Tag Archives: paul wee

6 March, Wednesday – A Time for Atonement and Prayer

6 March 2019 – Ash Wednesday

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Joel 2:12-18

‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –
come back to me with all your heart,
fasting, weeping, mourning.’
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn,
turn to the Lord your God again,
for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in graciousness,
and ready to relent.
Who knows if he will not turn again, will not relent,
will not leave a blessing as he passes,
oblation and libation
for the Lord your God?
Sound the trumpet in Zion!
Order a fast,
proclaim a solemn assembly,
call the people together,
summon the community,
assemble the elders,
gather the children,
even the infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his bedroom
and the bride her alcove.
Between vestibule and altar let the priests,
the ministers of the Lord, lament.
Let them say,
‘Spare your people, Lord!
Do not make your heritage a thing of shame,
a byword for the nations.
Why should it be said among the nations,
“Where is their God?”’
Then the Lord, jealous on behalf of his land,
took pity on his people.

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2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.

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Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

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Now is the favourable time.

My wife and I will have been married 22 years come November this year. The questions we often get asked are how we managed to stay married for so long, and also, how we can get along so well without conflict.

The reality is that we do fight and have disagreements, and we have hurt each other with our inconsiderate words and behaviour. We have been unkind and said things we don’t mean. What matters is that we reconcile. We spend time talking, explaining, hugging and crying. Ultimately, we may have been angry, but in the end, forgiveness will always happen.

I regret the painful fights and the pain they bring. I regret hurting my wife, but I think those times allow us to understand each other better, to grow as a couple and as a family.

Our fallen nature causes us to sin against God, despite our privileged position as children of God. We make poor choices, fail to tame our tongue; we think wrong thoughts, we judge others, amongst the multitude of sins we can commit.

What an excellent opportunity Lent presents us to come back to our God! When we fast from our favourite foods or activities we usually enjoy doing, we give ourselves a chance to sit down and have a conversation with our Lord.

Have a wonderful Lent, my brothers and sisters.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we may be able to recognise everything within us that have sinned against You. Help us to face them and surrender them to You, oh Lord!

Thanksgiving: We thank You for this period of prayer and reconciliation. We are grateful that You continue to love and to never give up on us.

5 March, Tuesday – Going Beyond 40%

5 March 2019

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Ecclesiasticus 35:2-15

A man multiplies offerings by keeping the Law;
he offers communion sacrifices by following the commandments.
By showing gratitude he makes an offering of fine flour,
by giving alms he offers a sacrifice of praise.
Withdraw from wickedness and the Lord will be pleased,
withdraw from injustice and you make atonement.
Do not appear empty-handed in the Lord’s presence;
for all these things are due under the commandment.
A virtuous man’s offering graces the altar,
and its savour rises before the Most High.
A virtuous man’s sacrifice is acceptable,
its memorial will not be forgotten.
Honour the Lord with generosity,
do not stint the first-fruits you bring.
Add a smiling face to all your gifts,
and be cheerful as you dedicate your tithes.
Give to the Most High as he has given to you,
generously as your means can afford;
for the Lord is a good rewarder,
he will reward you seven times over.
Offer him no bribe, he will not accept it,
do not put your faith in an unvirtuous sacrifice;
since the Lord is a judge
who is no respecter of personages.

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Mark 10:28-31

At that time Peter began to tell Jesus, ‘What about us? We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’

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Many who are first will be last, and the last first

I was reading this story about how this guy (Jessie) was running in a 100-mile (160 kilometres) race when he noticed an even bigger 120 kg man running the same race. The ‘big’ man did not have a typical build for ultramarathon running. Yet, complete it he did, despite breaking all the small bones in his feet.

Jessie subsequently hired this man to teach him the secret of his mental toughness. It was simple; when his mind told him it was time to quit, “he is only 40% done”.

While the anecdote above seems more suitable for a seminar on success, it does relate very much to our faith.

In the Gospel, Peter tells Jesus that the disciples have already given up everything to follow Him. While promising that all their sacrifices would be rewarded a hundredfold, our Lord Jesus also talked about persecutions when serving Him. This brings to mine Matthew 18:21-22, where Jesus told Peter that he needed to forgive those who sin against him. Not once, nor seven times, but seventy-seven times.

This passage tells me that as Christians, we WILL face challenges and persecutions and despite us thinking that we have given my all, it is our calling and our duty to continue serving our Lord and those around us.

Because in the end, once our days on earth are done, we are promised an eternal reward.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that we may will be able to go beyond our own comfort zone and to serve You.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Jesus for giving us Your all, even dying on the cross for us.

