Jun 30 – First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
These holy men and women are also called the “Protomartyrs of Rome”. They were accused of burning Rome by Nero, who burned Rome to cover his own crimes. Some martyrs were burned as living torches at evening banquets, some crucified, and others were fed to wild animals. These martyrs died before Sts. Peter and Paul, and are called “disciples of the Apostles. . . whom the Holy Roman church sent to their Lord before the Apostles’ death”.
“… as soon as they saw him they implored Him to leave the neighbourhood.”
If Jesus were to come to Singapore today, in a red shirt and blue denim jeans (not the ripped kind), what would your reaction be? How will you respond if He asked you for directions to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd?
Will you rejoice, or shed tears of joy, upon recognising that He is our Saviour? Or will you not know that this lost person is… Jesus? Or will you feel something uneasy within yourself, and subsequently ignore or dismiss His request?
The people of Gadarenes certainly felt something uneasy as they faced Jesus. They knew that Jesus himself had chased away the demoniacs, but…why did they also chase Jesus away? Why didn’t they welcome Him into their country?
Then I realised something. Perhaps, the lifestyle of the Gadarenes country must have caused the demons to possess two of them. Surely the demons could not have just seized these souls anyhow. It is probably an immoral and indecent lifestyle that had opened up portals for the demons to enter the country. So, after having heard from the swineherds about the exorcism, the townspeople realized that they now had to change their lifestyle, but they did not want to, for whatever reason. And surely, they felt very uneasy when they saw Jesus, and so they chased Him away.
In my childhood, I used to think that following Jesus would be easy and peaceful. But now I realize that it is no mean task. My spiritual journey has been filled with highs and lows, and at times, I do get uneasy when I spend time reflecting on myself in prayer and finding out deep truths about myself that aren’t pretty, and really need a lot of work to improve. It is a lot easier to run away from the truth and continue living my old way of life. But I know that God, Mary and our saints are working tirelessly around the clock to remind me that I am the daughter of God, so He loves me and He wants me to change my lifestyle so that hopefully, we can spend time together forever in Heaven. This change includes no more fangirling over Avenger characters/actors, no more excessive purchases on new clothes and bags, and no more excessive procrastination when faced with stress at work.
Changing our lifestyle requires a lot of time, perseverance and effort. And this includes changing to a lifetime of prayer, fasting and charity, as well as going for Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequently — things which we should be doing all year, and not just during Lent and Advent.
And we hope that eventually, we will see each other in Heaven, feasting happily with God, together with our saints and angels.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Brenda Khoo)
Prayer: Dear Lord, please never let us chase You away until we forget You forever. Please remind us and our loved ones that our time on earth is not for us, but for You. Please help us to remember that we are Your sons and daughters, and that You desire to spend happy bonding time with us in eternity in heaven. We know that we are weak, so please give us the grace and strength to follow You in our spiritual trek on earth, and to be resilient in changing our sinful lifestyle so that we can learn how to be perfect in our love for You. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us the areas where we need to work on, and for granting us the courage, strength and endurance to continually improve ourselves like gold that is tested in fire. Amen.
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