Tag Archives: trust in God

27 April, Friday – Trust in God

27 April

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Acts 13:26-33

Paul stood up in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, held up a hand for silence and began to speak: 

‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you. What the people of Jerusalem and their rulers did, though they did not realise it, was in fact to fulfil the prophecies read on every sabbath. Though they found nothing to justify his death, they condemned him and asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree and buried him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem: and it is these same companions of his who are now his witnesses before our people.

‘We have come here to tell you the Good News. It was to our ancestors that God made the promise but it is to us, their children, that he has fulfilled it, by raising Jesus from the dead. As scripture says in the second psalm: You are my son: today I have become your father.

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John 14:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am
you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’
Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said:
‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’

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Trust in God still, and trust in me

What do we mean when we say we trust a person? Do we trust a person to love us and care for us? Do we allow our trust to be violated and if so, what can we do? God wants the best for each one of us and the readings of today remind us of the need to remain faithful to God.

Jesus would like us to realise that He loves us very much. He is the Way which we can follow and He will allow us to walk through the path which He has shown us. The love He has for us will be sufficient for each of us to handle.

In our lives, we go through many struggles and challenges. Sometimes they break us down and make us discover that we have to depend on God for all the things we have. As we continue with our lives, let us remember what it is that God desires of us in our lives and to work with Him knowing that His plan is the best for us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Lord, guide us when we go astray.

Thanksgiving: Thank you for your love for us and may we all be reunited with you one day.

21 March, Wednesday – Trust In The Lord Wholeheartedly

21 March

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Daniel 3:14-20,24-25,28

King Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, is it true that you do not serve my gods, and that you refuse to worship the golden statue I have erected? When you hear the sound of horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, or any other instrument, are you prepared to prostrate yourselves and worship the statue I have made? If you refuse to worship it, you must be thrown straight away into the burning fiery furnace; and where is the god who could save you from my power?’ Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Your question hardly requires an answer: if our God, the one we serve, is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace and from your power, O king, he will save us; and even if he does not, then you must know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the statue you have erected.’ These words infuriated King Nebuchadnezzar; his expression was very different now as he looked at Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He gave orders for the furnace to be made seven times hotter than usual, and commanded certain stalwarts from his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the burning fiery furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar sprang to his feet in amazement. He said to his advisers, ‘Did we not have these three men thrown bound into the fire?’ They replied, ‘Certainly, O king.’ ‘But,’ he went on ‘I can see four men walking about freely in the heart of the fire without coming to any harm. And the fourth looks like a son of the gods.’

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: he has sent his angel to rescue the servants who, putting their trust in him, defied the order of the king, and preferred to forfeit their bodies rather than serve or worship any god but their own.’

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John 8:31-42

To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said:

‘If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free.’

They answered, ‘We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, “You will be made free”?’ Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured, but the son’s place is assured. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

I know that you are descended from Abraham; but in spite of that you want to kill me because nothing I say has penetrated into you. What I, for my part, speak of is what I have seen with my Father; but you, you put into action the lessons learnt from your father.’

They repeated, ‘Our father is Abraham.’ Jesus said to them:

‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me when I tell you the truth as I have learnt it from God; that is not what Abraham did. What you are doing is what your father does.’

‘We were not born of prostitution,’ they went on ‘we have one father: God.’ Jesus answered:

‘If God were your father, you would love me, since I have come here from God; yes, I have come from him; not that I came because I chose, no, I was sent, and by him.’

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“Blessed be the God … who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him”

It is often easy to say, “I trust in the Lord”, when things get difficult. But how many of us really trust in the Lord entirely during such situations? For many, including myself, trusting in the Lord entirely does not come naturally or easily, and more often than not, this phrase denotes a theoretical understanding rather than an applied one.

Since young, trusting in the Lord has been extremely difficult for me. I have had my fair share of disappointments from the people in my life while I was growing up, and I extended this disappointment to God as well. I would often question Him and why life was the way it was for me. I found it hard to trust God and had always wanted to control my life the way I wanted it to be. That led me to leave the church in 2009 and I only returned in 2016.

