“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
TUESDAY, AUGUST 18TH Mt. 19: 23-30 “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
- Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the story of the rich young man who went away sad because he had many possessions. We can imagine Jesus saying this as He watched the rich young man walk away.
- The disciples are greatly astonished at Jesus’ words. After all, he was a righteous young man, he had obeyed the commandments since his youth. Wasn’t that enough? They are compelled to ask, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answers, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”
- In truth, all are called to live two forms of poverty in imitation of Christ – material poverty and spiritual poverty. God gives us graces commensurate with our calling.
- Some are called to give up everything and follow Jesus as Peter and the apostles did. These are called to the evangelical life of poverty, chastity and obedience – the consecrated life of a religious priest or nun. They imitate Christ’s material and spiritual poverty in its radical totality.
- For lay people, married or single, we too are called to live Christ’s poverty. Let us start with Material Poverty. Christ said: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Lk. 9:58) St. John Chrysostom refers us to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the poor man at his doorstep that he failed to help. They both die, and the rich man finds himself in torment in Hades, while Lazarus is resting in the bosom of Abraham. (cf Lk. 16:19-31)
- Chrysostom says: “Let us learn from this man not to call the rich lucky nor the poor unfortunate. Rather, if we are to tell the truth, the rich man is not the one who has collected many possessions but the one who needs few possessions; and the poor man is not the one who has no possessions but the one who has many desires.”
- Chrysostom goes on to speak in stronger language: “To deprive is to take what belongs to another. By this we are taught that when we do not show mercy, we will be punished just like those who steal. For our money is the Lord’s however we may have gathered it. If we provide for those in need, we shall obtain great plenty. This is why God has allowed you to have more, not for you to waste on indulgences, but for you to distribute to those in need. Acting according to this pattern, one not only becomes holy but also enjoys perpetual serenity in this life.”
- Now let us look at Spiritual Poverty. The spiritual poverty of Christ – the Son of God made man – was the humility of His unfailing obedience to will of His Heavenly Father. “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (Jn. 6:38) We see this poverty in His first and best disciple – Our Blessed Mother. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” This is called poverty of the will.
- Chrysostom concludes thus: “Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God.”
Conforming Ourselves to the Will of God by St. Francis de Sales:
We must recollect that there is no vocation without its weariness, its bitterness, and its trials; and moreover each one would willingly change his condition with that of others, except in the case of those who are wholly resigned to the will of God.
Whosoever is not entirely resigned, but keeps on turning this way and that, never will find peace. When a person has a fever, he finds no place comfortable; he has not remained in one bed a quarter of an hour, before he wishes to be in another. It is not the bed which is in fault, but the fever, which torments him everywhere. And so a person who has not the fever of self-will, is contented everywhere and in all things, provided God be glorified. He cares not in what capacity God employs him, provided he can do therein His Divine will.
But this is not all. We must not only do the will of God, but to be really devout, we must do it cheerfully, nay, joyfully. If I were not a Bishop, perhaps, knowing what I now do, I might wish not to be one. But being one, not only am I obliged to do all that this difficult vocation requires, but I must do it joyfully, and make it agreeable to myself to do it. This is what St. Paul means when he says, “Let every man in the vocation in which he is called, therein abide with God.”
We cannot bear the crosses of others, but each one must bear his own; and that we may each bear our own, our Lord would that each should renounce himself; that is to say, his own will. “I wish this or that.” “I should be better here or there.” These are temptations. Our Lord knows best what is best for each one of us; let us do what He wills, and remain where He has placed us.
But you have asked me to give you a few practical rules for your guidance. Besides all I have told you above, you should do the following.
First, meditate every day, and especially on the Life and Death of our Lord, and you can make use of any book that may assist you. At the end of each always add a consideration of the obedience which our Lord exercised towards God His Father: for you will see that all He did was done in obedience to the will of God; and considering this will rouse you more earnestly to strive to learn His will yourself.
Secondly, before you do or prepare to do any of those duties of your calling which are apt to irritate you, think of the saints of old, who joyfully endured great and grievous things, each and all to do something pleasing in the sight of God. And what are we called upon to do?
Thirdly, often think that the real value of whatever we do is proportioned by the conformity to the will of God with which we do it. If in merely eating or drinking, I do it because it is the will of God that I should, I am doing what is more agreeable to Him, than if I were to do what should even cost me my life, without any such Divine intention.
Fourthly, I would advise you often during the day, beseech God that He would inspire you with a real love of your vocation, and that you should say, like St. Paul, when he was converted, “Lord, what will you have me do? Provided that I serve Thee, I care not in what capacity.” And by these means you may greatly humble yourself; and oh, what a treasure you will obtain! Far, far greater, doubtless, than you can ever estimate!
Fifthly, I would wish that you should consider how many saints have been in your position of life and vocation, and how they all accommodated themselves to it with great meekness and resignation, and let their example encourage you. We must love what God loves; and if He loves our vocation, let us love it also. For each his own cross is not too much. Gently mingle the office of Martha with that of Mary, diligently doing the duties of your calling, often recollecting yourself, and placing yourself in spirit at the foot of the Cross, and saying, “My Lord, whether I run, or whether I stand still, or whatever I do, I am Thine, and Thou art mine. Thou art my first Love, my Spouse, and all that I do, it is for Thee, whatsoever it be.”
Further, every evening examine yourself, and throughout the day constantly raise ejaculatory prayers to God. In all commit your cares, and trials, and contradictions, and whatever befalls you to God, comforting yourself in the thought that He blesses those who are holy, or those who are striving to become so. Keep your heart ready to bear every sort of cross and disappointment with resignation, for the sake of Him Who has borne so much for us: and may He fill thy heart and be thy guide through life!
Copyright 2020 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA