9 August – Memorial for St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), Martyr
After witnessing the strength of faith of Catholic friends, Teresa (1891-1942), originally a Jew, became interested in Catholicism and studied a catechism on her own, and she eventually ended up “reading herself into” the Faith.
She became a Carmelite nun, teaching and lecturing at two schools. However, anti-Jewish pressure from the Nazis forced her to resign both positions. She was smuggled out of Germany, and assigned to Holland. When the Nazis invaded Holland, she and her sister Rose, also a convert to Catholicism, were captured and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where they died in the ovens like so many others.
– Patron Saint Index
I, Ezekiel, heard a voice speaking. It said, ‘You, son of man, listen to the words I say; do not be a rebel like that rebellious set. Open your mouth and eat what I am about to give you.’ I looked. A hand was there, stretching out to me and holding a scroll. He unrolled it in front of me; it was written on back and front; on it was written ‘lamentations, wailings, meanings.’ He said, ‘Son of man, eat what is given to you; eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel.’ I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat and said, ‘Son of man, feed and be satisfied by the scroll I am giving you.’ I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey.
Then he said, ‘Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said.’
The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.
‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
The pursuit of recognition, status and title is often a popular one amongst people who believe that these things are how we can be recognised by all around us. This happens in all cultures, settings and across various millennia. Yet, if we reflect upon the purpose and meaning of why we are doing such an action, we will discover that all these will become like straw blown away by the wind. There will not be anything left at the end of our lives. Jesus reminds us of whom we need to follow to become the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The child is often used as an example because it is assumed that he does not have any prejudices and trusts in the behaviour and outcomes of the world. What is it that causes a child to evolve from being trusting, without doubting, to a cynical adult who is careful of what he says and does so as not to appear to be irresponsible? I believe it is the fear of being hurt. There are people amongst us who have a propensity to hurt people through either their actions or words. It is through this process that we ask God for the wisdom to discern the intentions of the person and to show us what we need to do to overcome what is before us.
God loves us for who we are, just as we are. Following the way of the child in loving God is important and something we must share with all around us in spite of what they do to us. Yet, it is not just a matter of willpower but a matter of asking God to work within our lives to effect that change. To paraphrase a quote often attributed to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “God does not call us to do great things to love him but to do small things with great love” Let us continue with our Christian journey in sharing this important lesson of life.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for your grace to illuminate our lives.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to all who seek you with a sincere heart.