I suffered from depression growing up, and it worsened after I left the Church. I was hitting roadblocks as I journeyed through life, and despite experiencing frequent suicidal thoughts, I always found the last ounce of strength to move beyond these obstacles. When I returned to the Church and became a Catholic, I realized that the 7 years I was away from Him, He was still next to me, intercepting my life with His hand whenever I could not manage, and helping me when I was at my lowest. This new-found revelation brought me closer to God and despite this, it still took me quite some time to relinquish control and to trust in the Lord more wholeheartedly.

Recently, things at work have become slightly more hectic and sometimes unmanageable, and coupled with the new responsibility within my ministry, I found myself craving the Lord’s consolation more and more. Each morning, I would offer my day to the Lord and the worries of the day got lesser and became more manageable. I realized that when I stop trying to control my life, the obstacles and stressors of daily life become easier to bear. I would seek His advice when things get tough and I found myself becoming more hopeful and at peace amidst the storms that I experience.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord reminds us in today’s reading that He will protect His servants and those who trust Him wholeheartedly, as seen in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Similarly, Jesus reminded us that a son will always remain in the household of his parents, and as children of God, we are given the utmost privilege to remain in the house of God, protected and loved by the all-encompassing and merciful Father.

(Today’s Oxygen by Hannah Huang)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the desire to trust in You. And to learn how to surrender the urge to control our lives, because You know the plans You have for us and You will never let us down.

Thanksgiving: Dear loving Father, we thank you for welcoming us into your house even though at times we want things to be our way. Thank you for protecting us from harm and for always looking out for us.

5 March, Monday – Trusting God

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We give thanks to God for your steadfast following of Oxygen.

As we enter into the Paschal Mystery of the Church, we invite our readers who want to help contribute a reflection to come forward.

The following readings are available for reflection:

Holy Saturday

1st Reading + Responsorial Psalm

2nd Reading + Responsorial Psalm

3rd Reading + Responsorial Psalm

4th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

5th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

6th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm

Epistle + Responsorial Psalm

Gospel

This is a good time for you to share with our readers the joys you have had in reading Oxygen. Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless

Oxygen Core Team

 

5 March

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2 Kings 5:1-15

Naaman, army commander to the king of Aram, was a man who enjoyed his master’s respect and favour, since through him the Lord had granted victory to the Aramaeans. But the man was a leper. Now on one of their raids, the Aramaeans had carried off from the land of Israel a little girl who had become a servant of Naaman’s wife. ‘She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would approach the prophet of Samaria. He would cure him of his leprosy.’ Naaman went and told his master. ‘This and this’ he reported ‘is what the girl from the land of Israel said.’ ‘Go by all means,’ said the king of Aram ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten festal robes. He presented the letter to the king of Israel. It read: ‘With this letter, I am sending my servant Naaman to you for you to cure him of his leprosy.’ When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his garments. ‘Am I a god to give death and life,’ he said ‘that he sends a man to me and asks me to cure him of his leprosy? Listen to this, and take note of it and see how he intends to pick a quarrel with me.’

When Elisha heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king, ‘Why did you tear your garments? Let him come to me, and he will find there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman came with his team and chariot and drew up at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent him a messenger to say, ‘Go and bathe seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will become clean once more.’ But Naaman was indignant and went off, saying, ‘Here was I thinking he would be sure to come out to me, and stand there, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the spot and cure the leprous part. Surely Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel? Could I not bathe in them and become clean?’ And he turned round and went off in a rage. But his servants approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? All the more reason, then, when he says to you, “Bathe, and you will become clean.”’ So he 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.’

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Luke 4:24-30

Jesus came to Nazara and spoke to the people in the synagogue: ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.

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“Bathe, and you will become clean”

When I was still employed in a bank some 10 years ago, I went on a retreat and received a message during one of my meditations that I was about to see some changes in my work life. Up till that point, I had been in sales, and had enjoyed the work I was engaged in.

Refreshed by the retreat, I came back to Singapore, not really expecting anything to pan out. On my first day back to work, a colleague came to me and congratulated me for having received a promotion. I was taken aback; surprised at how the Lord had spoken to me in such a powerful way.

