8 January, Saturday — Do we set ourselves apart from the world?

Saturday after Epiphany Sunday

1 Jn 5:14-21
Jn 3:22-30

the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God.

In November last year, I attended an online conference where I heard a talk about the importance of faith not being a private affair. Although Christians are called to participate in public life and to promote the truth of the human person according to church teachings, that may not be common practice. We live in a largely secular world, dominated by relativism and individualism, and more recently, woke culture. The more tuned in one is to the zeitgeist, the more likely one will be influenced by those worldviews in one way or another. As I listened to the talk, I realised that I actually have a somewhat secularist attitude towards the abortion debate, in the sense that I am very uncomfortable with ‘imposing’ my personal views about abortion on others who do not share the same faith. This is of concern to me, and it prompted me to consider how I can realign my perspective to be in line with my Christian mission.

“We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One” (1 John 5:19). Since her beginning, the church has been persecuted, challenged and opposed by all kinds of evil. If we regard ourselves as members of the church, then we have a responsibility to wage battle against the forces that are poised to lead people astray. There is a clear and distinct boundary between the kingdom of God and the world that is subject to the power of the devil; and as children of God, we can only take one side. The problem is that this boundary is blurred for some Catholics. There are the cafeteria Catholics who select only those aspects of the faith that they find palatable, while supporting ideas and practices that are morally questionable. Others seem very much taken with alternative approaches to matters of faith, such as choosing to be spiritual rather than religious, or leaning towards a more agnostic view of God.

The way I see it, there is much work to be done within the church itself. Many are unfamiliar with the core teachings of the faith, and I know fellow believers who view theology as something irrelevant, inaccessible and dry. With such poor theological grounding, how can one live the faith confidently and with conviction? But this is also where I have to admit that it can be harder to convert those who already call themselves Catholics than those who are not Christian to begin with. On my part, I can only continue to strive to improve my own knowledge of the faith and my relationship with God, in the hope that somehow, somewhere, I am prepared enough to let the Holy Spirit work through me.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray that your light may enlighten the hearts and minds of those who are full of disbelief despite professing a faith in you. For those of us struggling with the unorthodox views of friends, family and members of the faith community, please grant us the grace of discerning how we can respond to them with wisdom and love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the evangelists of the church today, especially those who are engaging with the faithful through the potentially toxic platforms of social media. May the Lord reward their efforts in strengthening our faith.

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