READINGS for 2007-07-25
Feast of St. James, Apostle
THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES SENSE
...perplexed but not driven to despair... – 2 Corinthians 4:8
I wanted to rip my chest open and throw away my heart. I wanted to scream, break things and pass out on the floor. My personal life had taken a downward and sad turn. I could not make heads or tails out of it, and the pain coursing through my veins at that time was so intense I couldn’t see or think straight. I was throwing a tantrum before God, on my knees and in tears. “I don’t understand, Lord. I don’t understand!” But God was silent. I wanted a rational explanation for what I was going through, but there was none.
I cried until I was spent and could no longerspeak. Finally, in the darkness and silence of my room, I felt the Lord. No lightning, no thunder, no long-drawn out speeches or explanations, just a gentle and comforting presence. In that sad corner, He sat with me, like a Father stroking His daughter’s hair with tears in His own eyes, His own heart bleeding over His child’s pain. God’s love was penetrating the most broken parts of me. It was enough assurance that in time, even if I did not know how or why, everything shattered in me would heal. It was enough solace to know that God’s love was bigger and stronger than all my hurts. Cotics C.
What things happening in your life don’t you understand? Lay them at the Lord’s feet.
Father, Your love is my comfort and light. Be my fortress and hope at all times.
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
We have our days of strength and just as often, if not more often, we are also aware of our multitudes of weaknesses. This is perfectly fine as it fits into God’s plan of how we will best minister to others, in His strength and not just our own. The Pauline image of our being earthenware jars carrying the precious treasure of Christ to a broken and hurting world is a beautiful image that we should reflect upon often as it will encourage us in our weaknesses and sober us when we become too sure of our own strengths.
7 We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we too believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. 15 Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
P S A L M
Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
R: Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
1 When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing. (R) Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad indeed. (R) 4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the torrents in the southern desert. 5 Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. (R) 6 Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves. (R)
We should never seek acclaim in the sight of men as it means nothing in terms of the Kingdom of God unless the acclaim first comes from our Father in Heaven! It is His glory that we seek and His alone, as any earthly glory is merely a distraction and source of temptation. Let us not be afraid to humble ourselves before God and one another as it is in humility that we will find protection from the sin of pride. It is also here that we will better be able to hear God’s word clearly directing us according to His will.
20 The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. 21 He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” 23 He replied, “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, [this] is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. 26 But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; 27 whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. 28 Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
think: We should never seek acclaim in the sight of men as it means nothing in terms of the Kingdom of God.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Isaiah 37-38
A WRONG NOTION CORRECTED
Today’s saint, St. James (sometimes referred to as St. James the Great, to distinguish him from his namesake and fellow apostle), is certainly one saint worth looking into. We praise and thank God for him, honoring and venerating him at the same time.
We all know him, of course, as one of the Twelve Apostles, and also one of the three “best friends” of Jesus — that is, His inner circle of apostles (together with Peter and John), who were often taken as privileged witnesses in special moments of Jesus’ life. St. James was also the first to die among the Twelve, martyred as he was by Herod in the year 43/44 (see Acts 12:2). He is especially honored since the ninth century at Compostella in Spain. In the meantime, the special Gospel passage for this feast is particularly interesting, for it gives an important insight to the character of James and his brother John. Jesus’ remark in answer to the request of James and John’s mother, short and direct as it is, nevertheless is very striking: “You do not know what you are asking.”
Certainly it was by no means a rejection by Jesus of their request. After all, elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus promised that they will sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel (see Luke 22:30 and Matthew 19:28). So in other words, it wasn’t so much the ambition of James and John which Jesus had in mind when he accused them of their lack of understanding, but rather their oversight (a case of “maling akala”). They overlooked the fact that the way to glory (at least according to Jesus’ teaching) is through the way of suffering. There are no shortcuts, in other words, to the glory of Easter Sunday.
We have a Tagalog popular saying: “Maraming namamatay sa maling akala” (Wrong notions can cost you your life). St. James died, certainly not for or because of his “maling akala” (he and his brother surely must have learned their lesson from the incident with Jesus). No, he died for his faith in God, boldly and bravely offering his life as a martyr, after the example of Jesus. Fr. Martin M.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you know what it is you are asking?
When I seek to follow You, let it be in full knowledge of the cost.
St. Valentina & Thea, virgin martyrs, pray for us.
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