20 July – Memorial for St. Apollinaris, Bishop & Martyr
According to tradition, Apollinaris was a native of Antioch in the Roman Province of Syria. He was made the first Bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source).
On his way out of the city, he was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured and martyred by being run through with a sword. Centuries after his death, he appeared in a vision to St. Romuald. He was a noted miracle worker, and is considered especially effective against gout and epilepsy.
The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, of a priestly family living at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.’
I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’
But the Lord replied,
‘Do not say, “I am a child.”
Go now to those to whom I send you
and, say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you –
it is the Lord who speaks!’
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me:
‘There! I am putting my words into your mouth.
Look, today I am setting you
over nations and over kingdoms,
to tear up and to knock down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.’
Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
In today’s readings, God once again affirms us of His presence and that it is He who saves, not us. As we read in the first reading, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’. Many times we find ourselves giving such reasons as well — that we are not ready, not qualified, that there are others who are better out there, or that come to me only if there’s really no one else. We find it so hard to take charge of our faith and to trust in God. That He doesn’t call the qualified but qualifies those He calls. It is also the very fact that as we live our lives, it is not to see how good we are and for us to shine, but rather to show others how great God is and to glorify Him by our lives.
Being aware and speaking is easy, but when it comes to the action, the Lord reminds us in the Gospel that the ‘seeds’ – our efforts, can fall on many different types of ‘grounds’ – people/ears. Some may listen and internalise, some may listen but merely listen and their lives do not change, others may not bother listening and there are those who go against whatever is being said.
Eventually, the key word is perseverance, to once again know that it is God who saves. But our calling and purpose is to be that witness, to be God’s mouth, hands and ears, to spread the Good News. He also promises us that there will be fruits of our labour because we are doing His will.
Let us be open to God’s will in our lives, it doesn’t mean there will be instant results, but what that really means is to persevere, to be patient, but yet to be aware, to listen and to love. We surrender our lives to you for it is you who have given us our lives. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in our lives today.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the many people who have yet to come to know you. We pray that they will be open to your presence in their lives and not just in church. We ask that you may continue to speak to them and touch them in your own special way. We also would like to pray for ourselves, for the times when we have failed to listen, the times when we have taken things into our own hands and for the times when we have given excuses for not living out our faith. Give us the grace that we may not run away but run towards you and cling on to you in our daily lives.
Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for your continuous reminder that it is not the world who judges us but you. We are not determined or qualified based on what we have but who you have created us to be. Created in your image and perfect in your sight, we thank you for all the gifts and talents you have bestowed upon us and your never failing love for us. We thank you Lord for our lives. Amen.