Daily Archives: May 26, 2019

27 May, Monday – Graces

May 27 – Memorial for St. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury, to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King AEthelberht who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.

He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.

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Acts 16:11-15

Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day for Neapolis, and from there for Philippi, a Roman colony and the principal city of that particular district of Macedonia. After a few days in this city we went along the river outside the gates as it was the sabbath and this was a customary place for prayer. We sat down and preached to the women who had come to the meeting. One of these women was called Lydia, a devout woman from the town of Thyatira who was in the purple-dye trade. She listened to us, and the Lord opened her heart to accept what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptised she sent us an invitation: ‘If you really think me a true believer in the Lord,’ she said ‘come and stay with us’; and she would take no refusal.

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John 15:26-16:4

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘When the Advocate comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father,
he will be my witness.
And you too will be witnesses,

because you have been with me from the outset.

‘I have told you all this that your faith may not be shaken.
They will expel you from the synagogues,
and indeed the hour is coming
when anyone who kills you
will think he is doing a holy duty for God.
They will do these things
because they have never known
either the Father or myself.
But I have told you all this,
so that when the time for it comes
you may remember that I told you.’

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Come and stay at my home.

I have been told that one of my charisms is hospitality, and that I am quite generous. I never think of it as anything noble. I just share what I have, nothing so extraordinary. Recently though, I feel that this ‘gift’ can be a double-edged sword – it can be fulfilling or can suck the life out of a person. When we are spiritually aligned with God’s will – things we do for others can be so life giving. However, when we are not in a great place, little things people ask can be energy sapping. Which was how I was feeling since January. Being in full swing with ministry work and using my ‘professional expertise’ to help in some projects, I became a bit sapped by the time Lent came around. Holy Week this year saw me crashing into new lows. Not because I was doing too much, but simply because I had no capacity to give any more.

I observed 3 things during this time:

  1. When we allow God to work through us, there is nothing we cannot do. But on our own strength, things can get pretty messy.
  2. God never, ever leaves us. He is strong when we are weak.
  3. He sends people to help and journey with us.

In today’s first reading, Lydia from the city of Thyatira touched me. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly. She was open to what the Lord was doing for her and it touched her immensely. God used her to bless those around her. Lydia offered kindly hospitality to Paul and his companions, having received the gift of the gospel and the grace of God. Lydia didn’t just open her heart, she also opened her home. She was not only the first European convert to Christianity, she also created the first church in her own home.

We have all been graced in various ways by the Lord. Having received from the Lord, we give from what we have received. As I look back on my own ministry, I recall the time when I was most joyful, no matter how tired and lacking in sleep, I felt much joy bursting from my heart. But what has happened to me recently? Perhaps I let ‘life’ happen, the burdens and pains of this world took over, and I had forgotten to lean on Him, to derive spiritual sustenance from God, so readily available to me. As I held onto this rope, desperately clinging on to my faith, my mind wondered if the rope was anchored to anything. Then the Lord spoke to me “It’s not you who is holding onto me. But I am holding onto to you.” Wow!!!! Indeed in weakness, He is strong.

Brothers and sisters, have you lost the joy in serving the Lord? Have you been sapped of energy? Perhaps it’s time to go back to basics. Receive the graces so readily available from the Lord. Perhaps Jesus is calling you today. Come and stay at my home.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, we have received so abundantly from you. Please show us concretely how we can give from what we have received. May You use us each day, to re-establish your church.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your fatherly love. Thank you for giving us so abundantly and unreservedly.

26 May, Sunday – Au Revoir

26 May 2019
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Acts 15:1-2,22-29

Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.

Then the apostles and elders decided to choose delegates to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; the whole church concurred with this. They chose Judas known as Barsabbas and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them:

‘The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of pagan birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some of our members have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds. They acted without any authority from us; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with Barnabas and Paul, men we highly respect who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written in this letter. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols; from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from fornication. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’

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Apocalypse 21:10-14,22-23

In the spirit, the angel took me to the top of an enormous high mountain and showed me Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God out of heaven. It had all the radiant glory of God and glittered like some precious jewel of crystal-clear diamond. The walls of it were of a great height, and had twelve gates; at each of the twelve gates there was an angel, and over the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The city walls stood on twelve foundation stones, each one of which bore the name of one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple, and the city did not need the sun or the moon for light, since it was lit by the radiant glory of God and the Lamb was a lighted torch for it.

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John 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him and make our home with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own:
it is the word of the one who sent me.
I have said these things to you while still with you;
but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.
Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.’

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I am going away

Goodbyes are complicated. The English language doesn’t do justice to this word. There are several kinds of goodbyes – those everyday types, when you know you will see the person soon. Or the more final separations when you know you are unlikely to see the person again. French and Italian are more precise. For everyday brief separations, Italians say ‘ciao’, ‘buongiorno/buonasera’, ‘Alla prossima’. The French say ‘Au revoir’. For more final departures, Italians say ‘Addio’ and the French say ‘Adieu’.

I hate goodbyes. In recent years, I’ve had to say goodbye to several situations and people – from dysfunctional family relationships, to friendships, to a business I built and also to people who mean a lot to me.  These were not simply ‘au revoirs’ but ‘adieus’. They take a lot out of a person and sometimes I wonder if we ever heal from them. When we invest time and energy in relationships, goodbyes are ever more difficult; it is as if a piece of you died with them.

Jesus, in his ministry, prepared his disciples and friends for his eventual departure from them. While they didn’t know what it meant at the time, when the time came, the disciples were completely lost, discouraged and of course very sad. The text in today’s gospel reading are our Lord’s words at the ‘Last Supper’, uttered in view of His imminent departure. He knew His time had come and he wanted to spend that last evening with his most intimate friends. It was a meal filled with emotions. It would be a meal to remember, not only because this event forms the basis of the Lord’s Supper, but also because Jesus predicts a betrayal, defines true leadership, promises authority to the Eleven, predicts Peter’s failure and warns of coming rejection. Even as he faces death, Jesus serves by preparing others for their tasks. We can only imagine how he felt knowing what was ahead of Him. This time together is clearly bittersweet for Jesus. His destiny requires separation from those he loves. However, Jesus has promised not to leave his disciples orphaned. He has promised to send another Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, to be with them and continue the work that he has begun.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. These words have been such a source of comfort for me when my world comes crashing down; When I don’t understand what’s going on in my life. People may come into your life and leave — God brought them to us for a reason, for a season. We may be attached to some things in our lives, only to lose them later. Know that God has something better planned for us, but not as the world sees it. We may be stripped of everything that defines us, but Jesus has never ever left us. Because Jesus is present with us through the Holy Spirit, we need not be anxious.  ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ When the kingdom comes, we shall resume celebration.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Lord, so many times we do not understand your ways or see how certain events can be any good in our lives. Help us to persevere in faith, and in prayer. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, may we begin to see how You might be working for good, even in the midst of terrible and confusing events.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. May we be guided by the Advocate as we navigate through this earthly life.