Monday, 25 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Today's gospel reading tells the religious leaders of Jesus' time that they are not only ineffective, but with their laws and customs actually leading people into sin. No wonder they wanted to kill Jesus! These people have spent years learning and practicing their religion and here comes this young upstart that they are and had been 100% wrong, even sinful. Their reaction to this news could have been to listen to Jesus' rebuke, considered their actions, and changed what was wrong. But since they were all too human, they didn't do that. Think about it. What group of people in the history of mankind, especially one set in their ways and thinking themselves better than everyone else because of the group they belong to, ever listened to outsiders who tell them they are wrong?

Why did the Pharisees and scribes go so far from the ways of God? IMHO, it's because of fear. They looked at the Old Testament with all its rules and demands and punishments and such and concluded the only way for people to survive was to follow everything to the letter. The parts about God's love were ignored. In other words, they were far more afraid of losing salvation than winning life through God's forgiveness. They feared death more than they loved God. In fact, they feared death so much that, faced with unbending Law on one hand and sinful desires on the other, they came up with loopholes in the Law so they can follow their natural inclination to sin and yet not be condemned. And why not? They were not worshiping a living Person who can see all they do but a set of dead rules which cannot protest at being raped! In fact they were having such a good time having their way with the Law that they forgot to ask the Person who gave them the Law whether He agreed with what they did. And when this Person appeared in the form of Jesus to tell them that no, He did not, their fear of death surfaced. So instead of asking for forgiveness they struck back like creatures whose survival are endangered.

The question we need to ask ourselves is that do we fear death more than we love God? If someone were to come up and tell us off, do we immediately try to shut him up so our fear of death stay submerged? Or do we listen to that someone and ask God what to do next? If we love God we must depend on him for our every decision. Let us walk forth with God at our side.

Memorial of Saint Louis IX of France and Saint Joseph Calasanctius

So who are these saints? Let's look to Wikipedia:

- Saint Louis IX is the only canonized King of France - often considered the model of the ideal Christian monarch
- born on 25 April 1214 at Poissy (near Paris)
- crowned king at age of 12 when his father died on November 8 1226 - his mother ruled France as regent during his minority
- died at Tunis on August 25 1270, canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297
- exemplary religious deeds:
  • built the Sainte-Chapelle ("Holy Chapel") as a shrine for the Crown of Thorns and a fragment of the True Cross, precious relics of the Passion of Jesus
  • conducted two crusades, in 1248 (Seventh Crusade) and then again in 1270 (Eighth Crusade), both were complete disasters
  • expanded the scope of the Inquisition in France, especially against the Cathar heresy

- Saint Joseph Calasanctius, a.k.a Joseph Calasanz, José de Calasanz, and Josephus a Matre Dei, was the founder of the Pious Schools and the Order of the Piarists
- born in Peralta de la Sal, Aragon, on September 11, 1557
- ordained priest on 17 December 1583 after recovering from a serious sickness
- began his ministry in the Diocese of AlbarracĂ­n, where Bishop dela Figuera appointed him his theologian and confessor, synodal examiner and procurator
- joined the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in Rome - gathered the boys from the streets and brought them to school- in November 1597, opened the first free public school in Europe (a radical break from the class privileges involving education that kept the masses marginalized and in poverty) - opened “Pious Schools” in the center of Rome in 1600
- rented a house at Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1602, commenced a community life with his assistants, and laid the foundation of the Order of the Pious Schools or Piarists
- in 1610 wrote the Document Princeps in which the fundamental principles of his educational philosophy were set out - the text was accompanied by regulations for teachers and for students
- the Congregation of the Pious Schools (the first religious institute dedicated essentially to teaching) was made a religious order with all the privileges of the mendicant orders on 18 November 1621 by a Brief of Gregory XV under the name of Ordo Clericorum regularium pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum
- was a friend of Galileo Galilei- shared and defended Galileo's controversial view of the cosmos
- factors including opposition to the Piarist education of the poor by many among the governing classes in society and in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, internal struggles within the order, and the Piarists' espousal of Galileo's heliocentrism, led to Calasanctius' removal from office
- died on August 25 1648 and buried in the church of San Pantaleo- 8 years later Pope Alexander VII cleared the name of the Pious Schools
- beatified in 1748, canonized on 16 July 1767, and declared Universal Patron of all Christian popular schools in the world on August 13th 1948

Bible Readings for Today (25 Aug, Mon - 21st Week)

2 Thessalonians 1: 1-5, 11-12
From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater. As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you are enduring. This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering.
And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 23: 13-22
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven! For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in. Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves! Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing. But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’ Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing. But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’ You are blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it.”