Tag Archives: evangelisation

26 January, Sunday – Unconditional Acceptance

26 January 2020

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Isaiah 8:23-9:3

In days past the Lord humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations.

The people that walked in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who live in a land of deep shadow
a light has shone.
You have made their gladness greater,
you have made their joy increase;
they rejoice in your presence
as men rejoice at harvest time,
as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.

For the yoke that was weighing on him,
the bar across his shoulders,
the rod of his oppressor –
these you break as on the day of Midian.

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1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17

I appeal to you, brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, to make up the differences between you, and instead of disagreeing among yourselves, to be united again in your belief and practice. From what Chloe’s people have been telling me, my dear brothers, it is clear that there are serious differences among you. What I mean are all these slogans that you have, like: ‘I am for Paul’, ‘I am for Apollos’, ‘I am for Cephas’, ‘I am for Christ.’ Has Christ been parcelled out? Was it Paul that was crucified for you? Were you baptised in the name of Paul?
For 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.

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Matthew 4:12-23

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew; they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets at once and followed him. Going on from there he saw another pair of brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they were in their boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people.

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‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’

I once had a conversation with somebody regarding the role of laypeople in evangelisation and I discovered that the person came to know of the faith because of the encounter which she had with somebody who shared her faith in a gentle way over lunch. The readings of today remind me of this episode because it reminds me of the need for each one of us to evangelise and reach out to the people around us with patience.

Evangelisation is not going to public areas and shouting that Jesus loves you. That is one possible method but I do feel that there could be other ways in which the faith could reach out to the people. It is in the daily interaction we have with others – the kind word or sometimes the  unplanned meeting with somebody which allows us to discover that so much has happened in their lives. Evangelisation usually happens in our daily rhythm of life and we need to be ready for it. We can do so by preparing ourselves with scriptures and also by frequenting the Sacraments.

Sometimes we need to realise that the faith is a combination of us frequenting the Sacraments and interaction with others to share with them the joy we have discovered in our faith. Knowledge of Jesus does not stay in the church but goes outside of the Church. The joy of knowing the Gospel should be so overpowering that we want to go outside to the rest of the world and share with them this joy. As we begin another week, let us find an opportunity to share this faith with the next person we meet. I believe that God will guide the conversation and it may lead to a direction which we may never imagine.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to share with others the faith which you have given us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all catechists.

13 January, Monday – Fishers of New Sheep!

13 Jan – Memorial for St. Hilary, bishop and doctor of the Church

St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) was known as Athanasius of the West. He was born to wealthy polytheistic, pagan nobility. His early life was uneventful as he married, had children (one of whom was St. Abra), and studied on his own. Through his studies he came to believe in salvation through good works, and then monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith, and was converted by the end of the New Testament.

Hilary lived the faith so well that he was made Bishop of Poitiers from 353-368. He opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters and was exiled; he used the time to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many and, in an attempt to reduce his notoriety, he was returned to the small town of Poitiers where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity. His writings nonetheless continued to convert pagans.

Hilary introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church, fought Arianism with the help of St. Viventius, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the highlands of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, one called Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children but Hannah had none. Every year this man used to go up from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there as priests of the Lord.

One day Elkanah offered sacrifice. He used to give portions to Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; to Hannah, however, he would give only one portion, although he loved her more, since the Lord had made her barren. Her rival would taunt her to annoy her, because the Lord had made her barren. And this went on year after year; every time they went up to the temple of the Lord she used to taunt her. And so Hannah wept and would not eat. Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why are you crying and why are you not eating? Why so sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’

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Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’ And at once they left their nets and followed him.
  
Going on a little further, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John; they too were in their boat, mending their nets. He called them at once and, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the men he employed, they went after him.

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Come with me, and I will make you into fishers of people

Someone close to me will be baptized into our Catholic faith this Easter, and I feel very blessed and thankful to God that there will soon be a new sheep in our flock. I trust that Jesus will guide him along this new journey of being a new Catholic.

