Aug 13 – Memorial for St. Pontian, pope, martyr, and St. Hippolytus, priest, martyr
Pontian was among the first victims of an anti-Christian new emperor. Rounded up with the antipope Hippolytus, Pontian was deported to the labour mines. While imprisoned, Hippolytus reconciled his differences with Pontian and even ordered his followers to bring themselves back to the Church. Before he succumbed to the harsh treatment of the mines, Hippolytus became a true confessor of Christ. Pontian, in the mines only two months, was brutally beaten to death by his jailers.
– Patron Saint Index
On the fifth of the month – it was the fifth year of exile for King Jehoiachin – the word of the Lord was addressed to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldaeans, on the bank of the river Chebar.
There the hand of the Lord came on me. I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with light around it, a fire from which flashes of lightning darted, and in the centre a sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire. In the centre I saw what seemed four animals. I heard the noise of their wings as they moved; it sounded like rushing water, like the voice of Shaddai, a noise like a storm, like the noise of a camp; when they halted, they folded their wings, and there was a noise.
Above the vault over their heads was something that looked like a sapphire; it was shaped like a throne and high up on this throne was a being that looked like a man. I saw him shine like bronze, and close to and all around him from what seemed his loins upwards was what looked like fire; and from what seemed his loins downwards I saw what looked like fire, and a light all round like a bow in the clouds on rainy days; that is how the surrounding light appeared. It was something that looked like the glory of the Lord. I looked, and prostrated myself.
One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’
“Like the bow which appears in the clouds on a rainy day…..”
During Aunty’s time in the hospital, Aunty had quite a few dreams and visions of heaven, and each time she woke up from them, she would have this gleeful smile on her face and a look of comfort thereafter. Upon our curious probing, Aunty would divulge that she saw Jesus or the 3 Archangels and they were dressed in splendour. She shared briefly about her encounters with them but from her expression, it was very obvious that she was in awe of the magnificence that she had witnessed, and alongside was her deep longing to be in the house of the Lord when it was her time. Aunty had been experiencing pain that was only slightly relieved by the painkillers that could be given and after her encounter with Jesus, she immediately proclaimed in victory that she was pain-free and wanted to start walking again.
Aunty’s sharing during that time had helped me to further put in perspective my knowledge of what heaven is like. Although I believed that heaven is a lovely place, I have never really thought much about what it really is. Aunty’s dreams and visions gave me a deeper understanding of not only the bible, but also of God as Father – one who hears the deepest desires of His children and who wants the best for them.
Brothers and sisters, what Aunty saw and described was reflected in today’s first reading, where the Lord was depicted as being surrounded by splendour and brilliance, and His presence radiates hope to all who believes in Him. Let us continue to entrust our lives to the Lord and cling to the hope that He brings to us.
(Today’s Oxygen by Hannah Huang)
Prayer: Dearest Father, we pray for the grace to allow You to love us as Your children, and to experience the hope that you bring to us. Teach us to cling on to Your faithfulness and to entrust our lives into Your hands.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank You for strengthening our faith by providing us with witnesses and giving us the grace to experience Your splendour and magnificence through the lives of those around us.