13 Aug, Tuesday – Like Empty Vessels

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.

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Deuteronomy 31:1-8

Moses proceeded to address these words to the whole of Israel, ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old now, and can no longer come and go as I will. The Lord has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” It is the Lord your God who will cross it at your head to destroy these nations facing you and dispossess them; and Joshua too shall cross at your head, as the Lord has said. The Lord will treat them as he treated Sihon and Og the Amorite kings and their land, destroying them. The Lord will hand them over to you, and you will deal with them in exact accordance with the commandments I have enjoined on you. Be strong, stand firm, have no fear of them, no terror, for the Lord your God is going with you; he will not fail you or desert you.’
Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, ‘Be strong, stand firm; you are going with this people into the land the Lord swore to their fathers he would give them; you are to give it into their possession. The Lord himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be disheartened by anything.’

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Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14

The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

‘See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.

‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’

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the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven

When I was in my late teens, about 18 or 19, I had a group of friends who enjoyed debating and thinking about the faith, especially the ‘debating’ part. We would talk about faith issues, and extend these arguments about how they would apply to social justice. We talked about the things that should be done. In my mind, these were the ways we should take in order to change the world.

One day, I was reading the Gospel of today and it hit me that perhaps my approach had been wrong.

As I was reading, I put myself in the shoes of a little child before our Lord… and waited. I looked within myself, at what I would do then. How would I behave? What would I think?

What came out surprised me. Firstly, I was curious. I sat there, expectantly looking at our Lord; waiting for Him to show me so I would know what to do. Secondly, I could hear… silence. Rather than opinions coming from me, I was waiting for instructions. Thirdly, I could sense no ego coming from myself. I was just me. There was nothing to prove, nothing to show off, nothing to impress anyone with.

This realisation changed the way I looked at my faith. Rather than bringing a full glass, I now (do my best) to empty this glass, and empty it continually. I sit at the foot of my Lord, and simply wait.

Another thing I realised is that children change their world by directly influencing what is within their immediate sphere of control. When they play and engage their peers, they are immediately able to change their world. Rather than holding lofty ideals and “doing big things”, children change their immediate environments. How I want to be like one again.

Let us pray that we may always remind ourselves to be like little children at the feet of our God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will always be able to surrender our ego and be like little children again. Help us Father to just ‘be’, and not be focused on the ‘doing’.

Thanksgiving: We bless You and thank You for reminding us, Lord Jesus. Thank You for showing how we should be living our lives and for showing how to be like You.

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