27 May – Feast of Saint Augustine of Canterbury
Augustine (d. 605) was a monk and abbot of St. Andrew’s abbey in Rome. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great with 40 brother monks, including St. Lawrence of Canterbury to evangelize the British Isles in 597. Before he reached the islands, terrifying tales of the Celts sent him back to Rome in fear, but Gregory told him he had no choice, so he went. He established and spread the faith throughout England; one of his earliest converts was King Æthelberht who brought 10,000 of his people into the Church.
He was ordained a bishop in Gaul (modern France) by the Archbishop of Arles. He became Bishop of Canterbury, and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He helped re-establish contact between the Celtic and Latin churches, though he could not establish his desired uniformity of liturgy and practices between them. He worked with St. Justus of Canterbury. The Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury are still referred to as occupying the Chair of Augustine.
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1 Peter 4:7-1
Everything will soon come to an end, so, to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind. Above all, never let your love for each other grow insincere, since love covers over many a sin. Welcome each other into your houses without grumbling. Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire.
There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you. If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.
After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ he said. And his disciples heard him say this.
So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, ‘Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’ This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.
Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. ‘Look, Rabbi,’ he said to Jesus, ‘the fig tree you cursed has withered away.’ Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.’ But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’
There is nothing extraordinary
Today, I had the privilege of spending some quality time with a friend. We hadn’t had time to catch up over the last few months. We shared how ironic it was that God would call us to do the very things that we were uncomfortable with.
My friend is quite an active ministry member at a community where we both serve at. She has also just been asked to serve at her parish– to which she readily accepted. She explained that being an introvert, she was happy to be a ‘wallflower’ and just work behind the scenes. Hence any work that entails administration, organizing activities and operations suited her fine. As my friend’s ministry in our community was on a hiatus, she was recently asked to discern where she would like to continue serving. The choices open to her – choir, operations or cell group leader. My friend was ‘okay’ with anyone of those choices. Cause she could perform any of these ‘with her eyes closed’.
But my friend has a special gift. And that is the gift of evangelization. I am always in awe when I hear her speak. How could someone possibly know so much and be so passionate when she speaks. So naturally, I thought she would make a great cell group leader, right? Well, our God is a humorous God. He has other plans for her. She felt prompted to go beyond what she was comfortable with. She was promoted instead to be a worship leader – a role she is still fighting hard against, given her introverted nature. When she told me this, I thought that it was brilliant! She would be a great worship leader!! But my friend is still resisting – never in her wildest dream would she entertain the thought of being one. I told her (in all my ‘wisdom’) that God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called. Later this evening, she sent me a text message saying that that was the exact line was used in a worship session this evening. Now, is that a message from God or what?
In today’s first reading, St. Peter said ‘Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others.’ We are all given different talents and gifts. We are called to exercise our gifts for the service of God. And as we grow in faith, we are called to go deeper into the unknown. Faith cannot be stagnant. God leads us into a different phase of our faith formation. Yes, we all fear the unfamiliar and the unknown. I too am fighting my own spiritual battle of where God is leading me today. The gospel reading tells us today ‘everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already’. So we never asked to be led into the unknown. But will you let God shape and mould you? Will you let God lead you to be the spectacular being that He intends for you to be? Will you let Him lead you out of your comfort zone, step out of the boat and walk on the water? Pray, my brothers and sisters for the grace to let go and let God lead.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, as we grow in our faith journey, You call us to go where we don’t want to, into the unknown. We fear what You are asking of us. We feel inadequate and unqualified. Give us the grace to heed Your calling and give us the courage to take that very first step, knowing that You will lead us as we go along. We want to be the wondrous person You intend for us to be.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for believing in us. For being ever so patient with us, whenever we resist Your calling. You Lord are the Master Potter, and we are but lumps of clay. Thank you for calling us to your side. Teach us Lord to live our lives through your eyes.