Daily Archives: January 1, 2020

02 January, Thursday – Staying Faithful

02 Jan- Weekday before Epiphany; Sts Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops, doctors

Basil the Great (329-379) was a noble by birth. His parents and four of his nine siblings were canonized, including St. Gregory of Nyssa. He was the grandson of St. Marcina the Elder. As a youth, he was noted for organizing famine relief, and for working in the kitchens himself, quite unusual for a young noble.

He studied in Constantinople and Athens with his friend St. Gregory Nazianzen. He ran a school of oratory and law in Caesarea. He was so successful and sought after as a speaker that he was tempted by pride. Fearful that it would overtake his piety, he sold all that he had, gave away the money, and became a priest and monk.

He founded monasteries and drew up rules for monks living in the desert. He is considered as key to the founding of eastern monasticism as Benedict was to the west. He was the bishop and archbishop of Caesarea. He conducted Mass and preached to the crowds twice daily. He fought Arianism, is a Greek Doctor of the Church, and a Father of the Church.

Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) was the son of St. Gregory of Nazianzen the Elder and St. Nonna, brother of St. Caesar Nazianzen, and St. Gorgonius. He spent an itinerant youth in search of learning. He was a friend and fellow student with St. Basil the Great, and a monk at Basil’s desert monastery.

He was a reluctant priest, feeling himself unworthy, and fearing that the responsibility would test his faith. He assisted his bishop father to prevent an Arian schism in the diocese. He opposed Arianiam and brought its heretical followers back to the fold. He became Bishop of Caesarea in 370 which put him in conflict with the Arian emperor Valens. the disputes led his friend Basil the Great, then archbishop, to reassign him to a small, out of the way posting at the edge of the archbishopric.

Following the death of Valens, he was appointed Bishop of Constantinople from 381-390. He hated the city, despised the violence and slander involved in these disputes, and feared being drawn into politics and corruption. But he worked to bring the Arians back to the faith. For his trouble, he was slandered, insulted, beaten up, and a rival “bishop” tried to take over his diocese.

He was a noted preacher on the Trinity. When it seemed that the faith had been restored in the city, Gregory retired to live the rest of his days as a hermit. He wrote theological discourses and poetry, some of it religious, some of it autobiographical. He was a Father of the Church, and a Doctor of the Church.

– Patron Saint Index

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1 John 2:22-28

The man who denies that Jesus is the Christ –
he is the liar,
he is Antichrist;
and he is denying the Father as well as the Son,
because no one who has the Father can deny the Son,
and to acknowledge the Son is to have the Father as well.
Keep alive in yourselves what you were taught in the beginning:
as long as what you were taught in the beginning is alive in you,
you will live in the Son
and in the Father;
and what is promised to you by his own promise
is eternal life.
This is all that I am writing to you about the people who are trying to lead you astray.
But you have not lost the anointing that he gave you,
and you do not need anyone to teach you;
the anointing he gave teaches you everything;
you are anointed with truth, not with a lie,
and as it has taught you, so you must stay in him.
Live in Christ, then, my children,
so that if he appears, we may have full confidence,
and not turn from him in shame
at his coming.

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John 1:19-28

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:
a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

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Live in Christ, then my children

There is a saying that a person is a chip off the old block. This signifies that the individual is similar to his parents. The readings of today remind us of the need to stay faithful to our identity as Christians because we are supposed to follow Jesus totally.

Being Christian requires us to stand up to the truth and to accept that in doing so, it might lead to some unhappiness amongst the people whom we speak to. This is not an easy thing to bear with because to face up to opposition requires us to reject the company which we used to belong to.

Today’s memorial of Sts Basil and St Gregory reminds us of the need to stay faithful to Christ come what may. Through their lives, they showed to the people living in their time what it means to remain faithful. They have accepted that nothing in this world can be superior than living a life aligned with Christ’s teaching. As we enter the year of  2018, let us take time to think on how we can live our life fully.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas)

Prayer: Sts Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nazianzen, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who love us

1 January, Wednesday – A Name Like No Other

01 Jan – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated on Jan 1, the Octave Day of Christmas (i.e. 8th day after Christmas). It is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek term ‘theotokos’, the God-bearer.

The term ‘theotokos’ was adopted at the Council of Ephesus as a way to assert the divinity of Christ, from which it follows that what is declared of Christ is declared of God. So, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the Mother of God. Therefore, the title ‘Mother of God’ and the ‘Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God’, which celebrates her under this title, are at once Mariological and Christological.

– Wikipedia
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Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘Say this to Aaron and his sons: “This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.’
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Galatians 4:4-7

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.
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Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in er heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.
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He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb

It’s a new decade and I wonder what the Lord has in store for me this year.

So apparently God already knew me even before I was conceived! From the start of advent, I have been thinking a lot about the birth of Jesus. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own birth.

It’s too bad that we have no memories of when we were a wee babe. I can only refer to old photographs and marvel at how cute I was (I’m sure Jesus must have been a cute baby too). Although I was born and brought up in a Buddhist home, God had not forgotten about me. “Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted.” (Luke 12:7) It was only more recently that I started to see the unfolding of my journey as a child of God and how He has been working behind-the-scenes throughout the various stages of my life.

It all began when I was seven, when he found a way for me to first switch from a standard school (where my siblings were in) to a Catholic one. I remember a man who came to visit and spoke to my parents about transferring me to CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel – not quite sure how he sold them that idea, but I soon found myself transferred to the said school successfully. That was the turning point for me, when the seed of wanting to become a baptised Catholic had been sown. All credit goes to that mysterious guy who was a godsend. Fast forward to many years later when I met and nearly married an atheist. But the path was once again intercepted. Things didn’t work out and then I met a cradle Catholic who was to become my husband, and that became an impetus for me to get baptised. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

As I wasn’t given a Christian name, I decided to find one myself. I chose Cynthia, after a Greek mythical goddess, and decided to keep it as my baptismal name as well. I never thought much about the name and neither did I think there was a saint named Cynthia. It was only earlier last year, while I was helping the young confirmants in my parish with the choosing of confirmation names, that I started to ponder about my name. After much googling, I only managed to find one source for St Cynthia who was said to be “an Egyptian girl who was martyred under Decius because she would not worship idols. Her feet were tied to a horse and she was dragged through the streets.” Then it dawned on me that this too is my mission – I have, in a way, renounced all my past beliefs and stopped worshipping all the false idols – from Kuan Yin, old wives’ superstitions, feng shui, fortune reading, horoscope to money and all kinds of materialistic idols – so that I can follow Jesus Christ, the one and only.

When I think of how far I’ve come in my faith, I realised that God has truly called me by name. What’s even more beautiful is that I did not choose him but he chose me. “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” (John 15:16) This precious gift of faith can only come from God and I will cherish it forever.

A most blessed New Year to you all!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer:  Dear God, as the New Year begins, may you also have a new beginning in us so that we will be able to see your hand in every aspect of our lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus for all your blessings, for allowing me to know you and especially for choosing me to be your child.