4 March, Monday – God and People above Things

4 Mar – Memorial for St. Casimir

Casimir (1458-1484) was a 15th century Polish prince who became Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1471. He was third in line for the throne.

Hungarian nobles had prevailed upon Casimir’s father to send his 15-year-old son to be their king. Casimir obeyed, taking the crown, but refusing to exercise power. His army was outnumbered, and his troops deserted because they were not paid. Casimir returned home, and was a conscientious objector from that time on.

He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter. He reigned briefly as king during his father’s absence.

He lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer, and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy. He had a great devotion to Mary, supported the poor, and lived a virtuous life amid the dissolute court.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Ecclesiasticus 17:20-28

To those who repent, God permits return,
and he encourages those who were losing hope.
Return to the Lord and leave sin behind,
plead before his face and lessen your offence.
Come back to the Most High and turn away from iniquity,
and hold in abhorrence all that is foul.
Who will praise the Most High in Sheol,
if the living do not do so by giving glory to him?
To the dead, as to those who do not exist, praise is unknown,
only those with life and health can praise the Lord.
How great is the mercy of the Lord,
his pardon on all those who turn towards him!

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Mark 10:17-27

Jesus was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; You must not commit adultery; You must not steal; You must not bring false witness; You must not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days.’ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, ‘My children,’ he said to them ‘how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were more astonished than ever. ‘In that case’ they said to one another ‘who can be saved?’ Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he said ‘it is impossible, but not for God: because everything is possible for God.’

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Who can be saved?

I recently came across two very different stories.

In the first, a man was working on his car when his three-year-old son took a screwdriver and scratched the car. Enraged, the man spanked his son’s hand, not realising that he was holding onto a spanner. The boy was hospitalised, and his hand had to be amputated. The man was distraught. Subsequently, he looked at his car and saw that his son was scratching out the words ‘I love my daddy’ across the paintwork.

In the next story, a man was driving his nephew in his newly-purchased car. The nephew was drinking a soft drink and inadvertently spilt it onto the car seat. The child was upset, but the man coolly took the rest of the can and nonchalantly poured it over the back seat.

Growing up, I had puzzled over today’s Gospel reading. I wondered what God had against riches and was even more confused when I realised a lot of Christians were extremely wealthy. I wondered how these people could go to heaven and why they were not doing anything about it.

It was only later that I realized what Jesus was talking about was the attachment that people have to their wealth. Rather than looking at these riches as gifts from God to be used for blessing others, these gifts become an end in itself, and people end up clinging to these earthly ‘treasures’. It is this attachment that makes it difficult to ‘enter the kingdom of God’.

Brothers and sisters, like the man in the second story, let us strive to place people above things, not things above people.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we may always place You first in our lives. Help us to focus our eyes on You, Lord.

Thanksgiving: Father, we praise and thank you for showing us the importance of detachment from our earthly wealth in our journey back to Your kingdom.

3 March, Sunday – Working on Ourselves

3 March 2019

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Ecclesiasticus 27:5-8

In a shaken sieve the rubbish is left behind,
so too the defects of a man appear in his talk.
The kiln tests the work of the potter,
the test of a man is in his conversation.
The orchard where a tree grows is judged on the quality of its fruit,
similarly a man’s words betray what he feels.
Do not praise a man before he has spoken,
since this is the test of men.

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1 Corinthians 15:54

When this perishable nature has put on imperishability, and when this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the words of scripture will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. So let us thank God for giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Never give in then, my dear brothers, never admit defeat; keep on working at the Lord’s work always, knowing that, in the Lord, you cannot be labouring in vain.

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Luke 6:39-45

Jesus told a parable to his disciples: ‘Can one blind man guide another? Surely both will fall into a pit? The disciple is not superior to his teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher. Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,” when you cannot see the plank in your own? Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.

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

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The defects of a man appear in his talk.

I have been working on attaining a professional qualification and, for the past few months, have been attending nightly classes to master the material. I have met many amazing folks from various walks of life, all wanting to improve themselves.

As happens in life, we might come across people who may, for one reason or another, through no fault of theirs, rub us the wrong way. I found myself getting increasingly angry and agitated by two of these people, and without realising it, spent a significant amount of time getting angry and upset with them. In my mind, I kept thinking about how they should behave with others.

On a particular day, I was irritated when one of my classmates kept yawning loudly. Again, I whipped myself into a state of irritation. It was only later in the day when someone in the group mentioned that this classmate had stayed up the previous night because of a family issue.

I have never felt more ashamed of myself.

