May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor
Athanasius (c. 295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.
He became Bishop of Alexandria c. 328; he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.
He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.
– Patron Saint Index
Some men came down from Judaea and taught the brothers, ‘Unless you have yourselves circumcised in the tradition of Moses you cannot be saved.’ This led to disagreement, and after Paul and Barnabas had had a long argument with these men it was arranged that Paul and Barnabas and others of the church should go up to Jerusalem and discuss the problem with the apostles and elders.
All the members of the church saw them off, and as they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria they told how the pagans had been converted, and this news was received with the greatest satisfaction by the brothers. When they arrived in Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church and by the apostles and elders, and gave an account of all that God had done with them.
But certain members of the Pharisees’ party who had become believers objected, insisting that the pagans should be circumcised and instructed to keep the Law of Moses. The apostles and elders met to look into the matter.
“Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away”
It is strange how an experience can totally change how one perceives and understands the world around him.
In today’s Gospel, our Lord Jesus talks about how His Father, the vinedresser, cuts away every branch in us that bears no fruit, and that how anyone who does not remain in Him is like a branch that is thrown away. Over the years, I have somehow read the passage in John as God “cutting us off” if we failed to be faithful or productive in our faith and lives.
I mentioned in yesterday’s reflection about how my wife and I have just recently attended an Inner Healing Retreat. I experienced amazing healing and insights during this retreat. After this amazing encounter with God, I read the gospel passage differently.
Now, “every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away” tells me that He is active in me, cutting and pruning the ‘withered’ branches. These are the branches that wound and hurt me; that do not allow me to be the best for God that I can be.
God also promises that if we are to remain in Him, He would remain in us and we would bear fruit in plenty! What a beautiful promise!
This passage has taken new life for me. I am excited by God’s assurance of how He would take care of me. I am excited by His promises of how much fruit I can bear for Him.
What wonderful lives God has promised us!
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Father God, help us to always be mindful about how we can serve and love You more. We pray that Your Spirit may continue to guide us.
Thanksgiving: Thank You for Your blessed assurances to us Father. We look forward to loving You and serving You more each day!