9 August, Monday — Life Beyond Earth

Aug 9 – Memorial for St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), martyr

After witnessing the strength of faith of Catholic friends, Teresa (1891-1942), originally a Jew, became interested in Catholicism and studied a catechism on her own, and she eventually ended up ‘reading herself into’ the Faith.

She became a Carmelite nun, teaching and lecturing at two schools. However, anti-Jewish pressure from the Nazis forced her to resign both positions. She was smuggled out of Germany and assigned to Holland. When the Nazis invaded Holland, she and her sister Rose, also a convert to Catholicism, were captured and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where they died in the ovens, like so many others.

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Deu 10:12-22
Mt 17:22-27                                                                                                  

And a great sadness came over them.

I was in the military band when I was in secondary school, and the biggest event we looked forward to was the National Day Parade. In particular, I remember the one held in 1980. In the run up to the parade, we were told what to expect — that we would have to stand in the National Stadium for some 1-2 hours, followed by a gruelling route march. What was even tougher was that we were expected by our leaders to play our instruments throughout the march!

It was known to be really tough, but our seniors shared with us stories of National Day Parades of the past. We looked at the photos and saw the look of pride and satisfaction on the band members at the day’s end.

In the Gospel of today was this: While our Lord had prophesied that He would be “handed over into the power of men”, that “they would put him to death” but that He would be raised to life again.

What struck me in particular was that the disciples were overcome with great sadness, in spite of the last part of the prophecy, when our Lord would be raised to life.

What is significant is that while a tough event such like the National Day Parade disconcerted us, the previous experience of our seniors gave us assurance that we would be able to survive, and even enjoy, this experience. With regard to Jesus’ prophecy, no one had ever risen from the dead. While there were many great prophets through the history of Israel, no one had defeated death like our Lord did. In essence, the disciples did not manage to see beyond the prediction of our Lord Jesus’ death, no, they COULD not see beyond the limits of one’s existence on earth!

We, however, have been blessed with witnesses to our Lord’s resurrection, with the Bible, and the history of our Church. What we are, is that we are also gifted with the examples of the lives of the saints. In particular, the way the disciples chose to live (and die) after our Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension. 

Among all the disciples, only John (Jesus’ most beloved disciple) lived to die an old man. The rest all died as martyrs. In particular, I am struck by how the Apostle Simon Peter chose to be crucified upside down, as he did not see himself worthy enough to die in the same way as our Lord! What better testimony of faith, brothers and sisters?

Let us all look to the disciples as our guiding lights, and look beyond our earthly lives. Our lives will continue, albeit in a different form!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray for the faith as those before us. Help us, Father, to keep our eyes on You! 

Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for sending us Your Son to die for us, and for showing us the way to heaven.

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