13 Jan – Memorial for St. Hilary, bishop and doctor of the Church
St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) was known as Athanasius of the West. He was born to wealthy polytheistic, pagan nobility. His early life was uneventful as he married, had children (one of whom was St. Abra), and studied on his own. Through his studies, he came to believe in salvation through good works, and then monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith, and was converted by the end of the New Testament.
Hilary lived the faith so well that he was made Bishop of Poitiers from 353-368. He opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters and was exiled; he used the time to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many and, in an attempt to reduce his notoriety, he was returned to the small town of Poitiers where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity. His writings nonetheless continued to convert pagans.
Hilary introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church, fought Arianism with the help of St. Viventius, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851.
- Patron Saint Index
Be careful: the promise of reaching the place of rest that God had for the Israelites still holds good, and none of you must think that he has come too late for it. We received the Good News exactly as they did; but hearing the message did them no good because they did not share the faith of those who listened. We, however, who have faith, shall reach a place of rest, as in the text: And so, in anger, I swore that not one would reach the place of rest I had for them. God’s work was undoubtedly all finished at the beginning of the world; as one text says, referring to the seventh day: After all his work God rested on the seventh day. The text we are considering says: They shall not reach the place of rest I had for them. We must therefore do everything we can to reach this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of disobedience and be lost.
When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowd made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’
Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he turned to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’
“We, however, who have faith, shall reach a place of rest.”
I was having dinner with a few colleagues of mine when the topic of health, or more specifically, illness, came up.
My friend shared that one of his parents was critically ill before she passed away. He thought that instead of going through numerous medical treatments, one should just enjoy the remaining time one had.
Another colleague shared that his friend’s child had suddenly become unwell at six months of age and his parents were told that he would not live past another six months. The parents fought on, choosing to put their child through numerous operations on the heart and lungs. The child is today eight years of age, living life fully, although he still has to contend with a few symptoms of his childhood affliction.
I have witnessed a few of my friends and family go through similar health challenges in their lives, and they have faced similar dilemmas as well. The choice is never easy; does one give up or fight to live? The passages in the First Reading and Gospel today exhort everyone to keep their faith in God and not to give up.
The challenge is that with God’s gift of free will, we struggle to discern the path God desires us to take. Today’s readings tell me that the way to go is to continue to reach out and be connected to Jesus, and simply to live each day with faith. May we continue to do so until the time we are due to meet with God in heaven.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father, may we learn to live our lives in simple faith and to keep reaching out to You. Help us to keep our eyes and spirits open to You.
Thanksgiving – Jesus, thank You for always encouraging us in the Holy Bible. We are grateful for the Holy Spirit, sent to affirm and strengthen us in our journey home.