That day a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria.
There were some devout people, however, who buried Stephen and made great mourning for him.
Saul then worked for the total destruction of the Church; he went from house to house arresting both men and women and sending them to prison.
Those who had escaped went from place to place preaching the Good News. One of them was Philip who went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. As a result there was great rejoicing in that town.
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.
But, as I have told you,
you can see me and still you do not believe.
All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away;
because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will,
but to do the will of the one who sent me.
Now the will of him who sent me
is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me,
and that I should raise it up on the last day.
Yes, it is my Father’s will
that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life,
and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’
I shall raise him on the last day
At work, it is quite rare that a colleague from another division (another director) would actively seek to extol the work done by my team in our efforts to garner applications into the university. More often than not, we get a ‘Thank you for your efforts’ via an email or a chance encounter in the lift. But I recently received a pleasant surprise when a colleague (the head of another division) asked for a summary of the work my team had done for his divison since the end of last year. He wanted to present it at an upcoming meeting to ensure that ‘credit was given where credit is due’.
Of course I immediately messaged my manager and told him to get the necessary slides prepared and, at the same time, congratulated him for his efforts. He had indeed put in lots of time and effort to ensure that the work produced was a true reflection of our division’s capabilities and standards. I messaged him later in the evening to congratulate him again and to convince him that he truly had what it took to become a key member of my team, in spite of his young age. I told him to stop agonizing about how others were treating him (he had been unfairly skipped over for promotion) and to just channel all his energies into doing the best he could in supporting the academics and senior management. I said that at the end of the day, the quality of his work would speak for itself and that the recognition would come.
Young adults today crave instant gratification. This is especially so when they have invested a great deal of time and effort in a project. I wonder how the apostles were feeling as they witnessed Christ’s suffering at the hands of the Romans and Jews, as He walked towards his inglorious death. Not all were present in the end and I have asked myself if I too would have run off when all seemed hopeless. After all, the supposed ‘King of the Jews’ was even worse than a criminal. How could those closest to Him see any way out from the humiliation of the crucifixion? It would take a strong heart and stout will to truly stay the course.
Eventually, God makes everything right and vindicates all who believed in Jesus Christ by raising him up from the dead. When Christ conquers death and appears to those who love Him, the ultimate reward is the opening up of all the faculties, the heart and the soul of those who encounter the risen Lord. One could say that all the anguish and turmoil they endured during Christ’s horrendous suffering was immediately supplanted by wonder, amazement, gratitude and a deep-seated love that could only have come after struggling with doubt and even questioning oneself.
Brothers and sisters, each day is a constant struggle at home, at work and even at rest. We battle against fear, insecurity, jealousy, pride, envy, anger and many other sins. But take heart for the Lord knows our innermost feelings and our struggles. As long as we are focused on Him, all of us will be raised up on the last day.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: We pray O Heavenly Father, that knowing our deepest desires and fears, you will recognize us as your beloved sons and daughters on the Day of Judgment.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your steadfast love for all of us.