That day a bitter persecution started against the church in Jerusalem, and everyone except the apostles fled to the country districts of Judaea and Samaria.
There were some devout people, however, who buried Stephen and made great mourning for him.
Saul then worked for the total destruction of the Church; he went from house to house arresting both men and women and sending them to prison.
Those who had escaped went from place to place preaching the Good News. One of them was Philip who went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached, either because they had heard of the miracles he worked or because they saw them for themselves. There were, for example, unclean spirits that came shrieking out of many who were possessed, and several paralytics and cripples were cured. As a result there was great rejoicing in that town.
Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.
But, as I have told you,
you can see me and still you do not believe.
All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away;
because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will,
but to do the will of the one who sent me.
Now the will of him who sent me
is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me,
and that I should raise it up on the last day.
Yes, it is my Father’s will
that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life,
and that I shall raise him up on the last day.’
Whoever sees the Son and believes in him
Lately, a combination of factors led me to seriously contemplate the concept of death, particularly what awaits us afterwards. I have left my full-time job for more than a year, giving me increased mental ‘bandwidth’ to dwell on these big questions in life. Coupled with my observation of my mom’s journey into old age and her gradual deterioration into a physically weaker version of her former self, I could not help but ponder our mortality. Naturally, along with it, came a serious examination, or shall I say re-examination, of the church’s teachings about eternal life with our Father in heaven. Maybe I lack trust in God, and/or I am not reading the gospel through the eyes of love and faith, but I am presently struggling with doubts about our fate at the end of our pilgrimage in this world.
Post-resurrection, the apostles and followers of Christ wasted no time in setting up a Christ-centred community to spread His word. Did they fully understand His teachings at that time? I am not sure that they had all the head knowledge, but they definitely had the heart, and of course the Spirit was in them. Collectively, they sought to emulate their Lord and master in His ministry, knowing that they had a mission to spread the message of salvation, and that their own salvation awaited them at their journeys’ end.
After I told a priest about my struggles with the faith, he shared that he struggled with his own doubts for a few decades, and encouraged me to persevere in reading scripture. I think reading scripture is not sufficient though. I would have to continue to sustain a life of service in the Lord, and see His face through love for my neighbours, in whatever ways I can.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that in times of struggles, doubts and crises of faith, the Spirit may give us the hope we need.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the grace of redemption and opportunities to try again.