Tag Archives: trust

19 November, Sunday – You Entrusted Me

19 November 2017

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Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

A perfect wife – who can find her? She is far beyond the price of pearls.

Her husband’s heart has confidence in her, from her he will derive no little profit.

Advantage and not hurt she brings him all the days of her life.

She is always busy with wool and with flax, she does her work with eager hands.

She sets her hands to the distaff, her fingers grasp the spindle.

She holds out her hand to the poor, she opens her arms to the needy.

Charm is deceitful, and beauty empty; the woman who is wise is the one to praise.

Give her a share in what her hands have worked for, and let her works tell her praises at the city gates.

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1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.

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Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

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“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Although I was baptised only in my late teens, I am well acquainted with the Parable of the Talents, having being educated in Catholic institutions for almost all my life.

For many years, I have equated the ‘talents’ with the gifts of ability that God has given us, and it was only much later that I realised that the ‘talents’ was also a measure of currency. As such, I have always believed that we should make full use of the abilities that God has gifted us; that we should not bury these abilities.

However, reading the same passage also helped me realised something from among the 3 servants, through the words that they use. The first two, as faithful stewards, focused on the master and went about their tasks, working hard to make the best of what is given to them. We can see that in the words that they use, both talking about the talents that “you (the master) entrusted…”. However, when we listen to what the 3rd servant had to say, his focus was on himself, about how he was afraid of what could happen to him because his master was a “hard master”.

Similarly, when we look at the gifts that our God has given us, we should always look at Him and use our abilities to please Him. We should never be motivated by fear, by what would happen to us if we fail to use these abilities.

The parable does not say what would happen if any of the servants had worked hard to invest the talents, but lost part or all of these in the process. What would happen if we failed when we try to use our own talents?

I believe our God is an eternally faithful and just God. I believe He looks into our hearts and understands what drives us; whether it’s self preservation or love. I believe our Master loves us, and regardless of the outcome, would call us “good and faithful servants” if we do everything with love and with our eyes cast on Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, help us to always cast our eyes upon You and to be motivated. Let us never be driven by fear.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for being our ‘faithful Master’. Thank You for trusting us and entrusting the many talents for us to manage.

5 July, Wednesday – Priest, Prophet and King

5 July – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest

St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 21:5, 8-20

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham gave a great banquet on the day Isaac was weaned. Now Sarah watched the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. ‘Drive away that slave-girl and her son,’ she said to Abraham; ‘this slave-girl’s son is not to share the inheritance with my son Isaac.’ This greatly distressed Abraham because of his son, but God said to him, ‘Do not distress yourself on account of the boy and your slave-girl. Grant Sarah all she asks of you, for it is through Isaac that your name will be carried on. But the slave-girl’s son I will also make into a nation, for he is your child too.’ Rising early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water and, giving them to Hagar, he put the child on her shoulder and sent her away.

She wandered off into the wilderness of Beersheba. When the skin of water was finished she abandoned the child under a bush. Then she went and sat down at a distance, about a bowshot away, saying to herself, ‘I cannot see the child die.’ So she sat at a distance; and the child wailed and wept.

But God heard the boy wailing, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven. ‘What is wrong, Hagar?’ he asked. ‘Do not be afraid, for God has heard the boy’s cry where he lies. Come, pick up the boy and hold him safe, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well, so she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy. He grew up and made his home in the wilderness, and he became a bowman.

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Matthew 8:28-34

When Jesus reached the country of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs – creatures so fierce that no one could pass that way. They stood there shouting, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?’ Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ And he said to them, ‘Go then’, and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off and made for the town, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. At this the whole town set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave the neighbourhood.

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I will make of him a great nation

“I will make a great nation of him also, since he too is your offspring.” How wonderful and comforting it is to hear God’s promises to us. As I read today’s first reading, I thought to myself, how much ‘easier’ it was for Abraham. If God spoke to me square in the face so directly, I too would have the courage to move ahead with His calling. Don’t get me wrong, it was a tough situation for Abraham to be placed in, hard decisions had to be made. After all, Ishmael too was his son and now he is called upon to send away Hagar and his own flesh and blood. How torn and distressed he must have felt. However, to be able to hear God’s voice tell you “Do not be distressed” made it so much more comforting for Abraham.

I wish God would speak to me so directly and clearly too when I am called to make important life decisions. For most times, God is silent. And when I think I do hear Him, something else happens and I wonder if I heard correctly.

