12 May – Memorial for Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St. Pancras, Martyr
Since the tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing, he freed Paul and gave orders for a meeting of the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin; then he brought Paul down and stood him in front of them. Now Paul was well aware that one section was made up of Sadducees and the other of Pharisees, so he called out in the Sanhedrin, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’ As soon as he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was split between the two parties. For the Sadducees say there is neither resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, while the Pharisees accept all three. The shouting grew louder, and some of the scribes from the Pharisees’ party stood up and protested strongly, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?’ Feeling was running high, and the tribune, afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered his troops to go down and haul him out and bring him into the fortress.
Next night, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.’
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.’
What really struck me today, is that one word, “courage”. Oftentimes we fear the unknown, the future and its many uncertainties. We can plan all our lives and believe we are prepared for all outcomes, yet still be unsure when the time comes. Sometimes we fail to confront or address the issues that are preventing us from moving on. We fail to accept our mistakes and continue to live in the past. Bury our regrets. But what really happens when we bury our sins, regrets and hurts, is that they will always remain in us. They will continue to affect us. We end up living in the shadow of our past.
Seeing the word “courage”, made me want to encourage all who are suffering in silence. Because the truth is, it’s never about the past but whether we have learned and how we are going to improve. For mistakes are many and we will always continue to make them. But hopefully we also have the courage to admit our faults and failings and be more aware of our actions in the future.
Many of us also struggle with finding the courage to trust, to love and to forgive. We build walls around ourselves. Wear many masks. But eventually, we lose our identity and we lose ourselves.
Today let us embrace this word. Not just to be bold, but to take that leap of faith. To believe in God. To believe in ourselves. To believe that we can afford to lower our walls because God is our strength. Lower our masks, because when others see us, it’s Christ they see. Embrace our failings and weaknesses, because they have brought us to where we are now. To move on, because we simply deserve better.
Let us not judge ourselves. Let us give ourselves another chance and know we are all created good and in the image of Christ Himself. Let us find courage through Him. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that You be our courage in times when it seems that we are doing something that isn’t us or allowing something that isn’t right to happen. Lord, we need the courage because many times we simply prefer to choose the simpler way out. Dear Lord, give us wisdom to know how to act when it calls for us to be courageous.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for speaking to us today. We may not know what the future entails but we thank you for all the years we’ve managed to live. Thank you for Your courage at your passion and death. May we continue to look to you in times of need.