Strangely, things started falling apart then — my promotion almost got reversed as work politics came into play. However, a very supportive manager came out with an alternative solution; something I felt was not ideal, but felt I was forced to take.

Six months later, it turned out that this alternative was even better, and I was promoted to take over my manager who had moved to another, more senior role within the bank.

My experience was a very powerful lesson in trusting God. Very often, we have our own ideas about how and what He should provide for us, and anything not matching our expectations would be deemed as failure.

In today’s first reading, Naaman, the army commander to the king of Aram, had approached Elisha for a cure for his leprosy. He was upset at Elisha’s suggested cure of bathing in the River Jordan seven times. In his mind, two other rivers in Damascus were ‘superior’ to Jordan. Because Elisha’s instructions ran contrary to his expectations, Naaman refused to accept his instructions and almost deprived himself of the cure that he was seeking.

Just like Naaman, we have our own thoughts about what God ‘should’ do for us. We become upset when things don’t come our way. I once heard Archbishop William God saying that God always answers our petitions — perhaps His answer is simply a “No”, or a “Not Yet”.

Let us learn to set aside our pride and our expectations and come to the realisation that our God is not there to be our ‘order-taker’. He is not there to simply be our ATM (automated teller machine) to dispense what we need. Our God is simply our God, and we need to learn to be humble and to walk in His ways as He guides us gently along.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may set aside our expectations and trust in You. Teach us to be willing to do Your bidding, faithfully and willingly.

Thanksgiving: Father, we are grateful for you holding our hands as we journey towards eternal life. Thank You for always being there for us, although we may not always be able to see You.

12 February, Monday – Christ Ignores Impatience

12 February 

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James 1:1-11

From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.

My brothers, you will always have your trials but, when they come, try to treat them as a happy privilege; you understand that your faith is only put to the test to make you patient, but patience too is to have its practical results so that you will become fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing.

If there is any one of you who needs wisdom, he must ask God, who gives to all freely and ungrudgingly; it will be given to him. But he must ask with faith, and no trace of doubt, because a person who has doubts is like the waves thrown up in the sea when the wind drives. That sort of person, in two minds, wavering between going different ways, must not expect that the Lord will give him anything.

It is right for the poor brother to be proud of his high rank, and the rich one to be thankful that he has been humbled, because riches last no longer than the flowers in the grass; the scorching sun comes up, and the grass withers, the flower falls; what looked so beautiful now disappears. It is the same with the rich man: his business goes on; he himself perishes.

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Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

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His business goes on, he himself perishes

When I drive to work in the heavy morning traffic, stuck in a jam with the news on the radio, I happen to observe a lot of things through my rear view mirror. You actually see the impatience and grumpy faces of some drivers. If you can imagine, every time we come to a red light, you allow more cars into the line and I see the drivers behind waving their hands in big gestures. I would always laugh to myself and think to myself, those few cars would not have made a difference. What is point of getting all worked up?

This leads to James’ reminder to us in today’s reading. We all have our bad days, our frustrating moments that get us all worked up, inadvertently affecting those around us as well. We could vent our anger on an innocent party, whose feelings you would have hurt for the day. We are reminded to be patient and control our feelings that could hurt, and around situations that we have difficulty with. It teaches us that putting our faith and patience ahead of ourselves would make us become fully developed and complete, with nothing missing. This sort of wisdom gets forgotten in our fast-paced, impatient world.

Wisdom that we receive through faith enables us to differentiate between right and wrong, and only to know how to approach the people around us. Like Jesus, He does not entertain the signs that are being requested by the Pharisees. This is because He is not an entertainer, He does not show signs to prove His power. He reveals Himself to those with genuine faith. To those who carry on this faith through a long period of time, through hardships and deep trust in God.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: O Jesus, always be there to remind me how selfless I have to be, to be patient with the miracles you promised for my own good. That I only deserve You when my faith has been tested.

Thanksgiving: Be grateful for the gifts, for the riches, for things that last, for things that matter.

12 December, Tuesday – On Knowing

Dec 12 – Memorial for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Guadalupe is, strictly speaking, the name of a picture, but the name was extended to the church containing the picture and to the town which grew up around the church. It marks the shrine, it occasions the devotion, it illustrates Our Lady. It is taken as representing the Immaculate Conception, being the lone figure of a woman with the sun, moon, and star accompaniments of the great apocalyptic sign with a supporting angel under the crescent. The word is Spanish Arabic, but in Mexico, it may represent certain Aztec sounds.

