1 August, Monday — Little Faith

Aug 1 – Memorial for St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop, religious founder, doctor

Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) vowed early to never to waste a moment of his life, and lived that way for over 90 years. As a lawyer, he had his own practice by age 21, and was a leading lawyer in Naples. He never attended court without having attended Mass first.

As he matured and learned more of the world, he liked it less, and finally felt a call to religious life. He was ordained at age 29. As preacher and home missioner around Naples, St. Alphonsus was noted for his simple, clear, direct style of preaching, and his gentle, understanding way in the confessional. He was often opposed by Church officials for a perceived laxity toward sinners, and by government officials who opposed anything religious. He founded the Redemptoristines women’s order and the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists).

As bishop, St. Alphonsus worked to reform the clergy and revitalise the faithful in a diocese with a bad reputation. The royal government threatened to disband his Redemptorists, claiming that they were covertly carrying on the work of the Jesuits, who had been suppressed. Calling on his knowledge of the Congregation, his background in theology, and his skills as a lawyer, St. Alphonsus defended the Redemptorists so well that they obtained the king’s approval.

  • Patron Saint Index

Jer 28:1-17
Mt 14:13-21

Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.

One Saturday a few years ago, both of us were approached by our parish priest to help out in the parish’s fund raising project. I was made to understand that it was simply to look at the finances of the project — simple enough, but I asked for a day to think about it. I was hesitant, given my rather heavy commitment in the music ministry that I was then a part of.

However, on the very next day, our parish priest sent out an official note to all in the committee introducing us. That’s how both us became ‘Co-Chairs’ of the parish fundraising committee. We didn’t even have the opportunity to say ‘Eh, maybe not…!’ All too soon, we found out that it entailed more than just looking at numbers. We had to put an entire programme together and it was already February! The building works were well in progress and the building would be up before the year ends. Our dear priest had tricked us!!

My partner in crime was more confident than I was. He obviously is stronger in faith. We had never served in parish ministry before. We did not know anyone. How would we put together smaller committees to get all the projects going?

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Yup, I had little faith that we could pull this off. As we put together our ‘action plan’, my anxiety went from level five to ten. However, we went along with the projects, praying and trusting Jesus to guide us along the way.

Fast forward 6 months later. ‘Five loaves and two fish’ means so much more to me. Jesus was the project leader all along. He was ever so generous in sending people to help us carry out his work. My initial trepidation was unfounded. Everything moved along swimmingly well. All I needed to do was say “Yes!” and surrender everything to Jesus. And He did everything else. Whatever little we had to offer, He multiplied it several times over. At the end of May that year, we kicked off our very first project. We told our fellow parishioners we hoped that our five loaves and two fish would come back yielding twelve baskets full of scraps. And indeed it did! Praise God.

“Take my five loaves and two fishes
Do with it as you will. I surrender
Take my fears and my inhibitions
All my burdens, my ambitions
You can use it all to feed them all”

The lovely song by Corrine May says it all.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, when you call on us, teach us to trust that you will equip us with everything we need to do in order to fulfil your will. May we never fear nor be anxious about anything.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for your graces. Thank you for our gifts and talents. May we use them for your glory. All we need to do is to say ‘Yes’! And you will take over.

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