12 May, Friday — Do what He commands

May 12 – Memorial for Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs; Memorial for St. Pancras, Martyr

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus (d. 98) were soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and members of the Praetorian Guard. They were converts to Christianity and baptized by St. Peter the Apostle. They were exiled for their faith, suffered with St. Flavia Domitilla, and were martyred together by beheading.

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St. Pancras (c. 290) was a 14-year-old orphan brought to Rome by his uncle St. Dionysius. He was a convert to Christianity, and was martyred with St. Nereus, St. Achilleus, and St. Domitilla for publicly proclaiming his faith.

Pope St. Vitalian sent his relics from the cemetery of Calepodius in Rome to the British Isles as part of the evangelization of England, so they would have the relics of the Church at large, and to install in altars in new churches. St. Augustine of Canterbury dedicated the first church in England to St. Pancras, and subsequent churches throughout England are similarly named after him.

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Acts 15:22-31
Jn 15:12-17

“This is my commandment, love one another…”

I seldom watch TV; but I like watching American Idol. I have followed it every year, starting from Season 2 in 2003. This year, for Season 21, there was a nice episode when a shy young man, Aiden Adair, walked in for his audition. It was obvious he was scared to death. However, his face really lit up when Katy Perry said “you got a friend in us” with apparent sincerity. He then sang well to go to Hollywood. Being called a FRIEND made the difference at that moment. Imagine how much more we are blessed to have Jesus as our eternal friend.

Today’s gospel is all about love and friends. Jesus’ message is positive and powerful. He said:

1. Love each other as I have loved you, even if it means to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.
2. We are Jesus’ friend and not a servant if we do what he commands.
3. Jesus chose us first, not the other way around. We must go forth to proclaim this message.

I know it is difficult to love so pure and divinely like that. My human nature won’t be able to do it most of the time. So what to do? I searched many reflection meditations to find the answer. Fortunately, one helped me. It is about Easter. To have Easter means to have Pentecosts, as even the apostles needed the Holy Spirit to fortify them before they evangelised to the world. We need the Holy Spirit to help us love like Christ.

How do we receive this gift? Scripture says we must obey God and his commandments. I am good with this, as it means that Love is not the answer. We cannot disregard God’s commandments just because of Love. Sadly, the extreme liberal intepretation of John 15 has done that and given rise to ‘Christian denominations’ that promote same sex marriage, transgender practices and abortion as part of ‘Christianity’. Their new values use ‘Love = freedom to do what they want’ and no one can judge their actions.          

Today’s first reading also reinforces the dangers of individual interpretations. The apostles had to send Silas and Judas Barsabbas to the new converts in Antioch to correct certain teachings that had disturbed the mind of the converts. 

The correct way to love each other is clear. We must first love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. This means to obey his teachings and invite the Holy Spirit to guide us truthfully. Only then can we love our neighbour as ourselves!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Andrew Sia)

Prayer : Lord, help me to love you with all my being before I love any others. Help me to pray and listen to your voice.

Thanksgiving: Thanks be to God for our faith. Help me bring this message to as many people as possible.


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