Daily Archives: February 13, 2019

14 February, Thursday – Humility at Heart

14 Feb – Memorial for Sts. Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop

Cyril (827-869) was the brother of St. Methodius. Born of Greek nobility, his family was connected to the senate of Thessalonica, and his mother Maria may have been Slavic. He studied at the University of Constantinople and taught philosophy there. He was ordained a priest, and when he became a monk, he took the name Cyril. He was sent with Methodius by the emperor in 961 to convert the Jewish Khazars of Russia, a mission that was successful, and which allowed him to learn the Khazar’s language.

In 863, he was sent with Methodius to convert Moravians in their native tongue. Though some western clergy opposed their efforts and refused to ordain their candidates for the priesthood, they did good work. They developed an alphabet for the Slavonic language that eventually became what is known as the Cyrillic today. After initial criticism for their use of it, they achieved approval of the Liturgy in the Slavonic language. Cyril may have been bishop, but he may have died before the consecration ceremony.

Methodius (826-885) was the brother of St. Cyril. He studied at the University of Constantinople, and taught philosophy there. He was ordained a priest, and sent with Cyril by the emperor in 861 to convert the Jewish Khazars of Russia. Though some western clergy opposed their efforts and refused to ordain their candidates for the priesthood, they did good work. They helped develop an alphabet for the Slavonic language that eventually became what is known as the Cyrillic today.

After initial criticism for their use of it, they achieved approval of the Liturgy in the Slavonic language. Methodius was ordained a bishop. He evangelized in Moravia, Bohemia, Pannonia, and Poland. He baptized St. Ludmilla and Duke Boriwoi.

He was Archbishop of Velehred, Czechoslovakia, but was deposed and imprisoned in 870 due to the opposition of German clergy with his work. He was often in trouble over his use of Slavonic in liturgy, with some claiming he preached heresy. However, Methodius was repeatedly cleared of charges. He translated the Bible into the Slavonic languages, and pioneered the use of local and vernacular languages in liturgical settings.

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Gen 2: 18-25

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ So from the soil the Lord God fashioned all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven. These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it. The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild beasts. But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him. So the Lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. The Lord God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:

‘This at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh!
This is to be called woman,
for this was taken from man.’
This is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.
Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other.
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Mk 7: 24-30
Jesus left Gennesaret and set out for the territory of Tyre. There he went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not pass unrecognised. A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him straightaway and came and fell at his feet. Now the woman was a pagan, by birth a Syrophoenician, and she begged him to cast the devil out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.’ But she spoke up: ‘Ah yes, sir,’ she replied ‘but the house-dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps.’ And he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go home happy: the devil has gone out of your daughter.’ So she went off to her home and found the child lying on the bed and the devil gone.
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“The children should be fed first, because it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house-dogs.”

Ouch! Such harsh words! Could they really have been spoken by our loving and merciful Lord?

I must admit that today’s Gospel confused me for the longest time. I simply couldn’t comprehend how Jesus, who is holy and all good, could possibly say such things that sound so rude.

Until one day, when I came upon a Catholic Devotional resource that shed some light and meaning on today’s Gospel reading, I began to see it in another light. There are three things that are of great importance and it helps to be reminded of them.

First of all, Jesus is incapable of being mean or cruel. Our Lord never does things without a purpose nor does He say things frivolously. Therefore, He must have had a good reason for saying what he said. Let us never forget that Jesus is part of the Trinity, true God and true man; and as such, we cannot fully comprehend the full design of God’s plans with our limited human intellect. That is, compared to the infinite wisdom of God, the human intellect can be found lacking. As God is the master painter, and we as onlookers, may not see the whole painting, but only the one stroke that seems like a mistake. Little do we know, the one stroke that seems out of place, could be the start of a beautiful masterpiece.

Secondly, the Syrophoenician woman represents a wonderful reminder. We are unworthy of God’s grace and mercy. There is nothing that we can do or say to earn His grace and mercy. They are a gift. We may think that we deserve His grace, and take His love and mercy for granted, much like we take our loved ones for granted. But we must remember and remind ourselves that we do not deserve, and cannot lay claim to, God’s love except thru the divine mercy of Jesus. Picture a friend who contacts you only when they need your help, but fully expects to be invited to all your family celebrations. Let us not fashion ourselves with such insolence and ungracious attitude.

Lastly, the response of the Syrophoenician woman should shake us out of complacency. We should have unwavering trust in our Lord and His mercy. This is not the same as believing that we deserve His grace but acknowledging our unworthiness and praying for mercy while maintaining confidence in deliverance.  When God seems silent or distant, it is often that He wants us to be stronger and grow spiritually. During these times, we should cling to our Lord, and practice unwavering faith. Instead of a faith based on emotions, we should move to a faith of pure trust in Divine Mercy.

A very important note is that we should not be saddened by our unworthiness, but rejoice in the love and mercy of God, who loves us despite all our faults and iniquities; we should rejoice in His most holy and unconditional love.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we will not take Your love and mercy for granted, and that we have unwavering faith in Your Divine Mercy.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for Your love and mercy and for calling us your children though we be unworthy.