31 January, Tuesday — “Catholic? Who? Me?…” 

31 Jan – Memorial for St. John Bosco, priest

St. John Bosco (1815-1888) was the son of Venerable Margaret Bosco. His father died when he was just two years old, and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, he did so for extra money for his family. Bosco would go to circuses, fairs, and carnivals, practise the tricks he saw the magicians perform, and then present one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier in church.

He worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, and carpenter while attending college and the seminary. He was ordained in 1841. He was a teacher, and he worked with youth, finding places where they could meet, play and pray. He taught catechism to orphans and apprentices, and was chaplain in a hospice for girls.

He wrote short treatises aimed at explaining the faith to children, and then taught children how to print them. He was a friend of St. Joseph Cafasson, whose biography he wrote. He was confessor to Blessed Joseph Allamano. He founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, a community of priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Christians, and St. Francis de Sales. He founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, in 1872, and the Union of Cooperator Salesians in 1875.

  • Patron Saint Index

Heb 12:1-4  
Mk 5:31-43

But they laughed at him.

We all don’t like to be laughed at. It irks us and our sense of pride to be in a situation where people laugh at us. This is perhaps the reason why some of us are hesitant to say ‘yes’ when others ask us for favours. Or the underlying reason why some of us have a fear of public speaking or doing anything out of our comfort zone.

When it comes to our faith, there is even more anxiety about expressing our faith in public. I personally find this most common among Catholics. How many Catholic friends that we know, will make the sign of the cross before meals? Or even sharing with others about how God has blessed us? A very small number, if I am not mistaken. For some of us, we may make the sign of the cross before meals, but it is often hurried and in small motions. Like trying to get it done before someone else notices.

Why is this so? Is our faith and allegiance to Jesus only confined to Sunday mass where everyone does the same actions? Are we ashamed of being Catholics in the ‘real world’?

I used to be the same. It was all about me and my God and I did not want others to think of me poorly just because I am Catholic. I was afraid that others will think that I am ‘holy moley’ just because I make the sign of the cross, or even to talk about ‘churchy stuff’. Sometimes, during Lent when I am fasting, people might ask me if I have had lunch. My common response was “yes”, even though I was fasting. I just didn’t want people to know that I am fasting or to think of me as one of those ‘churchy’ people.

In the scriptures, it is written:

“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev 3:15-16

It is a very sobering thought that Jesus will spit us out if our faith is lukewarm. Can you visualize this? Even more sobering is what Jesus said:

“Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Lk 9:26

Considering how God became man, died on the cross for us to grant us access to eternal life, these reminders in the scriptures ought to shake us out of our complacency. Our goal in this life is to prepare for eternity with Jesus, why should we be ashamed of Him in our daily lives?

Some years back, I came upon the realisation that it doesn’t matter what people thought of me if I were to be more obvious and intentional in my pride of being a Catholic. So what if people stared at me while making the sign of the cross before meals, or even praying the rosary on the train in my commute to work? I do this because I am proud to be Catholic and want to be like Jesus in all I do. Glorifying and thanking Him in my words and actions. Even though there may be people that stare at me or make snide remarks, I don’t really care what they think.

Because I only answer to one person, my Lord Jesus. And in Him, I trust.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Calvin Wee)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the source of all good. Grant us the strength to be firm in our faith, to have the graces to imitate You in all we do. Grant us the conviction to be your faithful witnesses in our broken world and that others see You in our thoughts, words and actions. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of our faith. We thank you for the gift of Jesus, as He shows us how to live in our world. Thank you Father, for the courage to be Jesus to others and the humility to let the Holy Spirit guide us in all we do. Amen.


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