Tag Archives: wisdom

10 December, Saturday – Recognising the Coming

10 December

___________________

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4,9-12

The prophet Elijah arose like a fire,
his word flaring like a torch.
It was he who brought famine on the people,
and who decimated them in his zeal.
By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens,
he also, three times, brought down fire.
How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah!
Has anyone reason to boast as you have?
Taken up in the whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses;
designated in the prophecies of doom
to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks,
to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children,
and to restore the tribes of Jacob,
Happy shall they be who see you,
and those who have fallen asleep in love.

______________________

Matthew 17:10-13

As they came down from the mountain the disciples put this question to Jesus, ‘Why do the scribes say then that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True;’ he replied ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist.

_____________________

“I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.”

As we close this second week of Advent, the readings speak about Elijah, to recognise that Elijah has already come. It doesn’t directly speak about the coming of the Messiah, our Christ but if we can recognise Elijah, we know Christ is near, if not already present in our midst.

Are we able to recognise the Elijahs in our lives? Are we able to recognise Christ in our lives? We are all called, in one way or another, to be Elijah in our lives, as in the example of John the Baptist, a voice that cries out in the wilderness, to prepare a way for the Lord, to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.

Let us not simply wait till we are on our deathbeds or at our wits end before we return to Christ. The coming of Christ is the coming of the joy, peace, hope, love of Christmas as well. It is something we should all look forward to rather than just a festive celebration. We celebrate Christmas every year but have we been able to celebrate the birth of Christ once again in our lives and in our hearts?

Many today are able to share or preach but how many of us actually believe what we ourselves are saying and practice what we preach? Our faith isn’t one that takes away the joys and traps us in boring traditional routines, but one that allows God to communicate Himself to us constantly, whether at mass or through the different celebrations.

This Christmas, let us prepare ourselves and, in turn, be an example, like Elijah, for when others see us, they too know that the Christ is coming, our Saviour, our King.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for courage. To not be tempted and distracted by worldly things, but to keep our focus on you. For it is you who gives the eternal joy, peace, love and hope. We pray that this Christmas, we will make a gift of ourselves, not just to others but also to you. To recognise Christ in others and to be Christ to all. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for speaking to us through your Word. Thank you for the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Thank you for your mercy and love.

4 November, Friday – Finding Art in Anything

4 November – Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop

Charles (1538-1584) was born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, and the son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Marghertita de’ Medici. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He suffered from a speech impediment, but studied in Milan and at the University of Pavia, at one point studying under the future Pope Gregory XIII.

He became a civil and canon lawyer at the age of 21, and a cleric at Milan, taking the habit on Oct 13, 1547. He became Abbot of three different abbeys until Jan 13, 1560. He was protonotary apostolic participantium and referendary of the papal court to Pope Pius IV. He was also a member of the counsulta for the administration of the Papal States on Jan 20, 1560. He was appointed abbot commendatario for an abbey in Portugal, and an abbey in Flanders on Jan 27, 1560.

On Jan 31, 1560, he was apostolic administrator of Milan, Italy. On Feb 8, 1560, then a papal legate to Bologna and Romandiola for two years beginning on Apr 26, 1560. He was made a deacon on Dec 21, 1560, and appointed Vatican Secretary of State. He was made an honorary citizen of Rome on Jul 1, 1561, and founded the “Accademia Vaticana” in 1562.

He was finally ordained on Sep 4, 1563, helped reopen the Council of Trent, and participated in its sessions during 1562 and 1563. He was ordained Bishop of Milan on Dec 7, 1563 and was President of the commission of theologians charged by the pope to elaborate the Catechismus Romanus. He also worked on the revision of the Missal and Breviary, and was a member of a commission to reform church music.

He participated in the conclave of cardinals in 1565-66 that chose Pope Pius V, and he asked the new pope to take the name. Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of Oct 26, 1569. He was shot at, but not hit.

He also participated in the conclave in 1572 that chose Pope Gregory XIII. He worked with the sick, and helped bury the dead during the plague outbreak in Milan in 1576. He established the Oblates of St. Ambrose on Apr 26, 1578, and was a teacher, confessor, and parish priest to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, giving him his first communion on Jul 22, 1580.

Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese. He directed and fervently enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther, founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, hospitals for the sick, conducted synods, instituted children’s Sunday school, did great public and private penance, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example.

He is patron saint for bishops; catechists; catechumens; seminarians; spiritual directors; and spiritual leaders.

Prayer to St. Charles Borromeo

O Saintly reformer, animator of spiritual renewal of priests and religious, you organized true seminaries and wrote a standard catechism. Inspire all religious teachers and authors of catechetical books. Move them to love and transmit only that which can form true followers of the Teacher who was divine. Amen.

– Patron Saints Index

_____________________

Philippians 3:17-4:1

My brothers, be united in following my rule of life. Take as your models everybody who is already doing this and study them as you used to study us. I have told you often, and I repeat it today with tears, there are many who are behaving as the enemies of the cross of Christ. They are destined to be lost. They make foods into their god and they are proudest of something they ought to think shameful; the things they think important are earthly things. For us, our homeland is in heaven, and from heaven comes the saviour we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe.

So then, my brothers and dear friends, do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord. I miss you very much, dear friends; you are my joy and my crown.

_____________________

Luke 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.’

_____________________

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness.’

When I was younger, I learned that it is not good to lie or to cheat. Though I know it is wrong, there are instances where I have cheated to get the job done. I could argue that it was a ‘white lie.’ Still, it is a lie.

Our Gospel today teaches us to apply ingenuity in life. It talks about a master who found out that his servant was wasteful of his property. He called that servant and asked for the account of his management because he was going to be dismissed. That servant had been thinking hard about what he would do next.  He was not strong enough to dig and too ashamed to go begging. Then he thought of something so that people will welcome him in their homes. When he collected the notes from the people who owed his master, he reduced the amount unknown to his master.  It may be right to say that he just slashed off his commission. The indicated amount was the actual sum owed by the debtors. By his actions, the servant and the debtors would have a good relationship.

The master applauded his servant. This is not to condone the dishonesty of the steward. Rather, his being resourceful. He was able to think of what to do to save him.

The Gospel reminds us that our resourcefulness quickly surfaces in times of need. Being creative and resourceful is truly a great quality. They are tools that can lift us in any situation. But it is suggested that the use of our resourcefulness and creativity is not for our own good only. We should extend our capabilities to others who need our help.

Another thing to remember is our responsibilities. As a servant, there is a master. We must remember our status and be obedient to our master. We must always instil in our hearts the faithfulness and trustworthiness, not just as a follower but as a person.  We may face a lot of trials tempting us to shatter our values. But when we completely surrender ourselves to God, we can continue to be faithful and trustworthy servants of the Lord.

Coincidentally, today is the memorial for St. Charles Borromeo. He is an example of a creative person.  His artistic sense contributed to the reformation of the Catholic Church. He initiated the steps for people to have a conversion to a better life. He set an example by living a life with humility and charity. He did a wonderful job as a pastor while entrusting everything to God.

Let us be like St. Charles Borromeo to live a life in conformity to the Divine will.

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

_______________________

Prayer: Father God, I ask for the grace that my heart always seeks to do Your will. Please guide us as when we encounter our struggles and choices in life.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for the gift of wisdom and for the gift of strength, which enables us to face our trials.

1 September, Thursday – Humility and Faith

1 September

_____________________

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Make no mistake about it: if any one of you thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As scripture says: The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are; or again: God is not convinced by the arguments of the wise. So there is nothing to boast about in anything human: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life and death, the present and the future, are all your servants; but you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

_____________________

Luke 5:1-11

Now Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

_____________________

“The Lord knows wise men’s thoughts: he knows how useless they are”

I run a mortgage brokerage firm and as part of my work, I meet with clients who are looking to either take new housing loans or to refinance their existing loans. Prior to this, I had been in the mortgage business for about 12 years. Because of the nature of my work, I am very well-acquainted with the regulations and lending guidelines of the various banks.

Over my time in this business, I have met numerous clients who have their own ideas about the affordability of their loans and the associated rules. Under those circumstances, I have had to (very patiently) explain the intricacies to them, sometimes unsuccessfully.