Recently, I was serving in an outreach retreat. While riding in our bus, I got to speaking to a fellow ministry member. We never really knew each other prior to this trip. We were in different ministries in our community and never really crossed paths. We were chatting along the way and he shared with me his story. Naturally, our conversation started with what he does for a living. Jeremy shared that he stopped work since 2012 at the height of his career. Everything had been going swimmingly well for him then and he was travelling quite a bit, setting up regional offices for his organisation. Then something went wrong and, feeling empty, he left that job. He had plenty of other opportunities, given his experience. However, after attending the Conversation Experience Retreat, he was prompted to give it all up and follow Jesus. Jeremy sold his home, the home that he and his family had lived in for many years and moved in with his father. He felt that he was called to live and look after his dad in his twilight years. His wife, too, left her job after her own retreat.

Not long after, Jeremy joined a ministry in our community. However, after a few years, he felt that he wanted to leave that ministry. However, he was prompted in prayer to stay on. So despite his own jaded feelings, he stayed on. Fast forward to today, Jeremy is helping out in our music ministry as we were in need of musicians. I asked him if he had left his own ministry and he replied ‘No, I am still part of it.’ The Lord has used him and his talents to help where he is needed. I needed to ask him that one very human question “So how are you and your family coping with no income?” His frank answer — “The Lord has provided.” They live a simpler lifestyle and continue to trust in where God leads them. Jeremy is truly a gift to our music ministry (though borrowed) and he continues to be an active member in his own ministry.

I half joked (and was also serious) when I told him, “Be careful when you surrender everything to the Lord.” He will use us and take us places where we don’t necessarily want to go. But trust that He will make great nations of us.

I left a corporate job 3 years ago. It started off as a sabbatical of no more than 2 years. Where the Lord has led me is beyond my wildest imagination. Not necessarily a plan I would have made for myself if left to my own devices. With time on my hands, I created and started Tabby’s Tail some 2 years ago. It started off as nothing more than helping a few priest friends make liturgical apparel. This is my passion and it fuels the creative side of me. I didn’t think it would get very far. But through word of mouth, it has since grown and we are now embarking on bigger and more creative projects. I do wrestle with God now and again. But I know He has got other plans for Tabby’s Tail. I may not fully understand it right now, but He has shown me throughout this year that if I place my plans with Him and trust in God, He will lead me on a journey. A vocation is never static. It is a journey. He will use the gifts and talents He has given us for greater good. And yes, He will take care of the rest.

So my brothers and sisters, trust that the Lord is indeed speaking to us. We just need to peel our ears a little more and quieten that noisy head and heart of ours. And He will indeed make great nations of each and every one of us!

 (Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

 Prayer: Lord, we pray for docility to follow where you lead. For courage to take the very first steps and for fortitude to continue on this journey when things appear hard. For ultimately, the blueprint of our lives has already been drafted by you. And you know best how to use us to glorify Our Father.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for making each one of us special and in your likeness. Despite our weakness and sinfulness, you have deemed us worthy of being called Priests, Prophets and Kings.

4 July, Tuesday – Who is that man?

4 July – Memorial for St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Elizabeth (1271-1336) was a princess with a pious upbringing who became Queen of Portugal before she was a teenager. Elizabeth suffered through years of her husband’s abuse and adultery, praying all the while for his conversion, and working with the poor and sick. She rode onto the battlefield to reconcile her family members twice; once between her husband and son when they clashed in civil war, and between her son and his son-in-law years later, preventing bloodshed. This led to her patronage as a peacemaker, and as one invoked in time of war and conflict.

– Patron Saint Index

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Genesis 19:15-29

The angels urged Lot, ‘Come, take your wife and these two daughters of yours, or you will be overwhelmed in the punishment of the town.’ And as he hesitated, the men took him by the hand, and his wife and his two daughters, because of the pity the Lord felt for him. They led him out and left him outside the town.

As they were leading him out he said, ‘Run for your life. Neither look behind you nor stop anywhere on the plain. Make for the hills if you would not be overwhelmed.’ ‘No, I beg you, my lord,’ Lot said to them ‘your servant has won your favour and you have shown great kindness to me in saving my life. But I could not reach the hills before this calamity overtook me, and death with it. The town over there is near enough to flee to, and is a little one. Let me make for that – is it not little? – and my life will be saved.’ He answered, ‘I grant you this favour too, and will not destroy the town you speak of. Hurry, escape to it, for I can do nothing until you reach it.’ That is why the town is named Zoar.

As the sun rose over the land and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord. He overthrew these towns and the whole plain, with all the inhabitants of the towns, and everything that grew there. But the wife of Lot looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.

