30 Apr – Memorial of Saint Pius V, Pope
Born to impoverished Italian nobility, the son of Paolo Ghislieri and Domenica Augeria. Worked as a shepherd as a boy. Received an excellent training in piety and holiness, including a scholastic education from a Dominican friar; he joined the Order himself in 1518, taking the name Michele. Studied in Bologna, Italy. Ordained in 1528 in the diocese of Genoa, Italy. Teacher of philosophy and divinity in Genoa. Professor of theology in Pavia, Italy for sixteen years. Master of novices and prior of several Dominican houses, working for stricter adherence to the Order‘s Rule. Inquisitor in Como and Bergamo, Italy. Commissary general of the Roman Inquisition in 1551. On 4 September 1556 Michele was consecrated Bishop of Nepi e Sutri, Italy against his will. Inquisitor in Milan and Lombardy in 1556. Created cardinal on 15 March 1557. Grand inquisitor on 14 December 1558. Part of the conclave of 1559 that elected Pope Pius IV. Bishop of Mondovi, Italy on 17 March 1560. As bishop, Michael worked to lead his flock with words and examples, and served as a continual messenger encouraging personal piety and devotion to God. Chosen 225th pope in 1566.
Upon his ascension to the papacy, Pius V immediately faced the task of enacting the reforms of the Council of Trent. New seminaries were opened, a new breviary, new missal, and new catechism were published; foundations were established to spread the Faith and preserve the doctrine of the Church. Pius spent much time personally working with the needy. He built hospitals and used the papal treasury to care for the poor. Pius faced many difficulties in the public forum, both in the implementation of the Tridentine reforms and in interaction with other heads of state. At the time of his death he was working on a Christian European alliance to break the power of the Islamic states.
The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol.
But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, ‘Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.’ They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach.
When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin – this was the full Senate of Israel – and sent to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, ‘We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.’ When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what this could mean. Then a man arrived with fresh news. ‘At this very moment’ he said, ‘the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.’ The captain went with his men and fetched them. They were afraid to use force in case the people stoned them.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’
God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life
John 3:16 is one of my favourite verses in the Bible. I remember singing it once in a choir, and the whole song was just made up of this one line. Maybe it was because we practiced it over and over again, hence it resonates deeply within me. It speaks volumes on the depth of God’s love for us.
I’d like to share something I read some time back, after the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008. It was about a teacher who died protecting his students when the school collapsed in the earthquake. He pushed his students underneath the desk and then covered the desk with his body so that when the structure gave way it fell on him rather than on the desk hiding his students. He didn’t die instantly from the impact, but kept his students’ spirits up by asking them to sing songs with him until he died from his injuries. He, along with the other teachers who perished protecting their students, was hailed a hero. But somewhere out there, a father has lost his only son who died protecting other people’s sons and daughters.
I’m only human and can only understand this from a humanly perspective, but I believe that when we talk of love that we feel, that is universal i.e. it is of God and from God. Though it is probably a fraction of the magnitude of God’s love, I would like to think the feeling is similar. So every time I read this verse, I find it so hard to comprehend how someone could give up his son to be sacrificed so that he can save other people who may or may not love him in return. I believe that this teacher felt more than just a moral obligation to do his duty to save his pupils; he must have cared for them very much to take such action.
Likewise with God, He must love us very much, in order for Him to give up His only Son to save us. Remember that Jesus prayed till he sweated blood, asking God to take this cup away from him. Yet, Jesus knew that it was God’s will that he should be crucified. God still wanted to save us either way. Romans 5:7 states that it is already difficult enough for one to consider dying for someone who was righteous, maybe one might consider it if he was a good man. But how many would do it willingly? The best example in the Bible next to Jesus would be Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-12) because God asked him to, to test his faith.
It is so easy for us to read this as text in the Bible without fully comprehending the magnitude of such a love for us. Perhaps because the only love we know is one where we can see, touch, feel, hear and reciprocate, perhaps with our parents, spouses, children or close friends. But with God, it is a bit more complicated. His love is around us but it is like the wind that we cannot really see nor hear. However, just because we can’t experience it the “human” way we know, it doesn’t mean that we can take it for granted. God gave us not just His only Son, but a chance at new life. “Whoever believes in him… may have eternal life”. How wonderful this is! God hates the sin but not the sinner, and we can always turn to Him and ask for a second chance. He loves us dearly, and He will never forsake us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for the times when we have taken Your love for granted. Help us to fully understand the magnitude of your love and be mindful of it always.
Thanksgiving: Lord, words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the lengths You have taken to redeem me, a sinner. I pray that I may never forget the price You paid for me. Thank you for not forsaking me.