Such was the situation in the gospel of today.

Simon and the other fishermen had spent the whole night fishing without a single catch. Along comes Jesus, a carpenter, who asked them to go out to deeper water and cast their nets. Imagine that! A carpenter teaching a fisherman how to fish!

Rather than arguing with Jesus, Simon obeyed him and did as He said. What faith!

As we journey along in our faith, we need to connect with God, through regular prayer, reflection, bible reading and spiritual talks. In doing so, the Spirit speaks to us, prompting us. Like Peter, we need to be open to these promptings.

Coming back to the mortgage business, I have had situations where the clients had raised pertinent questions and interesting ideas have actually come out of these discussions. It was then I realized that because of my ‘experience’, I had become arrogant, thinking that I was the ‘expert’.

Similarly, we need to remember not to be arrogant; we need to be humble in order to be led by the Spirit.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Lord, help us to be humble and to be open to Your promptings. Help us not to think that we are wiser than You and give us the strength to do what is right in Your eyes.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father for giving us situations to teach us humility. We praise You for always sending Your Spirit to prompt us in the right direction to go.

31 August, Wednesday – Let us be like children at Your feet Lord

31 August

_____________________

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Brothers, I myself was unable to speak to you as people of the Spirit: I treated you as sensual men, still infants in Christ. What I fed you with was milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it; and indeed, you are still not ready for it since you are still unspiritual. Isn’t that obvious from all the jealousy and wrangling that there is among you, from the way that you go on behaving like ordinary people? What could be more unspiritual than your slogans, ‘I am for Paul’ and ‘I am for Apollos’?

After all, what is Apollos and what is Paul? They are servants who brought the faith to you. Even the different ways in which they brought it were assigned to them by the Lord. I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God made things grow. Neither the planter nor the waterer matters: only God, who makes things grow. It is all one who does the planting and who does the watering, and each will duly be paid according to his share in the work. We are fellow workers with God; you are God’s farm, God’s building.

_____________________

Luke 4:38-44

Leaving the synagogue Jesus went to Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them. Devils too came out of many people, howling, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered, ‘I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.’ And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.

_____________________

“You are God’s farm, God’s building”

Being a father of 2, I had the wonderful journey of watching them grow up to be the children they are today. During these years, what was interesting was watching their faith journey. I have been blessed to witness their faith in God and have learned a lot from them.

Watching my children brought to mind the following passage:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

In my younger years, I remember spending a lot of time theorizing about my faith. I thought about the ‘rules’ of being in God’s kingdom; would we go to heaven if we did this or that, would God condemn me if I did this, or didn’t do that? In fact, I thought about it so much that it began to get me feeling stressed.

One day, I came across the passage above and realized that I was being foolish. No matter how much time and effort I spend trying to ‘figure it out’, I would NEVER know. NEVER. In that particular moment of clarity, I felt admonished to be like a little child.

But what did it mean to be like a little child? Over the years, I have figured that ‘all’ I had to do was to trust in the Bible and the Church. It certainly is difficult to do.

In the past few months, I took a couple of courses — one to handle one’s business God’s way, and another to learn how to manage our finances God’s way. I had my mind blown during the courses, and learned so many biblical principles which seemed to contradict conventional wisdom. After my initial resistance, I reflected on the principles and began taking baby steps down this path. I have met people who have done so, and I can tell you that these people experience much more joy and peace than many others.

Today’s gospel reminds us that no matter what, we really need Jesus. In a lifetime that lasts forever, our 70-90 years of us do not make us wise. Our God knows better. Let us learn to trust Him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will not get fooled by our own perceived “wisdom”. Help us Father to always turn to You for true wisdom.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for being there to show us the correct way. Thank You Spirit, for always guiding our own spirit to do the right thing. We praise You and thank You for never giving up on us.

26 August, Friday – Higher Priority

26 August

_____________________

1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed. The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save. As scripture says: I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing all the learning of the learned. Where are the philosophers now? Where are the scribes? Where are any of our thinkers today? Do you see now how God has shown up the foolishness of human wisdom? If it was God’s wisdom that human wisdom should not know God, it was because God wanted to save those who have faith through the foolishness of the message that we preach. And so, while the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here are we preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

_____________________

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

_____________________

There may not be enough for us and for you...

