30 July – Memorial for St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop & Doctor
An adult convert, St. Peter (406-450) fought paganism and heresy, enforced reforms, and built several churches and ornate altars in his see. A preacher with outstanding language skills, he was given the name ‘Chrysologus’, referring to his ‘golden word’. 176 of his sermons have survived; it is the strength of these beautiful explanations of the Incarnation, the Creed, the place of Mary and John the Baptist in the great plan of salvation, etc., that led to his being proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1729.
– Patron Saint Index
Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
The priests and prophets addressed the officials and all the people, ‘This man deserves to die, since he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.’ Jeremiah, however, replied to the people as follows:
‘The Lord himself sent me to say all the things you have heard against this Temple and this city. So now amend your behaviour and actions, listen to the voice of the Lord your God: if you do, he will relent and not bring down on you the disaster he has pronounced against you. For myself, I am as you see in your hands. Do whatever you please or think right with me. But be sure of this, that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood on yourselves, on this city and on its citizens, since the Lord has truly sent me to you to say all these words in your hearing.’
The officials and all the people then said to the priests and prophets, ‘This man does not deserve to die: he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.’
Jeremiah had a protector in Ahikam son of Shaphan, so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.
Herod the tetrarch heard about the reputation of Jesus, and said to his court, ‘This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’
Now it was Herod who had arrested John, chained him up and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had told him, ‘It is against the Law for you to have her.’ He had wanted to kill him but was afraid of the people, who regarded John as a prophet. Then, during the celebrations for Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and so delighted Herod that he promised on oath to give her anything she asked. Prompted by her mother she said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head, here, on a dish.’ The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl who took it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.
The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
How far would you go in order to keep your word? If you are running a business, being able to keep your word is a an expensive, intangible asset. Break your word, and you will lose people’s trust and your reputation. As Warren Buffett said, ‘If you lose money for the firm I will be understanding. If you lose reputation I will be ruthless.’ That’s how much one’s word means.
We see the same thing with the king in today’s Gospel reading. He had given a blank cheque and even when the price proved too great, he chose to honor the his commitment in order not to be labeled as untrustworthy; he had John the Baptist beheaded. He went so far to do something he does not believe must be done in order to preserve his reputation. The moral of the story? Don’t give a blank cheque.
I would like to propose that there is another moral of the story. That is when choosing between saving our faces and obeying God, let us choose the latter. It’s a tough call. That’s why to remind us that it is possible to accept humiliation in order to glorify God, we have the Crucifix. The Crucifixion is the most humiliating punishment during Jesus’ time, yet he allowed himself to be humiliated, so God could be glorified.
According to stories, soon-to-be-saint Blessed Mother Theresa was spat on by a baker when she was begging for bread for a child. She accepted it and persevered asking for bread. My personal struggle would pale in comparison to hers, I merely struggled to pray before meals in public, give an appropriate bow as I pass by the Blessed Sacrament, or even to stick to my fasting. At those times, I didn’t want to ruin my reputation of being modern. Most of us will not have to choose between life and death; but our little actions or struggles to glorify God, by doing what is embarrassing by the world’s standards, will make God smile.
Let us make God smile today.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Lord, help me live my life to praise you.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to receive human honor, because you have provided us with something we can offer you for your glory.