5 July, Monday — On Action

Jul 5 – Memorial for St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, Priest

St. Anthony (1502-1539) studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor in Cremona, he felt called to the religious life. He was ordained at age 26; legend says that angels were seen around the altar at his first Mass. St. Anthony established two congregations that helped reform the morals of the faithful, encouraged laymen to work together with the apostolate, and frequent reception of Communion.

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Gen 28:10-22
Mt 9:18-26

“I will give to you and your descendants the land on which you are lying,”

In the Hebrew Bible, the Red Sea did not automatically part when struck by the staff of Moses. According to Hebrew scripture, one man, Nahshon, brother-in-law of Aaron, entered the water and waded in until he was almost completely submerged. Only then, did the sea split to reveal dry land. The Hebrews had to put skin in the game in order to receive God’s blessing. Similarly in today’s first reading, Jacob experiences a visitation from God. He is told that the land on which he is lying will be his, if he sets forth to claim it. God promises Jacob that He will give Jacob His protection. Jacob is to be the vessel from which “all the nations of the earth shall find blessing”. But Jacob had to do his part first, and set forth on this journey, in order to realize this destiny.

Faith is an action word. Just saying “I have faith” is not enough to actualize it. Faith is always accompanied by action – the woman suffering from haemorrhages who braves the crowds to sneak up behind Jesus, so she can touch his cloak; Jairus, who escorts God to his daughter’s deathbed in order that she might be resurrected; Jacob, who despite being a fugitive, sets aside his fear and self-loathing to actualize God’s will. All had to set aside their reservations, their fear, their self-doubt before God’s blessing could pour through them and change their lives. There is an old Chinese saying, that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Perhaps it is that way with faith too. Professing it alone is not enough; we have to put our money where our mouth is, to make that move, to marry our words with action for it to count.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:22-25).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We ask for faith, but also for the courage, to take the step to be not just hearers but doers of His Word. May God give us the strength to act on our faith, so that His blessings can be actualized in our lives.  

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who guides us in our comings and goings, who shows us the paths and then leads us down them.

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