Saturday, 9 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Readings

Many children are familiar with the unwritten contract with Santa Claus. "Do good all year and Santa Claus will give you presents." In fact, a child can give Santa Claus a list of the presents he/she wants and 'pays' for those presents by not misbehaving. Even when it is revealed that it is the child's parents or guardians who give the presents and not Santa Claus, this unwritten contract is still valid. Thus we teach our children to bargain, to not misbehave not because of love, filial duty or discipline but because to get something at the end of the day, in other words to "force" us to give them stuff in return.
You can imagine how such children may come badly unstuck when they encounter life and faith. Neither is Santa Claus or obliging parents. Neither can be bargained with. Neither can be approached with "I scratch your back you scratch my back" or "If you don't do as I say, I'll not do what you say" mentalities. Both require patience. Both require people to persevere, to believe and trust even when there is no evidence that one's desires will be fulfilled. Both require adaptation of such desires to their realities.
Talking about faith, as Christians we are not to treat God as Santa Claus. We are not to put our desires above His will. We are not to bargain with Him (i.e. thinking that if we do these good deeds, or say that chain of prayers, then God must fulfill his part and grant our wishes) for such thinking means we lack faith in the rightness of our desires and in the rightness of God's will for us. If our desires are right and fit in God's plan for us, then He will grant them. As is written in the book of Habakkuk: For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late
Then how to make sure our desires fit into His plan? Simply by asking Him, by surrendering our wishes to Him, by not giving Him a list of things to do for us but telling Him our problems and asking Him to solve them in His way and in His time. In other words, we put His plan above our desires, and are willing to change those desires if He prompts us to do so. So let us pray for faith the size of a mustard seed so we can be true disciples of God th Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

So who is this Teresa Benedicta of the Cross? Let's look to Wikipedia, shall we?

- born in October 12, 1891 as Edith Stein in Breslau (Wrocław) in the German Empire's Prussian Province of Silesia, into an observant Jewish family
- In 1916 received her doctorate of philosophy at the University of Freiburg
- converted to Catholicism and baptized on January 1, 1922 after reading the autobiography of the mystic St. Teresa of Ávila on a holiday in Göttingen in 1921
- taught at a Dominican girls' school in Speyer from 1922 to 1932
- in 1932 became a lecturer at the Institute for Pedagogy at Münster
- denounced the Nazi regime and, in a letter to Pope Pius XI, asked the Pope to openly denounce the regime "to put a stop to this abuse of Christ's name".
- entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery at Cologne in 1933 and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
- though transferred to the Carmelite monastery in the Netherlands to avoid the growing Nazi threat, on July 26, 1942 was captured in retaliation for the Dutch Bishops' Conference's public condemnation of Nazi racism and shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp where she died in the gas chambers on August 9, 1942
- was beatified as a martyr on May 1, 1987 in Cologne, Germany by Pope John Paul II and canonized by him on October 11, 1998 under the name Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Tiday's Bible Readings (Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

Today is Sat 9 Aug and here are the readings:

Habakkuk 1: 12 — 2: 4
Lord, you have been active from ancient times;
my sovereign God, you are immortal.
Lord, you have made them your instrument of judgment.
Protector, you have appointed them as your instrument of punishment.
You are too just to tolerate evil; you are unable to condone wrongdoing.
So why do you put up with such treacherous people?
Why do you say nothing when the wicked devour those more righteous than they are?
You made people like fish in the sea; like animals in the sea that have no ruler.
The Babylonian tyrant pulls them all up with a fishhook;
he hauls them in with his throw net.
When he catches them in his dragnet, he is very happy.
Because of his success he offers sacrifices to his throw net and burns incense to his dragnet;
for because of them he has plenty of food, and more than enough to eat.
Will he then continue to fill and empty his throw net?
Will he always destroy nations and spare none?

I will stand at my watch post;
I will remain stationed on the city wall.
I will keep watching, so I can see what he says to me
and can know how I should answer
when he counters my argument.

The Lord responded:
“Write down this message! Record it legibly on tablets,
so the one who announces it may read it easily.
For the message is a witness to what is decreed;
it gives reliable testimony about how matters will turn out.
Even if the message is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently;
for it will certainly come to pass – it will not arrive late.
Look, the one whose desires are not upright will faint from exhaustion,
but the person of integrity will live because of his faithfulness.

Matthew 17: 14-20
When they came to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers terribly, for he often falls into the fire and into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they were not able to heal him.” Jesus answered, “You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”