Rising early in the morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and looking towards Sodom and Gomorrah, and across all the plain, he saw the smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

Thus it was that when God destroyed the towns of the plain, he kept Abraham in mind and rescued Lot out of disaster when he overwhelmed the towns where Lot lived.

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Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus got into the boat followed by his disciples. Without warning a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the waves were breaking right over the boat. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke him saying, ‘Save us, Lord, we are going down!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?’ And with that he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and all was calm again. The men were astounded and said, ‘Whatever kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him.’

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… but he was asleep

Don Moen songs say that ‘He never sleeps’, which is quite contrary to today’s gospel. But he was asleep when the boat was swamped by the waves. Today are we disappointed with God? Do we think that He can do much more for us?

One of the great things about love and friendship is to trust that the other person will come through for you. In several occasions I have trusted my friends, like how we used to hang out late into the night, I know that they would do anything to protect me if danger stricks. Even with my colleagues, I know that I can come to work without my wallet and not go hungry, because I know that they would not want to see me hungry and they to trust that I would pay them back the next day. Relationships are based on trust.

Our experience in life may have made it difficult for us to trust others. I once knew 2 loving sisters who would do anything for their friends but they found it hard to trust others and not choosing to trust brought a lot of stress to their relationships.

If today, we have a problem with trust in general, it is quite likely that we are disconnected and not in touch with the essence of what it means to be human.

Jesus is not asleep but really, I wonder what He is doing right now? Is He thinking about me and smilling at me? Is He waiting for me at the Eucharist? Is He holding the hands of the people I have failed? I am only human, I could never guess. But as a Catholic, I know that He loves me and His is my lover and my loving Lord; He adores me and Has great plans for me. Do I need to know more? I trust Him enough to know that He will feed me more than my colleagues can, trust me more than my friends do, accepts me even when I am disappointed with myself and when that is not enough for my restless heart, I will run hastily towards His bosom and even when I cannot go to Him, He will never let me go.

(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Father, we pray for the people of America as they celebrate their independence day. May they (and we too) continue to trust in You.

Thanksgiving: Lord I run to you, all my hope and trust is in you. Jesu Ufam Tobie.

5 December, Monday – Faith

5 December 2016

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Isaiah 35:1-10

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,
let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,
let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it,
the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
‘Courage! Do not be afraid.

‘Look, your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;

for water gushes in the desert,
streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake,
the parched land springs of water.

The lairs where the jackals used to live
become thickets of reed and papyrus…

And through it will run a highway undefiled
which shall be called the Sacred Way;
the unclean may not travel by it,
nor fools stray along it.

No lion will be there
nor any fierce beast roam about it,
but the redeemed will walk there,
for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy,
everlasting joy on their faces;
joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.

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Luke 5:17-26

Jesus was teaching one day, and among the audience there were Pharisees and doctors of the Law who had come from every village in Galilee, from Judaea and from Jerusalem. And the Power of the Lord was behind his works of healing. Then some men appeared, carrying on a bed a paralysed man whom they were trying to bring in and lay down in front of him. But as the crowd made it impossible to find a way of getting him in, they went up on to the flat roof and lowered him and his stretcher down through the tiles into the middle of the gathering, in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith he said, ‘My friend, your sins are forgiven you.’ The scribes and the Pharisees began to think this over. ‘Who is this man talking blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ But Jesus, aware of their thoughts, made them this reply, ‘What are these thoughts you have in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralysed man – ‘I order you: get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.’ And immediately before their very eyes he got up, picked up what he had been lying on and went home praising God.

They were all astounded and praised God, and were filled with awe, saying, ‘We have seen strange things today.’

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“Your sins are forgiven you.”

In today’s Gospel, we see the great faith towards the power of Christ, where it almost seems like no obstacle is too hard for the men to overcome, as long as they are able to bring the paralysed man to Christ. Did those men actually consider, what if the paralysed man couldn’t be healed? What if Jesus decided not to heal? What if, after everything, nothing could actually be done?

I’m sure these questions could have possibly been in the minds of those men, and many times in ours too. What if life after death isn’t as what we expect? What if we don’t make it to heaven? What if we’ve invested all our time and money in this faith but there are no returns? Are all these worth it?

Christ being aware, asks us, “Which of these is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven you” or to say “Get up and walk”? What are we actually living for? What actually matters?

