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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.