21 May, Monday – Being Hard Isn’t Being Strong

May 21 – Saint Christopher Magallanes and his Companions

Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born in the state of Jalisco in Mexico in 1869. He was ordained priest at the age of 30 and became parish priest of his home town of Totatiche. He took a special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and founded a mission for them. When government persecution of the Catholic Church began and the seminaries were closed, he opened a small local ‘auxiliary seminary.’ He wrote and preached against armed rebellion but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero rebellion. He was arrested on 21 May 1927 while on the way to celebrate Mass at a farm. He was executed without a trial, but not before giving his remaining possessions to his executioners and giving them absolution.

With him are celebrated 24 other Mexican martyrs of the early 20th century.

  • Universalis

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James 3:13-18

If there are any wise or learned men among you, let them show it by their good lives, with humility and wisdom in their actions. But if at heart you have the bitterness of jealousy, or a self-seeking ambition, never make any claims for yourself or cover up the truth with lies – principles of this kind are not the wisdom that comes down from above: they are only earthly, animal and devilish. Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done; whereas the wisdom that comes down from above is essentially something pure; it also makes for peace, and is kindly and considerate; it is full of compassion and shows itself by doing good; nor is there any trace of partiality or hypocrisy in it. Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear fruit in holiness.

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Mark 9:14-29

When Jesus, with Peter, James and John came down from the mountain and rejoined the disciples, they saw a large crowd round them and some scribes arguing with them. The moment they saw him the whole crowd were struck with amazement and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ he asked. A man answered him from the crowd, ‘Master, I have brought my son to you; there is a spirit of dumbness in him, and when it takes hold of him it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and goes rigid. And I asked your disciples to cast it out and they were unable to.’ ‘You faithless generation’ he said to them in reply. ‘How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ They brought the boy to him, and as soon as the spirit saw Jesus it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell to the ground and lay writhing there, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ ‘From childhood,’ he replied ‘and it has often thrown him into the fire and into the water, in order to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ ‘If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’ And when Jesus saw how many people were pressing round him, he rebuked the unclean spirit. ‘Deaf and dumb spirit,’ he said ‘I command you: come out of him and never enter him again.’ Then throwing the boy into violent convulsions it came out shouting, and the boy lay there so like a corpse that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him up, and he was able to stand. When he had gone indoors his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why were we unable to cast it out?’ ‘This is the kind’ he answered ‘that can only be driven out by prayer.’

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Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister… and Mary of Magdala

This fall will mark the 5th anniversary of my ‘not-so-new-now’ vocation as a full-time housewife. It sounds so bad when I put it that way. In this age of female empowerment, it’s hard to explain to people why I made that choice, why I gave up a lucrative career to be a stay-at-home wife and stepmother. Time has flown by. If it wasn’t for all those birthday reminders that Facebook sends, I would hardly have noticed it. So why did I do it? And 5 years on, what do I have to show for it?

The story of Eve reminds me of how I used to be – the caricature of the ‘hard woman’, always reaching for the next thing, something bigger, something better, something brighter. She was ambitious and not afraid to express it. Eve epitomises the drive within us that, if unchecked, leads to discontent. Perhaps she did it out of love for Adam? Perhaps she did it for herself? Perhaps she wanted more for them than idyllic days in paradise? It’s hard to know. But she reached and in reaching too far, she lost sight of what was truly valuable. That was me before I quit my job. I lost time with family, time that I won’t ever get back. And all in pursuit of what?

I guess if I was going to be honest, I chose this path because I was curious. I was curious about the lives that were led by women like the three Marys at the foot of the cross. You attend mass often enough and soon, some of the sermons start to stick. What would it really be like to live like a good Catholic wife? What would it be like to be supportive even if you didn’t feel like it? To turn the other cheek sometimes? To be faithful and trusting in God’s providence and give up control so you can be led by Him? To be strong without being hard? To actually live out your faith? This was not the path I thought I would take, but it has, surprisingly, led to more personal happiness than the path I was on previously. That’s not to say that things have been easy. You exchange one set of difficult circumstances for another set of equally challenging issues. For a start, you deal with family more; and that’s never easy. And you can no longer hide behind your work; you actually have to face issues head on. How have I fared? I don’t know for sure but I’m more at peace than I used to be. I’m still working on figuring this new life out… but I think I’ve become a nicer person to be around. It’s small but that’s what I have to show for it.

“May be right, ooh it may be wrong; doesn’t have to be serious. Being hard isn’t being strong; doesn’t have to be serious” – ‘Serious’, Duran Duran.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the fortitude to walk daily in our faith, to live as we preach, to be examples of Christ’s love.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the blessings and the gifts that God sends us to enable us to be that person He wants us to be.

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