However, I was soon examining myself as to whether I am a good Catholic. I was concerned whether my way of life would influence him to continue living out and being strengthened by the Catholic faith. Being a good Catholic primarily involves building an intimate relationship with God as well as healthy interpersonal relationships with other people, by living as Christ called us to live and by loving everyone just as Jesus has loved us. I admit that I have not been the best Catholic, and that there is a lot of room for improvement and for me work on. First and foremost, I am not fervent in my prayers and I sometime have the tendency to not love our brothers and sisters in Christ as I should.

As I interact with my friends, I also realise that actions speak louder than words. Even if we may not know the A to Z of our Catechesis and theoretical foundations, we should love others and live our lives in a Christ-like manner, such that others will see the glory of God and praise Him. This will hopefully prompt them to want to know more about our faith, giving us an opportunity to evangelize and shine the way for the many lost sheep in today’s world.

So, my New Year Resolution this 2020 is to live as Christ would have lived amongst us today, selflessly loving other people and forgiving everyone around Him. And not to forget to spend more time praying more fervently and meaningfully to God amidst the distractions of the modern world. It will definitely not be easy as it involves some major changes to my way of life, but I hope that by living out my life as a good Catholic, by my actions and new lifestyle, I may influence another friend of mine to either join or return to our faith.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please pray for us to live our lives in Your light and guidance, so that we can be Your face to the lost sheep who are looking for You. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us the grace to be able to forgive those who have hurt us, and for allowing us to shine Your light and glory before others, who will hopefully come to know You by Your love that is manifested through us. Amen.

4 October, Friday – Use smartphones and laptops for His glory!

Oct 4 – Memorial for St. Francis of Assisi

Francis Bernardone (1181–1226) was the son of Pietro Bernadone, a rich cloth merchant. Though he had a good education and became part of his father’s business, he also had a somewhat misspent youth. He was a street brawler and some-time soldier. He was captured during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia, and spent over a year as prisoner of war. During this time, he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon release, Francis began taking his religion seriously.

He took the Gospel as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the streets, and took all men and women as siblings.

He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing founded the Franciscans based on a simple statement by Jesus: “Leave all and follow me.” In 1212, Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. He visited and preached to the Saracens. He composed songs and hymns to God and nature. He lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1221 he resigned direction of the Franciscans.

While in meditation on La Verna (Mount Alvernia) in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life. This miracle has a separate memorial on 17 September.

In the Middle Ages, people who were believed to be possessed by Beelzebub especially called upon the intercession of St. Francis, the theory being that he was the demon’s opposite number in heaven.

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.” – St. Francis of Assisi

– Patron Saint Index

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Baruch 1:15-22

Integrity belongs to the Lord our God; to us the look of shame we wear today, to us, the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem, to our kings and princes, our priests, our prophets, as to our ancestors, because we have sinned in the sight of the Lord, have disobeyed him, and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God telling us to follow the commandments which the Lord had ordained for us. From the day when the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until today we have been disobedient to the Lord our God, we have been disloyal, refusing to listen to his voice. And so the disasters, and the curse which the Lord pronounced through his servant Moses the day he brought our fathers out of Egypt to give us a land where milk and honey flow, have seized on us, disasters we experience today. Despite all the words of those prophets whom he sent us, we have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, but, each following the dictates of his evil heart, we have taken to serving alien gods, and doing what is displeasing to the Lord our God.

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Luke 10:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. And still, it will not go as hard with Tyre and Sidon at the Judgement as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell.

‘Anyone who listens to you listens to me; anyone who rejects you rejects me, and those who reject me reject the one who sent me.’

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We have been disobedient to the Lord our God, we have been disloyal, refusing to listen to his voice

When I read this line, the first thing that struck me was this thought — although we, the younger generation, are so used to spending a huge amount of time daily on our smartphones and laptops, how can we say that we are disobedient to God, and that we have been disloyal to Him? We still attend Mass on Sunday, and some of us visit the sacraments regularly. It is impossible for us to let go of our technological devices just so that we show our loyalty to God! Our family and friends will certainly laugh at us!

