Daily Archives: October 18, 2007

Friday, October 19 – The Hidden Life

19 Oct – Memorial for St. Paul of the Cross, priest

Paul of the Cross (1694-1775) was a pious youth, the son of a merchant. After receiving a vision and while still a layman, he founded the Congregation of the Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion (Passionists) in 1721 to preach about Jesus Crucified. He was a preacher of such power that hardened soldiers and bandits were seen to weep. At one point, all the brothers in the order deserted him, but in 1741, his rule was approved by Pope Benedict XIV, and the community began to grow again.

It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it.

– from a letter by St. Paul of the Cross
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Romans 4:1-8

What shall we say about Abraham, the ancestor from whom we are all descended? If Abraham was justified as a reward for doing something, he would really have had something to boast about, though not in God’s sight because scripture says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this faith was considered as justifying him. If a man has work to show, his wages are not considered as a favour but as his due; but when a man has nothing to show except faith in the one who justifies sinners, then his faith is considered as justifying him. And David says the same: a man is happy if God considers him righteous, irrespective of good deeds:

Happy those whose crimes are forgiven,
whose sins are blotted out;
happy the man whom the Lord considers sinless.

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Luke 12:1-7

The people had gathered in their thousands so that they were treading on one another. And Jesus began to speak, first of all to his disciples. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is, their hypocrisy. Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything that is now hidden will be made clear. For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed on the housetops.

“To you my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, ahs the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.”
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Why does Jesus refer to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as ‘yeast’? In bread-making, yeast is added to the bread, but not seen. Its effects, however, are seen clearly in the bread rising, and after the bread is baked, the yeast disappears. Yet its effects are left behind for all to see. So too with us and our hidden workings.

Some of us like to work behind the scenes. As with the Pharisees, there are those who work behind the scenes to bring down others. There are those who politically manipulate others into doing their will, while appearing to be direct in public. There are those who spread nasty rumours about others, while appearing to be cordial. There are those who agree with you in public, but carry tales to the higher-ups. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees!” Jesus tells us, because all that is done in hidden, will be made clear.

On the other hand, St. Paul talks about another kind of thing that can and should be done in hidden. St. Paul is talking about our faith. The works of our faith should be made public so as to inspire others yes, but we need not proclaim the hidden life of our faith, that is, our prayer. I like what a religious sister said to me earlier this week:

“The power and authority of your service, which comes from God, will correspond to your dedication to a hidden life of prayer. The fruit you bear will correspond to the time spent in true, deep prayer.”

And again, today, I met another religious sister who said to me that, “Satan knows that if we take away prayer, our apostolate fails. If you don’t live a life of grace, how can we give it to others?”

Before making any major decision, such as choosing his disciples, Jesus always went off into the mountains to be by himself and to pray to the Father. Not that he needed to, but he did it as an example for us to follow.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, remind us daily of our need to pray, so that we may do Your will. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The gift of prayer.

Upcoming Readings:
Sat, Oct 20 – Romans 4:1-8; Luke 12:1-7
Sun, Oct 21 – Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2; Luke 18:1-8; Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.

Thursday, October 18 – Being The Evangelist

18 Oct – Feast of St. Luke, evangelist

St. Luke (d. 74) was born to pagan Greek parents and was possibly a slave. He was one of the earliest converts and was a physician, studying in Antioch and Tarsus. He probably travelled as a ship’s doctor. Many charitable societies of physicians are named after him. Legend has that he was also a painter who many have done portraits of Jesus and Mary, but none have ever been correctly or definitively attributed to him. This story, and the inspiration his Gospel has always given artists, led to his patronage of them.

He met St. Paul at Troas, and evangelized Greece and Rome with him, being there for the shipwreck and other perils of the voyage to Rome, and stayed in Rome for Paul’s two years in prison. He wrote the Gospel According to Luke, much of which was based on the teachings and writings of Paul, interviews with early Christians, and his own experiences. He also wrote a history of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. He was martyred for his faith, although some stories say he was not.