Its tradition is long-standing and constant, and in sources both oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. The Blessed Virgin appeared on Saturday, 9 December 1531 to a 55-year-old neophyte named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac Hill to hear Mass in Mexico City. She sent him to Bishop Zumarraga to have a temple built where she stood. She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop’s answer.

The bishop did not immediately believe the messenger, had him cross-examined and watched, and he finally told him to ask the lady who said she was the mother of the true God for a sign. The neophyte agreed readily to ask for the sign desired, and the bishop released him.

Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle who was dying of fever. Indian medicine had failed and Bernardino seemed at death’s door. At daybreak on Tuesday 12 December 1531, Juan ran to nearby St. James’ convent to ask for a priest. To avoid the apparition and the untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said, “What road is this thou takest son?”

A tender dialogue ensued. She reassured Juan about his uncle, to whom she also briefly appeared and instantly cured. Calling herself “Holy Mary of Guadalupe”, she told Juan to return to the bishop. He asked for the sign he required. Mary told him to go to the rocks and gather roses. Juan knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma (a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians), he came back. The Holy Mother rearranged the roses, and told him to keep them untouched and unseen until he reached the bishop.

When Juan met with Zumarraga, Juan offered the sign to the bishop. As he unfolded his cloak, the roses, fresh and wet with dew, fell out. Juan was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him. The life-size figure of the Virgin Mary, just as Juan had described her, was glowing on the tilma. The picture was venerated, guarded in the bishop’s chapel, and soon after, carried in procession to the preliminary shrine.

Painters have not understood the laying on of the colours. They have deposed that the “canvas” was not only unfit but unprepared, and they have marvelled at the apparent oil, water, distemper, etc. colouring in the same figure. They are left in equal admiration for the flower-like tints and the abundant gold. They, and other artists, find the proportions perfect for a maiden of fifteen. The figure and the attitude are of one advancing. There is flight and rest in the eager supporting angel. The chief colours are deep gold in the rays and stars, blue green in the mantle, and rose in the flowered tunic.

The clergy, secular and regular, has been remarkably faithful to the devotion towards Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops fostering it, even to the extent of making a protestation of faith in the miracle a matter of occasional obligation. Pope Benedict XIV decreed that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be the national patron, and made 12 December a holiday of obligation with an octave, and ordered a special Mass and Office.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 40:1-11

‘Console my people, console them’ says your God.

‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for, that she has received from the hand of the Lord double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low. Let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice commands, ‘Cry!’ and I answered, ‘What shall I cry?’” – ‘All flesh is grass and its beauty like the wild flower’s. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on them. (The grass is without doubt the people.) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains for ever.’

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion. Shout with a loud voice, joyful messenger to Jerusalem. Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’ Here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him. The prize of his victory is with him, his trophies all go before him. He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

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Matthew 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

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“Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”

Earlier this week, we read about how “with The Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). It’s a difficult concept to grasp. Our human understanding is mostly limited to events that happen within our lifetime – where do I see myself in 5 years? What are we doing this weekend? How do I get through the week? How do I get the kids through college? We plan for the next 5 years, 10 years at most. But God sees generations ahead, connecting the dots forward for his faithful beloved. He allows us to ‘glimpse’ at His plans by grace. We, in turn, accept this grace in faith.

As I box up the memories in my old house, I’ve been overcome by both melancholy and wonder. God has moved me through so many places. I’ve lived so many lives. At every step, I feel He has laid the foundations for the next 5-10 years. I could have never planned things out myself to the degree that He has done, with the kind of attention to detail that He has seen to. Looking back, things have happened exactly as they were supposed to. Surrendering my fate to God, He put in place all that I needed even before I realized what was necessary.

