August 20, 2016 Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church Father José LaBoy, LC
Matthew 23: 1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you because you became man in order to reveal the Father's love and the way your followers should live. I hope in you because you have promised to be with us until the end of time. I love you because you died in order to give me life.
Petition: Lord, help me to grow in my Christian identity and commitment.
1. Practice What You Preach: The world needs witnesses more than it needs teachers. It's easy to remind others how things should be done; it is much harder to give witness of an authentic Christian life. One thing is content, and the other is personal example. When someone tells us the truth, we should accept it – even if that person doesn't live the truth he preaches. Our following the truth should not depend on whether or not others live it. And, if we find ourselves in a position in which we have the responsibility of preaching or teaching catechism, we should sincerely try to live up to the doctrine that we preach, which is not ours but God's.
2. Being Christian: In his epistle to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch stated the importance of truly being Christian, not just being called one: "Only request in my behalf both inward and outward strength, that I may not only speak, but truly will; and that I may not merely be called a Christian, but really found to be one. For if I be truly found a Christian, I may also be called one, and be deemed faithful." Christianity does not consist in living our faith in an external or merely formal way, as the Pharisees lived their religion, but in loving God to the point of showing that love in our personal and public behavior. We should avoid in our behavior that which we deplore in others. To be truly Christian, it is necessary to strive to think, want, desire and love as Jesus did.
3. Being Humble: It's all a matter of being humble. Once, St. Bernard of Clairvaux compared the proud man to the top of a snow-capped mountain at the beginning of spring and the humble man to the valley below. The melting snow, which is God's grace, cannot flow upwards to the proud man: Through his attitude (he thinks he is at God's level), he has put himself in a position in which he is incapable of receiving God's grace. On the other hand, the humble man, since he is at the bottom of the mountain, fully receives the water of God's grace, and therefore he can bear abundant fruit. Only the humble man can be truly in contact with God and let God's grace work miracles in his life.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to value my Christian identity. I know that to live in a Christian way does not come naturally to anyone. It can come only with your light and grace. Give me the grace to contemplate you more deeply, so that you can be the standard for my actions and reactions.
Resolution: I will give true Christian witness at home, at school or at work.