30 Apr – Pope St Pius V
He was born near the Italian town of Alexandria, on the Adriatic, and joined the Dominicans and taught theology. He was made a bishop and fought to reform the moral laxity of the clergy. He was elected Pope in 1566. He strenuously promoted the Catholic Reformation that was started by the Council of Trent. He encouraged missionary work and reformed the liturgy.
Paul and his friends went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. After the lessons from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message: ‘Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, please do so.’ Paul stood up, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out, and for about forty years took care of them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”’
After he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.
‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.
‘I tell you this now, before it happens,
so that when it does happen
you may believe that I am He.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’
My soon-to-be 8 year old challenges me on an almost daily basis when it comes to our faith and what it is to be Christian. For example, today my daughter shared that Bibik (her father’s domestic helper) has a lot of chores to complete daily and that she felt she wanted to go over and help her with them. I suggested that perhaps it would be best for her to help someone else who is in a similar predicament — her own grandmother — whom we live with and who does a lot for the family. This includes cooking, cleaning and even helping with my daughter’s homework! I went on to stress that her granny was doing this not as a job (which is what Bibik is doing) but out of pure love for her own family. My daughter rebutted by explaining that because her granny is so loved for doing so, we needed to help Bibik – who doesn’t have love. I shared that the likelihood of her being loved is very high given that she is very much appreciated by her employer. The conversation soon digressed into something else.
As her words continued to linger on, I was led to remember the time she challenged me (as is her habit) and asked why God did not come as a mighty King, living in a grand castle, with a large army, a fancy entourage of outriders to escort Him etc. I tried to explain that the only way He could really show us how to ‘be’ was to become one of us. As a 6-year-old back then, that idea was a little hard for her to grasp. I asked her “what is the likelihood of our Sultan knowing exactly how you feel when you are hungry, and getting punished for something you didn’t do in school or yelled at and hit for trying to speak the truth?”
The truth is this – no King (and no other God) has ever come down to our level to show us how to be triumphant in our struggles, to conquer pain and to come out winners in the end. All this was made possible only because He became one of us. If Jesus didn’t come to serve us, we would be anything but Easter people today. There are many examples in our community of believers today. Take our priests for instance – they celebrate mass for us, pray for us, work for us (technically) just so that we can have a relationship with God! It is the same for those who volunteer in church ministries as well as those on mission.
To be a servant also means dealing with ugly struggles we would rather not put up with. It’s a task that will see a lot of back-biting, betrayal, deceit, jealousy, hatred – the list goes on. But guess what? These are things that our own Servant Lord encountered just so He could remain obedient to His Father’s will and because He loved us. It’s a lot like ‘granny’ who puts up with our complaints, bickering, accusations and hurts along the way as a result of wanting to be a servant of love to her family. Is there someone in your life that does so much for you to a point where you have become complacent and totally ungrateful for their very presence and assistance? Are you numb to those who serve you with love? Could you do something different to make it possible for them to see and believe that they are appreciated? Allow yourself some compassion today towards those who serve you for, like Scripture says, ‘we are not above them’.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Fiona Biggs)
Prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to see and appreciate all that is done for me through the people you have placed in my life. Amen
Thanksgiving: My Lord and my God, thank you for teaching me humility through servanthood. Help me to forever seek this position that is beneath the rest and not above them. Amen.