Aug 12 – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here.” She found more than once that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.
She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.
Moses said to the people:
‘Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you? Only this: to fear the Lord your God, to follow all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord that for your good I lay down for you today.
‘To the Lord your God belong indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth and all it contains; yet it was on your fathers that the Lord set his heart for love of them, and after them of all the nations chose their descendants, you yourselves, up to the present day. Circumcise your heart then and be obstinate no longer; for the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, triumphant and terrible, never partial, never to be bribed. It is he who sees justice done for the orphan and the widow, who loves the stranger and gives him food and clothing. Love the stranger then, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. It is the Lord your God you must fear and serve; you must cling to him; in his name take your oaths. He it is you must praise, he is your God: for you he has done these great and terrible things you have seen with your own eyes; and though your fathers numbered only seventy when they went down to Egypt, the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars of heaven.’
One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’
“… to keep the commandments and laws of the Lord…”
I once heard this anecdote, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
There was once 2 parties on a radio channel communicating with each other; they had detected each other on a radar out in the ocean. The conversation takes place over quite a few minutes, but the gist of it is that one party asks the other to move out of the way to avoid a collision. The reason? This vessel is a large aircraft carrier. The party had to move because this ship was much bigger.
Who was the other party?
It was a lighthouse! The aircraft carrier ended up re-routing immediately.
The takeaway for me from today’s Gospel is that we need to recognise who the real source of power and importance is in our lives. Do we pledge allegiance to our jobs, our leisure, our entertainment, the daily chores that we do? Or do we give more importance to fulfilling our duties as followers and children of God?
There was, however, another message that stood out for me. While Jesus talks about identifying the true power, He also chose to hand over the shekel (taken from the mouth of a fish!) to the tribute collectors, in order “not to offend these people”. While Jesus has the true power, He chooses His battles. This really surprised me.
Brothers and sisters, we must always remember who the real power is in our lives. So that the Spirit can help us to discern the battles to take on, and to let the less important ones pass by.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)
Prayer: We pray for strength of character Father. Help us to draw this fearlessness from You. May we be courageous in our daily lives to stand up for what is true and right.
Thanksgiving: Thank You for being there for us, Father God. We are grateful that You are the true compass in our lives.