The men had faith not because of what Jesus was going to do, but because of what He has done. We should not live our lives today, in order that God will love us more or for us to go to heaven, but that all our Father has, is already ours. Are we overly focused on the pleasures of the world that we want our share of the property because we feel we know we can do better with our lives, or are we able to trust in our Father’s plan?

As in the first reading and the psalms, “he is coming to save you”, “Look, our God is coming to save us”. God has already made a gift of Himself to us through Jesus Christ but still empowers us with the Holy Spirit and assures us of His second coming, where we will all be one and united in Him. The only thing separating us from God is not our disabilities, weaknesses, lack of financial, intellectual, emotional or pastoral capacity but it is sin. Sin is hence the opposite of faith, where we doubt and question.

Let us prepare ourselves for His coming by removing sin from our lives, in order that we may fully encounter God in a deeper way. To not focus solely on the gifts/miracles but on the giver, our saviour. Amen

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that our faith will continue to grow stronger day by day, in that we will be able to overcome the challenges and struggles that life throws at us. To focus on what is truly important — love, peace, joy and hope — not just for ourselves, but to share with all.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your mercy, kindness and compassion.

28 September, Wednesday – Trust

28 September – Memorial for St. Wenceslaus, Martyr; Memorial for St. Laurence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs

Wenceslaus (907-929) was the son of Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia, whose family had been converted by St. Cyril and St. Methodius, and Drahomira, daughter of a pagan chief, who was baptised on her wedding day but apparently never seriously took to the faith. He was the grandson and student of St. Ludmilla.

When his father was killed during a pagan backlash against Christianity, Wenceslaus ascended to power as the Duke of Bohemia and fought the pagans with prayer and patience. He was murdered by his brother Boleslaus at the door of a church. Though he was killed for political reasons, he is normally listed as a martyr since the politics arose from his faith. Miracles have been reported at his tomb, and he is the subject of the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas.

Laurence Ruiz (1600–1637) had a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both of whom were Christians. He learned Chinese and Tagalog from them, Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He was a professional calligrapher and documents transcriptionist. He was a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. He was a married layman, and the father of two sons and a daughter.

For unknown reasons, Laurence was accused of murder. He sought asylum on board ship with three Dominican priests, St. Antonio Gonzalez, St. Guillermo Courtet, and St. Mguel de Aozaraza, a Japanese priest, St. Vincente Showozuka de la Cruz, and a layman St. Lazaro of Kyoto, a leper. Only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan during a time of intense Christian persecution.

Laurence could have gone to Formosa (modern Taiwan), but fearer the Spaniards there would hang him, and so stayed with the missionaries as they landed at Okinawa. The group was soon exposed as Christian, arrested, and taken to Nagasaki. They were tortured in several ways for days. Laurence and the Japanese priest broke at one point, and were ready to renounce their faith in exchange for release, but after their moment of crisis, they reclaimed their faith and defied their tormentors. He was the first canonised Filipino martyr.

– Patron Saints Index

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Job 9:1-13,14-16

Job spoke to his friends:

Indeed, I know it is as you say:
how can man be in the right against God?
If any were so rash as to challenge him for reasons,
one in a thousand would be more than they could answer.
His heart is wise, and his strength is great:
who then can successfully defy him?
He moves the mountains, though they do not know it;
he throws them down when he is angry.
He shakes the earth, and moves it from its place,
making all its pillars tremble.
The sun, at his command, forbears to rise,
and on the stars he sets a seal.
He and no other stretched out the skies,
and trampled the Sea’s tall waves.
The Bear, Orion too, are of his making,
the Pleiades and the Mansions of the South.
His works are great, beyond all reckoning,
his marvels, past all counting.
Were he to pass me, I should not see him,
nor detect his stealthy movement.
Were he to snatch a prize, who could prevent him,
or dare to say, ‘What are you doing?’
God never goes back on his anger,
Rahab’s minions still lie at his feet.

How dare I plead my cause, then,
or choose arguments against him?
Suppose I am in the right, what use is my defence?
For he whom I must sue is judge as well.
If he deigned to answer my citation,
could I be sure that he would listen to my voice?

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Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me’, replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’

Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say goodbye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’

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“Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

In yesterday’s reflection, we saw how God is our hope. But we can acknowledge Him as our hope but do we trust Him? In the Gospel today, we see how the different people replied Jesus, “Let me go and bury my father first” and “I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home.”

