16 May 2019
Paul and his friends went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats. After the lessons from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message: ‘Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, please do so.’ Paul stood up, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors, and made our people great when they were living as foreigners in Egypt; then by divine power he led them out, and for about forty years took care of them in the wilderness. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and made David their king, of whom he approved in these words, “I have selected David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will carry out my whole purpose.” To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.”’
After he had washed the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
no servant is greater than his master,
no messenger is greater than the man who sent him.
‘Now that you know this, happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly. I am not speaking about all of you: I know the ones I have chosen; but what scripture says must be fulfilled: Someone who shares my table rebels against me.
‘I tell you this now, before it happens,
so that when it does happen
you may believe that I am He.
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever welcomes the one I send welcomes me,
and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’
I know the ones I have chosen
What does it mean to be saved by His precious blood and to be known and chosen by God? It does not get more intimate than this at all.
He shed His blood for the salvation of the entire world, no exceptions here. It is He, the sacrificial lamb, that led us to new life when He died on the cross for our sins – the sins of the whole world. His love was so great that He submitted to death to atone for us.
Now then what is it to be chosen and known? Who is in this group? To draw some perspective, I want to highlight a video I watched recently. The speaker, Jackie Francois Angel said that she is Catholic because of the Eucharist. She explained that being in union in body, mind, spirit and soul is the most intimate union, much like the union between a man and his wife. She goes on to explain that is what the Eucharist is. It is therefore also not surprising that many refer to marriage as a foretaste of heaven as it also mirrors the union we share with the Lord in the Eucharist. Jackie also quoted John 6:53-56: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”. Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” Therefore, essentially as a Catholic who partakes in the holy mass, we enter into marriage with the Lord, as He had commanded us to.
So are we known and chosen by Him? Initially Jesus had 12 apostles who ate His bread and drank His blood, which today we as Catholics do likewise. As Catholics, we also stayed with the Church Jesus instituted under St Peter, our first Pope. Though today, we no longer walk for miles and are immersed in technology, we are as Christian as the apostles. It is no doubt that our Church stood the test of time, amidst grave persecution, yet it stands in front of the Father, depending on Him to wash our sins through the Eucharist and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Dear sisters and brothers, if we are but known, chosen and loved to this extent, how do we respond to this love? Let us seek answers from the Lord who lives and the One who loves.
(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Lord, help us to be truly worthy of you. Though we cannot earn your love, we want to know how to love and adore you more.
Thanksgiving: I will sing of your love forever, for you washed me cleaned and kept me close.