“Using all the opportunities given by the Lord to grow in holiness and grace!”
(Based on Phil 2:5-11 and Lk 14:15-24)
Portraits, pictures or statues of people, in general, depict and reveal their character and personality.
Usually, if people are asked to have…
… a photograph taken
… or a picture drawn
… or a statue created
They would prefer posing with some expensive artefacts/costly goods.
What if there is a person in history who preferred instead to pose with a broom!
And has most of his images/statues holding a broom…
… along with also a cat and dog around him!
So much is his association with the “broom” that he is called as the “Saint of the broom!”
This person is St Martin de Porres.
Born in Lima, Peru, in the 16th century, this saint – being of a mixed race and cast lower as belonging to an inferior social caste – was able to raise his life with the Great Virtue of Humility!
So much was his zeal to dedicate his life for the Lord, that he would willingly accept to be a “donado” – a volunteer who performed menial tasks in the monastery – in return for the privilege of wearing the religious habit in the community.
He devoted his life to penance, charity and humility…
… spending nights in prayer and penitential practices
… dedicated days in nursing for the sick and caring for the poor – regardless of their colour, race, or status
… and reflecting extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bi-location, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and a remarkable rapport with animals!
This Saint – St Martin de Porres – whose feast we celebrate today, beautifully teaches us by his life example that “every opportunity in life provided by the Lord – small or big, great or insignificant – are to be accorded highest importance…
… and making excuses to avoid those opportunities can lead to disaster and calamity!”
We are strongly warned that “excuses are the nails that are used to build the house of failure!”
The Gospel of the Day brings our attention to this grave and urgent issue that we need to tackle: The Issue of making Excuses for Escapism…
… and asking us to reflect: “Are we becoming a Generation of Excuse-givers?”
We have the Parable of the Great Wedding Feast in today’s Gospel.
“A man once gave a great feast and invited many guests” (Lk 14:16)
Here was a big and great feast being organized and invitations were sent out to many guests.
This was no simple feast.
This was no ordinary event.
It’s similar to someone today, being invited to a lavish and a grand party by the President of the Nation or some highly dignified person.
It was kind of a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity.
The people waited with eagerness to get such a chance.
In those days, it was the custom to send two invitations.
The first invitation was to tell everyone that the event was being planned.
Those were the days when time was a lavish commodity. Clocks were scarce and time management techniques were still unheard of.
The actual day and the actual time of the event were left open.
It would depend a lot on the preparation time for the killing of animals, their cleaning and cooking…
… getting all the vegetables and everything needed to get the meal ready.
And so there was a need for a second invitation…
The second invitation was to tell everyone that everything was ready and about to begin.
This second reminder was for to those who had been given the first invitation and had indicated that they would attend.
But the Gospel says, that when the second invitation was sent to the pre-invited guests, they began to make excuses!
Making excuses is nothing new!
It has existed right from the first days…
Adam and Eve made excuses before God in trying to hide the sin of disobedience.
Cain made excuses before God in trying to hide the sin of killing his brother Abel.
Moses gave excuses before God in trying to escape from the task being entrusted to him.
Jeremiah gave excuses before God that he was only a small boy to take up the responsibility
Those who were able to overcome the excuses, found true meaning and joy.
But those who got stuck with their excuses, lost out on discovering greatness!
The guests who had been invited for the grand feast, gave silly excuses….
One said, “I have purchased a field and must go and examine it”
Silly excuse, isn’t it?
Does anyone enter into land dealings without having seen it in prior?
And even if one has not, was it so urgent, so as to miss the grand feast?
Another said, “I have purchased five oxen and am on my way to evaluate them”
Silly excuse, isn’t it?
Does anyone purchase land animals, without having examined them?
And even if one has not, was it so immediate a need, so as to skip the great feast?
Another said, “I have just married a woman, and I cannot come”
Silly excuse, isn’t it?
Couldn’t the husband take along his wife to the feast, to have a joyful time together?
Or was this couple so much exclusive, that they failed to have any social contacts, so as to avoid the fine feast?
Here was an invitation so grand.
Here was a generosity so lavish.
Here was a preparation so extensive.
But unfortunately, it was responded with excuses which were baseless, childish, illogical and quite ridiculous!
We might sometimes laugh at those excuses made by the people.
But perhaps, we are also no different…
… or if not, worse.
We are in a trend of being a Generation of Excuse-givers….
We make excuses of physical tiredness, to avoid saying our personal prayers, our family prayers and being faithful to our spiritual activities.
We make excuses of saying that “it’s impossible to live an honest life” and give into many corrupt malpractices, which go against the Gospel values.
We make excuses of being too busy to find time to participate in the Holy Eucharist with greater devotion and preparedness.
We make excuses to reach out to the needy ones in their necessities by citing our own hardships to get out of our comfort areas.
We have a strong exhortation from the Lord today, to get rid of our “Excuse-giving Tendency”.
It’s easy to escape from responsibilities by giving excuses.
But by doing so, we end up missing out on many graces from God…
… causing much pain to God who expects much from us…
… and also disturb the plan and purpose of God for our lives.
We have a duty to overcome this tendency of making Excuses for Escapism.
The Lord gives us many opportunities to grow in holiness and grace.
Let us not make silly and baseless excuses and throw them away.
Through the example of the Saint of the Day – St Martin de Porres – who chose to use every opportunity in life, let us also be inspired, and not miss out…
… opportunities for selfless service and altruistic assistance!
… opportunities to practise humility and lowering oneself in self-effacement!
… opportunities for of being ready to accept our weaknesses and depend totally on the Lord and His Power!
Let the exhorting words of the St Paul be deeply ingrained in us: “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:5)
May the life and example of St Martin de Porres be an inspiration to all of us…
… and may his words, spur us on
“Compassion is preferable to cleanliness: with a little bit of soap I can clean my bed…
… but think of the flood of tears I would require to clean from my soul the stain that harshness against this unfortunate would leave!”
“Everything – even sweeping, scraping vegetables, weeding a garden and waiting on the sick, could be a prayer – if it were offered to God!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “There are no galley-slaves in the royal vessel of Divine Love…