7 January, Tuesday – Because God is love

7 Jan – Memorial for St. Raymond of Penyafort, priest

St. Raymond (1175-1275) was of Aragonian nobility. He was educated at the cathedral school in Barcelona, and became a philosophy teacher at the age of 20. He was a priest. He graduated from law school in Bologna, Italy, and joined the Dominicans in 1218. He was summoned to Rome in 1230 by Pope Gregory IX, and assigned to collect all official letters of the popes since 1150. Raymond gathered and published five volumes, and helped write Church law.

He was made Master General of the Dominicans in 1238. He reviewed the Order’s Rule, made sure everything was legally correct, then resigned his position in 1240 to dedicate himself to parish work. The pope wanted to make Raymond an archbishop, but he declined, instead returning to Spain and the parish work he loved. His compassion helped many people return to God through Reconciliation.

During his years in Rome, Raymond heard of the difficulties missionaries faced trying to reach non-Christians of Northern Africa and Spain. Raymond started a school to teach the language and culture of the people to be evangelized. With St. Thomas Aquinas, he wrote a booklet to explain the truths of faith in a way non-believers could understand. His great influence on Church law led to his patronage of lawyers.

  • Patron Saint Index

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1 John 4:7-10

My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

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Mark 6:34-44

As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late, So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ How many loaves have you?’ he asked ‘Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

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Because God is love

Having just returned from the Holy Land filled with questions, trying to comprehend how Jesus could have gone ahead with his mission in the climate of the time he preached and walked the earth, I have been brought back to earth with a huge thud. This feeling began at our countdown mass on New Year’s Eve, when I had to lead a paraliturgy. I thought I had prepared sufficiently for it and had the prayers ready but as the time approached, I was in two minds — should I go with the rehearsed script? Or should I just lift the session to God?

In the end, I got through it with a mix of both and with some much-needed help from two (it could have been three) members of our young adult community, who stepped up to accompany our small team without being asked. As I turned to glance behind me when I heard a drum being played, a felt a wave of gratitude and my spirits were lifted just seeing the musicians bond with us, playing as one. I don’t think it would have happened under ‘normal circumstances’ — i.e. if it had been my ministry leading the session. The fact that we had a mix of prayer leaders from another ministry further drove home the point that as long as we are all united in love of God, it doesn’t matter who is leading or playing; because God simply takes over.

As a relatively young worship leader, I am still coming to grips with choice of appropriate songs, where and how to lead the congregation to in terms of a 30 or 45-min worship journey. Naturally, being open to feedback (constructive or otherwise) helps a lot and that itself takes a truly open, humble heart. Because it is the only way to be accepting of others and their opinions. This year, it is with such an open heart that I approached my division performance appraisals and I truly believe that it is why we went through a painless process, despite the fact that I was away for nearly two weeks.

Brothers and sisters, such is His immense love for us that what He wills for us would never take us to where His grace will not protect us. Today, at our ministry core meeting, a significant decision was taken where I, together with four others, am now placed in a position that requires me to have even more faith that He has a divine plan for all of us. I ask for your prayers over the next few weeks, months and years, that He will embolden, empower and enrich my spiritual journey as I allow Him to work in me.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask for your kindness and mercy to always fill us as we discern the plans you have for each and every one of us.

Thanksgiving: Abba Father, thank you for all the situations you create for us to manifest your love to others.

 

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