There is an incident in the life of Queen Victoria.
As a queen, she enjoyed many luxuries and comforts.
>> She too, however, had to go through many family problems, especially, concerns as a grandmother.
One of her grandsons was highly reckless in the usage and spending of money.
Once, as his birthday was approaching, the grandson wrote to his grandmother, Queen Victoria, reminding her of his approaching birthday.
>> He cleverly suggested that “money would be the best and the most acceptable birthday gift”.
In reply, the Queen Grandmother wrote back a “letter of advice”- in her own hand – sternly reproving the young boy for his life of extravagance and urging him on the practice of economy.
However, the young boy’s reply to this letter, staggered her:
“Dear Grandma,” said the letter, “thank you for your kind letter of advice.
>> I have just sold the same letter for five pounds!”
The young grandson spared no efforts to even “auction and sell” the prized ‘letter of advice’ of the Queen, and got for himself some extra money!!
The young fellow wasted away every chance that was offered to him, to live a good life.
>> Instead, the privileges that were offered to him were converted to opportunities for indulging in more and more occasions of sin!
The Gospel of the day presents Jesus condemning such an “unrepentant” and “arrogant” attitude of some cities, in amending their ways and in turning back to the Lord.
Jesus raises a cry of sigh, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done to you, had been in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long back” (Mt 11:21)
“And you, Capernaum! Will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Mt 11: 23)
These three towns – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum – had a unique common feature.
>> These three were called as the “Orthodox Triangle”.
These towns consisted of “traditional” Jews – Jews who took the Law of Moses very seriously!
• They had a benefit of a “faith that was traditional and deep-rooted”
These towns also consisted of “privileged” people – people who had the great privilege of being witnesses to many miracles, events, preaching and deeds of the Lord Jesus.
• They had the privilege of a “faith that was encouraged and boosted by the wonderful deeds of Jesus”
In spite of these great opportunities and advantages that were offered to them, the people in these towns “failed” to live a life of repentance!
>> And this is what the Lord condemns them for…
They had the benefit of a traditional faith…
… but it did not move their lives to be lived in holiness!
They had the privilege of a faith that was nourished and encouraged…
… but it did not make them to purge their lives of sin and seek to live worthily in the presence of God!
The people of these towns wasted away every chance that was offered to them, to live a good life.
>> Instead, the privileges that were offered to them were converted to occasions for indulging in more and more opportunities for sin!
Is my life also resembling these three towns?
>> I may be a “traditional” Christian…
… having ‘inherited’ my faith in the Lord from my family and my background
… having heard and even practising many acts of faith and devotion
>> I may also be an “encouraged” Christian…
… having got many opportunities to hear and witness the powerful works of the Lord through many talks, retreats, miracles, sacraments etc
… having the privilege of constantly encountering the living presence of the Lord in the lives of many people.
But do these factors get “personalized” and make me “to live a life of holiness and repentance”?
• I may boast that I am a Christian by birth
• I may claim that I am doing many great works in the ministry of the Lord
• I may assert that I have experienced many miraculous Divine interventions in life
>> But do all these make me to “repent” of my sins and help me seek to “live a life of sanctity”?
The message of the Gospel is clear: “Repent, and believe, in the Lord!”
The faith-inputs that I receive, ought to, first and foremost, cause a transformation in my life – seeking God’s Will at all times and remaining firm to avoid any occasions of sin.
The Lord through today’s Gospel is a writing a “letter of advice to us” – to examine our lives and to make the necessary changes, in order to live a holier life.
>> Are we going to take serious heed to this “letter of advice” and make suitable changes?
… or are we going to “auction and sell off” this “letter of advice” and nullify the loving message of the Gospel?
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock.
The Scapular (from Latin scapulae, “shoulders”) – is both a sign of our belonging to Mary and pledge of her maternal protection in this life and the next.
It is also a sign of couple of elements:
1. A consecration to and trust in Mary
2. A declaration to imitate Our Lady’s virtues, especially Her humility, chastity, and prayerfulness.
The scapular is not…
… a magical charm to protect someone.
… an automatic guarantee of salvation.
… an excuse for not living up to the demands of the Christian life
It is instead, a sign…
… to follow Jesus like Mary
… to be open to God and to His Will.
… to be guided by Faith, Hope and Love.
… to pray at all times
… to discover and be aware of the Presence of God in all that happens around us.
As St. John of the Cross says:
“He who loves, is not ashamed before men of what he does for God…
… neither does he hide it through shame, though the whole world should condemn it.”
Let us seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother of Mt Carmel, in our struggles and hardships of life…
… and may the Sacramental of the Scapular be a sign for us to publicly declare our Love for Christ and our Readiness to “take up the Cross!”
May we hold Mamma’s Hands…
… as She Inspires, Helps, Challenges and Intercedes for us!
Happy Feast of our Blessed Mother of Carmel!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Our Lord established three unions in the sacred Virgin Our Lady…
>> The first is that of the Divine Nature with the human nature in her sacred womb, which is so elevated a mystery.
>> The second union which He effected in Our Lady was that of maternity with virginity, a union which is absolutely outside the course of nature, for it unites two things which it is impossible to find together in nature.
>> The third union is that of a very exalted charity and a very profound humility.