Daily Archives: April 20, 2017

21 April, Friday – Fighting for the Truth

21 Apr – Memorial for St. Anselm, bishop & doctor

Anselm (1033-1109) was born of Italian nobility. After a childhood devoted to piety and study, he wanted to enter religious life, but his father prevented it, and Anselm became rather worldly for several years. Upon his mother’s death, Anselm argued with his father, fled to France, and became a Benedictine monk at Bec, Normandy. He studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as abbot, before later becoming Archbishop of Canterbury.

Anselm was a theological writer and counsellor to Pope Gregory VII, Pope Urban II, and William the Conqueror. He opposed slavery and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. He fought King William Rufus’ encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independences of the Church, and was exiled. He resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at the Council of Bari in 1098. He strongly supported celibate clergy. King Henry I invited him to return to England, but they disputed over investitures, and Anselm was again exiled in 1106.

He was one of the great philosophers and theologians of the Middle Ages, and was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.

No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God.”

  • Anselm, Opera Omnis, Letter 112
  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 4:1-12

While Peter and John were talking to the people the priests came up to them, accompanied by the captain of the Temple and the Sadducees. They were extremely annoyed at their teaching the people the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead by proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. They arrested them, but as it was already late, they held them till the next day. But many of those who had listened to their message became believers, the total number of whom had now risen to something like five thousand.

The next day the rulers, elders and scribes had a meeting in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, Jonathan, Alexander and all the members of the high-priestly families. They made the prisoners stand in the middle and began to interrogate them, ‘By what power, and by whose name have you men done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all, and would indeed be glad to tell the whole people of Israel, that it was by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the one you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man is able to stand up perfectly healthy, here in your presence, today. This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’

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John 21:1-14

Jesus stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

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But many of those who heard the word came to believe

Nobel-prize winner Malala Yousafzai is a staunch advocate for education, especially for girls. What started off as a movement in her native home in the Swat district in Pakistan is now an international campaign, with supporters like Angelina Jolie and the Obamas. Malala took the brave road laden with trials and obstacles to have her voice heard — she was threatened and finally shot at in an assassination attempt by the Taliban, and all this before she was 16 years old. She lived and recovered, and her message is now heard all over the world.

Sometimes when we defend the truth, we will find opposition from naysayers. Critics attempt to question our credibility by tainting our image. People start to isolate us. Who will hear us?

Peter and John faced similar adversity when they spoke of Jesus’ resurrection. The priests and Sadducees arrested them and threw them into prison in an attempt to silence them. But this only fuelled the spread of the resurrection news, and the number of believers grew and grew.

The point is this – sometimes, it is hard to defend the truth and what we believe in. We will face challenges from all fronts — people will laugh at us, family may criticise us, friends may ostracise us. Lies and rumours about us will spread. Even people who have no association with us will claim familiarity and spread all kinds of falsehoods. It will be the loneliest place on earth to be, fighting in our corner. But that is the thing, God is truth. And while it is lonely for us on earth, if we are on the side of truth, then God is on our side, in heaven. He will have a way of making things happen; we need not understand how, but have faith that it will happen, according to His will, His way, in His time.

It is hard to fight for the truth alone. But Peter and John had full faith in God because they believed strongly in what they had witnessed, and believed that to be the truth. God promised that he would never leave us alone nor forsake us, and He did not abandon Peter and John. In fact, He turned the situation on its head and multiplied the number of believers. Eventually Peter and John were released.

I realise that such situations may not yield similar results. Sadly, not every story has a happy ending. But it is my hope that we will be encouraged by God’s promise that He will be our help, which will lead us to hold on steadfastly to what we believe in. Maybe one day we will be called to testify, I don’t know. If I were in Malala’s shoes, I don’t know if I would have half her courage. But she stood for what she believed in, and in the end, truth prevailed. There is hope yet my friends, to stand by the truth, and it is my hope that truth will prevail.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the courage to stand by the truth though the odds may be against us, firm in the belief that You will deliver us and let the truth prevail.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being there with us, walking the journey though we may be alone.