all it contains; yet it was on your fathers that the Lord set his heart for love of them, and after them of all the nations chose their descendants, you yourselves, up to the present day. Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, never partial, never to be bribed. It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. It is the Lord your God you must fear and serve; you must cling to him; in his name take your oaths. He it is you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things you have seen with your own eyes; and though your fathers numbered only seventy when they went down to Egypt, the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars of heaven.’

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Matthew 17:22-27

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’

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“… to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord…”

I once heard this anecdote, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

There was once 2 parties on a radio channel communicating with each other; they had detected each other on a radar out in the ocean. The conversation takes place over quite a few minutes, but the gist of it is that one party asks the other to move out of the way to avoid a collision. The reason? This vessel is a large aircraft carrier. The party had to move because this ship was much bigger.

Who was the other party?

It was a lighthouse! The aircraft carrier ended up re-routing immediately.

The takeaway for me from today’s Gospel is that we need to recognise who the real source of power and importance is in our lives. Do we pledge allegiance to our jobs, our leisure, our entertainment, the daily chores that we do? Or do we give more importance to fulfilling our duties as followers and children of God?

There was, however, another message that stood out for me. While Jesus talks about identifying the true power, He also chose to hand over the shekel (taken from the mouth of a fish!) to the tribute collectors, in order “not to offend these people”. While Jesus has the true power, He chooses His battles. This really surprised me.

Brothers and sisters, we must always remember who the real power is in our lives. So that the Spirit can help us to discern the battles to take on, and to let the less important ones pass by.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray for strength of character Father. Help us to draw this fearlessness from You. May we be courageous in our daily lives to stand up for what is true and right.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for being there for us, Father God. We are grateful that You are the true compass in our lives.

 

11 Aug, Sunday – Standing Ready

11 Aug 2019

The Lord Our God

The Lord has chosen us to be his people. Though a little flock, our history goes back into the dim and distant past. The God we worship is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We also look forward in hope to a glorious future in the Kingdom of our Father.

– The Sunday Missal

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Wisdom 18:6-9

That night had been foretold to our ancestors, so that,
once they saw what kind of oaths they had put their trust in,
they would joyfully take courage.
This was the expectation of your people,
the saving of the virtuous and the ruin of their enemies;
for by the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes
you made us glorious by calling us to you.
The devout children of worthy men offered sacrifice in secret
and this divine pact they struck with one accord:
that the saints would share the same blessings and dangers alike;
and forthwith they had begun to chant the hymns of the fathers.

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Hebrews 11:1-2,8-19

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going. By faith he arrived, as a foreigner, in the Promised Land, and lived there as if in a strange country, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. They lived there in tents while he looked forward to a city founded, designed and built by God.
It was equally by faith that Sarah, in spite of being past the age, was made able to conceive, because she believed that he who had made the promise would be faithful to it. Because of this, there came from one man, and one who was already as good as dead himself, more descendants than could be counted, as many as the stars of heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore.
All these died in faith, before receiving any of the things that had been promised, but they saw them in the far distance and welcomed them, recognising that they were only strangers and nomads on earth. People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search of their real homeland. They can hardly have meant the country they came from, since they had the opportunity to go back to it; but in fact they were longing for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them.
It was by faith that Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He offered to sacrifice his only son even though the promises had been made to him and he had been told: It is through Isaac that your name will be carried on. He was confident that God had the power even to raise the dead; and so, figuratively speaking, he was given back Isaac from the dead.

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Luke 12:32-48

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.

‘Sell your possessions and give alms. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
‘See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. I tell you solemnly, he will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them. It may be in the second watch he comes, or in the third, but happy those servants if he finds them ready. 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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See that you are dressed for action

From the time I was a child, I have always wanted to be successful in life and in my career. I started out in auditing, and finally ended up in retail banking. I enjoyed my work and looked forward to it.  Ultimately, I loved building businesses for the bank.

Needless to say, I spent many, many hours on my work.