Then, I realized that it is not wrong for us to use our smartphones and laptops, if we want to communicate with our friends and family, if we have to use these devices for study. However, it would be wrong for us to idolize these devices, by spending time on our technological devices when we are supposed to spend time with God during Mass, or even by using our phones to the point of addiction. It would also be wrong if we use these devices to do sinful things, like cyber-bullying our classmates, watching pornography or downloading illegal content.

It is not our smartphones or laptops that cause us to stop listening to God. These technological devices are simply tools; it is our free will and choice to decide what we want to do with these devices. Do we use them to glorify God, for instance, by telling our friends to not bully a weaker classmate? Or perhaps by posting Catholic-related content on our social media platforms as a way to encourage fellow Catholics in their faith and invite non-Catholics to learn more about our faith? That’s certainly a great way of evangelization! Do we leverage these platforms as ways to reach out to the lost sheep in our community and treat our brothers and sisters with Christ-like love?

So, let’s start afresh today. Let us show loyalty to God and listen to His voice by using our smartphones and laptops to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ and glorify Him.

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to use our technological devices for Your glory, and to reach out to our brothers and sisters who are in need. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for allowing us to use technological devices to reach out to more of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and to glorify You in ways which we could not possibly have done without technology. Amen.

4 September, Wednesday – Go forth, evangelize, and do not be afraid!

4 Sep 2019

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Colossians 1:1-8

From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show towards all the saints because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven. It is only recently that you heard of this, when it was announced in the message of the truth. The Good News which has reached you is spreading all over the world and producing the same results as it has among you ever since the day when you heard about God’s grace and understood what this really is. Epaphras, who taught you, is one of our closest fellow workers and a faithful deputy for us as Christ’s servant, and it was he who told us all about your love in the Spirit.

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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.

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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

How would you feel if you were sent by God to evangelize to people of other faiths? Will you be afraid? Excited?

I have friends from all different religions and backgrounds. Once, I was having a conversation with my Protestant friend and we touched on the discussion between Catholics and Christians. My friend told me all about the things that he knew about Roman Catholics after having attended a church event but told me that there were fundamental differences between his religion and mine. While I was aware that he made some misconceptions, especially that we worship our Blessed Virgin Mary (we actually do not worship her, but ask her to intercede for us), I did not say anything because I was afraid of offending him of his religious views.

According to an article “11 Reasons Why Catholics Don’t Evangelise” in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore website (https://www.catholic.sg/11-reasons-why-catholics-dont-evangelise-part-1-of-2/ for Part 1, and https://www.catholic.sg/11-reasons-why-catholics-dont-evangelise-part-2-of-2/ for Part 2), one reason why Catholics do not evangelize is because we are afraid of offending others, or making others defensive.

However, this may stem from our misunderstanding of what evangelization is all about. It is not simply imposing Biblical phrases and our Roman Catholic principles and views on other people. It is not merely a debate on the heresies and fundamental differences between our faith and faiths of other religions. Rather, it is on how we spread Christ’s love to other people, allowing others to see God through us when we manifest His selfless and abundant grace, mercy and love through our actions and conduct.

Being an IJ girl for ten years in primary and secondary school, the IJ motto “Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty” gave me an idea of what we should do to bring Christ to other people. While we go to God in full confidence and love, we should also be aware of our duty to serve others, and not to be served.

Simple charitable acts of kindness and love, like alighting for a person in need or looking out for a disabled person, can make the day brighter for another person. Even when we help our family members with the household chores, we allow ourselves to show others who Christ is, that Christ is indeed present among us. Even if people do not reciprocate our kindness or are ungrateful towards us, we are still evangelizing for God’s glory, for we are ultimately serving God.

Therefore, we should be bold, muster our courage and be steadfast to God when we evangelize to our family, friends and even strangers, through words, actions and conduct. For God said, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)

(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)

Prayer: Dear Lord, give us a steadfast heart to bring You to others when we show Your love, kindness and mercy to others. Help us to be bold and courageous when we are afraid to evangelize. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to proclaim the Good News, and bring You to others today.