Aug 28 – Memorial for St. Augustine, bishop, doctor
After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, Augustine (354-430) became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: “God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now.”
Augustine finally broke with the Manichaeans and was converted by the prayers of his mother and the help of St. Ambrose of Milan, who baptised him. Upon the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a monastery. He founded religious communities and fought heresies. His later thinking can also be summed up in a line from his writings: Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10
From Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace.
We always mention you in our prayers and thank God for you all, and constantly remember before God our Father how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We know, brothers, that God loves you and that you have been chosen, because when we brought the Good News to you, it came to you not only as words, but as power and as the Holy Spirit and as utter conviction. And you observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you, which was for your instruction, since it was from you that the word of the Lord started to spread – and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith in God has spread everywhere. We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son, whom he raised from the dead, to come from heaven to save us from the retribution which is coming.
Jesus said: ‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who shut up the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to.
‘Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when you have him you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.
‘Alas for you, blind guides! You who say, “If a man swears by the Temple, it has no force; but if a man swears by the gold of the Temple, he is bound.” Fools and blind! For which is of greater worth, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred? Or else, “If a man swears by the altar it has no force; but if a man swears by the offering that is on the altar, he is bound.” You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred? Therefore, when a man swears by the altar he is swearing by that and by everything on it. And when a man swears by the Temple he is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it. And when a man swears by heaven he is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.’
“someone who swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.”
Today’s Gospel is a bit hard to digest, however I feel that the message that I’m called to share is that of, ‘Do we know who we are following?’, ‘Why do we do what we do?’
I currently work in the parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) and was previously working at Church of the Holy Spirit as the Youth Coordinator. Over the years, I’ve seen many who hold positions in the church and they, most of them are not your best role models or disciples for that matter. Maybe some are even worse off than those who don’t even come to church. Me included, there are countless of times where I look in the mirror and just see a hypocrite. Preaching one thing but not only do I not follow, I do the exact opposite.
We don’t need to hold a position to be considered to be a leader but the nature of our faith, as Catholics, people will already be judging us, our lifestyle and so on. And the reality is many have left the church because of priests, leaders within the church, bad experiences, where the expectations that one has of the church isn’t met.
The truth is we are all broken people and more so a good number of those who go to church. It’s quite easy to understand that people who are doing well, most of the time, wouldn’t exactly need God in their life? So the church is probably more broken than we ever imagine, but the beauty of it is that, God sees all and still chooses us to be His ministers, His disciples.
However, what is really key is that we need to know who we are following, who we are leading people to. And we should lead all to God, to only cling on Christ, to depend/rely on Him and not man, for man will continue to fall. Christ is the perfect role model and one we all should strive towards.
And so I urge all of us, not just to listen, follow blindly or be disappointed by man for man is broken and imperfect but to always have our sight on Christ. If we always hold on to the truths of the Gospel and love as Christ loves, then we won’t be far from being the face of Christ to others. Let us bind ourselves to Christ and we can be sure of a place for us with Christ in heaven. May your kingdom come and your will be done in our lives as it is in heaven. God Bless
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for strength to overcome the temptations that seek to pull us away from you. May our words lead to actions and may we grow to be more and more like you.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for your love, for your constant forgiveness, for accepting us and loving us in all our brokenness, disobedience and rejection of you. Amen.