Ecclesiasticus 44:1, 9-13
Let us praise illustrious men,
our ancestors in their successive generations.
While others have left no memory,
and disappeared as though they had not existed,
they are now as though they had never been,
and so too, their children after them.
But here is a list of generous men
whose good works have not been forgotten.
In their descendants there remains
a rich inheritance born of them.
Their descendants stand by the covenants
and, thanks to them, so do their children’s children.
Their offspring will last for ever,
their glory will not fade.
After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. “May no one ever eat fruit from you again,” he said. And his disciples heard him say this.
So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, “Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robber’s den.” This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.
Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. “Look, Rabbi,” he said to Jesus, “the fig tree you cursed has withered away.” Jesus answered, “Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea’, with no hesitation in his heart and believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell your therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too. But if you do not forgive, your father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.
I read in the news recently of an atheist who donated $27 million to the Archdiocese of New York. There are many reasons why he could have done something like that. One of those reasons could be that he wanted to remembered after his death.
It is a very human thing, or should I say, it is part of being human to want to be remembered after we die. We spend most of our lives trying to work towards leaving behind a legacy, to show that our existence in the world left an impact on the world, to show that we left the world a better place than when we came into it. We don’t want to be just another speck of dust on the surface of the world. We want to be remembered. And we all have different ways of doing it.
Some of us hope that a statue would one day be made in our honour, like the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles that Singapore has. Some of us hope to write a book that will forever carry our name. Some of us hope to paint or compose a masterpiece that will forever be looked at or heard by millions. Few of us ever get that far. Many of us will lie on our deathbeds, looking back at our lives and seeing those wasted years poured into vain vanity with no fruits to show for our efforts.
But not all of us will be alone on our death beds. Some of us will be surrounded by loved ones, by our children and our grandchildren. And as we look at them, we will see our legacy. These people, our offspring, they are our legacy. Sculptors, artists, composers, and authors can leave behind an inanimate object as their legacy; only parents can leave behind a living legacy, and one that can continue to perpetuate themselves, making our legacy an everlasting one.
Naturally then, the more children we have in our lifetime, the larger and more long-lasting our legacy will be. Of course it’s not all about having many children, but it’s also about being good parents and bringing them up well, so that our children can really be our offspring, our fruit, our image in the world we leave behind.
When Jesus scolds the people for desecrating the Temple, he speaking prophetic words. We remember that the Temple of God today is no longer a building made of gold and stone, but our body is the Temple of God. When we use our bodies for a purpose that it is not intended, we are turning our body into a robber’s den. Examples include prostitution, organ trading, contraception, abortion, homosexual acts and other sexual acts of perversion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, etc.
A friend of mine shared that willpower is not the same thing as self-control. Self-control is a fruit that is grown over time. It starts out small, growing bit by bit as more time and energy is put in. When small, it does not reach the standard of a fully grown fruit, but it is still growing. When we keep working on it, it grows to the fruit of self-control that one can look at it and call it a fruit. Even so, it keeps growing.
Some of us have been carrying out these acts for as long as we can remember. This reflection does not wag a finger at anyone. What it does is to point us to the words of Jesus: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. It is impossible to live a life of chastity and purity on our own strength and willpower alone. We need God’s help if we are to live a life of godliness. We need God’s help if we are to live a life of self-control.
Dear Lord, we pray for all who are struggling to live pure and holy lives. May we all never hesitate to pray without hesitation for the fruit of self-control to grow within us, so that we might truly make our body a Temple of God. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Learning about self-control.
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- Friday, June 29 - Keeping the faith
- Wednesday, June 27 - The golden rule of truth
- Question: What’s the connection between pre-marital sex and adultery?