St. Luke is patron for artists; bachelors; bookbinders; brewers; butchers; doctors; glass makers; goldsmiths; lace workers; notaries; stained glass workers.

Prayer to St. Luke:
Most charming and saintly Physician, you were animated by the heavenly Spirit of love. In faithfully detailing the humanity of Jesus, you also showed his divinity and his genuine compassion for all human beings. Inspire our physicians with your professionalism and with the divine compassion for their patients. Enable them to cure the ills of both body and spirit that afflict so many in our day. Amen.

– Patron Saint Index
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2 Timothy 4:10-17

Demas has deserted me for love of this life and gone to Thessalonika, Crescens has gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia; only Luke is with me. Get Mark to come and bring him with you; I find him a useful in my work. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and the scrolls, especially the parchment ones. Alexander the coppersmith has done me a lot of harm; the Lord will repay him for what he has done. Be on guard against him yourself; because he has been bitterly contesting everything that we say.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Everyone deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all pagans to hear.
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Luke 10:1-9

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road. Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house. Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.”‘
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A running joke among my friends up to a couple of years ago was about what would happen if Franciscans became Jedi. We envisioned the brown robed folks going around saying “May the Force be with you” and being replied with “And also with you.”

My apologies for the lame Star Wars joke. At the risk of sounding even lamer and more cliche, since today we celebrate the feast of St Luke, let us also examine his pop culture namesake with the surname Skywalker.

Even those who are not fans would know that the original trilogy is essentially the journey of Luke Skywalker. The three movies present the trials and tribulations in a huge coming of age tale. Uprooted from familiar settings by turbulent events and thrown into the maelstrom, he not only discovers his heritage but restores it to its former glory. Throughout his voyages, there is the constant looming shadow of persecution.

It is quite remarkable but I believe not without serendipity that the protagonist in the original Star Wars trilogy shares his name with the evangelist who wrote one account of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. The lives of those of us who are messengers of Christ, evangelists in our own rights, are filled with trials and tribulations. The letter from Paul to Timothy presents a dire situation. He is abandoned by all but one of his companions and faced strong persecution. His only companion? Our erstwhile Luke (not the Jedi). We may be thrown out of our comfort zones just like young Skywalker was and just as the disciples in the Gospel passage were when they were sent out without any possessions.

Perhaps the most significant thing about the original Star Wars trilogy was the revelation of Darth Vader as Luke’s father. This was a maturing moment in the protagonist’s life and when he forgave his father and led him to salvation, it brought a fitting and proper resolution to the tale. The relationship between Vader and Luke introduced the themes of how the ones closest to us can present the greatest persecution and how we are to reach out to all, especially these persecutors.

I have heard many conversion accounts which include strong opposition from the family, to the point of cutting off ties. I have also heard as many accounts where the conversion is able to eventually extend to the entire family, even estranged ones. This my friends is truly something special to behold.

We are all called to be witnesses and by extension, evangelists. However, many of us, myself included, do not fully realise the implications of this fact. But as we can see from the lives of Saints Paul and Luke, and Luke Skywalker, that there really are very well defined traits associated with being a witness for something larger and more important than ourselves. There is the degree of comfort we have in our everyday experiences and the, at the very least, nonchalance we are greeted with when we stand up for what we believe in. Most of all, there is the awareness of what we are trying to achieve; to discover; to restore.

Young Skywalker had the Force. We have the light and peace of Christ. It is this that Christ implores his disciples to utter as their greeting. So my sisters and brothers, as every self respecting Jed… I mean Catholic should say with pride and gusto:

May the peace of Christ be with you, always.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
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Prayer:
Lord, may we find meaning in what we do so that we can find You in all our tasks and lead others to You.

Give thanks to the Lord for: Perfect connections between seemingly unrelated things.

Upcoming Readings:
Fri, Oct 19 – Romans 4:1-8; Luke 12:1-7; Memorial for St. Paul of the Cross, priest
Sat, Oct 20 – Romans 4:1-8; Luke 12:1-7
Sun, Oct 21 – Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2; Luke 18:1-8; Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.