5 June, Tuesday – Steering Through Stormy Seas

Jun 5 – Memorial for St. Boniface, bishop and martyr

Educated at the Benedictine monastary at Exeter, England where he became a monk, Boniface (c.673–754) was a missionary to Germany from 719, assisted by St. Albinus, St. Abel, and St. Agatha. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites.

He was ordained a bishop and later became Archbishop of Mainz. He reformed the churches in his see, and built religious houses in Germany. He ordained St. Sola. He founded the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. He evangelized in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans and he and 52 of his new flock, included St. Adaler and St. Eoban were martyred.

Once in Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshipping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six-foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, “How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun.

One tradition about St. Boniface says that he used the customs of the locals to help convert them. There was a game in which they threw sticks called kegels at smaller sticks called heides. Boniface brought religion to the game, having the heides represent demons, and knocking them down showing the purity of spirit.

He is the patron of many groups, including World Youth Day.

– Patron Saint Index

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2 Peter 3:11-15,17-18

You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised: the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace. Think of our Lord’s patience as your opportunity to be saved. You have been warned about this, my friends; be careful not to get carried away by the errors of unprincipled people, from the firm ground that you are standing on. Instead, go on growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory, in time and in eternity. Amen.

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Mark 12:13-17

The chief priests and the scribes and the elders sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to catch him out in what he said. These came and said to him, ‘Master, we know you are an honest man, that you are not afraid of anyone, because a man’s rank means nothing to you, and that you teach the way of God in all honesty. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay, yes or no?’ Seeing through their hypocrisy he said to them, ‘Why do you set this trap for me? Hand me a denarius and let me see it.’ They handed him one and he said, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they told him. Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’ This reply took them completely by surprise.

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“Be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability”

I have been following the developments of the political situation back home in Malaysia, right from the run-up to the elections till the implementation of reforms by the current government. Equivalent to a modern Shakespearean drama, the unfolding of events has also given rise to scenes of “he says, she says”, with politicians and media trying to ensnare one another in a game of words.

I saw one such interview of a young politician (whom I shall not name) whom the interviewer was clearly trying to corner in her line of questioning. The said politician deftly manoeuvered the situation with a series of comebacks and responses which were very admirable.

Experience in the media spotlight has, no doubt, given this politician a trump card; however from the conviction in the responses given, it also seemed clear that a strong set of principles has given this politician a firm foundation from which to fire off these responses without getting caught with one’s foot in one’s mouth.

The Gospel reading today isn’t much different from the politics of present-time. The Pharisees and Herodians were sent to corner Jesus, hoping that he would trip up over his words. But Jesus knew what they were about, and not only deftly answered the question, but point-blank asked them “Why are you testing me?” Life will always be peppered with people and situations meant to trap us and test us, people who want to shake us and expose to the world our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and thus shame us. That could ruin us. It could bring down our morale and ruin our reputation. It could cause us to hide in anger and embarrassment. Or we could maneuver it into a positive experience instead, should we have a firm set of principles to fall back on.

How strong our faith is, and how unshakeable our moral compass is, will determine how well we navigate through the storms of life. One false step and we could smash into the rocks, one wrong turn and we could end up miles off our route. A single moment of giving in to fear could mean the sinking of our lives as we know it, and those who depend on us will go down as well. We do not know when this time will come, when tests will be laid at our feet. But every day is a new day to train our minds and hearts to be ready for when it happens. Every day, we have to learn to don the armour of God through prayer and reconciliation, by living an upright life with the fear of God within us. When that day comes, may we be found blameless and ready to steer safely through the storm.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, many are out there trying to trap us with their words and wiliness. We pray that we may hold steadfast in our faith so as not to fall into their trap.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we give you thanks for guiding us through the rough times in our lives and always being for us a beacon of hope and salvation.

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