23 October, Monday – The Material Is Immaterial

Oct 23 – Memorial for St. John Capistrano, Priest

John (1386–1456) was the son of a former German knight. His father died when John was still young. He studied law at the University of Perugia, and became a lawyer in Naples, Italy. He was the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and John became a prisoner of war.

During his imprisonment, he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but his marriage was never consummated and, with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He became a Franciscan at Perugia on 4 October 1416 and was a fellow student with St. James of the Marshes, and a disciple of St. Bernadine of Siena. He was a noted preacher while still a deacon, beginning his work in 1420.

He was an itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, preaching to tens of thousands. He established communities of Franciscan renewal, and was reported to heal by making the Sign of the Cross over a sick person. He wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.

After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At the age of 70, he was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to lead it, and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died in the field a few months later, but his army delivered Europe from the Muslims.

– Patron Saint Index

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Romans 4:20-25

Since God had made him a promise, Abraham refused either to deny it or even to doubt it, but drew strength from faith and gave glory to God, convinced that God had power to do what he had promised. This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him.’ Scripture however does not refer only to him but to us as well when it says that his faith was thus ‘considered’; our faith too will be ‘considered’ if we believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Jesus who was put to death for our sins and raised to life to justify us.

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Luke 12:13-21

A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend,’ he replied, ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’

Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, “What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?.” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’

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…a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.

Greed can certainly become an all-consuming ‘passion’ and drive someone to do things that totally do not make any sense from a rational point of view. In fact, I know of many instances where families have been torn apart because of greed and, in some cases, over rather insignificant sums of money.

Fortunately, I have never been in any position to share any wealth I have accumulated over the years as I used to be quite bad at managing my own finances. I had the tendency of spending well outside of my means in my 20s and 30s, even going into quite significant credit card debt. But, having seen the error of my ways, I have also recently discovered the joy of decluttering – getting rid of as many of my ‘useless’ possessions as I can. One item at a time, one bootload of ‘rubbish’ at a time, I have come to realise that we truly do not need much more than a roof over our head and two (or three) hot meals each day.

It has been a year since I came back from my Camino and last month, as a friend of mine was updating me on his 5-day walk, I couldn’t help but wonder how my brother in Christ, Helge, was getting on. As I looked back at my Facebook posts from last year, the tears welled up as I recalled that day we reunited as I was walking into Santiago. I still feel the same emotions hearing him recount what happened to him that week we seemed to have ‘lost each other’ on the road. How he had to resort to selling his things and, eventually, his boots so that he could continue his walk. How he was down to his last Euro when we met up again and how he was planning to spend two nights in the airport because he simply could not afford to stay in Santiago.

And, even though he had been told that his mother had passed away just the day before, he was still as joyful and more in love with Jesus than when he started his walk 5 months earlier from Berlin, with no job and no home. The two days he spent with us were filled with laughter, tears and wonderful meals as we shared freely about our own struggles and our lives at home. As I watched him walk away from my window the day he left for the airport, I couldn’t help but feel in my heart that for those two glorious days, I had been in the presence of Christ himself.

Brothers and sisters, as I have written yesterday, we are merely ‘in transit’ here on earth. Let us not waste our time here caught up by all things material. Because at the end of the day, there is nothing we can take with us when we eventually depart for the next life.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: We pray for all those who are too caught up in greed to see the error of their ways and to be free from this capital sin.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we give thanks for all that you bestow on us.

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