13 August, Saturday – Free Will

13 August – Memorial for St. Pontian, Pope, Martyr, and St. Hippolytus, Priest, Martyr

Pontian was among the first victims of an anti-Christian new emperor. Rounded up with the antipope Hippolytus, Pontian was deported to the labour mines. While imprisoned, Hippolytus reconciled his differences with Pontian and even ordered his followers to bring themselves back to the Church. Before he succumbed to the harsh treatment of the mines, Hippolytus became a true confessor of Christ. Pontian, in the mines only two months, was brutally beaten to death by his jailers.

– Patron Saint Index


Ezekiel 18:1-10,13,30-32

The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows:

‘Why do you keep repeating this proverb in the land of Israel: “The fathers have eaten unripe grapes; and the children’s teeth are set on edge”?

‘As I live – it is the Lord who speaks – there will no longer be any reason to repeat this proverb in Israel. See now: all life belongs to me; the father’s life and the son’s life, both alike belong to me. The man who has sinned, he is the one who shall die.

‘The upright man is law-abiding and honest; he does not eat on the mountains or raise his eyes to the idols of the House of Israel, does not seduce his neighbour’s wife or sleep with a woman during her periods. He oppresses no one, returns pledges, never steals, gives his own bread to the hungry, his clothes to the naked. He never charges usury on loans, takes no interest, abstains from evil, gives honest judgement between man and man, keeps my laws and sincerely respects my observances–such a man is truly upright. It is the Lord who speaks.

‘But if anyone has a son prone to violence and bloodshed, then this son shall certainly not live; having committed all these appalling crimes he will have to die, and his blood be on his own head.

House of Israel, in future I mean to judge each of you by what he does–it is the Lord who speaks. Repent, renounce all your sins, avoid all occasions of sin! Shake off all the sins you have committed against me, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why are you so anxious to die, House of Israel? I take no pleasure in the death of anyone–it is the Lord who speaks. Repent and live!’


Matthew 19:13-15

People brought little children to Jesus, for him to lay his hands on them and say a prayer. The disciples turned them away, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.


I take no pleasure in the death of anyone – it is the Lord who speaks.

In my line of work, there comes a time where we need to decide if a student who obtained less than desirable grades and exhibited behaviour which does not meet expectations, is a result of us, as teachers, failing the student; or is it because the student chose his own path. Indeed, this is something which we see in the readings of today where God reminds the Prophet Ezekiel of the importance of choosing the straight and narrow.

Doing what is needed to fulfil one’s Christian’s duties is certainly not something which we find easy to do. The ways of the world do make us falter but I believe that Jesus has shown us the way in which we need to stay close to Him. This is to adopt a child-like attitude towards things. A child-like attitude requires us to trust in God and to work our way towards achieving what God desires of us in our lives. In practical terms, this means we need to identify the strengths and talents we have in our lives and then decide how best we can use it to glorify God. However, is this something which we are open to?

As we continue with our lives, we need to accept our frailties and weaknesses. However, what makes us a better Christian is how we recover from it. God reminds us in the first reading that He wants us to live and not die. Just like the teacher in the first paragraph, we need to accept the fact that students choose their own behaviour. We can counsel, lecture, pray and even ignore but ultimately, the decision lies with the individual on his choice of behaviour. Let us ask God for the wisdom to guide us in deciding what is the decision we should make.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the wisdom to choose the path which leads to life.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to all who offer Spiritual Direction.

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