02 May – Memorial for St Athanasius, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.
He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.
He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.
– Patron Saint Index
Acts of the Apostles 4:23-31
As soon as Peter and John were released they went to the community and told them everything the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard it they lifted up their voice to God all together. ‘Master,’ they prayed ‘it is you who made heaven and earth and sea, and everything in them; you it is who said through the Holy Spirit and speaking through our ancestor David, your servant:
Why this arrogance among the nations,
these futile plots among the peoples?
Kings on earth setting out to war,
princes making an alliance,
against the Lord and against his Anointed.
‘This is what has come true: in this very city Herod and Pontius Pilate made an alliance with the pagan nations and the peoples of Israel, against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, but only to bring about the very thing that you in your strength and your wisdom had predetermined should happen. And now, Lord, take note of their threats and help your servants to proclaim your message with all boldness, by stretching out your hand to heal and to work miracles and marvels through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ As they prayed, the house where they were assembled rocked; they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the word of God boldly.
There was one of the Pharisees called Nicodemus, a leading Jew, who came to Jesus by night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who comes from God; for no one could perform the signs that you do unless God were with him.’ Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
unless a man is born from above,
he cannot see the kingdom of God.’
Nicodemus said, ‘How can a grown man be born? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?’ Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
unless a man is born through water and the Spirit,
he cannot enter the kingdom of God:
what is born of the flesh is flesh;
what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.
That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’
Unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God
At a recent mass I attended, the rites of scrutiny for the elect of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) were taking place. After the homily, instead of the congregation professing their faith by reciting the creed, the creed was presented to the elect line by line. As we paused and went through each line twice, I had the time to reflect on the basic tenets of our faith. Seeing the elect prepare themselves for baptism in such a manner, I found myself looking back on my own baptism.
Jesus replied to Nicodemus that everyone must be born through water and the spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. Water cleanses us and purifies us from sin, and the spirit enables us to undergo a spiritual transformation, to die to sin and be born anew in Christ.
Why do we renew our baptismal promises every Easter vigil? As stated in the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church), we renew our promises because our faith must grow after our baptism. Although all our sins are forgiven during baptism, there remains in us a tendency to sin. If we do not consciously take steps to grow our faith, we would be like the seed that fell on rocky ground, quick to take root, but also quick to get disheartened, wither and dry up.
The faith of the community is integral to building up the faith of the individual. Besides serving God and His church in ministries, we would also need to seek avenues where we can share our faith journey with fellow believers, and support and encourage one another to continue persevering.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask that we will be open to the workings of the Spirit in our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for the love and support that the church community has provided.
Tue, 03 May – 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; John 1:6-14; Feast of Ss Philip and James, Apostles
Wed, 04 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:17-26; John 3:16-21
Thu, 05 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:27-33; John 3:31-36
Fri, 06 May – Acts of the Apostles 5:34-42; John 6:1-15
Sat, 07 May – Acts of the Apostles 6: 1-7; John 6:16-21
Sun, 08 May – Acts of the Apostles 2:14.22-33; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35; Third Sunday of Easter