May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor
Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism, which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.
He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.
He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.
- Patron Saint Index
When the officials had brought the apostles in to face the Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded an explanation. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said,
‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’
This so infuriated them that they wanted to put them to death.
John the Baptist said to his disciples:
‘He who comes from above is above all others;
he who is born of the earth is earthly himself
and speaks in an earthly way.
He who comes from heaven
bears witness to the things he has seen and heard,
even if his testimony is not accepted;
though all who do accept his testimony
are attesting the truthfulness of God,
since he whom God has sent
speaks God’s own words:
God gives him the Spirit without reserve.
The Father loves the Son
and has entrusted everything to him.
Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life,
but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life:
the anger of God stays on him.’
Obedience to God comes before obedience to men
I have always wondered why there is a need to obey. In this day and age where everybody values freedom, it appears that the need to obey is antiquated and some would say outdated. Yet the readings of today remind us that obedience is not that of compliance but more of a response to a loving relationship.
The apostles continued to boldly preach the Gospel because they have had a real encounter with the Lord Jesus. They knew what the good Lord did for then and experienced his love first hand. This does not mean that the path was all smooth. They must have had their ups and downs too but they never lost sight of their mission – to spread the word of God to all over the world.
Their mission to spread the word of God is still our mission – we are still called to show God’s love to the people around us. The methods may be different but the message is still the same. As we continue with our journey in life, let us never forget what God has called us to do. Our response to his love is just as important for we discover the depth of God’s mercy for each one of us.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, let us remember that you love us and that we should always trust in you.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have the capacity to forgive others.