Thursday, 28 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Today's gospel reading talks about vigilance- vigilance in watching out for thieves, and vigilance in waiting for the Lord to return. Lack of vigilance on a householder's part would allow a thief to break into the house and steal the householder's valuables. Similarly, lack of vigilance on our part against sin would allow it to fester in our hearts, minds and souls until we lose a most valuable treasure- God's Spirit in us. Lack of vigilance on waiting for the Lord's return would mean behaving as if there is no final accounting for good behaviour and sinful deeds. Think about it. The servant who thinks his/her good deeds will go unrewarded (even with a simple 'Thank You') would become unmotivated to do such deeds. The servant who thinks his/her sinful behaviour would go unpunished would succumb to the desires of the flesh, of which cruelty and drunkenness are examples of. There IS a final accounting. This accounting causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for the Lord's return in glory. The Lord's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is the Lord himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.So let us be vigilant against sin, always doing good deeds as the Lord prompts us, as He gives us the Holy Spirit in order that we may have the wisdom, assistance, and strength we need to embrace God's way of love, justice, and holiness.

Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

Many Christians would know this saint, Catholic he may be. In Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, he is a saint and pre-eminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of the Augustinian religious order. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation teaching on salvation and grace. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is a saint (called Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed).

So who is this saint? Let's turn to Wikipedia:
- descended from the Berbers, a major ethnic group native to North Africa
- born in 354 A.D. in Tagaste (present-day Algeria)
- although raised as a Catholic, he left the Church to follow the controversial Manichaean religion (which believes that there is no omnipotent good power, but two equal and opposite powers, being Good and Evil, and that the human person is a battleground for these powers)
- as a youth he lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time and developed a relationship with a young woman named Floria Aemilia who would be his concubine for over fifteen years
- in 375 moved to Carthage to conduct a school of rhetoric, and though he remained there for the next nine years, he was disturbed by the unruly behavior of the students in Carthage, and thus in 383 he moved to establish a school in Rome, where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced. However, he was again disappointed as he found the Roman schools apathetic.
- though he had won the most visible academic chair in the Latin world at a time when such posts gave ready access to political careers, he felt the tensions of life at an imperial court, lamenting one day as he rode in his carriage to deliver a grand speech before the emperor that a drunken beggar he passed on the street had a less careworn existence than he did.
- in the summer of 386, after having read an account of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert which greatly inspired him, he underwent a profound personal crisis and decided to convert to Catholic Christianity, abandon his career in rhetoric, quit his teaching position in Milan, give up any ideas of marriage, and devote himself entirely to serving God and the practices of priesthood, which included celibacy
- in 387 he was baptized along with his son Adeodatus on Easter Vigil in Milan
- in 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius, Algeria and became a famous preacher noted for combating the Manichaean religion
- in 396 he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo (assistant with the right of succession on the death of the current bishop) and became full bishop shortly thereafter
- converted his family house into a monastic foundation for himself and a group of friends, but left his monastery after he was ordained, though continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence. He left a Rule for his monastery that has led him to be designated the "patron saint of Regular Clergy", i.e. Clergy who live by a monastic rule.
- died on August 28 430 during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals
- influential quotations:
  • "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet." (da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo)
  • "For many it is indeed easier to abstain so as not to use [married sexual relations] at all, than to control themselves so as to use them aright." (Multi quidem facilius se abstinent ut non utantur, quam temperent ut bene utantur)
  • "Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee."
  • "Love the sinner and hate the sin." (Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum)
  • "Love, and do what you will." (Dilige et quod vis fac)
  • "Take up [the book], and Read it" (Tolle, lege)
  • "There is no salvation outside the church" (Salus extra ecclesiam non est)

Bible Readings for Today (28 Aug, Thu - 21st Week)

1 Corinthians 1: 1-9
From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus. For you were made rich in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge – just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you – so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Matthew 24: 42-51
Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes. I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. But if that evil slave should say to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards, then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Daily Bible Verse

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