Jul 31 – Memorial for St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
St. Ignatius (1491-1556) was wounded in the leg by a cannonball at the siege of Pampeluna on 20 May 1521, an injury that left him partially crippled for life. During his recuperation, the only books he had access to were The Golden Legend, a collection of lives of the saints, and the Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books, and the time spent in contemplation, changed him.
On his recovery, he took a vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin of Montserrat, and donned a pilgrim’s robes. He lived in a cave for a year, contemplating the way to live a Christian life. His meditations, prayers, visions and insights led to forming the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.
– Patron Saint Index
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34
Moses made his way back down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on both sides, inscribed on the front and on the back. These tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.
Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting. ‘There is the sound of battle in the camp’, he told Moses. Moses answered him:
‘No song of victory is this sound, no wailing for defeat this sound; it is the sound of chanting that I hear.’
As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the groups dancing, Moses’ anger blazed. He threw down the tablets he was holding and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He seized the calf they had made and burned it, grinding it into powder which he scattered on the water; and he made the sons of Israel drink it. To Aaron Moses said, ‘What has this people done to you, for you to bring such a great sin on them?’ ‘Let not my lord’s anger blaze like this’ Aaron answered. ‘You know yourself how prone this people is to evil. They said to me, “Make us a god to go at our head; this Moses, the man who brought us up from Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So I said to them, “Who has gold?,” and they took it off and brought it to me. I threw it into the fire and out came this calf.’
On the following day Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a grave sin. But now I shall go up to the Lord: perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ And Moses returned to the Lord. ‘I am grieved,’ he cried ‘this people has committed a grave sin, making themselves a god of gold. And yet, if it pleased you to forgive this sin of theirs…! But if not, then blot me out from the book that you have written.’ The Lord answered Moses, “It is the man who has sinned against me that I shall blot out from my book. Go now, lead the people to the place of which I told you. My angel shall go before you but, on the day of my visitation, I shall punish them for their sin.’
Jesus put another parable before the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’
He told them another parable, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’
In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:
I will speak to you in parables and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.
Lead the people to the place
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. I got to know of this religious order a lot more when I studied in Australia. The student club had quite a few activities with the order. We invited priests for sessions, they celebrated masses for us and led us in some of the camps. The seminarians joined us and they saw us graduate from universities while we saw them get ordained. We shared our struggles and temptations with one another. We even came across friends who felt that priesthood was not for them after being in the order for two years. We even have friends who joined the order and are doing amazing work for the community. It is also through this order that I learnt the Ignatian way of reflection and silence. There was, in fact, a moment where if I were to consider a vocation, the Jesuits may not be for me because everyone I know who is in the order is extremely smart and academic. I certainly felt inadequate. But, whatever it is, becoming a priest is a calling from the Lord.
To be a leader of the people requires a lot of courage, and a whole lot of faith in the Almighty. Moses tried to be a leader and worked in the name of God, who had led the people out of Egypt and also constantly had to build trust with his people. When the Israelites carved out a golden calf, Moses got really disappointed and began to doubt his leadership. He looked unto the Lord again for strength, for the assurance to continue the journey and left the judgment to God the Father.
What do we do when we face disappointment these days? Do we give up or lift those difficulties to the Lord and trust to leave the impossible to Him? Never be afraid to cry out to our Father. He watches over us and constantly reminds us that patience will lead us to the situations that we deserve. Be prepared to lead, not as a leader of materialistic earthly pleasures, but one who leads by example in faith and performs the works of the Lord.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Let us keep in mind that we are just that little mustard seed that requires faithful nurturing, to grow into the biggest tree.
Thanksgiving: We thank you for leaders who care for our growth, leaders who are not manipulating us for their own advantage.