Jul 5 – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest
St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.
– Patron Saint Index
Seek good and not evil
so that you may live,
and that the Lord, God of Hosts, may really be with you
as you claim he is.
Hate evil, love good,
maintain justice at the city gate,
and it may be that the Lord, God of Hosts, will take pity
on the remnant of Joseph.
I hate and despise your feasts,
I take no pleasure in your solemn festivals.
When you offer me holocausts,
I reject your oblations,
and refuse to look at your sacrifices of fattened cattle.
Let me have no more of the din of your chanting,
no more of your strumming on harps.
But let justice flow like water,
and integrity like an unfailing stream.
When Jesus reached the country of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs – creatures so fierce that no one could pass that way. They stood there shouting, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?’ Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ And he said to them, ‘Go then’, and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off and made for the town, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. At this the whole town set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave the neighbourhood.
Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.
A couple of months ago, my friend returned back home to spend time with her 12-year-old nephew, who was in his last stages of cancer. The family were struggling to come to terms with his illness. From shock, to hope, to despair, to pain and suffering. It is never easy to watch a loved one suffer. Especially for parents. How many of us have whispered the prayer “Lord, let me take my child’s suffering.” He had undergone an operation to relieve the pressure the tumour was causing within his skull. The day after the operation, the poor child was screaming in pain. My friend told me it was the most gut wrenching, painful and haunting screams she had ever heard. The doctors told them the prognosis was not good. That they had to prepare for the worst. The mother of this child never left her son’s side.
During this time, my friend wanted the very best for her nephew. She wanted him to receive Jesus before his time was up. The child’s mother is a Catholic, but a lukewarm one. The child’s father is a non-Catholic, an agnostic and was against Christianity. As such, the boy was never baptised and never knew Jesus. Being the good Catholic aunt, my friend had over the years spoken to the boy about Christ and taught him to pray. His grandmother also desired to have her grandson baptised. And so, with the consent of the mother, they called for a priest or priests, as the story goes. Somehow, each time a priest went, the child never got baptized. The child did not give his consent. He did not understand why God (if He was good) would allow him to suffer this disease.
The child died a week later. Overcome with grief, my friend asked where her nephew would go to. Would God welcome him into heaven? Or was he doomed to hell? All I could muster up was to tell her that we trust in God’s love and mercy, that there is a way of salvation for her nephew and he would eventually meet Jesus in heaven.
Just as we read in today’s gospel, the paralytic was brought to Jesus by ‘some people’. We can only deduce that these people were friends of this man, or at least, loving and compassionate people who longed for the man to be healed. They believed and trusted that Jesus could heal this man. And so, it turns out, that by their faith, their friend was healed. My friend’s nephew may have not known Jesus. But it was really through no fault of his. I believe that with all the prayers of the family, friends and people of our community, together with the faith of my friend, the grandmother and the rest of us– this child of God will be in heaven. Yes, Jesus sees our faith, no matter how small. Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, give us the passion and courage to never stop ministering to others about your compassion, love and forgiveness, not only in words but in our actions and the way we live our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for forgiving us no matter how many times we sin, falter and run away from you. Thank you for your mercy, love and compassion. And thank you for sending angels our way each day, reminding us of your comforting presence in the midst of storms.