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Traditions and BeliefsDiscussions about local culture, ethnicity, superstition, urban myth, custom, or anything related to traditions and beliefs.
“Master,” they said, “we should like to see a sign from you.” – Matthew 12:38
“I’m sorry. I cannot help you,” my husband said. His patient burst into bitter tears.
A year ago, the patient consulted him about her stage one breast cancer. My husband recommended surgery and chemotherapy, explaining that a cure is attainable. She didn’t come back.
Now she was recounting how she tried alternative medicine because of her fear of chemotherapy. The cancer had advanced to stage four, the final stage. He couldn’t save her even if she begged.
I think my husband’s frustration was similar to Jesus’ when the Pharisees asked for a sign. My husband, just like Jesus, was trying to bring hope and deliver people from certain death, but he was received with cynicism, fear and resentment instead.
Unknown to us, we are usually in the position of the patient and the Pharisees. We resist what we know should be done and insist on looking for proof because we want an easier path.
Make the right decisions now. Don’t fear the hardships to come. God will give you enough grace to see you through. Postponement may be a reprieve, but in the end, it’s as good as a death sentence. Cecil Lim ( *Only fully-registered users can see this link.* )
“If you keep thinking about what you want to do or what you hope will happen, you don’t do it, and it won’t happen.” (Desiderius Erasmus)
Lord, open our eyes and ears and grant us the courage to respond to the signs all around us.
St. Bridget, religious, pray for us.
The last line of this reading is a very beautiful description of the life of a true disciple of Jesus that is easy to accept. If we learn nothing else today, let us learn that humility is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple. And if we already know this, let us learn that justice is also important.
Micah 6:1-4, 6-8
1 Hear what the Lord says: Arise, present your plea before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice! 2 Hear, O mountains, the plea of the Lord, pay attention, O foundations of the earth! For the Lord has a plea against his people, and he enters into trial with Israel. 3 O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, from the place of slavery I released you; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 6 With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
P S A L M
Psalm 50:5-6, 8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
R: To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
5 “Gather my faithful ones before me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” 6 And for the heavens proclaim his justice; for God himself is the judge. (R) 8 “Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, for your burnt offerings are before me always. 9 I take from your house no bullock, no goats out of your fold.” (R) 16 “Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, 17 though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?” (R) 21 “When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes. 23 He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.” (R)
What really are the use of signs? They may help confirm a particular course of action we are trying to discern, but can’t we just act in faith and allow God to redirect our actions if we are going down the wrong path? One of the troubles with looking for signs is that we begin to confirm them. Where will it end?
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
38 Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 40 Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. 41 At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. 42 At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”
think: Humility is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple.
RIGHTEOUSNESS, GOODNESS, HUMILITY
Many institutions adopt mottos made up of three words. One famous institution in the Philippines boasts of “courage, integrity, loyalty,” even if its products are very far from what the motto says. Be that as it may, everyone believes in the power of axioms and aphorisms, or watchwords to live by. Such mottos sum up the institution’s highest ideals. They represent the best that the institution upholds and considers important. They serve as goals to attain, dreams to pursue, and ideals to gradually espouse.
Today, the prophet Micah offers us such a watchword with three essential elements: righteousness, goodness and humility. “[This is] what the Lord requires of you: only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
It is easy to do what everybody else seems to be doing. Somehow, when many do it, the sense of rightness or wrongness does not factor in as we discern and decide.
Micah cautions us to “love goodness.” The good is something that goes beyond being good for me, for now, and for here. It is that which is good from God, in itself, and good that transcends merely personal or individual good.
Too bad the same new information and communications media twist not only the right but also the concept of the good. The individual becomes the supreme arbiter of what is right and what is good. This is nothing but moral relativism.
We would do well to be reminded that for us to do right and good, there has to be another value — a virtue, in fact, which is humility. Humility is the virtue that puts us in place and makes us see ourselves for what we really are — dependent creatures who rely on the Creator. Though created free and intelligent, that freedom can never be taken apart from truth — moral truth. We still need to walk humbly with God.Fr. Chito Dimaranan, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTION: How strong are you in standing up for the right when everyone else is doing the wrong thing?
Grant me the courage, Lord, to be firm in my values — to always choose righteousness, goodness and humility over what’s popular.
26 July 2012 Thursday
Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary
what’s your legacy?
But we will praise these godly men, whose righteous deeds have never been forgotten. Their reputations will be passed on to their descendants, and this will be their inheritance. – Sirach 44:10-11
A few years ago, I chanced upon a conversation with a local businessman who had become a well-known success in the country. He had recently been engaged in a bidding war with his competitors for a huge project. The manager in charge of awarding the project had approached him to ask for a small bribe. In exchange, the manager would turn the deal to his favor. However, this businessman declined the proposal and his competitor won the contract.
