11 July, Monday — The right way to live

Jul 11 – Memorial for St. Benedict, abbot, religious founder

Born to Roman nobility, Benedict (c. 480–547) was the twin brother of St. Scholastica. He studied in Rome, Italy, but was dismayed at the lack of discipline and lackadasical attitude of his fellow students. He fled to the mountains near Subiaco, living as a hermit in a cave for three years. He was reported to have been fed by a raven.

The virtues that St. Benedict (480-547) demonstrated as a hermit prompted an abbey to request that he lead them. His discipline was such that an attempt was made on his life; some monks tried to poison him, but he blessed the cup and rendered it harmless. He destroyed pagan statues and altars, and drove demons from groves sacred to pagans.

At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule that he wrote, which can be summed up as “Pray and work”.

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Isa 1:10-17
Mt 10:34-11:1

“Bring me your worthless offerings no more…”

I found both readings of today interesting. In the Gospel, Jesus talks about bringing discord to families, while the first reading talks about choosing to do the right thing, versus the culture of underlings ‘sucking up’ to those above them in order to gain some sort of benefit.

I remember being puzzled the first time I read today’s gospel text. I was wondering why Jesus would want us to purposely start fights with our families. Ironically, the realization of what He really meant came to me as I indulged in my favourite pastime of watching ‘K’ (or Korean) dramas.

A common theme in such dramas is the ‘chaebols’, which are large family-owned business conglomerates. Very often, these chaebols harbour some dark, unseen secrets and these are fiercely guarded, out of fear of losing money, power and prestige. Ever so often, there would be a ‘black sheep’ do-gooder arising out of such families. The K dramas very often follow the path showing how the do-gooder disrupts the family business, while the wrong-doers are often brought to justice.

In life, many of us are forced to toe the line and ‘cover-up’ the less savoury bits of our lives or work, given the potentially (high) costs if these deeds are revealed publicly. In fact, I was having a chat with a friend of such a culture in society, and at work. We talked about how it is unfortunate that often, those who choose to be subservient tend to get ahead of those who choose to stand by their values. 

When we subsequently die, we do not actually cease to exist. Instead, we move on to another phase of our lives. Essentially, the choices we have made during our time on earth determine what this subsequent life looks like. If we do not choose to lead faith-driven lives with Christian values, then our afterlives WILL be adversely affected.

In light of this, Jesus came to teach us to make the right choices. Let us take our eyes off the short-term benefits of making the wrong choices. Let us be unafraid to stand up for what is right, for our faith, and ultimately, for God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will be open to Your Spirit, Father, to know what are the right things to do. Help us to be unafraid of standing up for what is right.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord Jesus, for teaching us to be brave; for setting and showing us the reality of what living a value-led life means.

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