Tag Archives: perseverance

14 September, Saturday – Of Hope and Promise

Sep 14 – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The feast was celebrated in Rome before the end of the 7th century. Its purpose is to commemorate the recovering of that portion of the Holy Cross which was preserved at Jerusalem, and which had fallen into the hands of the Persians. Emperor Heraclius recovered this precious relic and brought it back to Jerusalem on 3 May 629.

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Numbers 21:4-9

On the way through the wilderness the people lost patience. They spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is neither bread nor water here; we are sick of this unsatisfying food.’

At this God sent fiery serpents among the people; their bite brought death to many in Israel. The people came and said to Moses, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede for us with the Lord to save us from these serpents.’ Moses interceded for the people, and the Lord answered him, ‘Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.

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John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man who is in heaven;
and the Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.’

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God sent His Son into the world… so that through Him the world might be saved

Have you heard people complaining about the unfavourable lot that life has dealt them or the difficult circumstances they are going through? I cannot help feeling bemused when they end their lamentations with the statement “but this is a cross I have to carry”.

We encounter many struggles at different stages in our lives, especially as we try to live out our faith. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to carry our crosses and proclaim the Good News to the world. Yet many of us forget the significance of the Cross. Some even begrudge the challenges it brings, so much so that it gets relegated as a sweeping statement to connote a sense of helplessness.

Much like the Israelites from the first reading, we complain when things do not go our way, sometimes to the extent of doubting God’s plans for us. However, God shows His mercy and compassion even after we let Him down time and time again. This is best illustrated when He sent His Son to die an excruciating death on the cross for our redemption.

The Cross represents the sacrifices Jesus made for us to save us from our sins. For us, Jesus on the cross expresses God’s unconditional and faithful love, and how He gave His life so that we might live life to the fullest. There is no sin too great for God to forgive, as long as we believe that we have been forgiven. Once an instrument of torture, the Cross now stands as a symbol of hope and promise.

In embracing the Cross, each of us is challenged to follow Jesus as He leads us to the way of the Cross. We are called to model his obedience and to die to our pride, self-sufficiency, arrogance and prejudices.  On today’s feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, let us reflect on what the Cross signifies in our lives and how best to live out our identities as Christians.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray that we may obediently abide in you amidst the trials and tribulations in our lives.  We pray for strength to journey on the path of the Cross, trusting that You are ever present with us.  

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the triumph of the Cross over sin and the promise of eternal life with You. 

31 October, Tuesday – Perseverance

31 October 2017

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Romans 8:18-25

I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us. The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons. It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free. For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved – our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were – but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet – it is something we must wait for with patience.

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Luke 13:18-21

Jesus said, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.’

Another thing he said, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God with? It is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’

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“In hope, we already have salvation; in hope, not visibly present, … But having this hope for what we cannot yet see, we are able to wait for it with persevering confidence.”

In today’s Gospel, we read of Jesus using the parable of the mustard seed and of the yeast. One common thing about the parables is that it involves a waiting before fruition. How something so small and simple becomes so essential in our lives.

I’m reminded of this quote by Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

All the small things we do are indeed very important, in order that the bigger things may happen. And when we realise that, we are able to also appreciate the many small things that others are doing for us, to also see how God is journeying with us every day as opposed to waiting for that big miracle to come. To know that we are making a difference with that one small act of kindness, a small act of love.

Other quotes I’m reminded of are, “You think you are just a drop in the ocean but look at the ripple effect one drop can make”, or “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into the water, the actions of individuals can have far reaching effects.”

For myself, it is indeed a challenge to persevere, especially when I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. What is the final outcome? Is everything I am doing worth it? What if I’m heading in the wrong direction? So many uncertainties and obstacles that weigh on my shoulders. What more our faith where it’s mostly a mystery, which is why we call it faith — because we need faith.

God, however, assures us in the first reading, that we need to continue to cling on to this faith, this hope for salvation has already been won for us. Our lives aren’t about what happens on earth, but how we are preparing ourselves for the eternal, for eternity. A God who gave His life to us and who still loves us despite our rejection, brokenness and unworthiness; who, time and time again, waits for us to return; who gives us all our share of His property to squander yet rushes out to embrace us, to seek us when we are lost. Who loves us unconditionally.

For those who have not encountered Him, what I’ve just written is probably just words. I ask that you continue to give Him a chance, to allow Him to touch you, to desire His love. To persevere, to hope. It’s the very reason I’m alive and it’s the reason I live and love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, give us strength as we continue to persevere when it seems like the world is against us. That when we feel furthest from you, that’s when we have the strength to run back rather than to let you go.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always being there, for giving us chance after chance. Thank you Lord, for desiring us and loving us unconditionally.

14 November, Monday – Light from Light

14 November

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Apocalypse 1:1-4,2:1-5

This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close.

From John, to the seven churches of Asia: grace and peace to you from him who is, who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits in his presence before his throne.

I heard the Lord saying to me: ‘Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus and say, “Here is the message of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who lives surrounded by the seven golden lamp-stands: I know all about you: how hard you work and how much you put up with. I know you cannot stand wicked men, and how you tested the impostors who called themselves apostles and proved they were liars. Know, too, that you have patience, and have suffered for my name without growing tired. Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make; you have less love now than you used to. Think where you were before you fell; repent, and do as you used to at first.”’

