3 February, Thursday — The Essentials

3 Feb – Memorial for St. Blaise, bishop and martyr; Memorial for St. Ansgar, bishop

St. Blaise (d. 316) was a physician and Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. He lived in a cave on Mount Argeus. He was a healer of men and animals. According to legend, sick animals would come to him on their own for help, but would never disturb him in prayer.

Agricola, governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. His huntsmen went into the forests of Argeus to find wild animals for the arena games, and found many waiting outside Blaise’s cave. Discovered in prayer, Blaise was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison, Blaise ministered to and healed his fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fish bone; this led to the blessing of throats on Blaise’s feast day.

Thrown into a lake to drown, Blaise stood on the surface and invited his persecutors to walk out and prove the power of their gods; they drowned. When he returned to land, he was martyred by being beaten, his flesh torn out with wool combs (which led to his association with, and patronage of those involved in the wool trade), and then beheaded.

Blaise has been extremely popular for centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches. In 1222, the Council of Oxford prohibited servile labour in England on his feast. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

St. Ansgar (801-865) was born to the French nobility. He was a Benedictine monk at Old Corbie Abbey in Picardy, and New Corbie in Westphalia. He studied under St. Adelard and St. Paschasius Radbert. He accompanied the converted King Harold to Denmark when the exiled king returned home.

He was a missionary to Denmark and Sweden. He founded the first Christian church in Sweden in c.832. He was abbot of New Corbie in c.834. He was ordained Archbishop of Hamburg by Pope Gregory IV. He was a papal legate to the Scandanavian countries. He established the first Christian school in Denmark, but was run out by pagans, and the school was burned to the ground. He campaigned against slavery.

He was Archbishop of Bremen. He converted Erik, King of Jutland. He was a great preacher, a miracle worker, and greatly devoted to the poor and sick. Sadly, after his death most of his gains for the Church were lost to resurgent paganism.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Kgs 2:1-4,10-12
Mk 6:7-13

“And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.”

Here’s wishing all readers celebrating Chinese New Year, a holy and blessed one.

I remember just wishing Happy New Year and we are already into the second month of the new year.

How timely it is that we read in the first reading today about a passing of instructions, which can also be seen as a passing down of traditions, customs, routines and values. Indeed, as we celebrate Chinese New Year, there will always be traditions that we follow. Some people more traditional, others more modern and there could be those that just don’t understand and feel that it doesn’t make sense.

In the world today, we find more people questioning why there are certain practices, customs or traditions but the answers don’t seem to justify the actions and why we need to go through such ‘trouble’.

Today, the readings tell us what the essentials are. What do we need to handover to our children, what we need to bring with us, who we need to have with us. Maybe this Chinese New Year can also be a time for us to reflect on what have we handed over to our loved ones besides just goodies and ‘angbaos’ (red packets). What are these essentials that our loved ones actually need?

This work of imparting to our loved ones and children can never be accomplished within a day and neither should it be done alone. Jesus, in the Gospel today, sends the disciples out in pairs and mentions that if you enter a house, stay there until you leave the district. This work is indeed a journey. A journey that may at times result in rejection, but Jesus encourages us to keep moving on, to continue to rely on Him. To know that, as the psalmist says, “You, Lord, are the ruler of all.” Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for all families in the world today. That as the gap between parent and child grows, you may bless us with the wisdom to understand and to connect with one another. Help us to be conscious of what we are passing down or modelling by our actions, words and thoughts. Bless us also with the essentials, so we can go forth confidently to do Your will. We also pray for the poor, sick and abandoned — that doors will be opened to them so they can receive your healing love and mercy. Grant them your guidance and protection. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the gift of traditions, the gift of history. Thank you for our parents, grandparents, ancestors and those before us who have paved the way for us to celebrate what we have today. Thank you, for You and Your Word. Thank you for bringing meaning and purpose to our lives. Thank you for being the meaning of my life. Amen.

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