Tag Archives: paul wee

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!

22 April, Monday – Our Faith

22 April 2019

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Acts 2:14,22-33

On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed the crowd in a loud voice: ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him:

I saw the Lord before me always,
for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me.
So my heart was glad
and my tongue cried out with joy;
my body, too, will rest in the hope
that you will not abandon my soul to Hades
nor allow your holy one to experience corruption.
You have made known the way of life to me,
you will fill me with gladness through your presence.

‘Brothers, no one can deny that the patriarch David himself is dead and buried: his tomb is still with us. But since he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn him an oath to make one of his descendants succeed him on the throne, what he foresaw and spoke about was the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not experience corruption. God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God’s right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.’

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Matthew 28:8-15

Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. ‘Greetings’ he said. And the women came up to him and, falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.’

While they were on their way, some of the guard went off into the city to tell the chief priests all that had happened. These held a meeting with the elders and, after some discussion, handed a considerable sum of money to the soldiers with these instructions, ‘This is what you must say, “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” And should the governor come to hear of this, we undertake to put things right with him ourselves and to see that you do not get into trouble.’ The soldiers took the money and carried out their instructions, and to this day that is the story among the Jews.

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They will see me there

It is interesting how people can interpret the same event very differently.

In today’s Gospel, we see the women running to tell the disciples, joyfully, of how they have seen our Lord, and His instructions to go to Galilee to meet with Him. On the other hand, we also see the guards, who, on witnessing the same, not only did not experience conversion, but also allowed themselves to be bribed by the high priests into lying about the happenings.

The Israelites, as the chosen people, have been on the receiving end of God’s graces. I am struck by how, despite being led by Moses out of Egypt, or seeing the parting of the Red Sea, or even by being protected by God from the various plagues (including the killing of the firstborn), were so quick to begin grumbling about God. What was worse was their brazen disregard for our God, choosing to instead casting and worshipping the graven image of Ba’al once Moses stepped away to Mount Sinai.

This only tells me the importance of developing our personal relationship with our God, and of spending time with Him. Without this relationship, I am convinced that no amount of miracles we witness will bring us closer to God.

In this period of Easter, we see how God has sent His only Son to suffer and to die for us. What bigger act of love is there that God can show us? Let us take this time to reflect and continue to develop our relationship with, and to grow closer to our God.

Have a blessed Easter season my bothers and sisters!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father, we pray that we will be blessed with a closer walk with You always. That we may continue to see Your hand in all that we see and experience.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful to You, oh Father, for our eternal love for us. Thank You for always being there for us.

21 April, Easter Sunday – Our Stronghold

21 Apr – Easter Sunday

Alleluia!

This mass is our Alleluia; our song of praise to the risen Christ who is our life and whose triumph over death we proclaim to all the world.

– Sunday Missal
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Acts 10:34.37-43

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil. Now I, and those with me, can witness to everything he did throughout the countryside of Judaea and in Jerusalem itself: and also to the fact that they killed him by hanging him on a tree, yet three days afterwards God raised him to life and allowed him to be seen, not by the whole people but only by certain witnesses God had chosen beforehand. Now we are those witnesses – we have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead – and he has ordered us to proclaim this to his people and to tell them that God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear this witness: that all who believe in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name.’
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Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
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John 20:1-9

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb’ she said ‘and we don’t know where they have put him.’

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter who was following now came up, went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
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He saw and he believed

I was introduced to rugby when I was in school. Since then, I have always had a fascination for the ‘gentlemen’s game’.

The recent finals of the Singapore National School’s B Division was exciting. The game was between two long-time rivals and the game had been heavily skewed in favour of one of the teams and the result seemed inevitable; the leader was going to win, and win by a wide margin. By sheer dogged determination, the trailing team managed to tie the score! The game went into overtime. During the overtime, and against all odds, the trailing team scored two tries. They had won!

When I read the story, I had wondered how both the boys and parents must have felt watching their team go behind and then to have to work hard to claw back the points, and then to finally snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

It occurred to me that our faith is much like the experience of this team. Regardless of how much preparation Jesus had had for his disciples, they were distraught at having their Lord taken away, tortured and crucified. At the point of Jesus’ death, it must have seemed an end to everything they believed in and the life they had lived for three years.

Yet, victory was won by God, and this victory was shown on the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion.

This is a powerful and beautiful metaphor for our faith. When we keep our eyes on our Father, he makes all things possible. It does not mean, of course, that we will always get what we desire. What it means though, is that our God would be there for us, regardless.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray, Father, that we always remember that You are our rock and our stronghold; that You will always be there for us no matter what.

Thanksgiving: We thank You Father, for sending Your only Son to bear the burdens of our sin. We thank You Jesus, for showing us the way to live our lives in the face of challenges and difficulties; with integrity and love.

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.