7 Mar – Memorial for Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs
Perpetua (d. 203) was a lay woman born to a noble pagan family. She was a convert, a wife and a mother. She was martyred with her maid, friend, and fellow convert Felicitas. In centuries past, their story was so popular that St. Augustine of Hippo warned against giving it the weight of scripture.
- Patron Saint Index
Moses said to the people:
‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you.
‘See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?
‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’
“…the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven”
I was not born into the Catholic faith. One of the things I learned when I started attending the Church was the concept of abstinence on Fridays. At first, I was troubled to learn that I could not eat meat, but was totally elated that I could eat fish! I began to seek out tasty recipes to cook fish so I could ‘abstain’ enjoyably!
It was later that I learned that the rationale behind eating fish was that it was seen as a poor quality meat in the West, unlike the fresh fish we have here in Singapore. Over time, I understood that abstinence is an important part of repentance and helps us in our efforts to turn away from sin and to reconnect with God.
As Christians, we need to understand what God’s laws for us mean and have to be careful that we do not undermine the essence of what these laws mean. I began to understand what this meant when I trained as an accountant.
One of the tenets I learned was the importance of ‘substance over form’.
In interpreting any accountancy principle, one had to look at the substance of what that principle was meant to cover, rather than just the wording. I have seen many instances where many fail to understand the underlying meaning and still end up violating the principle in its essence.
In my journey of faith, I learned many ‘do’s and don’ts’ in the Old Testament. Often, I found these challenging (and numerous!). As a new Christian previously attending a Protestant church, I spent much time mulling and debating over what I was supposed, and not supposed, to do.
In the New Testament, however, I found my answer. It is the ‘substance’ of my faith and drives my understanding of the Old Testament. The two greatest commandments our Lord Jesus taught us completes my grasp of my faith.
Now, when I look at the circumstances I face in my life, I ask myself if I am loving my God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. Next, I ask myself if I have loved my neighbour as myself.
Let us pray that we may continue to always turn to these 2 basic principles in trying to grow in our faith.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may always be ‘plugged in’ to Your promptings. Help us to always head towards You.
Thanksgiving: We praise and thank You, Father, for teaching us what is it You want us to be and to learn.