Towards the latter part of my corporate career however, things began to happen in my life that showed me that the work I was doing was no longer ‘my’ work. All of a sudden, what I was doing no longer seemed important.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about being ready. He asks us to get rid of everything which is no longer important, and begin waiting for our REAL purpose. He tells us to get ourselves ready. To me, our Lord Jesus is telling us to prepare for 2 events.

Firstly, to be ready to move on to our final destination; to return to heaven to be with our Father. Most of us never know when this physical death will arrive and the danger is that we will be caught unprepared to meet with our God. Secondly, I believe He is also referencing Parousia, or the Second Coming of our Lord.

I catch myself living my life as though I will live forever. I fritter away my time, perhaps unconsciously believing that by the day’s end, I will continue to be alive. Like the foolish rich man in the bible, I believe I will have time to enjoy and to prepare for heaven another day.

Brothers and sisters, may we not be caught in this dangerous way of thinking; may we instead begin to prepare for the day where we meet our God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that every moment we live is for You. Help us to prepare during our limited time on earth to ultimately meet with, and live with You.

Thanksgiving: We thank You Father, for sending us this important reminder. Thank You for the gift of life and thank You for teaching us how to live this life.

25 June, Tuesday – Selfless Living

25 June 2019

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Genesis 13:2, 5-18

Abram was a very rich man, with livestock, silver and gold. Lot, who was travelling with Abram, had flocks and cattle of his own, and tents too. The land was not sufficient to accommodate them both at once, for they had too many possessions to be able to live together. Dispute broke out between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and those of Lot’s. (The Canaanites and the Perizzites were then living in the land.) Accordingly Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no dispute between me and you, nor between my herdsmen and yours, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land open before you? Part company with me: if you take the left, I will go right; if you take the right, I will go left.’

Looking round, Lot saw all the Jordan plain, irrigated everywhere – this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden of the Lord or the land of Egypt, as far as Zoar. So Lot chose all the Jordan plain for himself and moved off eastwards. Thus they parted company: Abram settled in the land of Canaan; Lot settled among the towns of the plain, pitching his tents on the outskirts of Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were vicious men, great sinners against the Lord.

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted company with him, ‘Look all round from where you are towards the north and the south, towards the east and the west. All the land within sight I will give to you and your descendants for ever. I will make your descendants like the dust on the ground: when men succeed in counting the specks of dust on the ground, then they will be able to count your descendants! Come, travel through the length and breadth of the land, for I mean to give it to you.’

So Abram went with his tents to settle at the Oak of Mamre, at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

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Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.

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

‘Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’

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So always treat others as you would like them to treat you

I remember some time ago, seeing a video on YouTube showing someone teaching teenagers how to deal with bullying. In the first part, the instructor squared off against his bully, choosing to respond to each of his insults with an equally forceful retaliation. Needless to say, the exchange escalated quickly.

In the second part, the instructor again stood up against his bully. This time, however, instead of reacting angrily to his taunts, the instructor simply smiled and agreed with the comments. Despite the bully’s best efforts to sustain his attacks, he did not know how to keep up the aggression.

This is the type of relationship and interaction I imagine when I read the Gospel of today. If we were to treat each other as we want to be treated, the world within our control would be a substantially better world. We see this clearly in the first reading, in the interactions between Lot and Abram. By choosing not to quibble over who is entitled to what, Abram soothed over what could have been a potentially explosive encounter.

As a Christian, I pray that I may always be able to keep this in mind and learn to put my self-interest and ego aside. May we always be filled with love and compassion for one another!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, help us keep in mind that everything we have comes from You and that everything we do, should always be to serve only You.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful, Father, for everything that You have gifted us.

24 June, Monday – Our Role Model

24 June 2019 – The Birth of John the Baptist

You celebrate the birthday of John the Baptist, the main specially chosen by God to be the herald of the Saviour and to prepare the people for his coming.

  • Sunday MIssal

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Isaiah 49:1-6

Islands, listen to me,
pay attention, remotest peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born,
from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.
He made my mouth a sharp sword,
and hid me in the shadow of his hand.
He made me into a sharpened arrow,
and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel)
in whom I shall be glorified’;
while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain,
I have exhausted myself for nothing’;
and all the while my cause was with the Lord,
my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord,
my God was my strength.
And now the Lord has spoken,
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
to gather Israel to him:
‘It is not enough for you to be my servant,
to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel;
I will make you the light of the nations
so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’

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Acts 13:22-26

Paul said: ‘God deposed Saul and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”

‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you.’

