Tag Archives: hypocrisy

16 Jul, Monday – Not In God’s House

Jul 16 – Memorial for Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Church celebrates on this day the feast of the Scapular of Mount Carmel. The scapular, which derives its name from the Latin word scapulæ, meaning shoulders, is a dress which covers the shoulders. It is best known among as the name of two little pieces of cloth worn out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin over the shoulders, under the ordinary garb, and connected by strings.

The devotion of the scapular began with the Carmelites. During the 13th century the Carmelite Order suffered great persecution, and on 16 July 1251, while Saint Simon Stock, then general of the Order, was at prayer, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, holding in her hand a scapular. Giving it to the saint, she said,

“Receive, my dear son, this scapular of thy Order, as the distinctive sign of my confraternity, and the mark of the privilege which I have obtained for thee and the children of Carmel. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in danger, and a special pledge of peace and protection till the end of time. Whosoever dies wearing this shall be preserved from eternal flames.”

It is much to be wished that people should everywhere join this confraternity, for the honour of Mary and for the salvation of souls, by a life fitted to that end. In order to have a share in the merits of the sodality, every member must:

  1. Shun sin and, according to his state of life, live chastely.
  2. Say everyday, if possible, seven times the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
  3. Strive to serve God by venerating Mary, and imitating her virtues.

Though not binding under penalty of sin, the breach of these rules deprives us of all merit.

– Patron Saint Index

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Isaiah 1:10-17

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.

‘What are your endless sacrifices to me?
says the Lord.
I am sick of holocausts of rams
and the fat of calves.
The blood of bulls and of goats revolts me.
When you come to present yourselves before me,
who asked you to trample over my courts?
Bring me your worthless offerings no more,
the smoke of them fills me with disgust.
New Moons, sabbaths, assemblies–
I cannot endure festival and solemnity.
Your New Moons and your pilgrimages
I hate with all my soul.
They lie heavy on me,
I am tired of bearing them.
When you stretch out your hands
I turn my eyes away.
You may multiply your prayers,
I shall not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood,
wash, make yourselves clean.

‘Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.’

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Matthew 10:34-11:1

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.

‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples he moved on from there to teach and preach in their towns.

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“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”

I scurried into church and slid into a pew, just as Mass was about to begin. Traffic in Los Angeles is not to be scoffed at! Secretly jubilant about making it on time, I crossed myself and reached for the hymnal – and that’s when I noticed her staring angrily at me. Her with the perfect perm, pursed lips and fierce eyes. She glared ferociously at me and shook her head from side to side, indicating that I could not sit there. It took me awhile to grasp what was going on… and then it dawned on me. Pretty shocking really, considering 1) there was lots of space on the other side of her so she could easily have moved over; 2) mass had already begun; 3) we were in God’s house; 4) this was an affluent and educated community — the last place you’d expect to find racial discrimination. I gathered up my things and skulked away, hot and red-faced from hurt and embarrassment. I was mostly angry. I was angry that I didn’t have the presence of mind to call out bad behaviour as it happened. I walked away to avoid confrontation. I walked away to ‘save face’. But for whom?

Racial discrimination is something you read about, but until it happens to you, it’s not something you internalize. And until it happens to you, you have no right to an opinion what one should or should not have done in that moment. When that moment arrives, you’d be surprised at what you won’t be prepared to do out of fear, shock and embarrassment. I most certainly didn’t expect to see it in church. This is God’s house! I expect more of the place I worship, more of the people who profess the Apostles’ Creed and take communion. It’s been two weeks now and it still hurts. The words of the prophet Isaiah have never resonated more than right now – “bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me”. How loathsome must it be to God when it happens in His house! When it happens in church, it gives us Christians a bad name. No wonder my husband won’t go to mass. Who would, if they had to deal with this kind of hypocrisy? Is this woman aware how poisonous her gesture has been? I am indignant. I’ve spewed, sputtered and searched the Bible. Jesus says, “… whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me”. Well, I dropped the cross that day by not standing up to her. I realize now how blind and complacent I’ve been. Why I ever thought this was someone else’s fight is beyond me. No one should have to endure this, especially in God’s house. I’ve walked around with my eyes closed for so long. I’ve been so blind and so naïve. It had to happen to me, for me to understand and empathize. Well, I see now. I’m not blind anymore. I see.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10)

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray that all who enter God’s house do so with a contrite heart, with full awareness of the solemnity of communion. Our actions reflect not just on us but on God and the faith that we profess.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the moments of lucidity that come when we are thrust into painful situations. We pray for God’s guidance, that we respond not with anger, but with wisdom and restraint.

15 June, Wednesday – Love Shown Through Action

15 June

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2 Kings 2:1,6-14

This is what happened when the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind: Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, Elijah said, ‘Elisha, please stay here, the Lord is only sending me to the Jordan.’ But he replied, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!’ And they went on together.

Fifty of the brotherhood of prophets followed them, halting some distance away as the two of them stood beside the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water; and the water divided to left and right, and the two of them crossed over dry-shod. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Make your request. What can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ Elisha answered, ‘Let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ ‘Your request is a difficult one’ Elijah said. ‘If you see me while I am being taken from you, it shall be as you ask; if not, it will not be so.’ Now as they walked on, talking as they went, a chariot of fire appeared and horses of fire, coming between the two of them; and Elijah went up to heaven in the whirlwind. Elisha saw it, and shouted, ‘My father! My father! Chariot of Israel and its chargers!’ Then he lost sight of him, and taking hold of his clothes he tore them in half. He picked up the cloak of Elijah which had fallen, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.

He took the cloak of Elijah and struck the water. ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he cried. He struck the water, and it divided to right and left, and Elisha crossed over.

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Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’

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I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward

There is this Malay word “wayang” which translates to a traditional performance in the Malay language. It is a colloquial term and commonly used amongst my friends as a term to illustrate how somebody seeks to engage in outward behaviour to impress others e.g. one’s peers or superiors. Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel that such action is not necessary and could in fact be counter-productive if we want to receive our eternal reward.

The Pharisees wanted to show to the people that they were a very holy bunch of people and this meant that they had to show it through their external behaviour. Yet Jesus judges us on our hearts and the motivations of why we do so. In our lives, we are often motivated by various emotions to drive our actions. Sometimes it is for want of recognition.  Maybe it could be due to pride or perhaps it could be a belief that we can definitely do better than others in our behaviours. The Gospel reminds us today of the need to identify what is the way to find the right motivation; through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

These three actions have been traditionally given by the church as a means for us to modify ourselves and to give meaning to the mortification. This meaning is to unite with Jesus’s passion and the mystery of suffering. Amidst our busy schedule, I ask that we take time every day to pray to God for the clarity of mind to continue to serve Him in the way He wants us to.  Without us worrying about putting on a show for others.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let all our actions be grounded in the Truth of your Word.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who continue to work for the cause of justice.