13 April, Friday – The Faith Others Love To Hate

13 April – Memorial for St. Martin I, pope & martyr

Martin (d. 655) was chosen the 74th pope in 649 without imperial approval. He conducted the Lateran Council which condemned the Patriach of Constantinople for Monothelitism, which claimed that Christ had no human will. This put him in opposition to the emperor who had him arrested and tortured. Paul, Patriach of Constantinople, repented of his stance which saved Martin from execution, but the pope died soon after from damage received during his imprisonment, and is considered a martyr, the last martyred pope.

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Acts 5:34-42

One member of the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee called Gamaliel, who was a doctor of the Law and respected by the whole people, stood up and asked to have the apostles taken outside for a time. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin, ‘Men of Israel, be careful how you deal with these people. There was Theudas who became notorious not so long ago. He claimed to be someone important, and he even collected about four hundred followers; but when he was killed, all his followers scattered and that was the end of them. And then there was Judas the Galilean, at the time of the census, who attracted crowds of supporters; but he got killed too, and all his followers dispersed. What I suggest, therefore, is that you leave these men alone and let them go. If this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact come from God you will not only be unable to destroy them, but you might find yourselves fighting against God.’

His advice was accepted; and they had the apostles called in, gave orders for them to be flogged, warned them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.

They preached every day both in the Temple and in private houses, and their proclamation of the Good News of Christ Jesus was never interrupted.

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John 6:1-15

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

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You will not be able to destroy them

Take a moment and look back at violence around the world that involved the bombing of a church, kidnapping of priests, or any other acts that have hurt the Christian community. With each such instance, we always come back with a stronger belief that God is always there looking after us. Even till this day, there are some communities who are threatened by the Christian faith. No matter how much the Church has done for the needy through charities and schools, or even feeding the homeless, our faith is still under watch.

In today’s reading, the message from our Lord Jesus through His disciples was never interrupted. The mission of God in making Himself known to the world began since Christ rose from the dead, and has not stopped. Today, Christian communities in some regions may have dwindled with fewer members and are less active due to an ageing population. However, this is being more than compensated by the ranks of ever-growing young believers around the world. The annual World Youth Day brings young people together on a week’s retreat to renew their faith and to unite with the large Catholic community, bonding with fellow young Christians from other parts of the world.

Today’s Gospel reflects on the charity and generosity of Christ. That has always been the mission of the apostles given by Christ. Through acts of love, Christ preached God’s word and intentions to His children, and by believing in the works of the Lord, the community grew stronger; even inviting non-believers to experience the beautiful works from Him. Sadly, we seem to have become a community that some people love to hate. Despite the many good works that are going on in our faith, these are also threats to our fellow brothers and sisters. But we should never fear because just as God created us, the only one who is able to destroy His works is God himself.

(Today’s Oxygen by Austin Leong)

Prayer: We pray for all the communities and charities that are under threat. That they may be protected by authorities and not be target of violence.

Thanksgiving: Thank you our Lord Jesus Christ, who built and provided us with so much faith support over the years.

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