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Luke 1:57-66,80

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

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And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him

I recently read about Mr Thio Gim Hock, an 81-year-old evangelist, who is also the chief executive officer of a listed company. Mr Thio is a very successful businessman and heads multiple businesses. Yet, despite his wealth and material success, he travels to faraway places like Pakistan, Siberia and India to speak at evangelistic rallies. In many of these areas, he risks his personal safety while preaching and spreading God’s work.

To me, he’s kind of like a modern-day, Singaporean, John the Baptist.

Today, we celebrate the birth of St John the Baptist. He was born to the high priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, when they were both in their old age. And it was during Elizabeth’s pregnancy that our Mother Mary goes to stay and help. St John was born and, in time, grew to be the prophet who prepares the way for, and announces the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

I have always found St John to be an intriguing character. Given his successes, he could have chosen to bask in the glory and devotion of his followers. Instead, St John chose to redirect all this attention to Jesus.

Many of us enjoy successes, in our church, at our jobs and in life, often receiving platitudes and accolades. As Christians, we know that these successes ultimately come from God. Yet, our tendency is to claim these successes as our own, thinking that we deserve them on the basis that they are a result of our hard work. Let us learn from St John the Baptist and keep our eyes on our God and give credit where credit is truly due.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Help us Lord to always give credit where credit is due, to know that the reason behind all of our successes in our lives come from You.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for sending St John the Baptist to us, as an example of a true servant of God and of someone who understands the real reason behind his strength.

23 June, Sunday – God, Our Provider

23 June 2019 – The Body and Blood of Christ

The Priesthood of Melchizedek

Like Melchizedek of old we bring bread and wine to the altar and Christ transforms it into his own body and blood for the life of the multitude of the redeemed.

  • Sunday Missal

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Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:

‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth,
and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.’
And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

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1 Corinthians 11:23-26

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

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Luke 9:11-17

Jesus made the crowds welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God; and he cured those who were in need of healing.

It was late afternoon when the Twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the people away, and they can go to the villages and farms round about to find lodging and food; for we are in a lonely place here.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we are to go ourselves and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. But he said to his disciples, ‘Get them to sit down in parties of about fifty.’ They did so and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. They all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.
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They all ate as much as they wanted

Growing up in Queenstown with my grandaunt, who was my guardian, she often stressed over what food to buy, and how we could afford it. She constantly looked at our finances, at when her daughter was going to pass her the monthly allowance. I remember our conversations about what to buy during her trips to the wet market, and how she could go about feeding us, at as low a cost as possible.

One of the earliest lessons I learnt in psychology class was about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The most basic of these needs are the Physiological Needs — including the need for food, clothing, air and shelter. These are the first needs that all humans will strive towards before they can even think of anything else.

With that perspective and the experience in my own life, I have always been intrigued by the feeding of the five thousand. I imagine being there in the crowd; hungry, thirsty and tired. Then I imagine being passed food that I can eat to my fill; without having to toil for it. God indeed does provide for me!

In the second reading of today, Jesus offers His life for us, in the form of bread and wine. Once again, God caters to our most basic of needs, and through this, our Lord Jesus Himself becomes a part of us. Over time, we literally become more and more like Him.

Brothers and sisters, let us always hunger for the food that our Heavenly Father provides — food that nourishes and feeds our souls so that we grow strong in faith. Let us all learn to be contented with what we are given by God. Only then can we avoid being greedy for all things material and keep us focused on the real prize – eternal life in paradise.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that we remember that You are always there for us. We pray that no matter what happens, You are there for us.

Thanksgiving: We thank You Father, for sending Your only Son to bear the burdens of our sin. We thank You Jesus for being there to feed us.

