Tag Archives: faith in Christ

26 December, Wednesday – Standing Firm

26 December – Feast of St. Stephen, Protomartyr

St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. A deacon and a preacher, all we know of him is related in the Acts of the Apostles. While preaching the gospel in the streets, angry Jews who believed his message to be blasphemy dragged him outside the city, and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob, was a man who would later be known as St. Paul.

– Patron Saint Index

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Acts 6:8-10;7:54-59

Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people. But then certain people came forward to debate with Stephen, some from Cyrene and Alexandria who were members of the synagogue called the Synagogue of Freedmen, and others from Cilicia and Asia. They found they could not get the better of him because of his wisdom, and because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said. They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.

But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’

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Matthew 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.

‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.’

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[B]ut the man who stands firm will be saved

The world today is plagued with many versions of how events in the world can be interpreted. The introduction of many forms of news media has left us to become more confused and sometimes leads to a distrust of the people around us. The Gospel of today reminds us of the need to stay firm in the Lord Jesus despite the contrasting view presented to us.

St Stephen was the first martyr of the Catholic Church. He firmly believed in the Lord Jesus and was prepared to give up his life for his belief. The crowd was not willing to be open to reason, to see his point of view when they realised that his point was much stronger than the points they could offer. Perhaps this is already indicative of the situation we see in our lives today – where when the truth hurts, people will attack the person.

Whilst today’s feast may be a historical event to some, it is a reminder that to be Christian means to suffer. In the season of Christmas, Christians are reminded that the birth of Christ marks the beginning of a lifetime of adhering to the faith of God come what may. As we wish each other Blessed Christmas in this season of Christmas, let us remember to stay firm in our faith and not let the secular world diminish the value of Christmas to another civic holiday.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the strength to stay firm in spite of all persecution.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who hold on to the faith despite persecution.

21 August, Tuesday – Spirit of Detachment

21 August

Pope St Pius X (1835 – 1914)

He was born in the village of Riese, near Venice, one of ten children of a very poor family. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 23. He was successively bishop of Mantua and of Venice, and was elected Pope, against his wishes, in 1903. In his time as Pope, he sought to “restore all things in Christ.” He insisted on the separation of Church and State, and banned the formation of political associations that claimed exclusive religious sanction for their political programme, whether of the Left or of the Right. He revised the code of Canon Law, founded an institute for scriptural studies, and initiated the revision of the Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate) and the reform of the liturgy.

He lived in great poverty even when he was Pope, and preached sermons every Sunday in the courtyards of the Vatican, to any who would listen. In his simplicity and goodness of heart, he performed miracles even when he was alive, and the clamour for his canonization started immediately after his death, on 20th August 1914, broken-hearted at the outbreak of the First World War.

(From Universalis.com)

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Ezekiel 28:1-10
Against the arrogance of the king of Tyre

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre, “The Lord says this:

Being swollen with pride,
you have said: I am a god;
I am sitting on the throne of God,
surrounded by the seas.
Though you are a man and not a god,
you consider yourself the equal of God.
You are wiser now than Danel;
there is no sage as wise as you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have amassed great wealth;
you have piles of gold and silver
inside your treasure-houses.
Such is your skill in trading,
your wealth has continued to increase,
and with this your heart has grown more arrogant.

And so, the Lord says this:
Since you consider yourself the equal of God,
very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you,
the most barbarous of the nations.
They will draw sword against your fine wisdom,
they will defile your glory;
they will throw you down into the pit
and you will die a violent death
surrounded by the seas.
Are you still going to say: I am a god,
when your murderers confront you?
No, you are a man and not a god
in the clutches of your murderers!
You will die like the uncircumcised
at the hand of foreigners.
For I have spoken – it is the Lord who speaks.”’

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Matthew 19:23-30
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’

Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’

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‘We have left everything and followed you.’

To trust in the Providence of God is indeed a challenge for most people. Some believe in the security which material possessions may give but the readings of today remind us of the importance of trusting in the love which God has given us.

Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that it is important for us to remember that God is the centre of our life. Today’s Gospel is a continuation from yesterday where the rich young man left away disappointed at the sacrifice he had to make to follow Jesus. The cost of discipleship is indeed great sacrifice. It requires us to put aside our differences and learn that God is indeed the maker and controller of our lives.