In today’s gospel reading, Mary is called ‘full of grace’ because she was given a glimpse of God’s plan for the salvation of humankind. Though she saw it only as a faint sketch, she accepted the role she was to play in full confidence. When the Holy Spirit prompts us, it is manifest as a kind of ‘feeling’ that there is something we have to do or that we are meant to be some place. This sense of ‘knowing’ speaks in soft tones. You have to strain to hear it. Some people call it intuition. Scripture calls it the “gentle whisper” of the Holy Spirit (1 Kings 19:12). Not all of us will heed its promptings. Sometimes, we let human judgment get the better of us. We overthink things, overanalyze the costs and benefits. Witness Eve’s more calculated response. Eve was shown the beauty of God’s paradise yet still reached for more. The Spirit’s promptings were there; she knew what she was not supposed to do. But she chose against it.

‘Grace’ is a gift of faith. If we believe, God lets us see the broad sketches. It might only be an inkling, a feeling that this is the right path, as impossible as it might seem. But often, that’s all that is needed, a feeling. He asks us to trust Him. And in so doing, we gain a life we would never even have dreamed for ourselves.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the wisdom to discern His purpose for us, even if that means upending the normalcy of our daily life.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for helping us to connect the dots forward. We give thanks for His providence, that even before we knew what was needed, He was already laying the foundation of our life ahead.  

18 September, Monday – A Strong Faith Model

18 September 2017

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1 Timothy 2:1-8

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.

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Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum. A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death. Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him. ‘He deserves this of you’ they said ‘because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.’ So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends: ‘Sir,’ he said ‘do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this.’ And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.

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“Go, and he goes… Come here, and he comes… Do this, and he does it”

When I first started working in banking, there was a distinct shift into a strong sales culture, with the sales process systemized to achieve sales results. Under such a system, we had to have daily sales meetings in the mornings, sharing our plans for the day; detailing how many customers to contact, how many prospects to call and who we were meeting that day. At noon and at 5pm, we had to email our supervisors with the updated numbers, especially the sales numbers for the day.

For the sales people who did not perform well, the routine was even more rigorous, with the supervisors micro-managing almost every aspect of the day. The managers had little to no trust that their team could do well on their own; the system was designed to oversee all aspects to ensure that results were delivered.

Although the Romans were the occupiers during Jesus’ time, the centurion was different.  He was a man of honour and could have chosen to lord it over the Israelites, as was his privilege as an occupier. Instead, the centurion built a synagogue and cared for those around him. He was so well respected that the Jewish elders were willing to appeal to Jesus on his behalf. He trusted those around him, and he trusted our Lord.

Many times, I feel my approach to my faith was no different to that of my banking supervisors of old; I catch myself “micro-managing” God, and setting Him goals and targets to meet. Even without realizing it, I thought that a prayer answered in a way that I desired, meant that God loved me, and that if it was not, He did not.

The centurion’s faith taught me a different way of seeing God, to have faith in Him regardless of what happened.  Many years after I first read about the faith of a person who was not even a Jew, this realisation gave me a renewed confidence that no matter what happened in my life, God would take care of me.

Let us all continue to do so, for it is only in doing so that we can all truly experience His hand, and His love, in our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer – Lord, teach us to have the faith like the centurion. Help us, Lord Jesus, to know that no matter what happens, You will always be there for us.

Thanksgiving – Father God, thank You for showing us what it means to be truly faithful. We are grateful that You have given us models of faith to learn from.

6 May, Saturday – I will run to you

6 May 2017

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Acts 9:31-42

The churches throughout Judaea, Galilee and Samaria were now left in peace, building themselves up, living in the fear of the Lord, and filled with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Peter visited one place after another and eventually came to the saints living down in Lydda. There he found a man called Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you: get up and fold up your sleeping mat.’ Aeneas got up immediately; everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they were all converted to the Lord.

At Jaffa there was a woman disciple called Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek, who never tired of doing good or giving in charity. But the time came when she got ill and died, and they washed her and laid her out in a room upstairs. Lydda is not far from Jaffa, so when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two men with an urgent message for him, ‘Come and visit us as soon as possible.’

Peter went back with them straightaway, and on his arrival they took him to the upstairs room, where all the widows stood round him in tears, showing him tunics and other clothes Dorcas had made when she was with them. Peter sent them all out of the room and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to the dead woman and said, ‘Tabitha, stand up.’ She opened her eyes, looked at Peter and sat up. Peter helped her to her feet, then he called in the saints and widows and showed them she was alive. The whole of Jaffa heard about it and many believed in the Lord.

