19 August, Wednesday — Thou Shall Not Envy

Aug 19 – Memorial for St. John Eudes, priest, religious founder

St. John Eudes (1601-1680) established seminaries, and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary Eudists to promote virtuous secular parochial clergy not bound by vows, but dedicated to improving the clergy through seminaries and missions. He also founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, who worked for the welfare of penitent women. He was the author of the liturgical devotion of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

– Patron Saint Index

Mt 20:1-16

Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” 

In today’s gospel, it is obvious that Jesus is trying to tell us that he is fair, and loves us all equally. But to us, God appears to give special favours to some more than others. I don’t know about you, but I used to be envious of those who are endowed with the ‘super powers’ of knowledge, wisdom, healing or even the ability to interpret tongues.    

When I attended my Conversion Experience Retreat in 2015, I learnt that we could pray and ask the Lord for spiritual gifts (or charisms) like speaking in tongues, healing, etc. I was nervous, excited and eager all at once. But I wondered what gift should I ask for? The first time I asked for the gift of tongues, I tried to roll my tongue but nothing came. Following my Prayer Experience Retreat in 2016, I recall that special moment when I received the gift — my tongue started to roll and weird gibberish came out of my mouth; concurrently, I felt a warmth (of the Holy Spirit) enveloping my neck. But I got greedy. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had also desired to be a healer, thinking I could go out there to help and heal people in need. This is what happens after one has been touched by Jesus. I was all out to save the world.    

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is said that ‘Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.’ [799] and “Within the communion of the church, the Holy Spirit ‘distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank’ for the building up of the Church. [951] Now, ‘to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.’ [482-3]”

Charisms, gifts or graces, are special favours that God grants to whomever He chooses. I have since ditched that desire to be a healer because I now know that He has given me a better gift – the charism of writing — one that’s just right for me. After all, He has been preparing me for this vocation for the last 30 odd years when I first fell in love with literature and writing, and then to carve a career in journalism. I have since moved on to a different kind of writing – one where I share about my faith journey through daily scriptural reflections, to hopefully inspire and, indirectly, bring people closer to God. When I see how each of us are given gifts to be used for God’s glorification and for the greater good of his church, how can I still compare and say that he is not generous or favours others more than me?   

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, may we trust that everything you have given us is for our good and the good of the Church, and we never need to compare or be envious of anyone. Allow us to be your instruments to bring more people to love you as you love us.    

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord Jesus, for your mercy, love and for showering us with many blessings and graces.


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