Aug 16 – Memorial for St. Stephen of Hungary
When he succeeded his father as chief of a group of people, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianisation in Hungary for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. As king, Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns, one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor.
- Patron Saint Index
“Amen I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Is wealth in, and of itself, a bad thing? The gospel tells us “it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:23). But what if one is born into it? Then what happens? The life of Saint Charles Borromeo offers insight into our gospel readings. Born into Italian nobility, the young Charles was groomed in business and politics by his uncle Pope Pius IV and his parents, the Count of Arona and Countess Margherita de’ Medici. Charles understood early on, that the immense Medici family wealth was not for personal pleasure. Fortune and influence required responsible stewardship.
In his twenties, he dedicated much of his time to helping Pope Pius IV organize the Council of Trent and the Tridentine Catechism. He did all while continuing to oversee the Borromeo family’s interests in Arona. Later as Archbishop of Milan, Charles Borromeo took on the task of reforming the archdiocese, cleaning up years of abuse, indulgence and corrupt practices. This made him very unpopular with his peers, but he remained steadfast despite the opposition. His was a life dedicated to work and God’s service. It wasn’t that he eschewed his family’s influence. Borromeo simply found a way of using the providence of his birth for His good. We know he exercised the Medici pedigree when he needed to get things done, it’s the end that justified his means. Material gain in, and of itself, is not a sin. Pride, and not applying good stewardship to one’s providence, is. We need to look no farther than the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew. The servants were all given an equal measure of their master’s wealth to invest; they didn’t start from nothing; i.e., they did not necessarily begin in poverty. But the one who is finally ushered into his master’s house is the one who showed initiative, daring, responsibility and accountability.
Very often, those who are wealthy feel uneasy about their gain, as if wealth alone is reason enough to be locked out of heaven. Yes, it is hard for the rich to enter His great kingdom. But our circumstances alone do not determine our final home. God doesn’t discriminate against us because of our circumstances. We’re denied entry into the Kingdom of Heaven because we abuse the providence of His gifts, instead of using them to give glory to Him.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the humility and self-awareness to be good stewards of the gifts He bestows upon us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our parents and their dedication to giving us a good upbringing.