11 July, Wednesday – We Are Called

Jul 11 – Memorial for St. Benedict, abbot, religious founder

Born to Roman nobility, Benedict (c. 480–547) was the twin brother of St. Scholastica. He studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed at the lack of discipline and lackadaisical attitude of his fellow students. He fled to the mountains near Subiaco, living as a hermit in a cave for three years. He was reported to have been fed by a raven.

The virtues that St. Benedict (480-547) demonstrated as a hermit prompted an abbey to request that he lead them. His discipline was such that an attempt was made on his life; some monks tried to poison him, but he blessed the cup and rendered it harmless. He destroyed pagan statues and altars, and drove demons from groves sacred to pagans.

At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule that he wrote, which can be summed up as “Pray and work”.

– Patron Saint Index

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Hosea 10:1-3,7-8,12

Israel was a luxuriant vine
yielding plenty of fruit.
The more his fruit increased,
the more altars he built;
the richer his land became,
the richer he made the sacred stones.
Their heart is a divided heart;
very well, they must pay for it:
the Lord is going to break their altars down
and destroy their sacred stones.
Then they will say,
‘We have no king
because we have not feared the Lord.’

But what can a king do for us?
Samaria has had her day.
Her king is like a straw drifting on the water.
The idolatrous high places shall be destroyed –
that sin of Israel;
thorn and thistle will grow on their altars.
Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’
and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’

Sow integrity for yourselves,
reap a harvest of kindness,
break up your fallow ground:
it is time to go seeking the Lord
until he comes to rain salvation on you.

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Matthew 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who was to betray him. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows:

‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’

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…proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand…

Would you agree that calling us by our name is very pleasant to our ears? When a person calls me by my name, I feel something special. How much more if it were Jesus Christ who was calling us!

Our gospel for today is about the summoning of the twelve apostles for their mission. We can only imagine how Jesus calls them one by one. That act itself was very special. They were specifically picked by Christ himself. I would really feel honoured if I had been with them. Another thing which is more honourable is that they were given privileges to have “authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.” But if we think about it more, great power comes with great responsibility. It may be a privilege for the apostles, but they also had to bear the weight that it carried.

The task given to the apostles is a bit challenging because Jesus instructed them to “not turn their steps to pagan territory, and to not enter any Samaritan town.” The pagan territory is the Gentiles, meaning they are not Jews while the Samaritans are half Jews and half Gentiles. I feel that Christ is telling the apostles to not go to a specific group of people. Rather, they must proclaim the good news to everyone.

It can be similar to us. Preaching is not exclusive to those ordained and religious. As lay people, we also shoulder the task to spread the gospel in our everyday life. Our statement that we are Catholics is not enough. We must act on it. Though it will not be very easy but doing good is habit forming. There will come a time that we are spreading the good news effortlessly. How can we do that? Do we say sorry when we accidently bump to a stranger? Do we offer our seat to someone who needs it more? Do we open the door for someone? Do we say ‘please’ and use kind words in our household? Do we easily forgive those who have wronged us? Those little acts of kindness go a long way. This will keep people believing that there is still hope in mankind.

“We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God!” – David Haas

(Today’s Oxygen by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give us the strength that we may only choose to do what You desire. St. Benedict, pray for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father God, for calling us to do Your will.

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