5 July – Memorial of St Antony Zaccaria
Born to a patrician family. His father Lazzaro died when Anthony was two, and his mother, Antonia Pescorali, widowed at age 18, devoted herself to her son. He studied medicine at Padua, Italy, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Work as a physicians to the poor in Cremona, Italy, he felt called to the religious life. He bequeathed his inheritance to his mother, worked as a catechist, and was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass.
Noted preacher and an excellent administrator. In Milan, Italy he established the congregations, the Society of Clerics of Saint Paul (the Barnabites) for men religious, and the Angelics of Saint Paul for un-cloistered nuns. Helped introduce the Forty Hours’ Devotion. These groups helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion. While on a peace mission, Anthony became ill and died at his mother‘s house; tradition says that in his last moments he had a vision of Saint Paul the Apostle.
– Patron Saint Index
The length of Sarah’s life was a hundred and twenty-seven years. She died at Kiriath-arba, or Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn and grieve for her.
Then leaving his dead, Abraham spoke to the sons of Heth: ‘I am a stranger and a settler among you,’ he said. ‘Let me own a burial-plot among you, so that I may take my dead wife and bury her.’
After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah opposite Mamre, in the country of Canaan.
By now Abraham was an old man well on in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to the eldest servant of his household, the steward of all his property, ‘Place your hand under my thigh, I would have you swear by the Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, that you will not choose a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live. Instead, go to my own land and my own kinsfolk to choose a wife for my son Isaac.’ The servant asked him, ‘What if the woman does not want to come with me to this country? Must I take your son back to the country from which you came?’ Abraham answered, ‘On no account take my son back there. The Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, took me from my father’s home, and from the land of my kinsfolk, and he swore to me that he would give this country to my descendants. He will now send his angel ahead of you, so that you may choose a wife for my son there. And if the woman does not want to come with you, you will be free from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.’
Isaac, who lived in the Negeb, had meanwhile come into the wilderness of the well of Lahai Roi. Now Isaac went walking in the fields as evening fell, and looking up saw camels approaching. And Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. She jumped down from her camel, and asked the servant, ‘Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?’ The servant replied, ‘That is my master’; then she took her veil and hid her face. The servant told Isaac the whole story, and Isaac led Rebekah into his tent and made her his wife; and he loved her. And so Isaac was consoled for the loss of his mother.
As Jesus was walking on he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
What I want is mercy, not sacrifice
I have a tendency to be quite hard on people – especially the people that I love. There is an unsaid expectation within me of them expressing their love in the same manner that I do. For instance, my mother has a habit of skipping meals if I am not around to buy meals home for her. She would either eat instant noodles rather than head to the coffeeshop nearby to buy home a freshly cooked meal. Hence, I usually try and buy dinner or supper home for her as an expression of my love. I get disgruntled however when the situation is reversed and she refuses to do the same for me. As minor as the incident is, it leaves me feeling a little resentful that I am always the one having to make the sacrifice. The sacrifice no longer becomes a willing act of love, but a burden. In my act of love, there is a hidden expectation and assumption that my mother should make the same sacrifice if she loves me. After all isn’t that only fair?
I’ve come to realise however that when we become calculating of love in our relationships, there is no end to the amount of sacrifices which we may expect the other party to make. In the end, what we perceive as love becomes weighed constantly on a balance rather than given generously and freely to another. It sours not only our thoughts of the person, but our relationships as well and blinds us to what love really is. I am reminded by Jesus in today’s Gospel that love is not always about sacrifice – but also mercy. What I need to learn in order to heal my relationships is to surrender my expectations and learn to exercise forgiveness more often instead.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to forgive our loved ones, especially when we have been disappointed, hurt, angered or (felt like we have been) taken for granted by them.
Thanksgiving: We thank you Father for your mercy and for blessing us with people who have been tolerant, patient and merciful towards us.