Saturday, 23 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Jerome, an early church father (347-420 AD) and bible scholar who translated the bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into the common Latin tongue, comments on Matthew 23: 1-12 (i.e. today's gospel reading): "No one should be called teacher or father except God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the Father, because all things are from him. He alone is the teacher, because through him are made all things and through him all things are reconciled to God. But one might ask, 'Is it against this precept when the apostle calls himself the teacher of the Gentiles? Or when, as in colloquial speech widely found in the monasteries of Egypt and Palestine, they call each other Father?' Remember this distinction. It is one thing to be a father or a teacher by nature, another to be so by generosity. For when we call a man father and reserve the honor of his age, we may thereby be failing to honor the Author of our own lives. One is rightly called a teacher only from his association with the true Teacher. I repeat: The fact that we have one God and one Son of God through nature does not prevent others from being understood as sons of God by adoption. Similarly this does not make the terms father and teacher useless or prevent others from being called father." [taken from Daily Reading and Meditation]
In other words let us not call anyone rabbi, father or teacher unless that person is a rabbi, father or teacher in nature or profession. Respect is one thing, putting people on pedestals is another. Similarly we are not to encourage others to put us on pedestals, that is to lift us (our knowledge, skills, piety, etc.) above others. After all we are called to be servants, and what servant is higher in position than his/her Master? Or his/her fellow servants? Or those he/she serves? Respect and idolization has nothing to do with authority, though. Though Jesus did not like the way the scribes and pharisees commanded the respect of their fellow Israelites, He acknowledges that they do have authority to tell others what to practice and observe. It's just that this authority should not lead to idolization (i.e. putting people on pedestals).

Memorial of Saint Rose of Lima

Let's look to Wikipedia to know more about this saint (the first Catholic saint of the Americas):

- born on April 20 1586 in the city of Lima (the capital of Peru) under the baptismal name of Isabel Flores de Oliva
- her nickname Rosa (Rose) came about because when she was a baby a servant claimed to have seen her face transform into a rose
- began to tell of visions, revelations, visitations and voices when she started her penitential practices, e.g. fasting three times a week with secret severe penances
- was determined to take a vow of virginity in opposition to her parents who wished her to marry
- helped the sick and hungry around her community by bringing them to her home and taking care of them- sold fine needlework, grew beautiful flowers to sell to help her family
- entered a Dominican convent in 1602- donned the habit and took a vow of perpetual virginity
- redoubled the severity and variety of her penances to a heroic degree- this self-martyrdom continued without relaxation until she died at the age of 31 on August 30, 1617
- beatified by Pope Clement IX in 1667 and canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X
- patroness of Lima, the Americas, the Philippines, and Sittard (in the Netherlands)- patron saint of Santa Rosa, California

Today's Bible Reading (Memorial of Saint Rose of Lima)

Below are more readings, this time for Sat 23 Aug:

Ezekiel 43: 1-7
Then the angel brought me to the gate that faced toward the east. I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east; the sound was like that of rushing water; and the earth radiated his glory. It was like the vision I saw when he came to destroy the city, and the vision I saw by the Kebar River. I threw myself face down. The glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate that faces east. Then a wind lifted me up and brought me to the inner court; I watched the glory of the Lord filling the temple. Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple, while the man was standing beside me. He said to me: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet, where I will live among the people of Israel forever.”

Matthew 23: 1-12
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”