Many times I have been accused of being stingy. I am not used to sharing what I have with other people. My co-workers hate it when I am eating something and do not offer it to them even just out of politeness. In the same way, I feel uneasy when somebody offers me food. At first, I do not think too much about it. But after working for some time, I began asking myself if there was something wrong with me. I have a sibling but we have an age gap of several years. Being born in different generations, we each have different needs and likes. I grew up not having to share anything. We eat together as a family but we do not share our personal things such as clothes, books, shampoo, soap and other things. Sharing was taught in our school. But my classmates had better possessions so I did not share anything with them.

Today’s Gospel reading teaches us about responsibility. Our responsibility to be prepared for the tasks assigned to us. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps.  The sensible were wise enough to have a back-up plan. They brought flasks of oil with them. It may be an added weight to their baggage but they were blessed enough to know that they had to bring those. And indeed their extra efforts paid off. They needed the oil when they met the bridegroom.

It can be said that there are foolish and sensible people in this world. Sometimes we can be the foolish ones, sometimes we can be the sensible ones. We are sensible enough to realize our needs and to do something about it. But we have our fair share of foolishness. Even repeated foolishness over the same things.

When the sensible people said, “you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves…”, it may seem that they were being selfish. They could have shared a little oil with the foolish ones but they didn’t. As I reflect on it more, I realize that I can never give something that I do not have. Those who were sensible brought oil just enough for them to use and knew that if they shared it, none of their lamps would be able to provide any light. It teaches to help ourselves first in order to help others. Even in airplanes, there is this reminder to help yourself first before assisting others. It is like when you have your last penny in your pocket, you need to go to work, and there was a beggar asking for a penny. Well, if you are able to walk to work, you are able to give that penny to the beggar. But if that penny is your only fare to get to work, use it for your transportation. It is not being selfish nor greedy. You need to work in order for you to earn. And your earnings are something worth sharing.

Let us continue to pray to God, to enlighten us, to be like those sensible bridesmaids, to be spiritually prepared.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Lord God, please help us to use our wisdom in accordance to your will.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God for providing for our needs.

22 May, Sunday – Delight in the Spirit

22 May – Solemnity of the Holy Trinity

The true God is one in Trinity and a Trinity in One: come, let us adore him.

The fundamental dogma, on which everything in Christianity is based, is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptized. The feast of the Blessed Trinity needs to be understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith in this triune life of the Divine Persons, to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for us by Christ. Only in heaven shall we properly understand what it means, in union with Christ, to share as sons in the very life of God.

The feast of the Blessed Trinity was introduced in the ninth century and was only inserted in the general calendar of the Church in the fourteenth century by Pope John XXII. But the cultus of the Trinity is, of course, to be found throughout the liturgy. Constantly the Church causes us to praise and adore the thrice-holy God who has so shown His mercy towards us and has given us to share in His life.

Trinity Sunday
The dogma of faith which forms the object of the feast is this: There is one God and in this one God there are three Divine Persons; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one, eternal, incomprehensible God! The Father is not more God than the Son, neither is the Son more God than the Holy Spirit. The Father is the first Divine Person; the Son is the second Divine Person, begotten from the nature of the Father from eternity; the Holy Spirit is the third Divine Person, proceeding from the Father and the Son. No mortal can fully fathom this sublime truth. But I submit humbly and say: Lord, I believe, help my weak faith.

Why is this feast celebrated at this particular time? It may be interpreted as a finale to all the preceding feasts. All three Persons contributed to and shared in the work of redemption. The Father sent His Son to earth, for “God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son.” The Father called us to the faith. The Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, became man and died for us. He redeemed us and made us children of God. He ever remains the liturgist par excellence to whom we are united in all sacred functions. After Christ’s ascension the Holy Spirit, however, became our Teacher, our Leader, our Guide, our Consoler. On solemn occasions a thanksgiving Te Deum rises spontaneously from Christian hearts.

