August 25, 2020 – 21st Week in Ordinary Time

“Buckling ourselves up to doing the things that ‘really’ matter in life and getting ‘First Things First’ in our spiritual life!”

(Based on 2 Thess 2:1-3,14-17 and Mt 23:23-26 – Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time)

One of the very commonly known humorous incident involving the fiction characters – Sherlock Holmes, the detective and Dr. Watson, his friend and assistant goes thus…

Once they decided to go on a camping trip. After dinner, they lay down for the night, and go to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes awoke and asked his friend: “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?” asked Holmes curiously.

Watson pondered for a minute and replied:
“>> Astronomically…
… it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.

… I observe that Saturn is in Leo.”
.. I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.”
… I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant.”
… I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.”

And then he continued… “What does it tell you, Holmes?”

Holmes was silent for a minute…
… and then spoke: “Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!!”

Very often we too are such…

We highlight and concentrate all the minute (and mostly unnecessary and unimportant) details…
… but we miss the most important aspects of life!

The Gospel of the day presents Jesus exhorting to become aware of such a tendency in our life…
… and to buckle ourselves up to doing the things that “really” matter in life.

The Great Master, Jesus, in the 23rd Chapter of St Matthew…
… condemns the Hypocritical and Insincere attitude of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law.

The Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law were very proud of their observance of the law.

They were very particular in making sure that even the tiny details in the Law received attention and care.

Was Jesus against this zeal and passion of the Pharisees and the Teachers in being faithful to the Law?

Was Jesus advocating some kind of moderation and restraint in practice of the Law?

Sometimes some Christians…
… take shade in this pretext and lead an unenthusiastic life of faith!
… take refuge in this excuse and live a very lukewarm life of hope!
… take solace in this explanation and go forward with a very tepid life of love!

But Certainly No!

Jesus was not against being zealous and passionate and fervent of things what matter to God!

He was the One…
… Who said to take up one’s daily cross and follow Him!
… Who demanded to love Him above all attachments of people and things!
… Who asked to value to Him and His Kingdom above all other riches and honours!

He looks for people who are willing…
… to sell their everything in acquiring the Great Pearl of Life!
… to give up their life in order to acquire it for Eternity!
… let go off their egoistic attitudes and humble oneself as a Child!

So Jesus was certainly not against the Zealousness and the Ardour of the Pharisees and Teachers to keep the law!

But Jesus was against their SELECTIVE ZEALOUSNESS.. .

He was against their PARTICULAR FERVOURS!

They loved to stress on the minute aspects of the Law…
… but neatly avoided the most basic and fundamentals!

They loved to impose the tiny portions of the Law…
… but safely bypassed the ones most needed and important!

“You strain the gnat….but swallow a camel!” (Mt 23:24)

The Camels were perhaps the biggest animal and the Gnats the smallest…
… that were known to the Jews!

They gave importance to the gift on the altar and the gold in the temple…
… but gave lesser worth to the Altar and the Temple itself! (Mt 23: 16-22)

They insisted on tithing of minor objects and things…
… but failed to accord any significance to the most needed aspects of justice, mercy and faith! (Mt 23: 23)

God has made both the little gnats and the big camels.

Likewise, He has given some “weighty” and “less-weighty” commandments.
None should be neglected!

But the person who gives all his attention to minor peripherals and externals in serving God…
… and ignores the major ones is like the man who finds both a gnat and a camel in his soup/wine!

He strains out the gnat…..but swallows the camel!!

Such a person Majors on the minors….
… and Minors on the majors!!

What are these major aspects?

What are these weightier commandments…
… JUSTICE and MERCY and FAITH! (Mt 23:23)

A Doctrine that cannot be translated into action is utterly useless!

We are no one to judge on what was the personal character of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law.

But through the words of Jesus we do know of their attitude and mentality and frame of mind…

When they encountered Jesus…
… they were busy discussing the trees, but they missed the entire forest!

They Missed Jesus!

When they encountered Jesus…
… they were busy counting the stars, but they missed the entire sky!

They Missed Jesus!

When they encountered Jesus…
… they were busy gauging drops of water, but they missed the entire ocean!

They Missed Jesus!

Have I lost my focus?

Do I be busy with tiny and unimportant external actions…
… but miss out on doing the important actions of love and mercy?

Maybe… I am missing out on Jesus!

Do I be busy with picking and plucking out my tiny imperfections and faults…
… but miss out on removing major sins and faults?

Maybe… I am missing out on Jesus!

Do I be busy engaging myself on a number of talks and retreats and books…
… but miss out on the major aspect of growing in deeper and person relation with God?

Maybe… I am missing out on Jesus!

St Paul reminds us to remain firm to the teachings that we have received and thus remain focused: “O then, Brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thess 2:15)

The words of St Rose of Lima (the patroness of gardeners, florists and all the people who are ridiculed/misunderstood for their piety!)…
… whose feast was celebrated on Aug 23, is worth reflecting: “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

… may we get “First Things First” in our spiritual life!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “When God’s Will is shown clearly to us through Divine Ordinances and Commandments…
… there is nothing further to deliberate on for we must simply do what has been ordained.

But for all other things, it is in our liberty to choose what seems good according to our preferences!”

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