11 Apr – St Stanislaus, bishop and martyr
Stanislaus of Szczepanów, or Stanis?aw Szczepanowski, was a Bishop of Kraków known chiefly for having been martyred by the Polish king Boles?aw II the Bold. Stanislaus is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.
The high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Prompted by jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the common gaol.
But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, ‘Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.’ They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach.
When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin – this was the full Senate of Israel – and sent to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, ‘We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.’ When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what this could mean. Then a man arrived with fresh news. ‘At this very moment’ he said, ‘the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.’ The captain went with his men and fetched them. They were afraid to use force in case the people stoned them.
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
‘Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
John 3:16 for many of us, was the first verse we memorized as children. My grandmother was the one who taught it to me. A born-again Christian, she found God late in life and embraced her faith wholeheartedly. She would often sing hymns to us instead of lullabies. In fact, my first encounter with the Holy Bible was a beautiful illustrated version at my grandparents’ home. I was a practising Buddhist back then, so there was always something special about the Holy Bible because it was ‘forbidden fruit’ to me. The stories from the Old Testament, of heroism, of sacrifice and faith captured my imagination.
We all have a similar memory of that first encounter with God. I didn’t even know I was being called at the time. But on looking back, I can see how the dots connected forward. As I grew older, my relationship with God deepened despite myself. I say ‘despite’ because I never actively sought God out, yet He was constantly a part of my life. Like John Newton’s famous lyrics, “thru many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home”. I know that all I am, and all I have is because of the grace of God.
The apostles in today’s first reading never imagined that their lives would play out the way it did. That’s the thing about completely trusting God to direct your life – you never know what you’re going to get, or where you’re going to end up. “Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God” (John 3: 21). When we commit to living in the light, we find ourselves instinctively giving up our old ways. We find contentment and peace in Him, even if we are in the midst of chaos. Our lives simplify, our priorities become clearer. It may take a year, it may take ten. He changes lives in His time. This Easter, let us remember the promise of John 3:16 offered up to all of us who believe. The great love story of Easter is captured in those simple lines – God’s love for us is so great that He opened up a path for us back to Him, despite ourselves. Embrace it and watch your life change!
(Today’s OXGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for those who have committed themselves to God. We pray they find peace and calm, even if they may be surrounded by chaos.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who work in apostolic vocations. We give thanks for their tireless efforts and courage at spreading His word. Thank you for the inspiration.