21 July – Memorial for St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest, Religious, Doctor
St. Lawrence (1559-1619) joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575. He studied theology, the Bible, French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was an effective and forceful preacher in any of his several languages, founded convents and wrote catechisms.
As the chaplain of the army of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601, he led the army into battle against the Turks carrying only a crucifix, and defeated them. Later, he carried out important and successful diplomatic peace missions. He was the spiritual director of the Bavarian army. St Lawrence was proclaimed Apostolic Doctor of the Church by Pope John XXIII in 1959.
– Patron Saint Index
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
The word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying, ‘Go and shout this in the hearing of Jerusalem:
‘“The Lord says this:
I remember the affection of your youth,
the love of your bridal days:
you followed me through the wilderness,
through a land unsown.
Israel was sacred to the Lord,
the first-fruits of his harvest;
anyone who ate of this had to pay for it,
misfortune came to them –
it is the Lord who speaks.”
‘I brought you to a fertile country
to enjoy its produce and good things;
but no sooner had you entered than you defiled my land,
and made my heritage detestable.
The priests have never asked, “Where is the Lord?”
Those who administer the Law have no knowledge of me.
The shepherds have rebelled against me;
the prophets have prophesied in the name of Baal,
following things with no power in them.
‘You heavens, stand aghast at this,
stand stupefied, stand utterly appalled
– it is the Lord who speaks.
Since my people have committed a double crime:
they have abandoned me,
the fountain of living water,
only to dig cisterns for themselves,
that hold no water.’
The disciples went up to Jesus and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ ‘Because’ he replied, ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed to you, but they are not revealed to them. For anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough; but from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled:
You will listen and listen again, but not understand,
see and see again, but not perceive.
For the heart of this nation has grown coarse,
their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes,
for fear they should see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their heart,
and be converted
and be healed by me.
‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
You will listen and listen again, but not understand, see and see again, but not perceive.
In today’s readings, I see a lot of myself, where I neglect how God ‘brought me out of slavery’ to a ‘fertile country to enjoy its produce and good things’. It is such that pride enters into my life and tells me that it is by my hard work and my will that has led me to where I am today, and I deserve all the ‘rewards’ I’m reaping now. Because of this, I seldom turn to God for help and continue to search in all the wrong places for all the wrong things. Instead of searching for ‘the fountain of living water’, I only dig leaky cisterns that hold no water. Basically losing track of what is actually important, what I am living for and what is it that I truly desire.
And indeed, as the psalmist says, ‘In you, Lord, is the source of life’. It is not just about how we need you, but more so to know that we are from you, created by you. There is absolutely no reason for God to destroy us after having created us. Most of the time, we usually end up destroying ourselves.
The Gospel then reiterates the point where many times, we just seem to know, but we do not internalise and live out what we know, we do not practice what we preach. We end up stereotyping, assuming rather than understanding, listening. Before we even try, we give up because we see the kind of life we are called to live and know that we can never be up to that standard, so why bother trying?
Our faith isn’t just a personal faith, but a communal one as well. And not just with our fellow brothers and sisters but also with Christ Himself, for He is the reason we believe. He is the answer to our struggles, He is The Way, The Truth, The Life. God will not give us nor ask of us something that we can’t handle, neither does He expect us to handle our struggles alone. He sends Himself through people that we meet every day.
Do we want Jesus in our lives? Have we allowed Him to be there for us? Have we also been there for Him? Let us live in the way you have called us to for “In you, Lord, is the source of life”.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for wisdom to see beyond the pleasures of this world. Help us to overcome the desires of the flesh and be focused on the food that nurtures our soul. Help us to see not just with our humanly eyes but with the eyes of faith, to answer your call, to be your disciples. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for being present with us. Thank you for sending people in our lives to support and encourage us. Thank you for the gift of our lives. Thank you for making us yours.