5 July 2019 – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest
St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.
– Patron Saint Index
Genesis 23:1-4, 19, 24:1-8, 62-67
The length of Sarah’s life was a hundred and twenty-seven years. She died at Kiriath-arba, or Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn and grieve for her.
Then leaving his dead, Abraham spoke to the sons of Heth: ‘I am a stranger and a settler among you,’ he said. ‘Let me own a burial-plot among you, so that I may take my dead wife and bury her.’
After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah opposite Mamre, in the country of Canaan.
By now Abraham was an old man well on in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to the eldest servant of his household, the steward of all his property, ‘Place your hand under my thigh, I would have you swear by the Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, that you will not choose a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live. Instead, go to my own land and my own kinsfolk to choose a wife for my son Isaac.’ The servant asked him, ‘What if the woman does not want to come with me to this country? Must I take your son back to the country from which you came?’ Abraham answered, ‘On no account take my son back there. The Lord, God of heaven and God of earth, took me from my father’s home, and from the land of my kinsfolk, and he swore to me that he would give this country to my descendants. He will now send his angel ahead of you, so that you may choose a wife for my son there. And if the woman does not want to come with you, you will be free from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.’
Isaac, who lived in the Negeb, had meanwhile come into the wilderness of the well of Lahai Roi. Now Isaac went walking in the fields as evening fell, and looking up saw camels approaching. And Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. She jumped down from her camel, and asked the servant, ‘Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?’ The servant replied, ‘That is my master’; then she took her veil and hid her face. The servant told Isaac the whole story, and Isaac led Rebekah into his tent and made her his wife; and he loved her. And so Isaac was consoled for the loss of his mother.
As Jesus was walking on he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
I desire mercy, not sacrifice
God is the God of love and mercy, He spells out in today’s gospel who it is that needs Him the most – the sinners. We should not take it at face value and assume that we don’t need Him because we are not sinners. Let’s us remember that only God and Mother Mary are sinless and since we are neither of them, we are sinners and therefore we need Him.
In a recent youth rally which I attended, one of the groups mentioned that they are fifty-fifty in their response to the question “is God within you?’ One of the priests who was with us reminded us that the breath which we breathe, is the breath of God and therefore God is within us. How is it then that sometimes we feel lost, alone and easily fall into sin by succumbing to temptation?
Today’s first reading depicts four people who are in tune with God – Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah and Abraham’s servant. They were not without sin, yet they knew God’s plans and were faithful to it. They gave sufficient importance and upheld the sanctity of marriage. Are we anything like that? Do we need the mercy of God in the areas where we are not faithful to the foundation of a Catholic marriage, by indulging in fornication, extramarital and premarital affairs, abortion, using contraception and live in a way that threatens marriages, both of others and of our own? If yes, how can we seek His mercy and grace? Is it time we returned to the Heart of Mercy through confession?
From the characters in today’s gospels, who can we best identify ourselves with? Is it Matthew, who readily followed Jesus, or a prophet like Jesus who is inviting and encouraging friends to come home to Jesus, or the Pharisee who pulls out the ‘holier than thou’ card on others? Either way, He abounds in grace and mercy and He is waiting for us to be more like Him. And if we have fallen in these areas and others, there is still hope in the Lord.
Therefore, let us not be discouraged that we have failed but to continue striving daily to be more like Him. He sees all of our efforts, even our intentions and nothing, just nothing goes unnoticed with Him.
(Today’s Oxygen by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Lord, tune us as your instruments of love and mercy. Help us to be merciful and loving like you. Teach us to be more like you and help us to act as if we never forgot that our hearts are connected to yours.
Thanksgiving: Lord we thank you for your mercy and love. Because you are so good and you will fight for us, till the day each of us are like You.