We all know that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We know that only He can give us eternal life. But for many times on earth, it seems so hard to choose God over the world, mainly because we are unable to see Him in our lives, how He is loving us day to day. Because of the lack of conviction and trust in Him, we tend to still be unable rely on God. We say we follow Him but technically, only when our life is in order. There is always the pre requisite of ensuring that our careers are stable, that we are sufficient financially, our relationships are well, excel in our studies, a loving family, before we start our donating, before we start serving, before we start praying, before we start making God the centre of our lives.

If this is so, then who is this God we are following? And why are we following Him?

The readings are timely for me personally where my job is unstable, I’ve decided to drop out of my course in University. I know that God will provide, that He will show me the way, that He will open the best door for me. It is always in such uncertainty that God is the only one that’s certain. But do I trust in Him fully? How do I know where He is leading me?

The response for the responsorial psalm for both days “Let my prayer come into your presence, O Lord” shows us the importance of prayer. And I’ve realised that I haven’t been making time for prayer to see where He’s leading me.

Many times, we see ourselves as unworthy, maybe because we haven’t met those pre requisites or we know we will still fall into sin, hence we choose not to acknowledge God till we are ready to give our lives fully. But the truth is, unless we trust in God and make Him the centre of our lives, we will find it hard to live our lives to the full, for there are many things that we will fail to understand.

Let us turn to Christ, to His Word, to prayer and in searching for Him, help us to trust, to live out our faith every single day of our lives.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

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Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask for courage, courage to face the many temptations that tries to separate us from you and the love you have always showered upon us. Help us not to take for granted. Help us to be grateful. Help us to trust you. Help us to love all. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your patience with us. It must be frustrating to see your loved ones rejecting you or only turning to you as a last resort. We thank you for putting us first even when we haven’t done the same for you. Thank you Lord for your love.

27 August, Saturday – On Being Productive

27 August – Memorial for St. Monica, Married woman

Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted a heresy and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.

When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan, where she became a leader of the devout women there.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Take yourselves for instance, brothers, at the time when you were called: how many of you were wise in the ordinary sense of the word, how many were influential people, or came from noble families? No, it was to shame the wise that God chose what is foolish by human reckoning, and to shame what is strong that he chose what is weak by human reckoning; those whom the world thinks common and contemptible are the ones that God has chosen – those who are nothing at all to show up those who are everything. The human race has nothing to boast about to God, but you, God has made members of Christ Jesus and by God’s doing he has become our wisdom, and our virtue, and our holiness, and our freedom. As scripture says: if anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.

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Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to a third one; each in proportion to his ability. Then he set out.

‘The man who had received the five talents promptly went and traded with them and made five more. The man who had received two made two more in the same way. But the man who had received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘Now a long time after, the master of those servants came back and went through his accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents came forward bringing five more. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with five talents; here are five more that I have made.”

‘His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Next the man with the two talents came forward. “Sir,” he said “you entrusted me with two talents; here are two more that I have made.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.”

‘Last came forward the man who had the one talent. “Sir,” said he “I had heard you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered; so I was afraid, and I went off and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is; it was yours, you have it back.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered? Well then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have recovered my capital with interest. So now, take the talent from him and give it to the man who has the five talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away. As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”’

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You wicked and lazy servant!

I do have my share of unproductive days.  There were times that I have been too lazy to go to work. And accompanying these instances is the thought that I wish I did not have to work in order for me to eat and sustain my daily needs.

The Gospel reading talks about the three servants. One received five talents, the other received two talents, and the third one received one talent. In the Gospel reading, one talent is equivalent to a very large amount of money.  It mentioned each in proportion to his ability. Meaning, the master compensated his servants in accordance to their ability. It can be concluded that the one who received the largest was the one who work the hardest. While the one who received the smallest was the one who work the least. The two servants who received five and two talents worked hard and were able to double what they have given. And the master was pleased with their performance and gave them rewards. On the other hand, the servant who received one talent did not do anything productive. He digs a hole and puts the talent in the ground. That talent did not prosper. The master was mad at this servant for being lazy and took the talent and gave it to the servant who had five talents.

Our God is an awesome God. He is just and fair. If you work hard, you will get your reward. Even at work, if the boss likes your performance, you are given bonuses and other perks. However, if you are a liability, the boss cannot trust you. He does not even want to give you any tasks.

When we feel exhausted in working, it is alright to take some rest. Resting does not mean being lazy. We are, after all, humans; therefore, we also get tired. We need to recharge ourselves. Even our digital gadgets become drained and need recharging. After we regain our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual strength, we come back to life. Do some work or do anything. Let’s not just be idle and do nothing.

