29 December, Thursday – The Wait is Over

Dec 29 – Memorial for St. Thomas Becket, bishop, martyr

Thomas (1118-1170) was of Norman ancestry. He was educated at Merton Priory, Paris, Bologna, and Auxerre. He was a civil and canon lawyer, a soldier and officer. He was archdeacon of Canterbury, and was a Friend of King Henry II, as well as Chancellor of England. He was ordained in 1162 and was appointed archbishop of Canterbury the next day. He opposed the King’s interference in ecclesiastical matters. He was exiled several times, and was eventually murdered (and martyred) in 1170 in the Cathedral at Canterbury, England.

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1 John 2:3-11

We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.
We can be sure that we are in God
only when the one who claims to be living in him
is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
My dear people,
this is not a new commandment that I am writing to tell you,
but an old commandment
that you were given from the beginning,
the original commandment which was the message brought to you.
Yet in another way, what I am writing to you,
and what is being carried out in your lives as it was in his,
is a new commandment;
because the night is over
and the real light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother
is still in the dark.
But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light
and need not be afraid of stumbling;
unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness,
not knowing where he is going,
because it is too dark to see.

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Luke 2:22-35

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

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Your word has been fulfilled

The day was 13 August 2016. I was in school that Saturday morning, overseeing the setting up of a carnival booth by students. Upstairs, a packed school hall was witnessing history. The whole place was pulsing with noise and I could not be sure, but I thought I heard screams and uproarious cheering coming from the hall. Moments later, a colleague walked past and announced, “He did it!”

To be very honest, I had long given up hope of Singapore garnering an Olympic gold medal. It was just one of those things that elude tiny countries like ours, no matter how wealthy we become. As a Singaporean, I felt my heart bursting with pride, and so deeply moved that a nation’s hope had been fulfilled so perfectly by a determined and gifted young man. The wait was over. We would never lament the futility of gunning for an Olympic gold ever again.

In today’s Gospel passage, Simeon had spent a lifetime waiting to glimpse his salvation. As his hair grew completely grey and his footsteps turned into a shuffle, would he have wondered whether his wait was worthwhile? Or would he have forged on with confidence that the Lord will fulfil his promise made to him? Imagine his joy when the wait was over.

Lately, I have been praying Simeon’s prayer at night, having decided out of the blue to start praying the Divine Office. I find it a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord, as it expresses peace of mind at having accepted Jesus, joy at seeing the work of the Lord, and a humble submission to God’s will. “Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled.”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

Prayer: We pray that despite our wounds, we will find peace in our hearts.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the signs of grace that God places in our lives.

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