Feast of St. Mark, evangelist
St. Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of St. Peter who travelled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He was the author of the earliest canonical Gospel. He travelled with his cousin St. Barnabas, and with St. Paul through Cyprus. He evangelized in Alexandria, established the Church there, and founded the first famous Christian school.
Patron Saint Index
1 Pet 5:5-14
“All wrap yourselves in humility to be servants of each other, because God refuses the proud and will always favour the humble.”
Over the past few years, I have been doing silent Lenten retreats as part of my spiritual preparation for Easter. This year, however, given the ongoing global pandemic and local circuit breaker measures in place, my better half and I decided on a DIY home retreat during Holy Week. It was challenging, to say the least. I did not realise how much self-discipline would be required to stay focussed and keep sacred silence within the tight confines of a shared common space.
Even as I sit restlessly at home, I found myself thinking about the plight of foreign workers confined in their dormitories. There has been a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, and a significant number of these are linked to the dormitory clusters. This has prompted swift action by the authorities, mobilising resources at short notice to test, isolate and treat the individuals who need medical attention. While I was impressed with its efficiency of execution, it was heart-breaking that an outbreak was needed for the government to step in to address longstanding issues, which NGOs previously raised to no avail.
Some people call the coronavirus the great leveller — rich or poor, all are plunged into a turmoil of fear and uncertainty. On the contrary, it exacerbates existing inequalities, insecurities and injustices. Many condemn negligent regulators and errant dormitory operators for allowing the buildup to this perfect storm. Before casting blame, let us consider how each of us has contributed towards this phenomenon, tacit or otherwise. Would there be a need to concentrate the accommodation of the foreign workforce if not for our collective ‘NIMBY’ (not in my backyard) mentality?
Brothers and sisters, in today’s readings, we are reminded to serve one another in humble service. As Christians, we are called to testify to God’s love, especially amidst suffering and tribulation. As His people, may we continue to look out for the invisible and forgotten ones in our midst, for it is through our love and actions that others will come to know Christ.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)
Prayer: Father God, we lift up to You the poor, the sick, the forgotten and those who do not know you. May they come to know You and experience Your unfailing love.
Thanksgiving: Father, may we never take for granted our blessings but use them according to Your will, to serve the lost, the least and the last.