Tag Archives: responsibilities

11 September, Tuesday – Bad Witness

11 September

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1 Corinthians 6:1-11

How dare one of your members take up a complaint against another in the law courts of the unjust instead of before the saints? As you know, it is the saints who are to ‘judge the world’; and if the world is to be judged by you, how can you be unfit to judge trifling cases? Since we are also to judge angels, it follows that we can judge matters of everyday life; but when you have had cases of that kind, the people you appointed to try them were not even respected in the Church. You should be ashamed: is there really not one reliable man among you to settle differences between brothers and so one brother brings a court case against another in front of unbelievers? It is bad enough for you to have lawsuits at all against one another: oughtn’t you to let yourselves be wronged, and let yourselves be cheated? But you are doing the wronging and the cheating, and to your own brothers.

You know perfectly well that people who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God: people of immoral lives, idolaters, adulterers, catamites, sodomites, thieves, usurers, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers will never inherit the kingdom of God. These are the sort of people some of you were once, but now you have been washed clean, and sanctified, and justified through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.

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Luke 6:12-19

Jesus went out into the hills to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God. When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them ‘apostles’: Simon whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot who became a traitor.

He then came down with them and stopped at a piece of level ground where there was a large gathering of his disciples with a great crowd of people from all parts of Judaea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. People tormented by unclean spirits were also cured, and everyone in the crowd was trying to touch him because power came out of him that cured them all.

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“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God?”

Corinth during the time of Paul was a thriving hub of political, spiritual and sexual liberalism. It’s hard to find a modern equivalent to it – an extreme version of San Francisco, maybe? Corinth was also a centre of the Imperial Cult who practiced the worship of Rome’s emperors as divine beings. As a result, the city enjoyed a great deal of wealth. Corinth was where you would go, if you wished to live an unfettered, hedonistic kind of life. The funny thing about that kind of liberalism is that taken too far, it can be exhausting. People ultimately want order in their lives, something lasting to build their life around. God brought Paul to Corinth to tap into this emotional wellspring, this yearning for a simpler and more purposeful way of life.

Within this context, we can understand Paul’s indignation with the elders of Corinth. Christ’s newly established church was to serve as a shining example to the rest of the city. Its elders were supposed to be paragons of the faith. But they let themselves be dragged into the same mud as everyone else. Who wants to join a church if it is led by a bunch of hypocrites? The Corinthians were ruled by Romans! They already knew all about that way of life! No, the people of Corinth were looking for leadership they could get behind, someone to inspire them, someone who would take them to higher ground! They were hungry for it! There was going to be no tolerance for bad witness if Christ’s newly established church was to have any credibility. And Paul understood this.

The world we live in today is not so different than the Corinth of Paul’s time. We are all hungering for credible leadership, seeking a more authentic way of life, looking for something enduring that we can build our lives around. We’re tired of the hypocrisy, the politics, tired of not knowing who we can trust, what is fake news, what is not. We’re tired! And our Catholic Church today, is not so different than Paul’s church in Corinth. We can’t afford any further bad witnesses; the credibility of the Catholic Church is at stake. If we are going to profess that we are Catholic, we too must bear the responsibility of rebuilding that credibility. And we do that by ensuring our own witness is beyond reproach. Our Church has already taken too much of a beating with these recent scandals. Right now, the whole world is watching. The rebuilding and healing starts here – in our communities, in our homes, in our schools. It’s up to each one of us to rise to the occasion, to bear good witness, if we are to begin to right the wrongs and take back God’s house. To borrow a phrase from Gandhi – “Be the change that you wish to see”

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the wisdom, the love and the courage to be good witnesses of our Catholic faith, that we might reflect the light of Christ in these dark times.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for those who support us in our faith journeys; those who help us to carry our crosses when they get too heavy to bear.

8 August, Monday – Duties and privilege

8 August – Memorial for St. Dominic, Priest, Religious founder

Dominic (1170-1221) was born of wealthy Spanish nobility, and was the son of Blessed Joan of Aza. Joan had difficulty conceiving and prayed at the shrine of St. Dominic of Silos who had a tradition of patronage of that problem. When she became pregnant, she named the child in honour of the saint. While pregnant, Joan had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth. A dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Order he founded, the Dominicans. At Dominic’s baptism, Joan saw a star shining from his chest, which became another of his symbols in art, and led to his patronage of astronomy.

Dominic was a priest who worked for clerical reform. He had a life-long apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France. He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who lived a simple, austere life. He also founded an order or nuns dedicated to the care of young girls.

At one point, Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; no matter how much he worked, heresies remained. But he received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the rosary. She told him to say the rosary daily, teach it to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary; it actually pre-dates him, but he certainly spread devotion to it, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life.
Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar was St. Francis of Assisi.

– Patron Saint Index

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Ezekiel 1:2-5,24-28

On the fifth of the month – it was the fifth year of exile for King Jehoiachin – the word of the Lord was addressed to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldaeans, on the bank of the river Chebar.

There the hand of the Lord came on me. I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north, a great cloud with light around it, a fire from which flashes of lightning darted, and in the centre a sheen like bronze at the heart of the fire. In the centre I saw what seemed four animals. I heard the noise of their wings as they moved; it sounded like rushing water, like the voice of Shaddai, a noise like a storm, like the noise of a camp; when they halted, they folded their wings, and there was a noise.

Above the vault over their heads was something that looked like a sapphire; it was shaped like a throne and high up on this throne was a being that looked like a man. I saw him shine like bronze, and close to and all around him from what seemed his loins upwards was what looked like fire; and from what seemed his loins downwards I saw what looked like fire, and a light all round like a bow in the clouds on rainy days; that is how the surrounding light appeared. It was something that looked like the glory of the Lord. I looked, and prostrated myself.

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Matthew 17:22-27

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’

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And a great sadness came over them

I always remembered the words which the Chancellor of the University spoke during my graduation ceremony. He mentioned that we had been conferred the degree with the accompanying “rights, responsibilities and privileges” At that point in time, I did not understand what those words meant but, over the course of a few years, I have discovered the meaning behind those words. Receiving an education demands from us an expectation of the behaviour of an educated person. There is a similarity between the words above and the readings of today.

Jesus shared with His apostles that His objective on earth was to die for our sins and that He would have to leave them in the process. This news probably was the reason why they felt so sad. Yet, in the same way, Jesus also had to fulfil his obligation as a Jew and pay the half-shekel. He did not have to, given that he was the Son of God; yet He continued to uphold His obligations. The Gospel of today reminds all of us that we as Christians have a responsibility towards our Christian duty of spreading the Good News to all around us. This requires us to be obedient to the word of God and to ask God what He wants from us.

Perhaps we may be worried that such a task will put us in direct opposition to the environment which we live in but this is indeed what makes us a better person, grounded in Faith and Love. The privilege of being a Christian (of having Jesus die for us) comes with it the responsibility of spreading this joy to all around us. As we begin the week, let us discover what it means to be a Christian of joy and love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the grace to continue with our mission of spreading the Good News.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who allow us to see the goodness in others.