There is this saying that we must do our best, and God will do the rest. Our life is a gift from God. It does not cost us anything. How we live our life is something we give back to God. Are we going to be like that servant who hid and buried the talent in the ground? Are we going to sit, wait, be still, and do nothing with our life? Or are we going to do something to make ourselves productive servants of God?  As we try to look back, have we lived our lives worthy to present it to our Lord?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Lord God, please guide us in making our life productive for You and for others.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God for all the resources that we have to sustain our daily life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

23 August, Tuesday – Deepening our Faith

23 August – Memorial for St. Rose of Lima, Virgin

A beautiful girl and devoted daughter, Rose (1586-1617) was so devoted to her vow of chastity, she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she would not be attractive. She lived and meditated in a garden, raising vegetables and making embroidered items to sell to support her family and help the other poor. She was the founder of social work in Peru.

“Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: ‘Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.’”

from the writings of St. Rose of Lima

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2 Thessalonians 2:1-3,14-17

To turn, brothers, to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we shall all be gathered round him: please do not get excited too soon or alarmed by any prediction or rumour or any letter claiming to come from us, implying that the Day of the Lord has already arrived. Never let anyone deceive you in this way.

It cannot happen until the Great Revolt has taken place and the Rebel, the Lost One, has appeared. Through the Good News that we brought he called you to this so that you should share the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Stand firm, then, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love and, through his grace, such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope, comfort you and strengthen you in everything good that you do or say.

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Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said, ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who pay your tithe of mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law – justice, mercy, good faith! These you should have practised, without neglecting the others. You blind guides! Straining out gnats and swallowing camels!

‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who clean the outside of cup and dish and leave the inside full of extortion and intemperance. Blind Pharisee! Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well.’

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Never let anyone deceive you in this way

Deception is something which some may find repulsive. This is due to the fact that there is an aspect of our lives which we desire all people to be honest to us. We expect this in our human relationships with others, but we also need to uphold the same disdain for all who spread false information about our Faith. The readings of today remind us that sometimes, this can be spread through our own actions.

The deposit of Faith which we have must be preserved in its entirety with no alteration; but sometimes, we may be unaware of what the Church teachings are. Firstly, we can improve our knowledge of what our Church teaches through attending courses which allow us to deepen our faith. This helps us to appreciate the richness of our faith. The other thing which we must do is to pray for Holy Spirit to grant us the spirit of wisdom, to know when and how to say the truth without fear and in charity.

Our faith journey is an on-going stage of formation and sharing of our lives. We can draw strength from the Holy Spirit to guide us in our decisions and to let us be living testimonies of his love. We must do our part and be open to deepening our knowledge of our faith in God in whichever way we can.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us discover what we do not know and to be open to us learning from you.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who teach the Sacred Sciences.

6 August, Saturday – On Answered Prayers

6 August – Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Today we celebrate the occasion on which Christ revealed Himself in shining splendour to Peter, James, and John. Moses and Elijah were present, and are taken to signify that the Law and the Prophets. They testify to Jesus as the promised Messiah. God the Father also proclaimed him as such, saying, “This is my Beloved Son. Listen to him.” For a moment the veil is drawn aside, and men still on earth are permitted a glimpse of the heavenly reality, the glory of the Eternal Triune God.

http://satucket.com/lectionary/Tranfiguration.htm

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Daniel 7:9-10,13-14

As I watched:

Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.

And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.

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2 Peter 1:16-19

It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honoured and glorified by God the Father, when the Sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour.’ We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have confirmation of what was said in prophecies; and you will be right to depend on prophecy and take it as a lamp for lighting a way through the dark until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds.

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Luke 9:28-36

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became brilliant as lightning. Suddenly there were two men there talking to him; they were Moses and Elijah appearing in glory, and they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep, but they kept awake and saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As these were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ – He did not know what he was saying. As he spoke, a cloud came and covered them with shadow; and when they went into the cloud the disciples were afraid. And a voice came from the cloud saying, ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ And after the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept silence and, at that time, told no one what they had seen.

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…take it as a lamp for lighting a way through the dark until the dawn comes and the morning star rises in your minds.

“It has come to pass/It will come to pass.” These are the words that have continued to uplift my soul in recent weeks, particularly when I am kneeling down at Mass after receiving our Lord in the Eucharist. Sometimes I am filled with such joy, that I am in tears. Sometimes I am filled with sorrow for my weakness of faith, that I am in tears. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving and hushed by gratitude. When no words suffice, I am always in tears.

