Daily Archives: August 29, 2019

29 August, Thursday – The Gift of Constraints

Aug 29 – Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

To endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather it was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward. Since death was ever at hand, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: “You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake.” He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that His chosen ones should suffer for Him: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

– from a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable on the death of John the Baptist

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1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

Brothers, your faith has been a great comfort to us in the middle of our own troubles and sorrows; now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account? We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.

May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make it easy for us to come to you. May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

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Mark 6:17-29

Herod sent to have John arrested, and had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, ‘It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife.’ As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him; but she was not able to, because Herod was afraid of John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him.

An opportunity came on Herod’s birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.’ And he swore her an oath, ‘I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What shall I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the Baptist.’ The girl hurried straight back to the king and made her request, ‘I want you to give me John the Baptist’s head, here and now, on a dish.’ The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. So the king at once sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John’s head. The man went off and beheaded him in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

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Make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart

I love watching anime. Besides being entertaining, the genre also tackles deep, philosophical issues. One of the key issues that is discussed is about immortality, or having the capacity to live a long life here on earth. Most of us would dream of long lives, but in the story, these characters are lonely people who would do anything to die.

Without the possibility of death, they have seen many people die. They have lost many loved ones they did not want to love again. Without any possibility of death, they could always postpone a certain experience like travelling or exploring to another day, since they could have any day in the future to do that. As they will not die, they do not need to take care of their health. Many things lose their meaning, their significance, because it will always be available to them in the future.

Some of us are frustrated by the constraints that we experience in life. Of course, we would want to be able to do more. But precisely because there are constraints, that’s why we are able to appreciate what we have. As the saying goes, ‘You never know what you have until you lose it. You never know what you’re missing until you find it.’

The shortness of our lives gives us wisdom of heart. We learn to value every moment as a gift. We learn to appreciate the small miracles of every day. We learn to appreciate people whom God puts in our lives only for a while. We make an effort to be kind every time we have the chance, because the chance may never come again. The shortness of our lives may bring us sadness. And precisely because of this sadness that’s why we are able obtain happiness.

The shortness of our lives also gives us wisdom on who to prioritize. Some of us choose what to prioritize, forgetting that we find the meaning of our lives based on who we prioritize. When we think we have all the time, we forget that it is the relationship with God and with people that makes us most human. Think of the rich man who prioritized making a barn for his bountiful harvest. We are never told if he had people whom he loved, but we were certainly told that he was a fool as he would soon be called to the afterlife.

If today is our last day on earth, who would really matter to me? How will I spend my last day on earth?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dearest Lord God, please help us be aware that every day is a gift and that we may never take the day for granted. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for the shortness of our lives which allows us to be happier in this world.