Tag Archives: servanthood

16 August, Tuesday – Stewardship

16 August – Memorial for St. Stephen of Hungary

When he succeeded his father as chief of a group of people, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianisation in Hungary for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. As king, Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns, one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 28:1-10

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre, “The Lord says this:

Being swollen with pride,
you have said: I am a god;
I am sitting on the throne of God,
surrounded by the seas.
Though you are a man and not a god,
you consider yourself the equal of God.
You are wiser now than Danel;
there is no sage as wise as you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have amassed great wealth;
you have piles of gold and silver
inside your treasure-houses.
Such is your skill in trading,
your wealth has continued to increase,
and with this your heart has grown more arrogant.
And so, the Lord says this:
Since you consider yourself the equal of God,
very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you,
the most barbarous of the nations.
They will draw sword against your fine wisdom,
they will defile your glory;
they will throw you down into the pit
and you will die a violent death
surrounded by the seas.
Are you still going to say: I am a god,
when your murderers confront you?
No, you are a man and not a god
in the clutches of your murderers!
You will die like the uncircumcised
at the hand of foreigners.
For I have spoken–it is the Lord who speaks.”’

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Matthew 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’

Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.

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

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“Amen I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Is wealth in, and of itself, a bad thing? The gospel tells us “it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:23). But what if one is born into it? Then what happens? The life of Saint Charles Borromeo offers insight into our gospel readings. Born into Italian nobility, the young Charles was groomed in business and politics by his uncle Pope Pius IV and his parents, the Count of Arona and Countess Margherita de’ Medici. Charles understood early on, that the immense Medici family wealth was not for personal pleasure. Fortune and influence required responsible stewardship.

In his twenties, he dedicated much of his time to helping Pope Pius IV organize the Council of Trent and the Tridentine Catechism. He did all while continuing to oversee the Borromeo family’s interests in Arona. Later as Archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo took on the task of reforming the archdiocese, cleaning up years of abuse, indulgence and corrupt practices. This made him very unpopular with his peers, but he remained steadfast despite the opposition. His was a life dedicated to work and God’s service. It wasn’t that he eschewed his family’s influence. Borromeo simply found a way of using the providence of his birth for His good. We know he exercised the Medici pedigree when he needed to get things done, it’s the end that justified his means. Material gain in, and of itself, is not a sin. Pride and not applying good stewardship to one’s providence is. We need to look no farther than the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew. The servants were all given an equal measure of their master’s wealth to invest; they didn’t start from nothing; i.e., they did not necessarily begin in poverty. But the one who is finally ushered into his master’s house is the one who showed initiative, daring, responsibility and accountability.

Very often, those who are wealthy feel uneasy about their gain, as if wealth alone is reason enough to be locked out of heaven. Yes, it is hard for the rich to enter His great kingdom. But our circumstances alone do not determine our final home. God doesn’t discriminate against us because of our circumstances. We’re denied entry into the Kingdom of Heaven because we abuse the providence of His gifts, instead of using them to give glory to Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the humility and self-awareness to be good stewards of the gifts He bestows upon us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our parents and their dedication to giving us a good upbringing.

14 May, Saturday – Chosen Ones

May 14 – Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Matthias (d. 80) was an Apostle. As he could bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, he was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. He preached the Gospel for more than 30 years in Judaea, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Ethopia. He is remembered for preaching the need for mortification of the flesh with regard to all its sensual and irregular desires. He was martyred in Colchis in AD 80 by stoning.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 1:15-17,20-26

One day Peter stood up to speak to the brothers – there were about a hundred and twenty persons in the congregation: ‘Brothers, the passage of scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit, speaking through David, foretells the fate of Judas, who offered himself as a guide to the men who arrested Jesus – after having been one of our number and actually sharing this ministry of ours. Now in the Book of Psalms it says:

Let someone else take his office.

‘We must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was travelling round with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptising until the day when he was taken up from us – and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.’

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate, which Judas abandoned to go to his proper place.’ They then drew lots for them, and as the lot fell to Matthias, he was listed as one of the twelve apostles.

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John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’

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I chose you.

About three months ago, my parish priest approached us to help chair the church annex building fundraising committee. I was a bit surprised as we have never been active in our parish (we serve at the Catholic Spirituality Centre instead); yet, saying ‘Yes’ came naturally and we got down to work immediately. After a few meetings, the seeds of a few initiatives have been sown and we are now gathering people to help us execute our ideas.