As I write my reflections these past few days, I am also frantically preparing to relocate to Boston with my fiance, where he will work for a year. How did I get here, I wonder? Sometimes I cannot believe the turns life takes, and the ways God chooses to manifest His plans. But of course, I believe. Yet, I often beseech Jesus, “Lord, help me with my unbelief!” I am very stubborn, but always humbled. This is the extent to which I am so very human.

I see myself in Peter and John in today’s Gospel reading of the Transfiguration account. ‘Master, it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ How often I find myself clinging (stubbornly) to two moments. The first — the feeling of comfort and closeness the Lord gives when I go to Him in prayer for my needs and heart’s desires. I experience an intimate sense that He hears me, that I am cradled in His palms. The second — the sense of wonder and promise when I intuit His assurance, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11). These are the tents that I want to erect. But I do not go further…

Like Peter and John, I build altars to memorialise the feelings of closeness, that I lose the presence of mind to contemplate and deeply ponder on God’s love and, strangely enough, to look forward with trusting hope and fervent faith that whatever I prayed for will come to pass. I remain in my constructed dreams of what I prayed for, and how they would best materialise, that I lose sight of the ‘being-answered-prayer-in-the-making’ events that are taking place right before my very eyes! Which is literally, everyday!

This is what Jean-Pierre de Cassaude SJ called ‘the sacrament of the present moment’ or, ‘abandonment to divine providence.’ The Transfiguration took place on a mountain-top, because mountain-top experiences are, themselves, gifted moments which God uses to impress upon our hearts His promises, love, and peace. But here comes the cloud, which covered the disciples with a shadow, when they foolishly wanted to freeze the moment and memorialise it. It cannot be done. And so, being human, they froze with fear.

The cloud that covers them with a shadow is the very veil which separates even our wildest and best imaginations from God’s Divine Will. His is the divine knowledge, while mine is truly finite. This is what I keep on learning.

I desired to find my soulmate in the Catholic faith. I wished for the chance to live and study overseas in my undergraduate years. I dreamt of one day taking theology classes. There must have been dozens of tiny prayers which I have whispered throughout my life (and have forgotten), and other monumental prayers hanging always on my lips. I knew the Lord heard them all, although it was not always easy to wait. The tears I often weep now are joyful and contrite. They are my humbled acknowledgement that His thoughts are not my thoughts, nor my ways His ways; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than my ways and His thoughts than my thoughts.

I want to encourage all my friends who are praying and waiting and wondering about your many intentions, to never doubt the Lord’s love and beautiful will for your life. Your dreams have come to pass before/Your dreams will come to pass.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: 

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me. (Suscipe prayer, St. Ignatius of Loyola).

Thanksgiving: Jesus, I trust in You.

25 June, Saturday – Heal Us, O Jesus

25 June

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Lamentations 2:2,10-14,18-19

Beth
The Lord has pitilessly destroyed
all the homes of Jacob;
in his displeasure he has shattered
the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has thrown to the ground,
he has left accursed the kingdom and its rulers.

Yod
Mutely they sit on the ground,
the elders of the daughter of Zion;
they have put dust on their heads,
and wrapped themselves in sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem hang their heads
down to the ground.

Kaph
My eyes wasted away with weeping,
my entrails shuddered,
my liver spilled on the ground
at the ruin of the daughters of my people,
as children, mere infants, fainted
in the squares of the Citadel.

Lamed
They kept saying to their mothers,
‘Where is the bread?’
as they fainted like wounded men
in the squares of the City,
as they poured out their souls
on their mothers’ breasts.

Mem
How can I describe you, to what compare you,
daughter of Jerusalem?
Who can rescue and comfort you,
virgin daughter of Zion?
For huge as the sea is your affliction;
who can possibly cure you?

Nun
The visions your prophets had on your behalf
were delusive, tinsel things,
they never pointed out your sin,
to ward off your exile.
The visions they proffered you were false,
fallacious, misleading.

Sade
Cry aloud, then, to the Lord,
groan, daughter of Zion;
let your tears flow like a torrent,
day and night;
give yourself no relief,
grant your eyes no rest.

Qoph
Up, cry out in the night-time,
in the early hours of darkness;
pour your heart out like water
before the Lord.
Stretch out your hands to him
for the lives of your children
who faint with hunger at the entrance to every street.

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Matthew 8:5-17

When Jesus went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘my servant is lying at home paralysed, and in great pain.’ ‘I will come myself and cure him’ said Jesus. The centurion replied, ‘Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will 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 this he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the subjects of the kingdom will be turned out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.’ And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go back, then; you have believed, so let this be done for you.’ And the servant was cured at that moment.