The first reading reminds us of the punishment which was inflicted on the king of Tyre for growing too proud. His pride caused God to strip him of the material possessions he had. God is ultimately the owner of all the talents we have in our life.

Today’s feast of St Pius X is a good example for us to follow. St Pius wanted to ensure that the Catholic Faith remained true to its origins. This is something which we can follow. In our lives today, we may make compromises which cause others to be affected by our decisions. These compromises may go contrary to our Catholic Faith and it is in these type of situations that we can have the example of St Pius X as a guide. He chose to remain faithful to God’s word despite the challenges of the world. Let us make an effort now to continue to spread the Word of God in our lives despite the troubles we face.

(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)

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Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for a spirit of detachment in our lives.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have taken the vow of poverty

12 May, Friday – Why be Christian?

May 12 – Memorial for Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St. Pancras, Martyr

Nereus and Achilleus (d. 98) were soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and members of the Praetorian Guard. They were converts to Christianity and baptized by St. Peter the Apostle. They were exiled for their faith, suffered with St. Flavia Domitilla, and were martyred together by beheading.

  • Patron Saint Index

Pancras (c. 290) was a 14-year-old orphan brought to Rome by his uncle St. Dionysius. He was a convert to Christianity, and was martyred with St. Nereus, St. Achilleus, and St. Domitilla for publicly proclaiming his faith.

Pope St. Vitalian sent his relics from the cemetery of Calepodius in Rome to the British Isles as part of the evangelization of England, so they would have the relics of the Church at large, and to install in altars in new churches. St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church in England to St. Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named after him.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Acts 13:26-33

Paul stood up in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you. What the people of Jerusalem and their rulers did, though they did not realise it, was in fact to fulfil the prophecies read on every sabbath. Though they found nothing to justify his death, they condemned him and asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree and buried him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem: and it is these same companions of his who are now his witnesses before our people.
‘We have come here to tell you the Good News. It was to our ancestors that God made the promise but it is to us, their children, that he has fulfilled it, by raising Jesus from the dead. As scripture says in the second psalm: You are my son: today I have become your father.’

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John 14:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
if there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am
you may be too.
You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus said:

‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.’

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There are many rooms in my Father’s house

The other day, I read of a book written by an ex-Atheist who had become a born-again Catholic and I wondered, if God is love, and since the Catholic Church believes in ecumenism, would we too celebrate when a non-Catholic makes a commitment to other religions other than Catholicism, such as Islam or Buddhism? After all, they are making a commitment to a way of life that they believe will lead them to become better persons. Do we celebrate that as well? Or do we still see it as a ‘factional’ loss?

In today’s gospel reading, we see two seemingly contradictory phrases. In one paragraph, Jesus mentions going to his Father’s house to prepare a room for his disciples, in a place where there are many rooms. Conventionally, one would view it as Jesus saying that there are many rooms for all of us who are followers of Christ. However, Christ’s words struck me differently when I read it. If Christ was going to prepare a room for his disciples, does it mean that our Father’s house has many other rooms for those who are not conventionally regarded as Jesus’ disciples? For instance, if God is love, and we believe that other religions lead people to God, then wouldn’t it also mean that there are rooms for others in God’s house? Yet, Jesus says, “No one can come to the Father except through me.” What does that mean? The words of Christ are thought-provoking and they are a mystery.

Perhaps they are for all the people who lived before Jesus’ time, but who believed in God – the ones that Paul spoke about in the first reading. Perhaps, they are also meant for people who will live in the future, those who never had a chance to encounter Christ personally but who have come to know God by knowing love. After all, there are people who may be beyond the scope of the Church, but are within God’s mercy.

The crux of today’s reflection though is this: “Why are we Christian? Why do we believe in Christ?” Is it solely because we want a foothold in heaven? Or is there something about Him that has changed our lives and broadened our visions? Have we grown comfortable in our perceptions that we fail to see the underlying message of Christ? Namely, that God’s love and salvation transcends all boundaries. It wasn’t just limited to a special group of people whom God had chosen as his own. If our beliefs have led us to forsake the individual for the sake of doctrine, then we may be missing out on truly knowing the person of Christ.

Today, let us take some time and reflect on this question, “Why do I believe in Christ?”

 (Today’s Oxygen by Daniel Tay)

Prayer: We pray for Christians to gain greater clarity on why we believe in Christ.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for his gift of love.