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Monday, August 20, 2012

A Reflection on Today's Readings for the Memorial of St. Bernard

Well, this week is a big one in the Church. We have so many feasts of saints in the church this week. Today, we celebrate the memorial of St. Bernard, one of the great monastics of the Church.

link to today's daily scripture readings for Mass:

Our first reading comes from the book of Ezekiel. In this reading, God first says to Ezekiel that he will take away "the delight of your eyes, but do not mourn or weep or shed any tears." God does exactly that, and Ezekiel is instructed by God not to mourn for his loss.The people, wondering what all this means, asked Ezekiel and he says the following:
Thus the word of the LORD came to me:
Say to the house of Israel:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will now desecrate my sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride,
the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul.
The sons and daughters you left behind shall fall by the sword.
Ezekiel shall be a sign for you:
all that he did you shall do when it happens.
Thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
You shall do as I have done,
not covering your beards nor eating the customary bread.
Your turbans shall remain on your heads, your sandals on your feet.
You shall not mourn or weep,
but you shall rot away because of your sins and groan one to another.
God says that he will take what is dear to them and ruin it. At this point in time, the Israelites were in a state of exile. God gently reminds the Israelites that they are still in exile and does not allow the them to mourn because of their past sins. All this is a part of the preparation for the coming of Christ.

In our Responsorial Psalm, we have the response of "You have forgotten God who gave you birth."In this psalm, God is angry at the Israelites for forgetting him and putting idols in place of him. This psalm very well applies to today's society as well. American society has grown into a very egotistical one. In the word egotistical, we find the word "ego", which, in Latin, means "I". In other words, our society is all about "me", the individual. With all the bad things that happen in society, like, for example, abortion, the mercy-less killing of the unborn, or contraception, the (unnatural) prevention of new life from existing, we can very well say we have forgotten God and put ourselves in the place of God.

In the gospel reading, we have the familiar story of a rich young man approaching Jesus and asking what you need to inherit eternal life. In short, Jesus says that you must keep his commandments (the ten commandments). What follows is an indication that following the rules is simply not enough:
"If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me."
After this, we read that the young man went away saddened, "for he had many possessions." Now, from a literalistic point of view, we could come to the conclusion that besides following the 10 commandments God gave us, we need to sell everything we have. Some people, such as Saint Francis of Assisi, have done this, but those are the more extreme cases. The real point of this is to say that wealth is not a bad thing, but the wealth (or anything else we hold dear to ourselves) should stand in the way of following Christ and also what you do with that wealth matters. We should not hoard our wealth, but freely give from it without expectation of return to help the poor where we live.

In all of our readings, we find a theme of putting God before all else. Not doing so will result in dire consequences for us all. As I mentioned previously, a great bit of American society has turned away from God and turned to false idols instead. Because of this, we can see the horrible results of this turning away in society today. In an egotistical society, the poor and needy are the hardest hit because everyone cares only about the well-being of himself or herself, so in a way, "I" am more important than helping my brothers and sisters in need. The first step to make right is, as a society, to turn to God once again and ask for his mercy and forgiveness.Without God, a society (or even a civilization) cannot exist and bear good fruits. The sacrament of Confession is a great resource in this regard. After all, it is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles that one must "Be penitent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. That when the times of refreshment shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send him who hath been preached unto you, Jesus Christ". (Acts 3:19)

For the record, I am not a priest or deacon (yet), so I can't call this a "homily" (yet). I am just a layman, but also with the feeling that God is calling me to the priesthood. Please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and for society to turn back to God.

Comments on this and suggestions for improvement are very much welcome, as this is some "practice" for when I have to start writing real homilies. Please submit comments and suggestions in the comment box below.

I know how hard it is for some people to wake up in the morning without coffee. If you are going to drink coffee, why not drink it like a mystic monk? Some tasty Mystic Monk Coffee (use this link or click on the picture below to access the store and purchase) is what you really need when it comes to coffee. Trust me, it's good coffee (in most instances, much better than Starbucks coffee) and you won't regret buying some (just keep it away from your computer keyboard or laptop/tablet). For the summer (or what's left of it), they are also offering Iced Coffee as well. If you like tea more than coffee, they also offer tea. Using the link (or picture below) to buy the coffee (or tea) helps the monks out and helps me with college expenses as well. The coffee (or tea) also makes for great gifts as well.

Feel free to try out my apps for Windows Phone: Mobile Media Manager, a media player app I made which has some features which (I feel) are missing from the system Zune player, and BSA Eagle Tracker, an app that boy scouts can use to track their progress to Eagle Scout (when the scout handbook isn't always handy). The update for the paid version of Mobile Media Manager is out, but my last submission update for the free version in Microsoft Apphub certification failed, so release of the update to the free version will be a few days (< 7). BSA Eagle Tracker is also getting a bug fix for an obscure bug I noticed recently.

BSA Eagle Tracker download:
Mobile Media Manager (paid version) download:
Mobile Media Manager (free version) download:

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