11 July – Memorial for St. Benedict, Abbot, Religious founder
Born to Roman nobility, Benedict (c. 480–547) was the twin brother of St. Scholastica. He studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed at the lack of discipline and lackadasical attitude of his fellow students. He fled to the mountains near Subiaco, living as a hermit in a cave for three years. He was reported to have been fed by a raven.
The virtues that St. Benedict (480-547) demonstrated as a hermit prompted an abbey to request that he lead them. His discipline was such that an attempt was made on his life; some monks tried to poison him, but he blessed the cup and rendered it harmless. He destroyed pagan statues and altars, and drove demons from groves sacred to pagans.
At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule that he wrote, which can be summed up as “Pray and work”.
– Patron Saint Index
Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.
‘What are your endless sacrifices to me?
says the Lord.
I am sick of holocausts of rams
and the fat of calves.
The blood of bulls and of goats revolts me.
When you come to present yourselves before me,
who asked you to trample over my courts?
Bring me your worthless offerings no more,
the smoke of them fills me with disgust.
New Moons, sabbaths, assemblies–
I cannot endure festival and solemnity.
Your New Moons and your pilgrimages
I hate with all my soul.
They lie heavy on me,
I am tired of bearing them.
When you stretch out your hands
I turn my eyes away.
You may multiply your prayers,
I shall not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood,
wash, make yourselves clean.
‘Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.’
Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.
‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.
A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.
I came across my friend’s kid who came back from school and was sharing with his mum about his day at school. He had just started primary school and was beginning to make new friends and forming tight bonds; he most likely already knew whom his best friend in school would be. He began by sharing about the subjects he learnt, about his teacher scolding a classmate, what he ate for lunch, and then began to sulk about how his good friend (I’m guessing he actually meant his best buddy) went off to another activity without him knowing. Kids, being kids, can be sensitive at times and he told his mum that he may not like to have him at his birthday party. However, that best friend of his was invited and attended his birthday party recently.
I think each of us is sure to have been a little sensitive and jealous at some point, whether it was towards someone we love or we were just plain selfish ourselves. In today’s Gospel, our loving Father is truly selfish about wanting our individual selves to belong to Him. On the surface, it seems rather contradictory for the Word to tell us to love our family and here we are told that our enemies are within our household. My reflection on this is that God wants us to realise that it is alright to discover the true peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ. To make peace is an action and gift that our God encourages and is born out of the love of Jesus. Then, we are reminded to put God on top of all priorities. Our creator asks for the attention that is to be given Him, and then to the others. He will give and provide all things beautiful to us and with that peace and joy, we will turn away from the wrongdoings and do good for our family, for our neighbours, for strangers.
When we begin to read of inspirational stories and beautiful heartwarming encounters, it truly requires no form of monetary richness. It is all from the heart and goodness of each one of us. It is about the peace and kindness and understanding and love that is absolutely free. In winning hearts, none of these needs to be bought with extreme luxury.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that through the works of the Church, people will see that the true beauty lies in the wonders of our Lord and not secular richness, that we are jealous over the right issues.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the necessities provided to us, the ability for us to earn the basics and that our excess can be shared to all those who are in need.