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John 6:60-69

After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?

‘It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit
and they are life.

‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.

Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’

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Lord who shall we go to?

I recently watched a movie called ‘The Shack’. It’s about a man named Mack who leads a wonderful life with his wife and three children. One day however, his youngest child went missing during a camping trip and is abducted by a serial killer and presumed dead. This turns the man’s life upside down, his faith is questioned and he spirals into deep depression. Until one day, a note mysteriously appears in his mailbox signed off as ‘Papa’ inviting him to go back to the very place — ‘the shack’ – where his daughter was presumably murdered.

Now Mack’s faith in God wasn’t as deep as his wife’s. He always felt it was silly for her to refer to God as ‘Papa’. At first, he was filled with anger, thinking his neighbour played a cruel joke on him. However, something moved him to take that trip back, half believing that it was God who sent for him. This led him to spend a weekend with God the Father, Jesus and The Holy Spirit and that time with them transformed his spiritual life. While initially angry and resentful with God for taking away his daughter, that encounter eventually allowed him to understand, heal and forgive.

No one could come to me unless the Father allows him.

In our own circumstances, can we see how God is working in us? Or are we so blinded with our anger and pain that it blindsides what the Trinity is doing for us? Many a time, we see things in our own way and we are so convinced that we are right. We question how God, in all His goodness, would allow these bad situations in our lives to happen. In the movie, Mack asks Papa that very same question. God did not allow those bad things to happen. Sin and evil probably had something to do with it. But really, we will never know from our own finite perspective. We may not be able to make out all the details of why certain things happen, but when we need the very real and comforting presence of Jesus Christ in their lives, He is there to illuminate some points of light for us. And if we follow those lights, they will lead us toward some conclusions that can help satisfy our hearts and souls.

All we need to do is just to open the door of our heart, just a wee bit and God will come through for us. Lord who shall we go to? Run to Him! All we need to do is believe and He will heal us, and give us that peace in our hearts. Peace that surpasses all human understanding.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: I believe. Help my unbelief.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Papa, for saving us from the depths of our despair — when we run to you, when we feel like giving up on ourselves; thank you for not letting us go.

2 May, Tuesday – Jezu Ufam Tobie – Jesus I trust in You

May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor

Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism, which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.

He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.

He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 7:51-8:1

Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’

They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.

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John 6:30-35

The people said to Jesus, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’

Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’

‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:

‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’

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I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Sometimes, we try to intellectualise things overly, by totally ignoring the voices in our heart. We think that it is not humanly possible to withstand hunger and thirst or, taking it further, to think that it is impossible to always trust in God. If you are in that place in your lives or you see that you are approaching it, run back to God. I say run because it has to be immediate and prompt so that any unbelief that you have does not grow. It is our little act of running to Him that can snap out any roots of unbelief.

In today’s reading we read of Saul who consented to the death of St Stephen. Can we trust God that He restores the situations of death which we have consented to?

Trust has become a rare virtue and could be difficult to some of us. But the Lord promises us in today’s gospel that those who believe in Him will never thirst. It is possible that some of us can relate to the time in our lives when we never stopping believing in God, and how that gave us peace and joy despite our hardship. Could we revisit that place of belief and trust in our hearts?

In my life, I am blessed to have been in that place of trusting God, despite my personal suffering. But I could not have done it without reading the scriptures, attending mass and praying fervently. I am not implying that trusting God takes a lot of effort. But rather I have experienced that if I wanted to continue to ensure that I never distrust Him and doubt Him, I have to seek Him fervently in prayers, and have others carry my prayers to the Lord. I know that even to trust Him is a blessing from Him.

When I do not trust Him, I am in shambles, I am lost, broken and troubled. I feel like my life wire has been unplugged. To go on in peace and in joy, I have to ensure that I am connected to Him. Maybe some of you can relate to this? Maybe you cannot. But either way, you and I need to trust in the Lord all the time.

