2 May, Monday — True Connection with God

May 2 – Memorial for St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor

St. Athanasius (c.295) studied the classics and theology in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a deacon, secretary, and student of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 where he fought for the defeat of Arianism and the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus. He formulated the doctrine of homo-ousianism which says that Christ is the same substance as the Father; Arianism taught that Christ was different and a creation of the Father, a creature and not part of God.

He became Bishop of Alexandria c.328 and he served for 46 years. When the dispute over Arianism spilled over from theology to politics, Athanasius got exiled five times, spending more than a third of his episcopate in exile.

He was the biographer of St. Anthony the Abbot. Confessor of the faith and Doctor of the Church, he fought for the acceptance of the Nicene Creed.

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Acts 6:8-15
Jn 6:22-29

“Stephen was filled with grace and power”

Stephen, in today’s first reading, must have known that he was facing his death. Yet, I am really surprised he was able to face this certainty with confidence. Despite everyone ganging up on him, and worse of all, hurling false accusations, Stephen was able to maintain his peace and serenity.

I was having this conversation with my close friend and colleague recently and we were discussing the topic of death, with both of us already in our fifties. I must confess that this has been in my thoughts, ever since a good friend passed away suddenly. His passing hit me with the realisation that I have been very much like the rich fool in Luke 12.  I have been taking it for granted that life would continue for me daily. The reality, though, is that one day, it would all end. The only thing we do not know is when, and how that event will take place.

I wonder, however, if I could face my own death with Stephen’s calm and strength.

Perhaps the secret can be found in the same reading; “Stephen was filled with grace and power…”, and “because it was the Spirit that prompted what he said”.

A few years ago, another close friend of mine had been stricken with cancer. I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some of his last days with him. K was someone who was a role model for me in the faith, and I often looked to him for guidance, prayer and support.

When I last spent time with K, he had just attended the Conversion Experience Retreat a couple of months before, and I witnessed a significant change in him. I noticed he had gotten into a much deeper relationship with God, and in my conversations with him, I experienced and saw for myself, perhaps what the others saw in Stephen. In my chats with K, I realised that this change was driven by just… listening. I noticed that K spent a lot more time listening to God.

K shared with me that he and his family were blessed with the knowledge of how much time he had to prepare for his passing. I wonder how many of us will be caught unawares? Let us draw from the examples of the rich fool in Luke 12, and from my friend K, and open ourselves to connecting with the Lord in earnest.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will be open to Your Sprit, Father. Help us to remember to grow closer to You every day.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful for the people and messages You send to us so that we may learn. Thank You Father, for Your many blessings!

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