13 January, Thursday — We cannot control the joy that comes with God’s approval

13 Jan – Memorial for St. Hilary, bishop and doctor of the Church

St. Hilary of Poitiers (315-368) was known as Athanasius of the West. He was born to wealthy polytheistic, pagan nobility. His early life was uneventful as he married, had children (one of whom was St. Abra), and studied on his own. Through his studies, he came to believe in salvation through good works, and then monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith, and was converted by the end of the New Testament.

Hilary lived the faith so well that he was made Bishop of Poitiers from 353-368. He opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters and was exiled; he used the time to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many and, in an attempt to reduce his notoriety, he was returned to the small town of Poitiers, where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity. His writings nonetheless continued to convert pagans.

Hilary introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church, fought Arianism with the help of St. Viventius, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1851.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Sam 4:1-11
Mk 1:40-45

…but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

Goodness is in line with grace; it is a product of divine placement that imparts God’s desires on whom he wants to please. In goodness, there is a joy that radiates to influence those who share in its efficacy. In this way, it translates into good deeds that know no boundaries. It is difficult to hide goodness because it is, in itself, an embodiment of characterised content filled with gracious practicality. In truth, no man is good, but everyone strives to live in goodness through practical deeds of faith and hope; these are the things God plumbs along the lines of human limitations. And working in God’s vineyard promotes goodness and relationship with God — this is what Catholic priests are trained to do; and God works to guide them in establishing his choice of the path of revelation. And when God’s revelation comes through His agent, it is unstoppable in building the true ‘follower’-ship.

In 2010, in a town in one of the Catholic ecclesiastical provinces in Southwest Nigeria, one dedicated Catholic couple — Paul and Ann, married for ten years without a child — was blessed with a baby boy, who the family named Michael. The birth of Michael brought huge relief to the couple. But three years into his growth, Michael had not stepped out to walk and his parents were terribly worried; they took him to many hospitals and healing homes without any solution. In all, they were insistently praying to God and could not take Michael to church for most Sunday Masses because the couple felt it was burdensome carrying an adult-baby to the Church every Sunday; so Michael was always left at home.

In 2014, a newly ordained priest, John, was posted to the parish of Paul and Ann. Rev. Father John was a charismatic young man with the zeal and commitment pleasing to God. After three months in the parish, he was informed about the condition of Michael and he visited the home of Paul and Ann to see Michael. When Fr. John was about to leave, little Michael said: ”Fr, I want to follow you”. Everyone present was surprised at his request. His parents were shocked and confused, and looked at Fr. John for a response. Rev. Fr. John said to them: “Dress him up and let’s go to the parish”. And when they got to the church, Rev. Fr. John guided them to the sanctuary and asked his parents to kneel down. He lifted Michael onto the altar and for some minutes prayed for him. When Michael was brought down from the altar and left on the floor, he placed his hands on a chair to garner support and stood up for the first time. Rev. Fr. John asked Paul and Ann not to inform anyone of this. They took the boy home and after some three weeks of support and practice, Michael started to walk. Paul and Ann could not control their joy and went about to spread the good news. This brought huge attention to Rev. Fr. John and turned him into a star priest. Rev Fr. John has moved on and is now serving in one of the African countries as a missionary priest. Today, Michael is an altar server and he is opting to be a priest. Ultimately, it is difficult to control the joy that comes with God’s approval.

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

Prayer: Lord, please help us to continue to follow you, because it is only you that gives lasting joy. We pray that you make us remain committed to you and your desires, as you guide us through the path of salvation. We believe in you; please continue to protect us, Amen.

Thanksgiving:  Dear Lord, and Father who created Heaven and Earth, we thank you for providing joy that comes from following you. You have made your presence pronounced in our life, and we thank you for leading us through the path of survival. We thank you, Lord, Amen.

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