July 22, 2006
Saint Mary Magdalene
Matthew 12: 14-21
But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you; I know that you are present here and everywhere and are always looking out for me and guiding me. I trust and hope in you, because I know you will never lead me astray, if only I listen to you and obey you. I love you for being so good and patient with me, and I desire to live each day more faithful to you.
Petition: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours!
1. Dealing with Opposition More and more, as Jesus’ public life progressed, he faced opposition from people who felt that their power, prestige, or personal plans and ideals were threatened by his message. However, Jesus’ response to aggression against himself was never to retaliate in kind. If he verbally condemned the behavior of his enemies, it was because of the damage they did to themselves and to others. Despite his omnipotence, he never attacks or even defends himself; he merely leaves the scene until it is the time for him to let himself be taken prisoner and killed – and in the meantime, he continues doing good for others. This is a very difficult example to follow, but many saints and great men and women of the Church have done so, accepting persecution and false accusations as a chance to unite themselves more closely to Christ.
2. Keeping a Low Profile It’s interesting that Jesus tells those he heals in this passage “not to make him known.” At first glance, this could seem contradictory: Didn’t he come to save the world and spread the Good News? Why then is he trying to hide? Once again, he’s just following the Father’s plan. It was not yet time for the full manifestation of his divinity, nor for a full confrontation with his enemies. While he was burning with love for humanity and wanted all to be saved and to know and love the Father, he also exercised discretion in carrying out that mission at the right pace. Tempering zeal with prudence is not easy. We can spoil God’s plan both by being too timid and not doing enough and by being naïve or brash and precipitating a confrontation. We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of counsel and the virtue of prudence in order to be effective messengers for Christ.
3. Being like Christ in the World Today The most effective evangelizers are those who follow Christ’s example. Meekness and humility, modesty and prudence, truth and justice, generous self-giving and sacrifice, obedience to the Father -- these are virtues that go against the grain of our fallen human nature. And yet, there are holy men and women today who embody this ideal. Whether it be Pope Benedict XVI, Mother Theresa of Calcutta or Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, or just our parish priest or the religious at the local Catholic school, there are plenty of examples of people who dedicate their lives to doing good in the face of difficulties, opposition, criticism, and even false accusations. They let nothing stop them, because they are not worried about themselves: They are dedicated to fulfilling God’s plan, in his time, on his terms. Are we?
Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to learn to follow your example of dedication and generosity, of patience and persistence in the face of difficulty, of turning the other cheek and forgetting about myself in order to do the Father’s will. The standard you set is high, far above my possibilities, but I know that with the Holy Spirit’s power, you can do marvels through me and make me an effective instrument. Lord, let me serve you well!
Resolution: I will ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten me today to help me to see how to serve God more effectively, being neither overbearing nor timid, but following in the footsteps of Christ.
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