In the Gospel of today, our Lord Jesus talks about the planks within our own eyes. Too often, we spend time judging others, without realising that we could be carrying even more significant faults. The Lord teaches us that because we are all cut from the same cloth, we inherently are no better than each other. Rather than focusing on the faults of others, we need to work on removing our flaws. It is only by this work can we improve ourselves.

Brothers and sisters, this process of change, however, is not based on our strengths. Instead, we need to depend on our Lord Jesus, as through Him, we do not labour in vain.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that You may grant us the humility, and strength to face our own ‘planks’ and to remove them.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, O Heavenly Father, for showing us the right path; to work on ourselves instead of focusing on the flaws of others.

19 December, Wednesday – Children and Believers of Action

19 December

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Judges 13:2-7,24-25

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren, she had borne no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child. But from now on take great care. Take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For you will conceive and bear a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb. It is he who will begin to rescue Israel from the power of the Philistines.’ Then the woman went and told her husband, ‘A man of God has just come to me; his presence was like the presence of the angel of God, he was so majestic. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not reveal his name to me. But he said to me, “You will conceive and bear a son. From now on, take no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be God’s nazirite from his mother’s womb to his dying day.”’

The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and the Lord blessed him; and the spirit of the Lord began to move him.

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Luke 1:5-25

In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.

Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.

Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, ‘Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.’

Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.’ Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.

When his time of service came to an end he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. ‘The Lord has done this for me’ she said ‘now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.’

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“Listen!”

For every birthday I had as a child, my grandaunt did two things consistently. First thing was to cook me a bowl of mee sua (rice noodles) and the next thing was to have me pick out some ‘lucky numbers’ for her to go and buy the lottery in the hope of winning some money.

Growing up, it was her belief that in order for us to escape poverty, we needed help from others. She often talked about how her children did not bother to help her (or to be more correct, us) by providing more for us. Now, please do not get me wrong; my grandaunt was an extremely hardworking woman, and she took very good care of me. She truly loved me.

What struck me was how I take on this mindset when I am thinking of God. Often, I find myself thinking this: “Oh, if only God would provide me with a fantastic career, or if this prayer was answered, or if circumstances would turn out the way I want them.” All too often, I end up sitting back and waiting for the Lord to provide.

In both readings today, effort was required of the recipients of good news. In the first reading, Samson’s father, Manoah, received the good news from an angel of the Lord that his wife (who was barren) was to conceive. They were to eat cleanly, and not consume any strong drink. In addition, the child was not to cut his hair. Similarly, in the Gospel, Zechariah too, received good news that his wife Elizabeth would conceive and bear a child, John the Baptist. The child was not to drink wine and consume no strong drink.

The point is, both these readings highlight the fact that we, the people of God, have a part to play in God’s plan. We are not expected to be mere passive recipients of good news. Instead, we are to play an active role. In Isaiah 48:17, we are instructed that our God is the Lord our God, and He directs us in the way we should GO. This clearly means that action is required of us.

In discerning what is required of us, this also means that we need to be consistently plugged into an active relationship with God. We need to be in consistent dialogue with our Lord, listening to His instructions for us.

May we be always open to His messages and that we may find courage and strength to act on this actions required of us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we may be able to hear and discern what You require of us Father. Help us to be obedient children and servants!

Thanksgiving: We praise and thank You for the role You have played in our lives, Father God. We thank You for always being there for us, even if we have been blind to You.

18 December, Tuesday – Plugging In

18 December

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Jeremiah 23:5-8

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
The-Lord-our-integrity.

So, then, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when people will no longer say, “As the Lord lives who brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt!” but, “As the Lord lives who led back and brought home the descendants of the House of Israel out of the land of the North and from all the countries to which he had dispersed them, to live on their own soil.”

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Matthew 1:18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.

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“… it is the Lord who speaks…”

The gift I have been praying to receive for the longest time is the gift of Wisdom. I would like to be able to discern if the actions and thoughts I undertake are within God’s plan.

In my (former) corporate career, I was praying hard for career progression and was glad that my prayers were answered. I had been on a holiday when I had been inspired to pray for this. When I returned to the office after that, I was told that I would be heading one of the existing sales teams. Announcements to this effect were made and I was to assume this new role within a few weeks.

I was upset, therefore, when I heard that this promotion was to be put off, due in part to politics (the existing team members did not like me owing to some previous misunderstanding). Given such strong objections to my new appointment, my supervisor had wanted to put off my promotion till a later date.

I was frustrated and considered resigning. I lost sleep and life became unbearable.

