Jul 20 – Memorial for St. Apollinaris, Bishop & Martyr
According to tradition, Apollinaris was a native of Antioch in the Roman Province of Syria. He was made the first Bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter during the persecutions of Emperor Vespasian (or Nero, depending on the source),
On his way out of the city he was identified, arrested as being the leader, tortured and martyred by being run through with a sword. Centuries after his death, he appeared in a vision to St. Romuald. He was a noted miracle worker, and is considered especially effective against gout and epilepsy.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.”
This verse in today’s first reading holds a special place in my heart. When I first encountered the Lord some 11 years ago in a retreat, these were the words that were deeply imprinted in my heart. The Lord knew me even before I was born, He set me apart, consecrated me. I felt so loved and special. That my life had a purpose and meaning. I wasn’t some wild ‘lalang’ (coarse, weedy grass) that grew in the wild, billowing in the wind.
These were the words in today’s first reading, Jeremiah’s prophetic call story. Like many of us, when God calls, our immediate response is not ‘Yes!’ and we give all sorts of excuses like Jeremiah. “I do not know how to speak: I am a child!” This reminds me of a much shared Tik Tok video, “I just a baby”. We give excuses for our behaviours or why we feel we cannot answer God’s call.
I recently heard a preaching, about people praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The priest challenged us “But what about the natural gifts that the Lord has given you. What are you doing with these gifts?” My immediate response was ‘Woah!’ as I pondered on this question. What am I doing with the talents that God has given me? Am I even aware of what these talents are?
Today’s gospel reading is the parable of the sower of seed. The teaching is about growth. God sows the seed of his message into our hearts. How this takes root in us depends on the soil of our hearts. So as I ponder on my talents and how I am making use of them, I wonder if God is shaking His head in dismay, thinking He has planted precious gifts in me, only to be wasted? Or is He beaming with pride to see how His crops have grown and fed others. Am I growing and also helping others grow, using God’s planted gifts? At the end of my life, what do I have to show to My Father?
The seed on the path depicts those who hear the message but do not act on it right away.
The seed on the rocky ground represents those who respond to God’s word with initial zeal, but the message does not penetrate deeply. When persecution or difficult times arise, they immediately give up.
The seed that fall on thorn bushes represents God’s message being choked by the thorn bushes. The message is heard, but the plants die because people are preoccupied with worldly concerns about wealth and concerns about life.
Finally, the seed that fall on good soil — good soil represents people who receive the message and live out God’s message in their lives.
Brothers and sisters, God knows us so intimately, He has so generously given each of us special personal talents and gifts. Are we aware of these seeds God has planted in our lives? What type of seed will we become?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, I offer up all that I am, and my talents and gifting. It may not be much, but Lord, sanctify my offering and greatly multiply them, so that I maybe a gift to others.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for showing me how much I am loved and cherished. How you have knitted me in my mother’s womb, so perfectly and wonderfully. May I live out my life’s purpose according to Your mighty plans.
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