Nov 16 – Memorial for St. Margaret of Scotland; Memorial for St. Gertrude, virgin
Margaret (1045–1093) was the granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside of England, and the great-niece of St. Stephen of Hungary. She was born in Hungary while her family was in exile due to the Danish invasion of England. Even so, she still much of her youth in the British Isles.
While fleeing the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066, her family’s ship wrecked on the Scottish coast. They were assisted by King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland, whom Margaret married in 1070, and became Queen of Scotland. They had eight children, one of whom was St. Maud, wife of Henry I. Margaret founded abbeys and used her position to work for justice and improved conditions for the poor.
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Gertrude (1256–1302) may have been an orphan. She was raised in the Benedictine abbey of St. Mary of Helfta, Eiselben, Saxony from the age of five. She was an extremely bright and dedicated student, and she excelled in literature and philosophy. When she was old enough, she became a Benedictine nun.
At age 26, when she had become too enamoured of philosophy, she received a vision of Christ who reproached her. From then on she studied the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers. Gertrude received other visions and mystical instruction, which formed the basis of her writings. She helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her writings have been greatly praised by St. Teresa and St. Francis de Sales, and continue in print today.
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In my vision, I, John, saw a door open in heaven and heard the same voice speaking to me, the voice like a trumpet, saying, ‘Come up here: I will show you what is to come in the future.’ With that, the Spirit possessed me and I saw a throne standing in heaven, and the One who was sitting on the throne, and the Person sitting there looked like a diamond and a ruby. There was a rainbow encircling the throne, and this looked like an emerald. Round the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them I saw twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads. Flashes of lightning were coming from the throne, and the sound of peals of thunder, and in front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God. Between the throne and myself was a sea that seemed to be made of glass, like crystal. In the centre, grouped round the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes, in front and behind. The first animal was like a lion, the second like a bull, the third animal had a human face, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle. Each of the four animals had six wings and had eyes all the way round as well as inside; and day and night they never stopped singing:
‘Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God, the Almighty;
he was, he is and he is to come.’
Every time the animals glorified and honoured and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship the One who lives for ever and ever, and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, ‘You are our Lord and our God, you are worthy of glory and honour and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.”
While the people were listening, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and they imagined that the kingdom of God was going to show itself then and there. Accordingly he said, ‘A man of noble birth went to a distant country to be appointed king and afterwards return. He summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds. “Do business with these” he told them “until I get back.” But his compatriots detested him and sent a delegation to follow him with this message, “We do not want this man to be our king.”
‘Now on his return, having received his appointment as king, he sent for those servants to whom he had given the money, to find out what profit each had made. The first came in and said, “Sir, your one pound has brought in ten.” “Well done, my good servant!” he replied “Since you have proved yourself faithful in a very small thing, you shall have the government of ten cities.” Then came the second and said, “Sir, your one pound has made five.” To this one also he said, “And you shall be in charge of five cities.” Next came the other and said, “Sir, here is your pound. I put it away safely in a piece of linen because I was afraid of you; for you are an exacting man: you pick up what you have not put down and reap what you have not sown.” “You wicked servant!” he said “Out of your own mouth I condemn you. So you knew I was an exacting man, picking up what I have not put down and reaping what I have not sown? Then why did you not put my money in the bank? On my return I could have drawn it out with interest.” And he said to those standing by, “Take the pound from him and give it to the man who has ten pounds.” And they said to him, “But, sir, he has ten pounds . . .” “I tell you, to everyone who has will be given more; but from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
‘“But as for my enemies who did not want me for their king, bring them here and execute them in my presence.”’
When he had said this he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
To everyone who has, more will be given.
As I was channel surfing on TV today, an old film that I had watched a long time ago came on. The film is Holy Man, starring Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum. Having watched this with an old friend when I was 13, I decided to watch some of it. In the scene I was watching, Ricky Hayman (played by Jeff Goldblum) is using his editorial skills as television studio producer to shape G’s (a spiritual guru played by Eddie Murphy) televised message and turn it into a marketing campaign for a product.
Predictably, Ricky’s continued efforts to cash in on G’s spirituality results proves disastrous and the movie ends with Ricky turning over a new leaf (and in the process, winning over his love interest). Ignoring all the Hollywood cliches and tropes, this film clearly shows how Ricky’s misuse of his skills and talent as a producer can result in unethical decisions and unhappy outcomes. In the words of another character in the film, Ricky was ‘selling his soul’.
This is a dilemma that many people face in their lives. We only need to switch on the news and it will not be long before we hear of talented people using their skills and abilities for unethical purposes, such as embezzlement or fraud. Today’s gospel reading speaks directly to this. Indeed, the skills and talents that we possess are given to us by God, much like the gold coin that the nobleman gives to each of his servants. When the servant had made good use of his gold coin and made a good return for his master, that servant was rewarded.
Similarly, we need to make good use of our talents and capabilities by making a good ‘return’ on God’s ‘investment’ in us. But God is not interested in money or gold. Rather, His investment in us was made in love. He loved us into existence, and continues to love us in our everyday lives. In the same way, we are called to share these gifts that He has given us by sharing His love with others and of course, sharing the good news of our salvation in Christ. It is only when we do so that God’s love for us is magnified to others and ultimately, reflected back to Him.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jacob Woo)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for Your grace and guidance, as we seek to share our talents and gifts with others.
Thanksgiving: We thank the Lord for every gift that He has given us, whether big or small. And we thank Him for always loving us despite our sins and faults.