I felt I was ‘wise’, and was able to discern the plans that the Lord had for me, and then it hit me; I had been trying to do this on my own strength. It was then that I returned to praying, lifting all to the Lord. I prayed that whatever the outcome, I would lift all I had to Him and I had faith that everything that happened would be as He desired.

What happened was that my manager ended up creating a new team for me to manage. With the lack of emotional/political baggage, this new team managed to outperform the existing sales teams. Because of this, I ended up being promoted again within seven months to head the whole department.  Imagine if I had relied on my own understanding, wrongly believing this to be the message God wanted me to hear? This would have been ironic, given that I had not lifted these concerns to Him, instead choosing to play the various scenarios in my own mind.

In today’s Gospel, we read about how Joseph had wanted to divorce Mary, and yet decided otherwise, after he was prompted by the angel Gabriel to continue with their marriage. He did not depend on his own knowledge or thoughts. Instead, he trusted in his relationship with God.

So must it be with us. Like electrical appliances, we can only tap our God-given talents when we continue to draw on His power.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Help us to continually turn to you to draw strength and knowledge, Father. We pray that we may always pay heed to the Holy Spirit that continues to whisper to us.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for blessing us with Your Holy Spirit, for sending us an Advocate to whom we can always turn to.

17 December, Monday – God Is Enough For Me

17 December

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Genesis 49:2,8-10

Jacob called his sons and said:

‘Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen;
listen to Israel your father.
Judah, your brothers shall praise you:
you grip your enemies by the neck,
your father’s sons shall do you homage,
Judah is a lion cub,
you climb back, my son, from your kill;
like a lion he crouches and lies down,
or a lioness: who dare rouse him?
The sceptre shall not pass from Judah,
nor the mace from between his feet,
until he come to whom it belongs,
to whom the peoples shall render obedience.’

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Matthew 1:1-17

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.

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“…until he come to whom it belongs, to whom he peoples shall render obedience”

My wife and I were recently involved in the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) held for the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS). Specifically, I was asked to play in the music ministry, which was formed out of a group of ex-CER retreatants.

When I received the WhatsApp messages from a brother and his wife (both long-time and close friends), I did not answer immediately.  Instead, I took about two weeks to think about it.

One of the biggest concerns was that I had not played guitar for about a year and felt I was not good enough to play in such a ministry. This feeling of inadequacy was made worse after I attended the first practice session where I realised ALL the musicians were so well-trained that they actually did not need music song sheets to play along!

Over time, despite the disparity in the level of musical talent between my band members and I, we played together and had a level of understanding and communication that was surprising to me. Somehow, only God could know how well we would play and understand each other.

I was caught up in the trap of thinking I needed to be perfect in order to serve God. Instead, I should have trusted that God would take who I was and make me perfect enough.

The readings today reinforces this.

In Jesus’ geneology, we see Judah (who had slept with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, who had been dressed as a prostitute at the time), Ruth (from the tribe of Moab, a tribe begotten when Lot was held and raped by his two daughters) and finally David (who had committed adultery with Bathsheba).

In spite of such imperfection, God had chosen this particular lineage for Jesus to be born into. If perfection was totally important in God’s redemptive work, He could easily have chosen another ‘more perfect’ family.

How powerful! God truly is enough!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we may have faith in You Father, that You will make us enough. Enough to serve You and enough to serve all around us.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful, Father God, for loving us. For telling us that we, and our faith in You, is enough.

16 December, Sunday – True Happiness in the Lord

16 December 2018

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Zephaniah 3:14-18

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart,
daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has repealed your sentence;
he has driven your enemies away.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst;
you have no more evil to fear.

When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:
Zion, have no fear,
do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.

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Philippians 4:4-7

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.
There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

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Luke 3:10-18

When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.

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“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord…”

I recently heard a lovely story.

Someone was shopping in a discount store when she spied a mother walking with her two children; an older child and a toddler.

The toddler was fussing, wanting to hold one of the glowsticks that the mother had just bought. To stop him crying, the mother removed one of the sticks and gave it to the toddler, who promptly stopped crying and was happy to just hold it.

The elder child took the glowstick and the toddler immediately began crying again. Before the mother could even chide the elder child, the boy broke the glowstick and returned it to the toddler, who was once again, happy. In a few seconds, he noticed that the glowstick had begun to emit a beautiful yellow hue. The elder brother responded, lovingly, “I had to break the glowstick so it would glow for you!”.

The toddler had been satisfied just to hold the glowstick (sans the glow!) but enjoyed something totally surpassing his original expectations with the glow! What a beautiful metaphor for our relationship with our God!