Being a ‘newbie’ to parish work, it has been interesting to sit in on meetings and observe how the priests go about their ‘work’, which would not be possible without the help of many lay persons and office staff who give so generously of their time without any expectation of anything in return. I have been truly humbled by this opportunity, yet at the same time, wary of the dynamics that go on between the different ministry leaders and volunteers.

Thankfully, the Lord has been gentle and kind enough to send different people our way. And just when I think that we ourselves would have to shoulder the burden of organising an event/dinner, a name or two pops up in our Inbox or we get a call from someone who has heard that we need volunteers. The Lord truly provides when we are engaged in his work and it has been extremely heartening to see the many labourers come forward to offer their talents and time to help us achieve our target.

We at Oxygen were worried towards the end of last year, when our stable of writers dwindled to a mere handful. Today, the Lord has multiplied the talent within our ministry and provided in abundance. I know that He has chosen us all, in spite of our shortcomings and anxieties, simply because He knows that we have a desire to share His word with anyone who yearns for it.

Brothers and sisters, as Christians, ours is life that is pre-ordained by our Maker. It is a life that He chooses for us and it is up to us to discern His will and to follow Him. And while we do have a multitude of choices to make in our lives, we must make them in the knowledge that God himself has chosen us to live out His plan on this earth.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer – Heavenly father, we thank you for choosing us to be your sons and daughters. Help us grow in your love as we encounter the obstacles and overcome setbacks while carrying the crosses that you so lovingly place on our shoulders, knowing full well that You will always have each of us in your loving heart. For we all are your chosen ones.

Thanksgiving – Thank you Father for sending us your Holy Spirit and for empowering us with your graces.

21 April, Thursday – Remembering to Be Servants

21 April – Memorial of Saint Anselm, Bishop and Doctor

Anselm (1033-1109) was born of Italian nobility. After a childhood devoted to piety and study, he wanted to enter religious life, but his father prevented it, and Anselm became rather worldly for several years. Upon his mother’s death, Anselm argued with his father, fled to France, and became a Benedictine monk at Bec, Normandy. He studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as abbot, before later becoming Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anselm was a theological writer and counsellor to Pope Gregory VII, Pope Urban II, and William the Conqueror. He opposed slavery and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. He fought King William Rufus’ encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independences of the Church, and was exiled. He resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at the Council of Bari in 1098. He strongly supported celibate clergy. King Henry I invited him to return to England, but they disputed over investitures, and Anselm was again exiled in 1106.

He was one of the great philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages, and was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.

“No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God.” ~St. Anselm, Opera Omnis, Letter 112

-Patron Saint Index

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Acts 13:13-25

Paul and his friends went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. After the lessons from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message: ‘Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, please do so.’ Paul stood up, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:

‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out, and for about forty years took care of them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.” ’

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John 13:16-20

After he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.

‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.

‘I tell you this now, before it happens,
so that when it does happen
you may believe that I am He.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’

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“No servant is greater than his master”

I recently took an unusual business course. While the course did look at how to go about creating mission statements, setting up business strategies and focusing on the financial aspects of how to run one’s business, the attitude was one of servanthood and service.

In running a business, the typical mindset is that in order to be successful in business, one had to be mindful of the “ways of the world”. This course, however, focused on the fact that God was the owner of one’s business! The approach to the business was to be one of a steward and to run the business according to God’s rules.

I found this approach very exciting, while at the same time extremely challenging. Depending on which industry one was in, it could mean that one had to step away from practices which were “acceptable” (for instance in how we behave in our “dog-eat-dog world”), but were unacceptable according to the teachings of the Bible! In my mind, I was rebelling, thinking of how difficult it is to succeed if we didn’t do what our competitors did!

And yet, by remembering that we are stewards, and by submitting to our God and master, we learn to trust in Him totally. Whatever successes we have will be His successes and whatever challenges we face needs to be lifted up to Him. We learn not to be arrogant, and learn to truly be His servants.

In following God’s ways, we will always be mindful of the fact that He leads us, and that we would never be greater than our God. Freedom and happiness would be ours to have!

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer – Father God, we pray that we will learn to totally submit to You. Help us to be led by You totally in all aspects of our lives; in our businesses, our relationships with others and in ALL aspects of our earthly lives. Give us a servant heart oh God!

Thanksgiving – Thank you God for all that You have given us materially and spiritually. Thank you for being in our lives and allowing us to be Your representatives here in the world.