June 1 – Memorial for St. Justin, martyr
He was born at the beginning of the second century in Nablus, in Samaria, of a pagan Greek family. He was an earnest seeker after truth, and studied many systems of philosophy before being led, through Platonism, to Christianity. While remaining a layman, he accepted the duty of making the truth known, and travelled from place to place proclaiming the gospel. In 151 he travelled from Ephesus to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy and wrote defences and expositions of Christianity, which have survived to this day and are the earliest known writings of their kind. In the persecution of 165, in the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, he was denounced as a Christian, arrested and beheaded. The transcript of his trial by the prefect of Rome, Rusticus, has also survived: it can be found in today’s Office of Readings.
Justin treats the Greek philosophy that he studied as mostly true, but incomplete. In contrast to the Hebrew tendency to view God as making revelations to them and to no-one else, he follows the parable of the Sower, and sees God as sowing the seed of wisdom throughout the world, to grow wherever the soil would receive it. When we dispute with people who disagree with us, we would do well to assume that they too are seeking wisdom and have found truth of a kind. Since there is only one God and one Truth, it is our task not to contradict or belittle their achievement, but to show them how their strivings and searches are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. This is harder to do – not least, because we have to take the trouble to understand our own faith thoroughly – but it is ultimately more worthwhile.
2 Timothy 1:1-3,6-12
From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus in his design to promise life in Christ Jesus; to Timothy, dear child of mine, wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.
Night and day I thank God, keeping my conscience clear and remembering my duty to him as my ancestors did, and always I remember you in my prayers. That is why I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the Appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News; and I have been named its herald, its apostle and its teacher.
It is only on account of this that I am experiencing fresh hardships here now; but I have not lost confidence, because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.
Some Sadducees – who deny that there is a resurrection – came to him and they put this question to him, ‘Master, we have it from Moses in writing, if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first married a wife and then died leaving no children. The second married the widow, and he too died leaving no children; with the third it was the same, and none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?’
Jesus said to them, ‘Is not the reason why you go wrong, that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.’
Because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.
I am quite an introvert. More often than not, I have a fear of speaking up. And it doesn’t stop there. I have a fear of this and a fear of that. So much so, that eventually I give up my right to speak, because I fear what others might think of me.
All these boil down to one thing: Pride. Because of my own pride, I fear what opinions others have of me.
But today’s first reading truly speaks to all of us who have a certain fear in our hearts. St Paul says: “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord…”
Recently, Archbishop William Goh in his homily at the Pentecost Rally spoke about the need for Christians to evangelise, saying that it is not an option but an obligation to do so. Indeed, witnessing to the Lord is not an option but an obligation, with all its hardships and trials.
It is really not an easy task to speak about what God has done for us in our lives. I find it tough too. And sometimes I take the easy way out and choose not to do so; after all, I’m an introvert (and introverts would rather stay out of the party and hide at a corner).
But all the more, it is with suffering of hardships that we show how God is working in our lives. Sometimes words are not needed, but just pure actions. Living our sufferings with grace, by grace.
This also means that whatever our limitations and fears, we continue to depend on the grace of God to witness to His goodness. May I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to have a spirit of openness to rely on God as we live our lives to testify to love and tell of His greatness. This is also something which I am constantly reminding myself as well.
As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said: “We are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.” So let us be faithful to our mission — to be evangelisers of God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Lee)
Prayer: Dearest Father, You have given us the grace to call you Abba Father. Help us to always be faithful to our calling and mission to be witnesses to Your greatness. Enable us always to be courageous in the face of negativity when we are called to make Your name known. This prayer we make in Your name, Jesus. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you dear Lord, for Your empowerment. Thank you for your abundant grace which gives us the courage to be missionaries of Your love.