Dec 14 – Memorial for St. John of the Cross, priest, religious, doctor of the Church
St. John (1675–1726) was born in poverty. He cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina. He became a lay Carmelite brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived stricter than their Rule. He studied at Salamanca. He was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25.
He was persuaded by St. Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced (or barefoot) reform within the Carmelite Order, and took on the name John of the Cross. He was a master of novices, and spiritual director and confessor at St. Teresa’s convent. His reforms did not sit well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina. He refused and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, and escaped after nine months.
He was vicar-general of Andalusia. His reforms revitalized the Order. He was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. On Aug 24, 1926, he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI.
- Patron Saint Index
Zep 3: 1-2, 9-13
Mt 21: 28-32
I will not…
Those who know me well, know that I call a spade a spade. I am direct and will not beat around the bush. This doesn’t sit well with people, especially in the corporate world. Some call it not being tactful or having no EQ. While it used to bother me enough (when I was much younger) to conform to other’s expectations of me, today in my ‘ripe old age’, quite frankly I couldn’t give a toss. I’d rather be real and authentic. If I disagree with something, I will tell you my point of view with a list of reasons why. In the same vein, when I agree with a point of view, I will also let you know, along with the reasons why.
As I read today’s parable of the two sons, I immediately thought of myself as the son who said, “I will not!” I can identify with him. He is probably seen as the stubborn, argumentative and hot-tempered one (while doing all the work at the vineyard). But, a son with a soft heart. He will always do his father’s will, despite muttering under his breath how unfair it is. On the other hand, the other brother is the more likeable, agreeable son but unreliable.
A priest once told me, “Your ‘yes’ will come with even more ‘yes’-es.” This is especially true in our spiritual life. Our ‘yes’ to God will come with even more ‘yes’-es as we grow. To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). When I first encountered Jesus some ten years ago, I saw myself change in ways beyond my own imagination. My heart was so full of His love, I wanted nothing more than to also share this love with others. That led me to 9 years in ministry and many of those years were extremely rewarding and meaningful. My ‘yes’ to the Lord opened up many other avenues in which I was asked to serve either in ministry or at the parish. Soon it became all too much. And my ‘yes’ became half-hearted ‘yes’-es; and I began to say ‘No’.
So over a period of a decade, I was kind of like both sons, including the variants in between:
- I said ‘yes’ and was happy to do what I was asked;
- I said ‘yes’ but didn’t do what was asked or did it half-heartedly;
- I said ‘no’ and walked away from what was asked;
- I said ‘no’ but proceeded to do what was asked out of obligation or because I ‘thought better of it’
The point I am making is, it’s one thing to speak about what we intend on doing with our faith, but it’s another thing to actually follow God’s call, to act. I realise that when I was actively following what God asked of me, I was happy because He filled and graced me with love, desire and strength. But when I followed what man asked of me, even in the guise of church ministry, I soon lost steam. I shared yesterday that even at the best of times, even the best leaders can place their needs and desires above what’s best for others. That is human. But that isn’t God. He holds the blueprint of our lives. He knows when and where to we should go or what we should do. Our spiritual lives are not static. It moves and flows.
So in summary, open our hearts to hear Him. Open our eyes to see Him in every area of our lives and where He is leading us and asking of us. When we focus solely on Him, we can then have the strength, love and be resolute to firmly say ‘Yes, Lord!’
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, teach me to grow in faith and to become closer to You. Help me to be aware of your presence and to hear Your voice. Speak clearly and loudly to me, Lord. I want to learn more about You, through you learning more about myself and how I can lead a more purposeful life in Christ and help those around me.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for choosing me despite all my faults. Thank you for helping me see the daughter that Our Father created me to be. Thank you for all my gifts and talents and Your abundant blessings. May I once again say ‘Yes!’ to what you are calling me to.
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