When I asked him why he had refused to pay off the manager given that the fee was a small sum compared to the value of the project, he answered me with a smile. “I am trying to build my business as honestly as I can. True, it will take me twice as long and 10 times the effort to become as rich as my competitor, but I’m in no hurry and I want to be remembered as a man who earned success by working hard, not by taking unethical shortcuts. There is something more than wealth that I want to pass down to my children and that is a legacy of an honorable name, integrity and good values.” Eleanore Lee ( *Only fully-registered users can see this link.* )
What kind of person would you want others to remember you by?
Lord, may I do justice as Your child, born of a Father who continues to encourage love, selflessness and righteousness in this world.
Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.
The parents of Mary must have been very proud of her when they eventually understood the role she was playing in the work of salvation. I wonder how they handled the news that she was pregnant (outside of marriage) and the subsequent explanation Mary gave them? It would not have been easy for any of them to accept and understand Mary’s plight. Hopefully we will have compassion when we face similarly difficult situations in our own lives.
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13 (or Sirach 44:1, 10-15)
1 This word of the Lord came to me: 2 Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear! I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, following me in the desert, in a land unsown. 3 Sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of his harvest; should anyone presume to partake of them, evil would befall him, says the Lord. 7 When I brought you into the garden land to eat its goodly fruits, you entered and defiled my land, you made my heritage loathsome. 8 The priests asked not, “Where is the Lord?” Those who dealt with the law knew me not: the shepherds rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after useless idols. 12 Be amazed at this, O heavens, and shudder with sheer horror, says the Lord. 13 Two evils have my people done they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; they have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.
P S A L M
Psalm 36:6-7, 8-9, 10-11 (or Psalm 132:11, 13-14, 17-18)
R: With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
5  O Lord, your mercy reaches to heaven; your faithfulness, to the clouds. 6  Your justice is like the mountains of God; your judgments, like the mighty deep. (R) 7  How precious is your mercy, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8  They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house; from your delightful stream you give them to drink. (R) 9  For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. 10  Keep up your mercy toward your friends, your just defense of the upright of heart. (R)
We do not always understand everything about the situations in our lives. This is a fact that we have to learn to live with. It may not be easy, but sometimes it might be easier not to know all the details before we get into something for God. If we know them we might be too scared to follow His will. Indeed, there are times when ignorance (in a good sense) may well be bliss!
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
Matthew 13:10-17 (or Matthew 13:16-17)
10 The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?’ 11 He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. 12 To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. 15 Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.’ 16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. 17 Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
think: There are times when ignorance (in a good sense) may well be bliss!
When Filipinos speak of family, chances are they won’t only talk about mothers, fathers and siblings. Family is extended family, which includes the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
I grew up with two loving grandmothers. My maternal grandma lived with us while my father’s mother stayed in her humble abode across a narrow river near our place. The latter seemed more protective of us grandchildren. She saw to it that we ate on time and gave us extra allowance when we went to school. She was most worried when one of us was sick. She was most devastated at the death of my mother, her daughter-in-law. She seemed to love my mother more than her own son.
It’s always amazing to think that the mystery of God’s incarnation reveals that the Father chose that His Son be a part of a family and an extended family. Jesus can very well speak of a father and mother in Joseph and Mary, an uncle and aunt in Zechariah and Elizabeth, a cousin in John, and a grandfather and grandmother in Joachim and Anne. Now, that makes God’s dwelling among us more meaningful. We feel that He belonged to us and us to Him as we both embraced the realm of families.
While Mary and Joseph gave Jesus the warmth of familial embrace, He had a doting grandma in Anne and a loving grandpa in Joachim. Of course the Scriptures do not present concrete scenes of such family bonding. We can only imagine Jesus being close to His grandparents. On the other hand, it was through these two quiet witnesses to the presence of the Messiah that the Blessed Virgin Mary was born. After all, the Immaculate Conception took place in the womb of Anne.
How true is the Gospel phrase, “I assure you that many prophets and many of God’s people wanted very much to see, but they could not and to hear what you hear, but they did not.” Joachim and Anne saw before their very eyes the unraveling of this august reality. To the simple, unassuming, quiet and humble people, God reveals much. Fr. Erick Y. Santos, SFO
REFLECTION QUESTION: How do you practice simplicity and humility?
Lord, reveal in my humble self the mysteries of Your kingdom.