Tag Archives: thanksgiving

13 October, Sunday – The Power of Him

13 October 2019

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2 Kings 5:14-17

Naaman the leper went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.

  Returning to Elisha with his whole escort, he went in and stood before him. ‘Now I know’ he said ‘that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. Now, please, accept a present from your servant.’

  But Elisha replied, ‘As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing.’ Naaman pressed him to accept, but he refused.

  Then Naaman said, ‘Since your answer is “No,” allow your servant to be given as much earth as two mules may carry, because your servant will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.’

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2 Timothy 2:8-13

Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.

  Here is a saying that you can rely on:

If we have died with him, then we shall live with him.
If we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.
If we disown him, then he will disown us.
We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful,
for he cannot disown his own self.

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Luke 17:11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered one of the villages, ten lepers came to meet him. They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’ When he saw them he said, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ Now as they were going away they were cleansed. Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’

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Your faith has healed you

Today, both the first reading and the Gospel are about lepers being healed. How does this parable relate to me and the world of the 21st century?

With the help of Google, I learned that today about 180,000 people worldwide, most in Africa and Asia, are infected with leprosy, a slow growing type of bacteria. This is an infectious disease that can only transferred from close repeated contact with the nose and mouth droplets of someone with untreated leprosy. Leprosy causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms, legs, and skin areas around the body and dates back to ancient times, often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas with lepers shunned as outcasts. Outbreaks of leprosy have affected, and panicked, people on every continent. The oldest civilizations of China, Egypt, and India feared leprosy was an incurable, mutilating, and contagious disease.

Because leprosy is/was such a visual disease, it is a perfect choice for parables.

When I hear the word leprosy, my thoughts immediately go to biblical and ancient times, and Fr. Damien in the Hawaiian Islands. I remember the movie ‘Ben Hur’ from 1959, and the moving scene when we see that Miriam and Tirzah have been healed of their leprosy as they stand in the rivers of rain streaming down the hill, mixed with the blood of Jesus, after His crucifixion.

In Luke, only one of the 10 returns to thank Jesus – I’ve always thought the other 9 were cured but were so caught up in the happiness of no longer being disfigured that their gratitude wasn’t initially evident. Upon reflection, a few others thoughts crossed my mind. Did only one REALIZE he’d been cured? Was only one cured because he had faith? The lepers asked for pity, not healing – so did only one even think healing was possible?

And — the most personal — where do I have leprosy in my own life? Where have I been healed of internal leprosy and not been thankful, thinking that my self determination, my will power, my intelligence, my… whatever is what ‘fixed’ me, when it fact it was His grace showing me mercy?

When have I been like the other nine and not recognized the grace? Not shown gratitude for His mercy? The answer is evident. Every day. Every single day.

So how does the parable relate to us today, in the 21st century?

In today’s world we are so bombarded with books and podcasts, and even prosperity gospel sermons shouting to us that we have the power, that self-help is the answer. We can ‘fix’ ourselves,  the sky is the limit,  power of the mind, power of habit, power of intention, power of these 6 steps, power of these 11 laws, power of getting out of the boat, power of vision boards, power of self talk…… power of You’re Okay, I’m Okay (a best seller from the 1970s). And therein lies the great lie. All those books and podcasts speak much human truth, we should adhere to the wisdom they contain, but we must stop short of a total buy-in. We cannot predict, nor even truly design our future. We do what we can and see where and how God comes in.

After all, if you and I were actually ‘okay’, then we wouldn’t need a Savior.  But we aren’t, and we do, and we have one!  And THAT, brothers and sisters, is the Good News.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God you are the Good Help, the Good Hope, the Only All, True, Loving God. And we are amazed at your perfect and perfecting love.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for your abounding grace and the mercy that flows from that grace all over us every day. Every single day. We pray that we will give grace and mercy to all those around us.

20 February, Wednesday – Talk is Cheap

20 February 2019

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Genesis 8:6-13,20-22

At the end of forty days Noah opened the porthole he had made in the ark and he sent out the raven. This went off, and flew back and forth until the waters dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove, to see whether the waters were receding from the surface of the earth. The dove, finding nowhere to perch, returned to him in the ark, for there was water over the whole surface of the earth; putting out his hand he took hold of it and brought it back into the ark with him. After waiting seven more days, again he sent out the dove from the ark. In the evening, the dove came back to him and there it was with a new olive-branch in its beak. So Noah realised that the waters were receding from the earth. After waiting seven more days he sent out the dove, and now it returned to him no more.

  It was in the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life, in the first month and on the first of the month, that the water dried up from the earth. Noah lifted back the hatch of the ark and looked out. The surface of the ground was dry!

  Noah built an altar for the Lord, and choosing from all the clean animals and all the clean birds he offered burnt offerings on the altar. The Lord smelt the appeasing fragrance and said to himself, ‘Never again will I curse the earth because of man, because his heart contrives evil from his infancy. Never again will I strike down every living thing as I have done.

‘As long as earth lasts,
sowing and reaping,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
shall cease no more.’

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Mark 8:22-26

Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida, and some people brought to him a blind man whom they begged him to touch. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Then putting spittle on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked, ‘Can you see anything?’ The man, who was beginning to see, replied, ‘I can see people; they look like trees to me, but they are walking about.’ Then he laid his hands on the man’s eyes again and he saw clearly; he was cured, and he could see everything plainly and distinctly. And Jesus sent him home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’

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A thanksgiving sacrifice I make to you, O Lord.

