August 4, 2020 – 18th Week of Ordinary Time

“May, our Blessed Lord, help us in our efforts and desires… like St John Maria Vianney, “to beautify our life not just with an outer show, but with an inner glow!”

(Based on Jer 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22 and Mt 15:1-2, 10-14 – Tuesday of the 18th Week of Ordinary Time)

Here is an incident (though perhaps a silly little one) from a short film, which captures a great essence of an aspect of our society…

A college girl is giving her Viva (oral) examinations. When the professor asks her a particular question, she goes into a deep thinking-recollecting mode. The professor gives one or two clues to help the girl to help her answer it.

But she still fails to get the answer.

Seeing her desperation, the professor, also noticing a tear or two in her eyes, out of compassion, says, “Do not be too worried! Please don’t cry!”

The girl, who had come to the exam with heavy make-up, quickly composed herself and said,
“No, Sir! Don’t worry; I will not cry!

After all, I can’t allow my tears to spoil this heavy make-up that I have applied, with much difficulty and care!”

Well, this incident might sound a bit funny or slightly bent towards exaggeration…
… but it still does capture an important trend that is continuously on the rise in our societies today: A Cosmetic-Culture!

This Cosmetic-Culture is not merely to be considered in connection to cosmetics or items of

It is, in fact, an increasing trend that seeks to make inroads into every aspect of our life…
… social, political, economic, religious

Cosmetic-Culture could be described as a “tendency to project entities/things with external beauty and with a greater visual appeal, without necessarily ensuring the actual quality from within!”

The presence of Cosmetic-Culture can be seen in various strands of our living…
Socially (in communities, families, nations, etc.), there is a lot of discrimination based on colour, language, caste etc…
…but the “cosmetic-culture” presents the society in such a way, that everything seems to be fine and all are living in unity and happiness!

Politically, there is a great deal of hidden agenda, back-biting and differences in ideologies among the political parties or groups…
… but the “cosmetic-culture” covers-up the ‘evil intents’, causing many of such “opposing” parties to join hands and to be seen as being united, for their selfish interests!

Economically, there are enormous cases of poverty on the rise, in different parts of the world and people missing out on even the essentials etc…
… but the “cosmetic-culture” puts a mask on all such “stark realities” and gives an impression as if there is only growth, development and prosperity!

The Gospel of the Day presents Jesus sharply lashing out at the “Cosmetic-Culture” existing in our religious practices, with a clarion call to do away with such “hypocritical and Pharisaic” trends and tendencies!

Jesus emphasized all His Teachings on the Intention and Purposes of the Heart

The education of the heart, was indeed, the heart of His Education!

And thus He would emphatically declare today: “Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Mt 15:10-11)

The Lord wanted the people to become aware that the “hypocritical and Pharisaic” tendency of only externally observing the laws and rules were not pleasing in the eyes of God…
… a true and honest inner disposition was prime!

Jesus declared that if a person is “internally blind and in darkness,” one could never lead
another ignorant person

“Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Mt 15:14)

The Pharisees had probably mastered the art of being “Cosmetically-Cultured” – projecting themselves with external beauty and with a greater visual appeal but without ensuring the actual quality from within!

This then is the danger to which we are exposed to…
… Is my spiritual and religious life also “Cosmetically-Cultured?”

I may be known to be exemplary in my prayers and a role-model in my strict following of
Christian practices…
… but is it just a “cosmetic” to hide my inner vices and to cover-up my sinful tendencies?

I may be appearing to be a very a charitable person in extending a lot of material help in many causes…
… but is it just a “cosmetic” to conceal my hidden agenda or a means to boost my ego and inflate my pride?

I may be considered as a very social person – always jovial, cracking “many” jokes and being a “happening” person…
… but is it just a “cosmetic” to mask my inner-wounds and pains, to veil my own complexes or to trigger opportunities to gratify some of my desires?

Our generation is gravely exposed to this “Cosmetic-Culture” and perhaps many of us, knowingly or unknowingly, become proponents of the same. A generation which focusses only on the peripherals of life and fails to consider the core and inner dimensions is bound to doom!

A quotation by a modern-day American politician goes thus:
“If you look at great human civilizations, from the Roman Empire to the Soviet Union…
… you will see that most do not fail simply due to external threats…
… but because of internal weakness, corruption, or a failure to manifest the values and ideals they espouse!”

It requires the power, grace and strength in the Lord to become counter-witnesses to this “Cosmetic-Culture.” As Christians, our beauty in life ought to spring forth from an integrated life of faith!

The deeper that one is united with Christ…
… the lesser will be the dependence on “external shows” and greater will be the harmony and attractiveness of one’s life!

The stronger that one is in the faith in the Lord…
… the lesser will be the wanting to be “flashy on the outside” and greater will be the level of true charm and pleasantness!

Today we celebrate the Feast of St John Maria Vianney, the patron saint of all the priests!

As a young son, he had to face resistence from his father, who was opposed to his being a priest, due to financial difficulties as well as the strained political climate of his time

As a young seminarian, he had to face hardships in the seminary, due to his difficulties in studies
As a young priest, he had to face isolation from the parish at Ars, where he was first appointed, due to the indifference and the secular lifestyle of the people in the village.

But despite this harsh experience of “indifference and hostility to the Truth”…
… he held on to “Doing the Will of God, and be His faithful follower!”

St John Maria Vianney placed His entire trust in the Power of God

Today let us seek the Intercession of St John Maria Vianney…
… to remain “faithful and firm”

May his words inspire us:

“You cannot please both God and the world at the same time; they are utterly opposed to each other in their thoughts, their desires, and their actions.”
“I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures.”
“Prayer is the inner bath of love, into which the soul plunges itself.”

Let us also pray especially for Priests all over the world, that their Patron Saint – St John Maria Vianney – may intercede, to help all priests…
… to be more holy and faithful to their Noble Vocation!
… to be more zealous in administering the Sacraments and giving His Word!
… to be more passionate in Loving the Lord and bringing many more to His Love!

May, our Blessed Lord, help us in our efforts and desires… like St John Maria Vianney…
… “to beautify our life not just with an outer show, but with an inner glow!”

Happy Feast to all the Priests!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Never cast down your eyes without humbling your heart…

… and do not pretend to wish to be last and least, unless you really and sincerely mean it!”

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