2 August, Monday — God agrees with His messengers

Aug 2 – Memorial for St. Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop; St Peter Julian Eymard, bishop

Eusebius (283-371) was a priest and lector in Rome, Italy. He was consecrated bishop of Vercelli, Italy in 340, but was exiled to Palestine and Cappadocia due to his struggle against Arianism. He was a friend of St. Athanasius of Alexandria. He was a prolific writer, according to his contemporaries, but none of his works have survived. He was the first bishop to live with and follow the same rule as his priests. He may be been martyred by Arians, but reports vary. Many consider him a martyr as he may have died as a result of his sufferings in exile.

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Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) had a strong Marian devotion, and travelled to the assorted Marian shrines and apparition sites in France. He organised lay societies under the direction of the Marists, preached and taught, and worked for Eucharistic devotion. He felt a call to found a new religious society, and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the lay Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. His work encountered a series of setbacks, including having to close his nascent houses and move twice, and the houses not being able to support themselves financially. However, his vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people dedicated to the spiritual values celebrated in the Mass and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament anticipated many of the renewals brought about by Vatican Councils I and II.

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Num 11:4-15
Mat 14:13-21

He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds.

Indeed, there are people who serve as God and Our Lord Jesus Christ’s messengers; they live with us and are among us. In the Bible and in describing their roles, Christ called them Apostles and Disciples. He commanded the multitudes to sit down but gave the loaves of bread to his disciples to pass to the multitudes. The apostles of Christ were shepherds and in the Church today, is the repository of that mantle of authority. And for that, the institution of the Eucharist is the beginning of the Holy Order of priesthood in the Church; and the bishops and priests are the carriers of Christ’s injunctions in guiding the faithful. This is the growth and progression of successions that have kept the Catholic Church intact and in unity of orderliness since the first pope, irrespective of historical fallouts. The priests are the shepherds — Christ’s apostles and disciples that serve and guide the multitudes of Christ’s faithful followers.

From 2000 to 2018, in a historical town in one of the Southeast states in Nigeria, two communities were in a turgid dispute for many years over the ownership of a parcel of land situated at the border between them. And over these years of fetish distribution of hatred, many people had lost their lives on both sides in many fights, over the same land. The communities were not letting peace reign and the war was raging and claiming fortunes in lives. But in October 2019, a young man, Martin, from one of the warring communities, whose elder brother, Kevin, had died in one the rifts between the communities, was ordained a Catholic priest. After his ordination, in a rare and surprising move, he walked across the line of division to convene a conflict resolution meeting to resolve the crisis between the two communities. Acting as an apostle of peace, a shepherd offering the loaves of peace to the multitudes of these communities, he brought peace to them; for God agrees with His messengers. And in February this year, the two communities celebrated a joint cultural festival to mark an end to hostilities. This is the very important role of a true disciple of Christ — to serve and guide His faithful.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Julius Otusorochukwu Dike, KSJI, JP)

Prayer: Lord, please help us to wipe away any form of hostility in our communities and among your faithful. Guide us through the right path of truth and justice and remove any occasion of friction in our lives and relationships. We pray you grant us this desire. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for helping us to love one another, to live in peace and harmony, believing you are the anchor of our joy. We thank you for the daily support in our life and making sure we remain faithful to you. We thank you Father. Amen.

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