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity may well be regarded as the Church’s Te Deum of gratitude over all the blessings of the Christmas and Easter seasons; for this mystery is a synthesis of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. This feast, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, should make us mindful that actually every Sunday is devoted to the honor of the Most Holy Trinity, that every Sunday is sanctified and consecrated to the triune God. Sunday after Sunday we should recall in a spirit of gratitude the gifts which the Blessed Trinity is bestowing upon us. The Father created and predestined us; on the first day of the week He began the work of creation. The Son redeemed us; Sunday is the “Day of the Lord,” the day of His resurrection. The Holy Spirit sanctified us, made us His temple; on Sunday the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Church. Sunday, therefore, is the day of the Most Holy Trinity.

– Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch (Source: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2016-05-22)

_____________________

Proverbs 8:22-31

The Wisdom of God cries aloud:

The Lord created me when his purpose first unfolded,
  before the oldest of his works.
From everlasting I was firmly set,
  from the beginning, before earth came into being.
The deep was not, when I was born,
  there were no springs to gush with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
  before the hills, I came to birth;
before he made the earth, the countryside,
  or the first grains of the world’s dust.
When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
  when he drew a ring on the surface of the deep,
when he thickened the clouds above,
  when he fixed fast the springs of the deep,
when he assigned the sea its boundaries
 – and the waters will not invade the shore –
  when he laid down the foundations of the earth,
I was by his side, a master craftsman,
  delighting him day after day,
  ever at play in his presence,
at play everywhere in his world,
  delighting to be with the sons of men.

_____________________

Romans 5:1-5

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God, since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory. But that is not all we can boast about; we can boast about our sufferings. These sufferings bring patience, as we know, and patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope, and this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.

_____________________

John 16:12-15

Jesus said:

‘I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth,
since he will not be speaking as from himself
but will say only what he has learnt;
and he will tell you of the things to come.
He will glorify me,
since all he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine;
that is why I said:
All he tells you
will be taken from what is mine.’

_____________________

I was by his side… delighting him day after day, ever at play in his presence.

This is a season of great newness for me. I have been restless and agitated in the undercurrents of my days. It involves planning my research topic, a wedding, and a relocating with my fiancé to Boston – all taking place in a matter of months between them. Friends are excited and think how fortunate I am. But I have refrained from revealing my stresses or compassionately giving myself the space to talk through things because I did not want to seem self-absorbed or worrisome. There has been so much to plan, discuss, and strategise that my perfectionist alter-ego goes into panic mode! My tendency to shelve the most important (but invisible) aspect of my wellbeing – my spiritual life – to the cobwebbed corners of my mind, has once again seized me. I am constantly learning again what it means to truly cleave unto my Lord with humility, that I cannot do everything, and my ways are never higher than His.

Yet the Holy Spirit is ever-gentle, when I am not. And with His infinite wisdom, He has prodded me with the beautiful imagery of today’s Proverbs scripture. I am calmly reminded that God created the Holy Spirit to be my Advocate – the One who will fight alongside me, ever-loyal to my Baptismal vows even when I am not. If we savour this particular scene in Proverbs – ‘The deep was not, when I was born, there were no springs to gush with water… When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there…’ – we realise that just as God the Father is the Alpha and Omega, the Holy Spirit was with Him at that very point in time. Doesn’t this sound like the description of our Genesis creation?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3)

And I am struck to recall the parallel in the gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

How great is God’s wisdom and purpose for the world, and little, present-day me. As I contemplate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity celebrations today, I feel humbled that our God is far mightier than a three-in-one recipe. Meanwhile, the Martha in me needs to get things done now, right, well. Sometimes I bulldoze my loved ones and even myself. I do not spend enough time contemplating the majestic mystery of our Triune God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God has given of Himself to us in Three Divine Persons, because we are spiritual beings created for relationship – a deep, abiding, transforming relational union that preceded our very existence. The Spirit of God is the lifeblood that connects our spirit to the Father, Creator Blest.

