Saturday, 25 Apr – Community

25 Apr – Memorial of Saint Mark, the Evangelist

The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes called John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother’s house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there.

St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark’s cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.

St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D.; he wrote it in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition tells us that St. Mark was requested by theRomans to set down the teachings of St. Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in this Gospel. In this way the second Gospel is a record of the life of Jesus as seen through the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles. His feast day is April 25. He is the patron saint of notaries.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 Peter 5:5-14

All wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other, because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble. Bow down, then, before the power of God now, and he will raise you up on the appointed day; unload all your worries on to him, since he is looking after you. Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things. You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.

I write these few words to you through Silvanus, who is a brother I know I can trust, to encourage you never to let go this true grace of God to which I bear witness.

Your sister in Babylon, who is with you among the chosen, sends you greetings; so does my son, Mark.

Greet one another with a kiss of love.

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Mark 16:15-20

Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and said to them: ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’

And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.

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…it is the same kind of suffering that the community of your brothers throughout the world is undergoing.

Since February this year, a group of us have been meeting once every two weeks as a discipleship group (DG) at CSC. Prior to this, we were in ‘cell groups’ and we had been sharing the Word of God together quite regularly. The change to DGs came about with a change in our spiritual director, who recognized the need for all of us in ministry to first be able to strengthen ourselves spiritually in order that our service, whether at retreats or other occasions, would flow from our hearts rather than be seen as a task or job to perform. Thus began our spiritual recovery journey as individuals and as a community.

This change has opened up tremendously my understanding of our faith. What used to be a very private faith, even as I was serving in CSC, is now one that is anchored on a community of brothers who struggle and fight their own battles on a daily basis. But, as I shared a few days ago, we know that we do not fight alone. Each one of us prays for the other and whenever we come together, I can feel the bonds deepening and strengthening. Truly, God is working within our small community and keeping the flame burning in each one of us.

I never thought that I would ever reveal my deepest secrets and transgressions to openly to anyone else. As Fr Erbin (our new SD) has said, “In this process, once you share, you will realise that you are not alone. And to know that someone else identifies with you and can empathise with you is truly something special.” He believes that these sharings are how we break the bonds of sin and condemn the devil to defeat. Because when we hold no secrets in our heart, the devil cannot play on them or use them against us.

Brothers and sisters, it is true that we all suffer. And by going it alone, we will only end up wallowing in our own fear, anxiety, self-pity and every other negative emotion you can think of. We all belong to the body of Christ. Therefore, ours is not a private faith. We are meant to be part of a larger community that is united in God’s love. It is inevitable that as part of a community, we will encounter all kinds of situations and people that will test us (parents-in-law are an oft-quoted example). As Catholics, we must be able to accept that we cannot change others and that what needs to change is ourselves. Only then can we truly say that we are a community of brothers and sisters who are united in one heart, one mind and one spirit in the love of Christ.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

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Prayer: Lord, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to you O Lord, for our brothers and sisters who journey with us in life and teach us what being a part of the body of Christ means.

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