Daily Archives: September 18, 2006

Tuesday, Sep 19 – Niche and Purpose

19 Sep – Memorial for St. Januarius, bishop, martyr

Januarius (d. 304) was a fourth century bishop of Benevento, Italy, during Emperor Diocletian’s persecution. For the greater part of Diocletian’s rule, Christians enjoyed peace and prosperity, but under the influence of Galerius, one of his two Caesars, he inaugurated in 303 the last and most terrible of the ten persecutions of the early Church. Januarius was arrested while visiting imprisoned deacons, and was later martyred with them. His body was later transferred to Naples, of which he is now the patron saint.

His blood was preserved, and dried. Since at least 1389, on his feast day, and on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May, the blood liquefies. This is the primary reason why his feast day is retained in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church despite very limited information about his life and works.

Thousands assemble to witness this event in the cathedral of Naples each year. The archbishop, at the high altar amid prayers and invocations holds up a glass phial that is said to contain the dried blood of Januarius, and declares that it has liquefied. The announcement of the liquefaction is greeted with a 21-gun salute at the 13th-century Castel Nuovo.

– Sources: Patron Saint Index, Wikipedia, ZENIT
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1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

Nor is the body to be identified with any one of its many parts. Now you together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it. In the Church, God has given the first place to apostles, the second to prophets, the third to teachers; after them, miracles, and after them the gift of healing; helpers, good leaders, those with many languages. Are all of them apostles, or all of them teachers? Do they all have the gift of miracles, or all have the gift of healing? Do all speak strange languages, and all interpret them? Be ambitions for the higher gifts.
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About a week ago, I met an old friend at the bus stop. Once a Muslim, he is now baptised and attends services at a Christian church. When I expressed my congratulations and belatedly welcomed him into the body of Christ, he asked me whether I was a Catholic or a Christian. Then he gave me a weird, suspicious look when I told him that Catholics were Christians too.

I didn’t want to go into all that at the bus stop, especially not after meeting him for the first time in a long while, but it was an experience that has stuck in my head since then. We are all Christians baptised in the one Spirit, says the first reading of today. And there is no doubt that various Christian churches are indeed leading people to God in their own way. While the differences in doctrines are valid, sometimes it is better to focus on what we have in common, as we are all a different part of the body of Christ.

It is not my place to say anything about how other Christians behave towards Catholic Christians, but I can say that as Catholics we can do more to welcome harmonious relations with other Christian denominations. Even looking within the Catholic Church itself, there are already different ‘orders’ of people.

For example, not all of us have a very high opinion of those involved in charismatic renewal, but yet they have a special place in the Church because they play a special role. Or again, not all of us have a good opinion of those who promote the proper use of liturgy in the Church, but yet they too have a special place in the Church because they play a special role. Even those who seem to do nothing but offer criticisms have a special place in the Church for they play an important role as well.

Be ambitious for the higher gifts, St. Paul tells us in the last verse of 1 Corinthians 12. What is a higher gift? Tomorrow we will read and reflect on the famous chapter of the bible known as the chapter of love.

Indeed, a higher gift certainly is one of love towards our neighbour. And who is my neighbour? Jesus’ disciples asked him that. You know the answer.
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Prayer:
Dear Jesus, teach us to appreciate the different roles and places that you have given to each member of your body. Help us to see that they are where they are because you have desired them to be, and help us to love them for who they are – fellow children of God. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Variety in unity.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 20 Sep – 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13; Luke 7:31-35; Memorial for Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon & comapnions, Paul Chong Hasang, martyrs
Thu, 21 Sep – Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13; Matthew 9:9-13; Feast of St. Matthew, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 22 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 8:1-3
Sat, 23 Sep – 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49; Luke 8:4-15; Memorial for St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest
Sun, 24 Sep – Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16 – 4:3; Mark 9:30-37; Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.