I feel that God has decoded a mystery to me in the scripture readings today – that there is more than one component to having faith in God. The words of the Responsorial Psalm stuck with me – ‘A thanksgiving sacrifice I make to you, O Lord.’ These words describe a very strong and intentional action on my part which is far greater than the lip service of simply giving thanks. Yes, our God is not a calculative ‘quid pro quo’ God. At the same time, we are called to fully contemplate the weight of our thanksgiving. How grateful am I, really, when I sometimes just absentmindedly exclaim ‘Thanks be to God!’ in messages with friends when I hear or share good news that happened in our lives?

Having faith in God is an ongoing process that goes beyond merely professing and confessing believe in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I often hear of comparisons of the Catholic Church’s practice of infant baptism versus a protestant understanding of water baptism as an adult, that the former is done unthinkingly (“the baby cannot choose”), whilst the latter is one made consentingly (“I know why I am being baptised”). I would suggest that baptism is an ongoing an iterative process that requires persistence of profession of our faith in God; constant surrender on to the will of God; and, the desire to make very real sacrifices in our daily lives to God. This means that, the initial baptism of water is only the first layer of faith. A baptism of fire (and perhaps, several) is always par for the course of being and becoming Christian.

The gospel of Jesus healing the blind man twice today is echoed by the Old Testament Genesis passage of Noah releasing not one, but two birds; and for each bird, not once but twice. Why is this so? Jesus performed many miracles and healed many people in the bible with just once word, one touch, one gesture. Why is this account of Jesus laying hands on the blind mind twice necessary for us? One way we can understand this is to query the depth of the blind man’s faith – that requires a further deepening. There is another way to decipher this account. The first instance of healing was a healing of a physical nature – the blind man could now see, although he could only see imperceptibly humans looking like trees. The second instance of healing cured the man spiritually. He could finally ‘see everything plainly and distinctly’. It was then Jesus sent him home and instructed him not to go back into the village.

What a strange order!

Indeed, God knows us better than we even know ourselves. Jesus healing of blindness included an ongoing medication for the blind man – stay away from your old influences, sacrifice your old associations or pleasures, break from the pattern of your old habits and evils. This is the potion of ‘thanksgiving sacrifice’ in which we are called to ‘make’ to God. We make a decision henceforth because of our faith in Christ. Thus our faith is an active, performative, sacrificial one. And not one of shallow, perfunctory lip service made effortlessly and unthinkingly!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: We pray for the courage, the conviction, and the determination to make our individual ‘thanksgiving sacrifices’ to God.

Thanksgiving: Today or tomorrow, I will make my act of service as a love sacrifice to God by going beyond my comfort zone to be loving and kind to someone who has hurt me.

18 June, Saturday – Day after Today

18 June

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2 Chronicles 24:17-25

After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king now turned to them for advice. The Judaeans abandoned the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, for the worship of sacred poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. He sent them prophets to bring them back to the Lord, but when these gave their message, they would not listen. The spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, ‘God says this, “Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord to no good purpose? You have deserted the Lord, now he deserts you.”’ They then plotted against him and by order of the king stoned him in the court of the Temple of the Lord. King Joash, forgetful of the kindness that Jehoiada, the father of Zechariah, had shown him, killed Jehoiada’s son who cried out as he died, ‘The Lord sees and he will avenge!’

When a year had gone by, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. They reached Judah and Jerusalem, and executed all the officials among the people, sending back to the king at Damascus all that they had plundered from them. Though the Aramaean army had by no means come in force, the Lord delivered into its power an army of great size for having deserted him, the God of their ancestors.

The Aramaeans treated Joash as he had deserved, and when they retired they left him a very sick man; and his officers, plotting against him to avenge the death of the son of Jehoiada the priest, murdered him in his bed. So he died, and they buried him in the Citadel of David, though not in the tombs of the kings.

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Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.

‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

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So do not worry about tomorrow.

Before getting off from work, I write down things to do for the following day.  That way I will not miss any important task.  I become worrisome and worked up whenever I am experiencing tight deadlines at work.  I tend to multitask and end up feeling exhausted by the end of the day.  What did I accomplish?  It is a very difficult question.

It says in the Gospel, “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.”  Actually this is true.  There is this word, “focus”, which signifies singularity.  It is either this one or that one.  It can never be both.  It will be too tiring and will end up not focusing to neither.  Choosing God over money does not mean not doing anything and just wait for God to feed us.  It says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “We gave you a rule when we were with you: do not let anyone have any food if he refuses to do any work.”  There is no blessing to those who are lazy.  We will starve to death if we do not buy food and water.  Our bills will not pay for themselves.  So definitely we do need money.

Yet, attachment to money is dangerous.   It also includes attachment to fame, power, and possessions.  It may turn us into a greedy person that leads to negative relationship with others.  And these instances push us away from God.  We might be thinking that we are working to live a comfortable life.  But the end result is we are living to work.  Do we work hard to earn more in order to serve the Lord?  Or do we work hard to earn more in order to serve ourselves?  Or do we live our life everyday, working so hard and wearing ourselves out?

Money is not bad as it is.  It becomes the root of evil if we choose it over God.  It is bad if we become greedy, have hatred, and become an unforgiving person because of it.  We must make money a tool so that whatever we do, we offer it to God.  This will make our Lord the center of our everything.

Before we sleep each night, let us try to reflect what happened that day.  Let us ask ourselves, “What did I accomplish?  Did I do something that is pleasing to God?  Do I see God in what I do?”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us joy while facing our daily struggles.  Please allow our hearts to choose to serve the Lord over our desire to material wealth.  We pray that we will not be too attached with our money but rather be generous to share it with others.

Thanksgiving: We thank you Lord for the blessings and graces we received.  We thank you Father for all things that we have that sustains our daily life.