He is not a magician nor a medium but He is the all in all, our everything. Without Him, there is no you and me. Our hunger and thirst for Him can be fulfilled if we continue to walk with Him and at times, race to Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Jesus, my precious Lord, I trust in you. Help me while I run, I walk and I crawl to you, also when I turn my back on you. Free me from living a life without You.

Thanksgiving: Lord, I thank you for the bread from heaven. I thank you for teaching me each time that you are worthy of trust.

30 March, Thursday – Turn to Him

Dear OXYGEN readers,

As Lent draws to a close, we invite you to contribute a reflection for Holy Week and Easter. As per OXYGEN tradition, we have the following reflections open to volunteers. If you had experienced something this season that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to share, consider sharing your encounter with our faith community. God bless you!

1. Holy Thursday – Chrism Mass
2. Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
3. Good Friday
4. Easter Vigil (9 reflections)
1st Reading + Responsorial Psalm
2nd Reading + Responsorial Psalm
3rd Reading + Responsorial Psalm
4th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
5th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
6th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
7th Reading + Responsorial Psalm
Epistle + Responsorial Psalm
Gospel

Do drop an email to descksoon@yahoo.com who will be in touch with you on how to proceed.

God bless
Oxygen Core Team

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30 March 2017

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Exodus 32:7-14

The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’

But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Why let the Egyptians say, “Ah, it was in treachery that he brought them out, to do them to death in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth”? Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring this disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.’

So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

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John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:

‘Were I to testify on my own behalf,
my testimony would not be valid;
but there is another witness who can speak on my behalf,
and I know that his testimony is valid.
You sent messengers to John,
and he gave his testimony to the truth:
not that I depend on human testimony;
no, it is for your salvation that I speak of this.
John was a lamp alight and shining
and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.
But my testimony is greater than John’s:
the works my Father has given me to carry out,
these same works of mine testify
that the Father has sent me.
Besides, the Father who sent me
bears witness to me himself.
You have never heard his voice,
you have never seen his shape,
and his word finds no home in you
because you do not believe in the one he has sent.

‘You study the scriptures,
believing that in them you have eternal life;
now these same scriptures testify to me,
and yet you refuse to come to me for life!
As for human approval, this means nothing to me.
Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you.
I have come in the name of my Father
and you refuse to accept me;
if someone else comes in his own name
you will accept him.
How can you believe,
since you look to one another for approval
and are not concerned
with the approval that comes from the one God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father:
you place your hopes on Moses,
and Moses will be your accuser.
If you really believed him
you would believe me too,
since it was I that he was writing about;
but if you refuse to believe what he wrote,
how can you believe what I say?’

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Yet you refuse to come to me for life

There are many moments in my life when I have come across difficulties and the first thing that came to mind was to solve it; to find a solution on my own, thinking that I could use my very own ability to get it sorted. It was only later on that I found out that it is really important to reach out for help, to ask for someone else’s opinion, so as to seek help get over the problem. Sometimes, it is pride that prevents us from opening ourselves up, hoping to take credit for getting the job done.

In today’s reading, the people of God were blinded and tired to know where the true Father was. They were lost in their spiritual desert, looking towards Moses for direction but only to find themselves tired and without direction. They turned to a molten metal calf and worshipped it, having no idea who the Father truly is. Do we turn to God when we lose our direction? Do we stop just for a short minute to lift up our issues to the Lord, and ask for the guidance that will aid us smoothly through our difficulty?

In the Gospel today, Jesus, Son of God, presents Himself and yet the people once again are so focused on the law, living a blind faith, and just couldn’t look up to Jesus the Messiah. Jesus even tried to explain the big picture of who He is, but He knew that they were still unable to see Him as God. Similarly, when we come across a huge difficulty, will we still be blind to know where God is for us?

Never turn away from the Lord for He is with us during our time of need. Jesus came to our world to live with us and even died for us. Let Him in during the happy moments and also include Him in the difficulties which we are about to face. Accept Him into our hearts, so that He may work the miracles in us because of our sincere belief.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: Take us away from the distractions that hurt our relationship with Jesus, and know that as the Son of God? He has all the power to still our hearts in times of difficulties.

Thanksgiving: We continue to give love to non-believers, that we are always able to share Jesus with them.