24 April, Wednesday – Putting on Jesus

24 April 2019

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Acts 3:1-10

Once, when Peter and John were going up to the Temple for the prayers at the ninth hour, it happened that there was a man being carried past. He was a cripple from birth; and they used to put him down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg from the people going in. When this man saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple he begged from them. Both Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’ He turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up. Instantly his feet and ankles became firm, he jumped up, stood, and began to walk, and he went with them into the Temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone could see him walking and praising God, and they recognised him as the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were all astonished and unable to explain what had happened to him.

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Luke 24:13-35

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

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In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!

Years ago, my wife and I attended a programme where we experienced a renewal in our Christian faith. Soon after, we were asked to help facilitate another run of the sessions at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We journeyed with a few couples over a few months and were asked to continue as cell group leaders.

While we agreed to take on the role, we found the path extremely challenging. We felt wholly inadequate for this task and experienced doubt. I remember constantly questioning myself; thinking that we were not ‘holy’ enough to guide others.

After about a year, the constant stress wore us down before we finally decided to step down as leaders. We felt drained, uninspired and defeated.

Quite a few years later, both of us went for the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER).  I began to feel God’s hand in my life in ways I had never experienced. I no longer felt alone. While my retreat was some three years ago, I continue to experience Him every day.

When the first parish-level CER was planned for the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS), my wife and I were asked to serve in the Praise and Worship Team. The preparation for this took a total of eight months and the retreat was an amazing success; we saw renewals in many of the participants and the music played an important part in the whole experience.

What was different about the CER? We relied constantly on God; praying and lifting all our efforts and concerns to Him. While we continued to work hard, we knew that with God in the picture, all was going to be well.

In the first reading of today, Peter and John also did just that. It was interesting to see how Peter, a man wracked with constant doubt, step up and become a different man, “…in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene”.

Like him, let us all do everything in Jesus’ name. We do everything with His strength, not ours.

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray for the strength and faith to turn to You, Lord Jesus. Let us not rely on our own strength, but Yours!

Thanksgiving: Thank You Jesus, for being with us in all we are and all we do!

23 April, Tuesday – Recognising Jesus

23 April 2019

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Acts 2:36-41 

On the day of Pentecost, Peter spoke to the Jews: ‘The whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.’

Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, ‘What must we do, brothers?’ ‘You must repent,’ Peter answered ‘and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ He spoke to them for a long time using many arguments, and he urged them, ‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’ They were convinced by his arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.

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John 20:11-18

Mary stayed outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, still weeping, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away’ she replied ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him.’ Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbuni!’ – which means Master. Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ So Mary of Magdala went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had said these things to her.

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She knew him

The number 10,000 has popped into prominence in the self-development industry of late. It has been said that in order to achieve complete mastery in any subject, one has to be doing that activity for a minimum of 10,000 hours.

My children have always loved eating pizza for as long as I can remember. As a very young child, my daughter enjoyed pizza so much that the cost became almost prohibitive. To save money, I started learning how to make pizza at home. The earliest efforts were often stodgy and floppy, although I followed the recipes I had either gotten off cookbooks or from friends (the Internet was not quite the powerhouse it is today). Having said that, the family often (although not always!) enjoyed the final products.

Fast forward to today — I no longer need to work on recipes, and I can tell the consistency of the dough just by looking or touching it. Instinctively, I know if I need to add any other ingredients to balance out the flavours or textures. I recognise the raw ingredients by their smell and can tell if they are good, or off.

All this comes about simply because I have done one thing — I have spent a lot of time making pizza.

In today’s Gospel, we see Mary Magdalene recognise Jesus the moment He chose to reveal Himself to her. I have wondered if I have missed seeing Jesus in my life because I have not spent enough time on my relationship with Him in prayer, reading the bible, or in reflection. Even if I did recognise Him, is my relationship with Him deep? When I read the Gospel, I see Mary as someone so filled with love for our Lord, and someone so filled with sadness when she thought that the body of Jesus had been taken away.

Let us build our figurative 10,000 hours with God. Let us spend more time with Him, learning His thoughts and ways. Let us spend more time reading the bible, praying, reflecting and in service for others.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the faith to continue to want to spend time knowing You and loving You.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful for Your love for us. Thank You for always reaching out to us; for showing us the way to become more intimate with You!