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Luke 18:35-43

As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied ‘let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’ And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.

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Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.

Having grown up and lived in a bustling city almost all my life, and having recently relocated to another major city, I often find myself immersed in the sights and sounds that surround me. It is not a bad thing, especially when you are living alone in a strange new city, to have the company of people around all the time, music streaming out of shops and cafes, and the bright lights of a city alive with all sorts of interactions and possibilities.

Yet, I’ve found that it is also easy to lose yourself in the city, to become distracted by all the activities and communities that present themselves to you. Indeed, as I look out of my apartment window onto the streets below, I see people hustling to the nearby bar or cafe for another night out with friends. Ironically, it is silence that is so hard to find in the city. But it is also in silence that God speaks loudest to us.

Perhaps we are like the blind man in Jericho: we have lost our sight amid the sights and sounds of our lives; we perceive but we do not see. And no matter how much entertainment we are able to absorb, how often have you felt a tugging in the depths of your heart — that there must be more to life than this? How often do we binge on Netflix because having watched one episode of our favourite TV show, we feel dissatisfied and thus have to watch another episode to fill the emptiness? And after that, yet another episode. And it goes on.

And being distracted by the playground of the city, and not forgetting our ‘hard work and perseverance’, we also find  that we have “less love now than formerly”. In my favourite cafe by Harvard Square, I often look out of the windows and see two sets of people. First, there are the students rushing to get to class, or just ambling along answering emails or text messages on their smartphones. But no more than 3 feet from these students, who are all absorbed in their glowing screens, sit the homeless.

Truly, we are often too captivated by the man-made lights of our cities and smartphones to stop and look around us. If we do, we will see a world filled with both desolation and hope. Desolation from the people who are suffering, often right next to us. But hope too, for the Light of Christ is there for us, given freely and given with much love. We must refocus our sight on this Light. We must continue to cling to the Lord, and to see Him in those in need.

When we do that, we can be sure that Jesus is saying to each of us: “Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you”. For He has always been ready to give us His light, a light that makes all the lights of the city pale in comparison, ‘light from Light’. The question is: are we ready to receive our sight from Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)

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Prayer: Lord, we pray for the poor, the vulnerable and the sick. May they, in their physical desolation, find spiritual consolation in Your light. May we also find the wisdom to see You in those around us.

Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for His continued guidance, for being the good shepherd that He is to us.  

20 July, Wednesday – Perseverance

20 July – Memorial for St. Apollinaris, Bishop & Martyr

According to tradition, Apollinaris was a native of Antioch in the Roman Province of Syria. He was made the first Bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source).
On his way out of the city, he was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured and martyred by being run through with a sword. Centuries after his death, he appeared in a vision to St. Romuald. He was a noted miracle worker, and is considered especially effective against gout and epilepsy.

– Wikipedia

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Jeremiah 1:1,4-10

The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of a priestly family living at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.

The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.’

I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’

But the Lord replied,
‘Do not say, “I am a child.”
Go now to those to whom I send you
and, say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you –
it is the Lord who speaks!’

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me:

‘There! I am putting my words into your mouth.
Look, today I am setting you
over nations and over kingdoms,
to tear up and to knock down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’

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Matthew 13:1-9

Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.

He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

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Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

In today’s readings, God once again affirms us of His presence and that it is He who saves, not us. As we read in the first reading, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’. Many times we find ourselves giving such reasons as well — that we are not ready, not qualified, that there are others who are better out there, or that come to me only if there’s really no one else. We find it so hard to take charge of our faith and to trust in God. That He doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies those He calls. It is also the very fact that as we live our lives, it is not to see how good we are and for us to shine, but rather to show others how great God is and to glorify Him by our lives.

Being aware and speaking is easy, but when it comes to the action, the Lord reminds us in the Gospel that the ‘seeds’ – our efforts, can fall on many different types of ‘grounds’ – people/ears. Some may listen and internalise, some may listen but merely listen and their lives do not change, others may not bother listening and there are those who go against whatever is being said.

Eventually, the key word is perseverance, to once again know that it is God who saves. But our calling and purpose is to be that witness, to be God’s mouth, hands and ears, to spread the Good News. He also promises us that there will be fruits of our labour because we are doing His will.

Let us be open to God’s will in our lives, it doesn’t mean there will be instant results, but what that really means is to persevere, to be patient, but yet to be aware, to listen and to love. We surrender our lives to you for it is you who have given us our lives. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in our lives today.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the many people who have yet to come to know you. We pray that they will be open to your presence in their lives and not just in church. We ask that you may continue to speak to them and touch them in your own special way. We also would like to pray for ourselves, for the times when we have failed to listen, the times when we have taken things into our own hands and for the times when we have given excuses for not living out our faith. Give us the grace that we may not run away but run towards you and cling on to you in our daily lives.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for your continuous reminder that it is not the world who judges us but you. We are not determined or qualified based on what we have but who you have created us to be. Created in your image and perfect in your sight, we thank you for all the gifts and talents you have bestowed upon us and your never failing love for us. We thank you Lord for our lives. Amen.