Sep 3 – Memorial for St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor
St. Gregory (540-590) collected the melodies and plain chant so associated with him that they are now known as Gregorian Chants. He was elected by unanimous acclamation for pope. Incidentally, he was also the first monk to be pope. Before his papacy, he turned his home into a Benedictine monastery, and used his money to build six monasteries in Sicily and one in Rome. He became a missionary to England upon seeing English children being sold in the Roman Forum.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about ‘times and seasons’, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.
But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober. God never meant us to experience the Retribution, but to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that, alive or dead, we should still live united to him. So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil, throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all. Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to overtake you like a thief
When I was pregnant with my son and close to my due date, I wasn’t expecting him for a while more and was still slumming it from the holiday period. Of course, he had other plans — he came a week and a half earlier than expected. I had barely packed my overnight bag. And despite having done the birthing classes and read the books, if I am being real honest, it felt like going for a practical exam where you wonder if you had read everything that you were meant to, and wondering if you could do what you studied if this or that question came out in the exam. When you’re not quite mentally ready, and the labour pains start, well… there’s no turning back. It’s onwards from here, panicky or not.
Unless you are having a Caesarean section, you won’t really know when exactly the baby will arrive. However, you can prepare to the best of your ability so that you won’t be in a state of anxiety when it happens. In today’s reading, St Paul reminds us that the Day of the Lord will be like that — sudden and unexpected. We know that it will happen, but we won’t know when, and when it does happen, he reminds us that we need to be ready for it for none of us will escape it when it comes. However, he also has a message of hope — for those who believe in Christ Jesus, we should already be ready to receive Him. As children of God, we should be living a life according to God’s Word. We should already have the values and teachings ingrained in us. We should already be familiar with the Word of God and know what to expect and what to do when the time comes. Having professed our faith then, the Word of God is in us, and we live the Word of God. If we continue to do so, then we have nothing to fear for we should be ready to meet our bridegroom.
Remember the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), where five of them went to wait for the bridegroom with additional oil, while the other five were foolish not to bring more oil with them? When the bridegroom finally arrived, it was midnight, in the thick of night, and the five wise virgins were able to refill their lamps and join the bridegroom while the foolish ones were left behind and prevented from joining the bridegroom.
Yes, we should be ready especially being “children of the light, children of the day”. Perhaps we are anxious about how ready we are and whether we have done enough to meet the day. Anxiety, though, is a thief of faith. If we are anxious, we cannot be the best that God has equipped us to be; instead of looking forward to the life He has prepared for us, we will always be looking back over our shoulder. No, we should move forward to do the work that God has called us to do, be the person He wants us to be, so that neither fear nor anxiety has a place in our hearts. The reading today closes with encouragement from St Paul — since we are already children of the light, we won’t go down the path like the others will. Instead, let us meet it with faith and hope. Let us encourage each other in life and eradicate the fear that we will be left behind when our Bridegroom comes.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, I don’t know if I will ever be prepared enough to meet the day when You come again. I don’t know when it will happen, and I can’t vouch for my feelings. But I lift that anxiety up to You and ask for the peace of Christ Jesus to fill my heart instead and help me prepare myself in faith and in hope, for the day when we are reconciled with You.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for the promise of salvation, the value of which knows no bounds.