22 Jan – Memorial for St. Vincent, deacon and martyr
Vincent of Saragossa (d. 304) was a friend of St. Valerius of Saragossa in Spain, and served as his deacon. He was imprisoned and tortured in Valencia, some of it by burning on a gridiron, for his faith. He converted the jailer and was finally offered release if he would give up the sacred texts to the fire, but he refused. He was martyred during the persecutions of Diocletian.
- Patron Saint Index
God would not be so unjust as to forget all you have done, the love that you have for his name or the services you have done, and are still doing, for the saints. Our one desire is that every one of you should go on showing the same earnestness to the end, to the perfect fulfilment of our hopes, never growing careless, but imitating those who have the faith and the perseverance to inherit the promises.
When God made the promise to Abraham, he swore by his own self, since it was impossible for him to swear by anyone greater: I will shower blessings on you and give you many descendants. Because of that, Abraham persevered and saw the promise fulfilled. Men, of course, swear an oath by something greater than themselves, and between men, confirmation by an oath puts an end to all dispute. In the same way, when God wanted to make the heirs to the promise thoroughly realise that his purpose was unalterable, he conveyed this by an oath; so that there would be two unalterable things in which it was impossible for God to be lying, and so that we, now we have found safety, should have a strong encouragement to take a firm grip on the hope that is held out to us. Here we have an anchor for our soul, as sure as it is firm, and reaching right through beyond the veil where Jesus has entered before us and on our behalf, to become a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.
One sabbath day, Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick ears of corn as they went along. And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing something on the sabbath day that is forbidden?’ And he replied, ‘Did you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry – how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?’
And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; the Son of Man is master even of the sabbath.’
2nd Week in Ordinary Time: Tuesday, 22 January
Rules and Regulations
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath
The secondary school I studied in had an elaborate code of conduct that students had to strictly follow. Some of the rules appear absurd at first glance, but they were put in place for good reason. Basically, no aspect of a student’s physical appearance could give any hint of ostentatiousness. Hence, there were to be no fanciful hair clips nor hair styles, bags had to be plain and mostly dull-coloured, and even the faces of the watches we wore had a size limit. That was not all — our attitude towards teachers and peers was also closely monitored, and we would be duly disciplined for misbehaviour of any sort.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ time took pride in meticulously following a long list of rules and commands they enacted according to their interpretation of Jewish law. While focusing solely on appearing devout and religious, it seems that they might have missed the point by failing to adhere to the moral code that should be governing their hearts. They are featured several times in the gospels, and are usually chided by Jesus for their hypocrisy and lack of love.
Although we may not identify with Pharisees very much, it is a fact that most of us do not take kindly to people who do not adhere to rules. I am not referring to criminal behaviour here, but rather, social norms. Non-adherence to such norms tend to cause discomfort, which can lead to unkind treatment of others. A lot of times, the weird behaviour is the result of conditions or disorders not within the person’s control. Autism is a good example. It is a moral responsibility to treat those afflicted with kindness and love, rather than ridicule and aversion.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that we will keep learning to look beneath the surface, and seek to understand rather than condemn.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the courageous examples of those who prioritise the dignity and needs of others above the desire to conform to society’s expectations.