12 May – Memorial for Ss Nereus & Archilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St Pancras, Martyr
Nereus and Achilleus (d. 98) were soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and members of the Praetorian Guard. They were converts to Christianity and baptized by St. Peter the Apostle. They were exiled for their faith, suffered with St. Flavia Domitilla, and were martyred together by beheading.
– Patron Saint Index
Pancras (c. 290) was a 14-year-old orphan brought to Rome by his uncle St. Dionysius. He was a convert to Christianity, and was martyred with St. Nereus, St. Achilleus, and St. Domitilla for publicly proclaiming his faith.
Pope St. Vitalian sent his relics from the cemetery of Calepodius in Rome to the British Isles as part of the evangelization of England, so they would have the relics of the Church at large, and to install in altars in new churches. St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church in England to St. Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named after him.
– Patron Saint Index
Acts of the Apostles 8:26-40
The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Be ready to set out at noon along the road that goes from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.’ So he set off on his journey. Now it happened that an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia, and was in fact her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and meet that chariot.’ When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ ‘How can I’ he replied ‘unless I have someone to guide me?’ So he invited Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this:
Like a sheep that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a lamb that is dumb in front of its shearers,
like these he never opens his mouth.
He has been humiliated and has no one to defend him.
Who will ever talk about his descendants,
since his life on earth has been cut short!
The eunuch turned to Philip and said, ‘Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or someone else?’ Starting, therefore, with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the Good News of Jesus to him.
Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look, there is some water here; is there anything to stop me being baptised?’ He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and Philip baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found that he had reached Azotus and continued his journey proclaiming the Good News in every town as far as Caesarea.
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’
Someone to guide me?
Is there a need for god-parents? I never really had a close relationship with my god-parents, neither have I wondered how they got to be my god-parents. What roles were they suppose to play in my life? When I got to primary school, I was told to call this elderly couple, who happened to be my grandma’s neighbours god-parents. I have absolutely no idea what influence they have on me, other than visiting them once every few weeks, although they only live three floors above my grandmother. Then came the time when I received the sacrament of confirmation, my uncle became my god-father. All I could wonder was just the convenience of asking a close relative to be the god-parent. At that time, I still felt that the role of a god-parent is redundant and we just need an adult with us when we get through the sacraments. As I got older, I began to observe adult baptisms and they too have either a god-parent or sponsor. The role of a god-parent is perhaps to guide and accompany the god-child in his or her faith journey. The role is more apparent with the adults because, when an adult makes a conscious decision to be baptised, he or she is likely to have little or no faith influence within the family or with their biological parents, therefore a god-parent is one who is around the newly baptised in the faith formation and journey for the rest of his or her life.
In today’s reading, Phillip acted like a god-parent to the Ethiopian and explained the words of Isaiah to him. Phillip’s influence and explanation on the Good News of Jesus was the initial step of introduction, followed by the formation and finally the conversion of heart. To be a god-parent to someone is not just because of close relationships, but it requires a significant level of maturity and knowledge in our faith in order to pass on the goodness from our Lord God to a child of God. Sometimes, when we struggle in our beliefs and all that’s is related to Christianity in our daily lives, we may have difficulty bringing it up to non-believer parents who may not see the dilemmas we face, and so the god-parent could advise in a manner that could deal with the problem with God as the central figure among us.
Have you been asked to be a god-parent for someone? You were asked because you are a good friend, or because someone looks up to you and trust that you are able to share your faith in our Father with a newly-baptised and responsible enough to see the person through their faith journey? Either way, it is an opportunity for you to share the Good News of Jesus to the other, even if you felt inadequate, always pray and the Holy Spirit will lead you, like it did to Phillip. Be a positive influence to your neighbour, the ultimate goal is not to convert their hearts, but it is the motivation of sharing what you believe and love to the other and gradually, allowing God to do the rest.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: A special prayer for all god-parents and sponsors. May the Holy Spirit fill your hearts and mind with strong and deep faith, so that you can translate all the energy to someone who long to seek You O Lord.
Thanksgiving: Thank you for all those who have guided us and taught us in one way or another; and have made us see Jesus in them, making us grow stronger in faith that Jesus is truly alive today.
Fri, 13 May – Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20; John 6:52-59; Memorial for Our Lady of Fatimah
Sat, 14 May – Acts of the Apostles 1:15-17.20-26; John 15:9-17; Feast of St Matthias, Apostle
Sun, 15 May – Acts of the Apostles 2:14.36-41; 1 Peter 2:20-25; John 10:1-10; Fourth Sunday of Easter