18 May – Memorial for St John I, Pope & Martyr
John (d. 526) was a priest in Rome, and became the 53rd pope in 523. Italy’s ruler then, Theodoric the Goth, was an Arian. For a while he left the Catholics alone, but in later life he became suspicious of everyone, imagining conspiracies and attempts to seize his throne. He tried to involve Pope John in his political machinations. John led a delegation to Constantinople to negotiate with Emperor Justin I; he was the first pope to travel to Constantinople, and while there crowned Justin. The mission was successful, but Theodoric though John and Justin I had plotted against him. While returning to Rome, John was kidnapped and imprisoned by Theodoric’s soldiers. He died of thirst and starvation while in custody in Ravenna, Italy.
– Patron Saint Index
Acts of the Apostles 12:24-13:5
The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task and came back from Jerusalem, bringing John Mark with them.
In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.’ So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.
Jesus declared publicly:
‘Whoever believes in me
believes not in me
but in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me,
sees the one who sent me.
I, the light, have come into the world,
so that whoever believes in me
need not stay in the dark any more.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully,
it is not I who shall condemn him,
since I have come not to condemn the world,
but to save the world.
He who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already:
the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For what I have spoken does not come from myself;
no, what I was to say,
what I had to speak,
was commanded by the Father who sent me,
and I know that his commands mean eternal life.
And therefore what the Father has told me
is what I speak.’
It is not I who shall condemn him… He who rejects me and refuses my words has his own judge already
There was a period of time during Primary school when I was home alone at nights. My father would still be at work while my mother would be head off for church gatherings. I was always told to behave myself, to study and most importantly to not play with fire. You can guess where this is going. Almost each time I was home alone I bought sparklers from the provision shop downstairs to play with at home. For the most part, I had my fun safely and disposed of the sparkler safely. Then one day I dropped the sparkler on the kitchen floor. It had already started to cool by the time I located it and so the colour was uniform throughout its length. I picked it up and was burned. I had picked the end which was still hot though not glowing. My parent’s warning was literally burned in. I only had myself to blame for not heeding it.
The Gospel passage serves as a reminder for us. The God who came for our salvation does not condemn. The condemnation that is faced by those who do not listen and even reject Him is actually self-inflicted. By their own choice they refuse the offer of eternal life. What torment they will experience when they realise this too late. Blessed though are the ones who acknowledge the call and follow where it leads. They emulate the leaders of the church and Antioch, willing to give up two of their founders for others when the Spirit required it.
For those of us who have journeyed in the faith for some time, there will undoubtedly be times when we question its tenets or when we question the authority of those who administer it. This questioning is actually something very positive as it can lead to growth and a deeper faith. However, if we harden our hearts just because we do not get the answers we want to hear, the only ones to lose out are us. My sisters and brothers, no matter the trials we face, may we always heed Wisdom even if it seems to run contrary to our own wants.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray for a deeper respect for the Word of God.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for marking us as His own.
Thu, 19 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:13-25; John 13:16-20
Fri, 20 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:26-33; John 14:1-6; Memorial for St Bernadine of Siena, Priest
Sat, 21 May – Acts of the Apostles 13:44-52; John 14:7-14; Memorial for Ss Christopher Magallanes, Priest and Companions, Martyrs
Sun, 22 May – Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7; 1 Peter 2:4-9; John 14:1-12; Fifth Sunday of Easter