27 May – Memorial for St Augustine of Cantebury, Bishop
Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King AEthelberht who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.
He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.
– Patron Saint Index
Acts of the Apostles 15:22-31
The apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:
‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’
The party left and went down to Antioch, where they summoned the whole community and delivered the letter. The community read it and were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you is to love one another.’
Unsettled your minds
Lately, I have been so consumed with my studies and placements that I have not spent much time with my mother. This has resulted in feelings of guilt and worries that she might be unhappy with me. Yet, I was unaware that I was living in this constant state of guilt and worries. All I knew was that I felt unsettled and was thereby easily irritated and unhappy.
Just a few days ago, my mum kissed me out of the blue and said, “You’re such a lovely daughter. I love you.” This gesture took me by surprise as I had not articulated my insecurities to her. Yet, there she was affirming me of how she delighted in me and loved me. What also surprised me was how I instantly felt a sense of peace and relief wash over me. It was as if something in my chest and mind had been lifted, as if someone had pressed the “reset” button and my irritation and tension dissolved. It was only then that I became aware that my unsettled state was caused by insecurities of how she felt about me.
In today’s first reading, the people in Antioch were also unsettled. Just as how I was insecure of whether or not I was pleasing and “doing enough” in my mother’s eyes, perhaps they too were insecure about whether they were pleasing and “doing enough” in the Apostles eyes. Just as how my mother’s affirmation brought me relief, peace and encouragement, they too were delighted and encouraged upon receiving the letter from the apostles.
My brothers and sisters, when people around you are irritated, grumpy, or negative, it might be that they too are unsettled by insecurities of where they stand in your eyes. Will you attack and reject them for being in that state? Or will you look beyond how they are behaving and encourage them with your love?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jean Cheng)
Prayer: Father, help me to be generous and charitable in encouraging others.
Thanksgiving: Thank You, Lord, for showing us in your quiet ways that love is not something that is earned, but is a gift that is freely given and received. Help us to love freely.
Sat, 28 May – Acts of the Apostles 16:1-10; John 15:18-21
Sun, 29 May – Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8.14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21; Sixth Sunday of Easter