16 August – Memorial for St. Stephen of Hungary
When he succeeded his father as chief of a group of people, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianisation in Hungary for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. As king, Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns, one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor.
– Patron Saint Index
The word of the Lord was addressed to me as follows, ‘Son of man, tell the ruler of Tyre, “The Lord says this:
Being swollen with pride,
you have said: I am a god;
I am sitting on the throne of God,
surrounded by the seas.
Though you are a man and not a god,
you consider yourself the equal of God.
You are wiser now than Danel;
there is no sage as wise as you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have amassed great wealth;
you have piles of gold and silver
inside your treasure-houses.
Such is your skill in trading,
your wealth has continued to increase,
and with this your heart has grown more arrogant.
And so, the Lord says this:
Since you consider yourself the equal of God,
very well, I am going to bring foreigners against you,
the most barbarous of the nations.
They will draw sword against your fine wisdom,
they will defile your glory;
they will throw you down into the pit
and you will die a violent death
surrounded by the seas.
Are you still going to say: I am a god,
when your murderers confront you?
No, you are a man and not a god
in the clutches of your murderers!
You will die like the uncircumcised
at the hand of foreigners.
For I have spoken–it is the Lord who speaks.”’
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you solemnly, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ When the disciples heard this they were astonished. ‘Who can be saved, then?’ they said. Jesus gazed at them. ‘For men’ he told them ‘this is impossible; for God everything is possible.’
Then Peter spoke. ‘What about us?’ he said to him ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.
‘Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’
“Amen I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Is wealth in, and of itself, a bad thing? The gospel tells us “it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:23). But what if one is born into it? Then what happens? The life of Saint Charles Borromeo offers insight into our gospel readings. Born into Italian nobility, the young Charles was groomed in business and politics by his uncle Pope Pius IV and his parents, the Count of Arona and Countess Margherita de’ Medici. Charles understood early on, that the immense Medici family wealth was not for personal pleasure. Fortune and influence required responsible stewardship.
In his twenties, he dedicated much of his time to helping Pope Pius IV organize the Council of Trent and the Tridentine Catechism. He did all while continuing to oversee the Borromeo family’s interests in Arona. Later as Archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo took on the task of reforming the archdiocese, cleaning up years of abuse, indulgence and corrupt practices. This made him very unpopular with his peers, but he remained steadfast despite the opposition. His was a life dedicated to work and God’s service. It wasn’t that he eschewed his family’s influence. Borromeo simply found a way of using the providence of his birth for His good. We know he exercised the Medici pedigree when he needed to get things done, it’s the end that justified his means. Material gain in, and of itself, is not a sin. Pride and not applying good stewardship to one’s providence is. We need to look no farther than the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew. The servants were all given an equal measure of their master’s wealth to invest; they didn’t start from nothing; i.e., they did not necessarily begin in poverty. But the one who is finally ushered into his master’s house is the one who showed initiative, daring, responsibility and accountability.
Very often, those who are wealthy feel uneasy about their gain, as if wealth alone is reason enough to be locked out of heaven. Yes, it is hard for the rich to enter His great kingdom. But our circumstances alone do not determine our final home. God doesn’t discriminate against us because of our circumstances. We’re denied entry into the Kingdom of Heaven because we abuse the providence of His gifts, instead of using them to give glory to Him.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the humility and self-awareness to be good stewards of the gifts He bestows upon us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our parents and their dedication to giving us a good upbringing.