Wednesday, 27 August 2008

My Thoughts on the Bible Readings for Today

In today's gospel readings Jesus talked about tombs. In Palestine tombs were often placed by the sides of roads. They were painted white which made them glisten in the midday sun, especially around the time of the great feasts, so that people would not accidentally touch them and incur ritual impurity. Jesus compared the scribes and Pharisees of His day to tombs- beautiful to look at, but filled with emptiness and death. They were intensely, scrupulously and meticulously religious in their lives, but their desires and practices did not help others to grow spiritually and to be happy. Thus their religiosity is worse than useless- their rules and behaviors actually led their people far away from God.

It's easy to say that if one had lived in the past one would not repeat the mistakes of one's ancestors. But how can one know that? How can one know the pressures (time, peer, etc.), the blindness of vision, the narrowness of mind, etc. that one's ancestors suffer from that cause them to behave wrongly in the first place? Can one honestly say that under the same things one would not err? Thus we should not judge our ancestors. We should only learn both from their mistakes and their righteous deeds. Besides, putting oneself over others is a sign of pride, and pride is NEVER right in the eyes of God. Being happy that one has certain gifts, life circumstances, etc. is one thing. Believing that these make one better, luckier, etc. than anyone else is another. So let us give back everything we received from God (and that really is EVERYTHING) by serving Him and others with love.

Memorial of Saint Monica of Hippo

Here's something I found on this saint of today (taken from Wikipedia):

- born at Tagaste (located in modern-day Algeria) in 332 A.D.
- though brought up as a Christian, she was married off to an older, pagan man named Patricius who was given to violent tempers and adultery- eventually she converted him to Christianity and calmed his violent nature
- bore three children, among them Saint Augustine- joined him in Italy when Patricius died
- died in 387 A.D. at the port of Ostia
- her saying to women who had bad marriages: "If you can master your tongue, not only do you run less risk of being beaten, but perhaps you may even, one day, make your husband better."
- her last words to her son Augustine: There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made his servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?"

Bible Readings for Today (27 Aug, Wed - 21st Week)

2 Thessalonians 3: 6-10, 16-18
But we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life and not according to the tradition they received from us. For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you, and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this command: “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.”
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, which is how I write in every letter. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Matthew 23: 27-32
Jesus said, “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up then the measure of your ancestors! You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”