25 April, Monday — Stay spiritually vigilant

25 Apr – Feast of St. Mark, evangelist

St. Mark is believed to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52), and the “John whose other name was Mark” (Acts 12:25). He was a disciple of St. Peter who travelled with him to Rome, and was referred to as “my son Mark” by the first Pope. He was the author of the earliest canonical Gospel. He travelled with his cousin St. Barnabas, and with St. Paul, through Cyprus. He evangelized in Alexandria, established the Church there, and founded the first famous Christian school.

  • Patron Saint Index

1 Pet 5:5-14
Mk 16:15-20 

Be calm but vigilant… 

Yesterday, I shared about the peace that Jesus has given me. It is only with that peace that I am able to remain calm amidst any trial and tribulation that comes my way. In today’s first reading, I recall St Michael the Archangel’s prayer as St Peter warns us of the danger that is in the form of the devil who is prowling about the world like a roaring lion, seeking the ruin of souls. How can we stay vigilant against the evil one? “Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things.”

To be vigilant, we must first build up our faith. Without a solid foundation, we’re just set to crumble. Is our faith like the house built on sand or rocks (Matthew 7:24-27)? Or are we like the seeds that fell on rocky places without roots (Matthew 13:21-23)? Do we crumble when there is suffering? Or do we stand up firm and steadfast knowing that God has a greater plan for us for what we have to go through? For me, I often do a self-check-in or what’s also known as the daily examen. Recently I went on a prayer retreat with Sojourner’s Companion and my prayer guide asked if I have done the daily examen, which is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day, to note the God-moments when we may have been patient, compassionate and loving, and the not-so-good-moments when we were impatient or unforgiving. This self-reflection is really a great way to sharpen our spirituality in order for us to walk more closely as Jesus’ disciple.

This self-awareness should also come with the desire to change as we acknowledge our weaknesses. However, in my recent Lenten confession, Father Nathanial told me that we should not beat ourselves up for our weaknesses either. We are weak and that’s why we sin, but we should not be afraid to ask our Heavenly Father for forgiveness whenever we do. It is only through our weaknesses and failings that we find strength as we allow the love and mercy of God to envelop us and make us whole again. This is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so cherished and so meaningful when we go to a priest who acts in persona Christi, in humility. Only when we don’t feel that going for confession is an obligation can we then truly free ourselves from sin. Through these spiritual observances and reflections, our faith is then able to grow stronger and that’s how we become more vigilant in our fight against the wicked wiles of the devil.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, help us stand up to our adversary, strong in faith so that the evil one has no chance even as he prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls. We trust in you that Christ will see that all is well again as his power lasts for ever and ever. Amen     

Thanksgiving: We love you, Lord Jesus! We bless you and thank you for dying on the cross so that you can live and be with us each day through the Holy Spirit.  

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