May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor
Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism, which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.
He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.
He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.
- Patron Saint Index
Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’
They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.
The people said to Jesus, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Sometimes, we try to intellectualise things overly, by totally ignoring the voices in our heart. We think that it is not humanly possible to withstand hunger and thirst or, taking it further, to think that it is impossible to always trust in God. If you are in that place in your lives or you see that you are approaching it, run back to God. I say run because it has to be immediate and prompt so that any unbelief that you have does not grow. It is our little act of running to Him that can snap out any roots of unbelief.
In today’s reading we read of Saul who consented to the death of St Stephen. Can we trust God that He restores the situations of death which we have consented to?
Trust has become a rare virtue and could be difficult to some of us. But the Lord promises us in today’s gospel that those who believe in Him will never thirst. It is possible that some of us can relate to the time in our lives when we never stopping believing in God, and how that gave us peace and joy despite our hardship. Could we revisit that place of belief and trust in our hearts?
In my life, I am blessed to have been in that place of trusting God, despite my personal suffering. But I could not have done it without reading the scriptures, attending mass and praying fervently. I am not implying that trusting God takes a lot of effort. But rather I have experienced that if I wanted to continue to ensure that I never distrust Him and doubt Him, I have to seek Him fervently in prayers, and have others carry my prayers to the Lord. I know that even to trust Him is a blessing from Him.
When I do not trust Him, I am in shambles, I am lost, broken and troubled. I feel like my life wire has been unplugged. To go on in peace and in joy, I have to ensure that I am connected to Him. Maybe some of you can relate to this? Maybe you cannot. But either way, you and I need to trust in the Lord all the time.
He is not a magician nor a medium but He is the all in all, our everything. Without Him, there is no you and me. Our hunger and thirst for Him can be fulfilled if we continue to walk with Him and at times, race to Him.
(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Jesus, my precious Lord, I trust in you. Help me while I run, I walk and I crawl to you, also when I turn my back on you. Free me from living a life without You.
Thanksgiving: Lord, I thank you for the bread from heaven. I thank you for teaching me each time that you are worthy of trust.