The Holy Spirit is given so many names – Word, Breath, Life, Light, Wisdom. But the most beautiful of all that I have discovered today is Delight. How true this is of a life in the Spirit. When we are connected deeply to our lifesource, the Holy Spirit, we will continue to delight in God, ‘at play everywhere in his world, delighting to be with the sons of men,’ to delight in life’s lot and course. Be it stillness, stalemate, or staggering changes. Our faith, prayer, and love of the Spirit will bring us pure delight, deep joy and peace. One that surpasses all understanding and circumstances.

There is so much to delight and marvel at in my journey with God. He has not only blessed me with someone to love, but this someone loves Him too. My fiancé was baptised this Easter, and soon we will be joined in the Sacrament of Matrimony. I cannot wait. Paths in life can be messy, unplanned, and frazzling. I am comforted with this gentle reminder that I am never alone, for ‘the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us’ (Romans 5:5).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: Help me Holy Spirit, to drop my pens, tasks and checklists, and sit at Your feet to listen, learn, and patiently pray my way through all that I am going through.

Thanksgiving: I give thanks for the life changes and growth I now face (nerve-wrecking as they be). I have prayed for each of these dreams which God is slowly unwrapping before me. Ever wide is His mercy and deep His love. He never fails, He always surprises. Amen!

3 May, Tuesday – Everlasting Love

3 May – Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Philip was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and a convert. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, and brought St. Nathanael to Christ. He was a confidant of Jesus’. Little is known about him, but scriptural episodes give the impression of a shy, naïve, but practical individual. He preached in Greece and Asia Minor, and died a martyr for the faith.

James the Lesser was the cousin of Jesus, and brother of St. Jude Thaddeus. He was raised in a Jewish home of the time with all the training in Scripture and Law that was part of that life. He was a convert, and one of the Twelve Apostles. He was one of the first to have visions of the risen Christ.

He was the first bishop of Jerusalem. He met with St. Paul the Apostle to work out Paul’s plans for evangelization. He supported the position that Gentile converts did not have to obey all Jewish religious law, though he continued to observe it himself as part of his heritage. He may have been a vegetarian. He was a just and apostolic man known for his prayer life and devotion to the poor.

He was martyred for his faith in c.62 when he was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, and then stoned and beaten with clubs while praying for his attackers. Having been beaten to death, a club almost immediately became his symbol, leading to his patronage of fullers and pharmacists, both of whom use clubs in their professions.

He is reported to have spent so much time in prayer that his knees thickened, and looked like a camel’s. Soon after the Crucifixion, James said he would fast until Christ returned; the resurrected Jesus appeared to him, and fixed a meal for James Himself.

-Patron Saint Index

_____________________

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.

Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.

_____________________

John 14:6-14

Jesus said to Thomas:

‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.
If you know me, you know my Father too.
From this moment you know him and have seen him.’

Philip said, ‘Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’
‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip,’ said Jesus to him ‘and you still do not know me?

‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father,
so how can you say, “Let us see the Father”?
Do you not believe
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself:
it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work.
You must believe me when I say
that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;
believe it on the evidence of this work, if for no other reason.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask for anything in my name,
I will do it.’

_____________________

The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself

I had the privilege of speaking to a visitor to my parish who wanted to find out more about the Catholic faith. The only trouble was that I had to communicate to her using the Chinese language which I am not very proficient in. At that juncture, I prayed to the Holy Spirit to guide me in my explanation of the Catholic Faith to her and I could feel God guiding me throughout the entire process.

Today’s feast reminds us of the importance of gaining an understanding of the Sacred Scriptures and the manner in which it is interpreted. This understanding is not referring to pure memory work or just being able to quote a few Biblical passages but the ability to transfer that knowledge of Sacred Scripture to the context of today’s world. This entails remaining faithful to the teaching of Christ as St Paul reminds us in the first reading of today and also the need to pray constantly. In our prayer, we need to let God speak to us in the silence of our hearts and to deepen the encounter we have in him.

St Philip and James were living witnesses of the Word. They bore witness through their preaching and offered their lives for the message they proclaimed because they wanted to remain faithful to it. Whilst we may not have to give up physical life in order to proclaim the Gospel, we do need to take any opportunity available to proclaim the Word of God to all around us in times of adversity and opportunity.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
_______________________

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the strength to proclaim your Word whenever we are persecuted.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who love us despite our flaws.