Aug 12 – Memorial for St. Jane Frances de Chantal
St. Jane married Baron de Chantal. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and brought back prosperity. During her husband’s absence at the court, or with the army, when reproached for her extremely sober manner of dressing, her reply was: “The eyes which I must please are a hundred miles from here.” She found, more than once, that God blessed with miracles the care she gave the suffering members of Christ. Baron de Chantal was accidentally killed by a harquebus while out shooting. Left a widow at 28, with four children, the broken-hearted baroness took a vow of chastity.
She founded the Congregation of the Visitation, whose aim was to receive, with a view to their spiritual advancement, young girls and even widows who had not the desire or strength to subject themselves to the austere ascetical practices in force in all the religious orders at that time. The remainder of the saint’s life was spent under the protection of the cloister in the practice of the most admirable virtues. It was firmness and great vigour which prevailed in St. Jane Frances; she did not like to see her daughters giving way to human weakness. Her trials were continuous and borne bravely, and yet she was exceedingly sensitive.
“Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.”
Today we read of a God who loves us, protects us and has a plan for our lives.
As in the first reading, we read of how God is aware of the path that we have to take, the challenges we need to face in life. It is always easy to say why not remove those challenges, but instead, God helps us to overcome them, just as how the priests, the ark of the covenant and all of Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
Brothers and sisters, if we reflect deeper, I believe there have been countless challenges in our lives that we have faced, but also countless ones that we have overcome to get to where we are today, and possibly countless ones ahead. In the Gospel today, we read of how one who was able to overcome his challenges because of the generosity of another couldn’t share that same generosity. Before we can really forgive, we first need to be aware of ourselves and our lives, to be grateful for what God has done and is doing for us. We need to recognise his ever-present hand guiding us and leading us to overcome our challenges.
Sometimes, what is really preventing us from forgiving, or being as Christ would, is the notion that, “I have worked hard and did this by my own will, by my own strength. My countless sacrifices and determination has brought me here.”, “This is what I deserve.” and hence “you don’t deserve my help/support when you haven’t done your part or when you haven’t done enough.” We begin to attribute our successes, possessions and lifestyle to ourselves…and God suddenly disappears.
This scenario can also be applied to our Gospel today, where after receiving the generosity from another, we fail to share.
Forgiving seventy-seven times here signifies that there should be no limits to forgiveness. While God tries to ask us to continue to forgive those who may have ill-treated us, not understand or who may not forgive us, God also wants to share that He will continue to forgive us. Forgiveness is not just something we all have to do because God says so, but forgiveness comes from a place of love, because we desire the good for the other.
And so, as we carry on with our lives, may we hold the number seventy-seven close to our hearts. To be aware of the countless blessings we receive daily, to know that there is no limit to God’s forgiveness because of His love for us. Maybe then, we can find strength and comfort to do the same for others, for all. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we all want to be recognised for our efforts and sacrifices, we want to be rewarded and affirmed. Help us to know that you, even more than ourselves, desire those for us too. May we be able to recognise all the fruits of our labour, not just in monetary terms or through fame, but through the number of lives we have touched, the small differences we make. Sometimes we may also not be able to see the fruits; but help us to recognise the good that we are doing by living out your Word and the Gospel. Help us to be beacons of light in a world darkened by sin. Help us to hold on to your truth and all that’s everlasting. Help us to love and forgive, as you have done for us countlessly. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your generosity towards us, for protecting us, for always desiring the best for us. Thank you for forgiving us. Thank you for your unconditional love. Amen.