29 Dec – Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
The Cardinal’s Sin
Here is a true story as told by Don Morales, as reported by a visiting priest from Canada who vouches that it came straight from the lips of Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines.
There was a woman who claimed to have not only visions but even conversations with the Virgin Mary. Cardinal Sin did not pay much attention to her and usually pretended not to hear her. But one day she persistently kept on calling him on the phone, and after five unsuccessful calls, she went to his residence and asked for an audience. Cardinal Sin thought that he had better put an end to this foolishness and told her, “When you see the Virgin Mary again tonight, tell her to ask her Son Jesus what my gravest sin was.”
And so the woman left, happy that finally Cardinal Sin believed her. And Cardinal Sin was sure that now she would stop telling him about her visions. But the next day she came back and asked to see the Cardinal again. The Cardinal asked her, “Well, did you talk to the Virgin Mary last night?”
And she said, “Yes, but…”
“But what?” Cardinal Sin asked. “Did the Lady ask Jesus about my sin?”
“Yes, she did ask Him,” was the reply.
“What did Jesus tell her then?”
The woman reluctantly answered, “She said Jesus said that He had forgotten.”
“I don’t recall how the story ended, but I guess that is where the story should end,” concludes Morales.
– What thoughts, feelings, occurred to you while you went through the story?
– What do you think is the ‘moral’ of the story?
– taken from “Persons Are Gifts”, by Hedwig Lewis, SJ
1 John 2:3-11
We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.
We can be sure that we are in God
only when the one who claims to be living in him
is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
My dear people,
this is not a new commandment that I am writing to tell you,
but an old commandment
that you were given from the beginning,
the original commandment which was the message brought to you.
Yet in another way, what I am writing to you,
and what is being carried out in your lives as it was in his,
is a new commandment;
because the night is over
and the real light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother
is still in the dark.
But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light
and need not be afraid of stumbling;
unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness,
not knowing where he is going,
because it is too dark to see.
And when the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel’.
As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare’.
Simeon’s prayer is known as the “Nunc Dimitis” and is always prayed at Compline (Night prayer). It reminds us that God will fulfil his promise of salvation to us in our lives by ensuring that every opportunity to receive the free gift of salvation has been made available to us. The decision now lies with us on whether we want to receive this gift of salvation and live the effects that flow from this great gift.
The gift of salvation comes with an instruction manual: the Word of God. This word challenges us to live an extraordinary life, one that is remarkably different from that of the world. The values that is demanded from its adherents are radical and has been the cause of division in many situations be it in the conscience of individuals, friendships and between families and relatives.
These may appear to be obstacles but the road on which they are laid on actually lead to the more perfect love that St. John mentions in today’s first reading. These obstacles are imposed by ourselves because we fail to obey the commandment of God; which is to love Him. Our obedience to this commandment is manifested by our love to the neighbours around us. Only by demonstrating this love to everyone can we be assured that we are living God’s commandment.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nick Chia)
Lord we pray that we always cherish the gift of salvation that you have freely given to us in our lives through the Sacrament of Baptism.
We give thanks for our enemies for allowing us to love them despite their failings.
Sun, 30 Dec – Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
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