And going into Peter’s house Jesus found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

That evening they brought him many who were possessed by devils. He cast out the spirits with a word and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah:

He took our sicknesses away and carried our diseases for us.

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“He took our sicknesses away and carried our diseases for us”

A very good friend of mine was talking with me about his illness; he had been diagnosed with terminal illness. One of the things we had discussed was what he should be asking of God: His Will or His Healing?

For me, I have always prefixed my healing petitions, or any petition for that matter, with the words, “Father, if it is Your Will, please…”, and then attach my petition. In the midst of it all, however, we tend to forget that our Lord Jesus is also known as the Great Physician.

Today’s gospel reminds us that we should always turn to Him to ask for healing. The words that strike me in the gospel today is “You have believed, so let this be done for you”. When we ask for healing, we tend to do so in our prayers but many of us tend to lack the belief and conviction.

There was a story of a great famine and the decision was to gather all the people to pray to God for rain.  The villagers all gathered and were prepared to begin their prayers.  Just as they were about to begin their prayers, they saw a little girl scurrying to the front. Breathless, the little girl opened her umbrella.  Annoyed at the delay in the proceedings, the village head chided the little girl, “Why are you bringing your umbrella little girl? There is no need for an umbrella now and you have caused everyone to be late”.

The little girl looked at the Village Head in his eyes and said gently: “I believe in God, so I have brought my umbrella for when the rain begins to fall”.

Do we have faith like the centurion in today’s gospel and the little girl in the story? Do we bring our umbrellas along when we ask for rain?

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer – Father, please give us, Your children, faith like little children. Help us to have faith even when things seem insurmountable. Let us have the strong belief in You my Lord.

Thanksgiving – Jesus Lord, You are our Great Physician. Thank You for bearing our pain and for healing in our physical and spiritual illness.  Thank You for giving us the gift of faith.

7 June, Tuesday – Purpose

7 June

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1 Kings 17:7-16

The stream in the place where Elijah lay hidden dried up, for the country had no rain. And then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, ‘Up and go to Zarephath, a Sidonian town, and stay there. I have ordered a widow there to give you food.’ So he went off to Sidon. And when he reached the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks; addressing her he said, ‘Please bring me a little water in a vessel for me to drink.’ She was setting off to bring it when he called after her. ‘Please’ he said ‘bring me a scrap of bread in your hand.’ ‘As the Lord your God lives,’ she replied ‘I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.’ But Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said; but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son. For thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel:

“Jar of meal shall not be spent,
jug of oil shall not be emptied,
before the day when the Lord sends
rain on the face of the earth.”’

The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son. The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.

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Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

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Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

I think the older we get, the more we are able to discern when the things we are doing is NOT God’s purpose for us. The hardest thing for me has been to yield to His will rather than apply my logic and common sense. Living God’s purpose is a tough walk because faith shows you only the next step. And I’m the sort that reads the spoilers before I watch a movie.

Yesterday we read that Elijah set up camp by a stream during the drought and was sustained by its fresh water and the pickings of wild ravens. Well, that spring dries up in today’s reading. Logic would have told Elijah that if no rain fell, this was a probable outcome at some point and perhaps camping out there might not have been the best idea in the first place. But God was not ready for the prophet to meet the widow in Zarephath. “To every thing there is a season, and a time and purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) And here lies the first truth in today’s readings – that God will show us our purpose at His appointed time. Our job is just to buckle down and have faith enough to trust Him with the timing of things.

The widow whom God designated to help Elijah had not the means to help even herself, but she did so anyway. Very often, we will get asked to step up to a role that we feel we are woefully ill-equipped to do. While the temptation is often to just give up because it is too hard, staying the course can yield surprising results. And that’s the second truth in today’s readings – our scarcity and weakness is an opportunity for God to show His abundant blessings. In fully trusting Him to aid our endeavors, we open ourselves to a life enriched. If she had turned Elijah away, she would never have witnessed the miracle of God’s grace. It must have occurred to her that she shouldn’t spend her last bit of flour on a wild man from the desert. But logic did not prevail and God gave her the opportunity to live out His purpose for her.

When we fail to step up to a calling – because we say we have no time for it, or are too busy, or don’t have the qualifications for the job – do we ever wonder what riches we are denying ourselves in that missed opportunity? If our light is to shine before others, are we doing enough to grasp the opportunities that He sends our way? Food for thought.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the mindfulness and the discernment to walk away from that which does not serve us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the opportunities He sends our way and the reserves of strength that He gives us to step up to our roles.