23 April, Thursday – The Way, The Truth and The Life

23 Apr – Memorial for St. George, martyr; Memorial for St. Adalbert, bishop & martyr

St. George (d. 304) was a soldier who was martyred for his faith. That’s all we know for sure.

Several stories have been attached to St. George, the best known of which is the ‘Golden Legend’. In it, a dragon lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Whole armies had gone up against this fierce creature, and had gone down in painful defeat. The monster ate two sheep each day; when mutton was scarce, lots were drawn in local villages, and maidens were substituted for sheep. Into this country came St. George. Hearing the story on a day when a princess was to be eaten, he crossed himself, rode to battle against the serpent, and killed it with a single blow with his lance. George then held forth with a magnificent sermon, and converted the locals. Given a large reward by the king, George distributed it to the poor, then rode away.

Due to his chivalrous behaviour (protecting women, fighting evil, dependence on faith and might of arms, largesse to the poor), devotion to St. George became popular in Europe after the 10th century. In the 15th century, his feast day was as popular and important as Christmas. Many of his areas of patronage have to do with life as a knight on horseback. The celebrated ‘Knights of the Garter’ are actually ‘Knights of the Order of St. George’. The shrine built for his relics at Lydda, Palestine, was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries.

He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

  • Patron Saint Index

Adalbert (957–997) was born to the Bohemian nobility. He took the name of St. Adalbert of Magdeburg, the archbishop who healed, educated and converted him. He became Bishop of Prague (in the modern Czech Republic) on Feb 10, 982. He was a friend of Emperor Otto III.

Adalbert encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and worked on it with St. Astricus. He was opposed by the nobility in Prague and unpopular in the area, so he withdrew to Rome, Italy and became a Benedictine monk, making his vows on Apr 17, 990. But Pope John XV sent him back to Prague anyway.

He founded the monastery of Brevnov, met more opposition from the nobility and returned to Rome. There being no hope of his working in Prague, he was allowed to (unsuccessfully) evangelise in Pomerania, Poland, Prussia, Hungary and Russia. He and his fellow missionaries were martyred by Prussians near Koenigsberg or Danzig at the instigation of a pagan priest. Not long before his death, Adalbert met, and was a great inspiration to, St. Boniface of Querfurt.

  • Patron Saint Index

Acts 5:27-33
John 3:31-36

Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life

Today’s first reading gave an account of how Peter stood up against the high priest with fervour, courage and conviction. While John the Baptist, in our gospel reading, gave a passionate account of who Jesus is and the power entrusted to Him by His Father.

There was never a doubt in their minds who Jesus is, with complete faith and trust in Him, they spoke the truth. They extolled everyone to believe & to obey as they did. This message is true then as it is today, and serves as a stark reminder for me.

With what is going around in the world today, I got swept up in the coronavirus vortex and lost my grounding as the world lost its way. It was easy to get caught up with all the news and updates; the constant bombardment of articles, news, spoofs, even songs written about the virus made me feel like life got sucked out of me. Sure, there were silver linings amidst the storm, and there were reports of good deeds and how people are reaching out to help others. But these gave temporary relief and I found myself back to scrolling through my phone in a daze.

Reflecting on today’s readings gave me a good wake-up call. Perhaps unconsciously, there are fears and anxieties, and maybe even ‘anticipatory grief’ (a term I picked up from a Harvard Business Review article, perhaps there is some useful information from all the scrolling after all 😊), but I have failed to offer these up to our Lord; to seek His wisdom and guidance. We are all witnesses to the power of God, who raised Jesus from the dead and His victory triumphs over all. Here is a reminder to me, and to us all, to stay faithful and obedient to His ways. For me, it is about getting back to basics, to experience His love through scriptures and quiet times, meditating on His words and, most of all, as mentioned in today’s readings, to invite the Holy Spirit to inspire us and ignite our love for God once again. For Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and returning to Him for solace and assurance is the only way to overcome not only this crisis, but our temporary existence on this earth.

 (Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I am truly sorry for my lack of faith and for disobeying your ways. Send your Holy Spirit upon me once again to heal and inspire me. Let me never waver but if I do, draw me home to you.  

Thanksgiving: Our Father, thank you for never giving up on us, and for giving us Jesus, your beloved Son, to show us the way back to you.

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