In the second reading of today, St Paul talked about being “happy in the Lord”. Very often, for me, this happiness is coloured by my own expectations. I want to be happy in the Lord, but only if things come out in the way I expect them to. In my mind, I am thinking: “Lord, please make things come out this way, or that way, and I’ll be happy”. If events do not quite pan out the way I expect, I am often disappointed.

I am like the little toddler in the story. I do not know the beauty that could come about if things were ‘broken’. Challenges that could happen; work or career difficulty, struggles with relationships, personal spiritual struggles, all serve to unleash the potential glow in me.

Let us be open to our Lord. Let us not treat Him as our personal faith-dispensing machine. Our God knows what is best for us. All we need to do is to trust and to wait for the glow to happen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may have the spirit of trust that whatever happens, happens to help us release our ‘glow’. Help us to have faith in You always, and not tie You to our expectations.

Thanksgiving: Thank You for blessing us always, no matter whatever happens in our lives. We praise You and we thank You for all that we experience, whether we perceive them to be good, or bad. We trust that You will continue to watch and take care of us always.

27 October, Saturday – The Time is Now

27 October

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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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“…. it may bear next year; if not, then you can cut it down.”

The earliest part of my life was really challenging. I was born out of wedlock, brought up by my grand aunt, and had a childhood when I felt everything to be a struggle.  I started going to church at the age of 12, and sometime after that, I remembered asking God, “Why me?”.

Since then, I have had many similar conversationswith others. In fact, an acquaintance saw that I had been putting some faith-related posts on social media and touched base with me. His first question to me was something like this: “Would you still have faith iflife was difficult for you?”. His point to me was that if God was all loving, why does He allow bad things to happen, and why does He allow it to happen to good people?

In the Gospel today, Jesus teaches us that those who were killed by Pilate, or who were killed in Siloan were no more guilty that those who were not. This is an important lesson as the Israelites believed that God punished only those who were more sinful than others. This is something relevant for our understanding as well.

Rather than going into a discussion about why bad things happened to people, Jesus stressed the importance that everyone prepare for the time for us to leave this earthly world. He gives the parable about a fruitless fig tree. While the vinyard owner had intended to have the tree cut down, the gardener convinces the owner to keep it for an additional year to fruit, failing which it would be be cut down.

While it continues to live, the fig tree does not know that it has just an additional year. Like the fig tree, we do not know how long more we have.  By talking about “perishing”, our Lord does not talk about our physical deaths. Rather, He is talking about our eternal lives.

Let us focus on doing the right things, now. We simply do not know when our time on earth is up.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Help us to have a sense of urgency Father, to make our faith in You red-hot. Help us to believe and act in line with Your plans.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful to You for Your teaching Lord Jesus. For Your reminder that our time here on earth is limited. Thank You for blessing us with each day to do Your work.

26 October, Friday – Doing the Needful

26 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?”

I have struggled with my weight all through my life. Ever since I can remember (even from primary school), I have been told to not eat so much, choose the right foods, exercise regularly and get sufficient rest.  When I hit my late twenties, I started drinking alcohol as well and made bad choices when it came to my health.  I knew what would happen if Icontinued to make bad choices, and yet chose not todo what I knew to be good for myself.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus talked about such behaviour. The three examples He talks about seems logical. In the first, reading the signs that anticipate that rain was coming, and indeed having it come. In the second, judging that hot weather was arriving simply by reading the direction of the wind, and having the hot weather arrive. In the last, our Lord talks about someone in a dispute with another person. Instead of trying to settle the matter before going to court, this person chooses to risk it by fighting it out in court, only to lose and having to pay the full price for his folly.

I have often wondered about this reading. It just makes perfect sense to anticipate and to take steps to prevent “bad” things from happening. Yet, like how I chose to ignore good advice, people also tend to ignore what is obvious (at least to others around them).

Sometime ago, I was reflecting on the book of Exodus in the Old Testament (when God liberated the Israelites from slavery, demonstrating many miracles in the process). Moses had led the Israelites out of Egypt and while he was on Mount Sinai, the Isaralites wasted no time in smelting all their gold to create a golden calf to worship! All this despite the fact that all the miracles proved that the God of the Israelites is the obvious One True God!

Similarly, in the Gospel and in our lives, we see that Jesus is our one true saviour. Let us take the necessary steps to act on our belief in God, the Holy Trinity, in eternal life and the communion of saints!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will have the strength, fortitude and urgency to act on our faith in You Lord. Help us Father to be guided by the Spirit and to grow in love for You!

Thanksgiving: Thank You for showering us with Your love. Thank You for your patience with us, in spite of us being open. Thank You Father!