About the Saint:
Since the fourth century Saint George has been venerated in Lydia, in Palestine. Tradition holds that he was a soldier who died for the faith and his cult spread throughout the East and the West. He was adopted as Patron for England during the Crusades.
Collect of the Day:
Lord, hear the prayers of those who praise your mighty power. As Saint George was ready to follow Christ in suffering and death, so may he be ready to help us in our weakness.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: the Apocalypse: 21:5-7: Whoever conquers shall have heritage.
The Gospel Luke: 9:23-26: Those who lose their life for my sake will save them.
Today’s Gospel passage from St. Luke touches on very similar themes that we have been discussing lately. In this Gospel Jesus tells us:
“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
This reiterates our discussion yesterday of dying to the “Self” in order to find true happiness and peace and it also touches on aspects in our reflections on the ‘Four Last Things’ last week. The way of thought that Jesus is teaching here is at odds with some modern preaching. I often watch a lot of television Preachers, and what seem prevalent is what is called, “The Word of Faith” movement. A “Name it and Claim it”, style of Prosperity Theology. The God loves you and wants you to be rich, healthy and happy, teachings that are pleasing to the ear but tend to gloss over a lot of the realities of this vale of tears we call life.
Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against wealth or health, but these things should not be the sole focus of our existence. We should aim to serve the Lord our God, in all circumstances and not just when they favour us. This Prosperity approach is often, though not always self centered. And if we use material Prosperity as a yardstick for God’s blessing, then I think that Christ and His Apostles would prove to be abject failures.
Thomas A Kempis tells us in the ‘Imitation of Christ’:
“You are only chasing an empty phantom if you strive for riches that cannot last, and pin your hopes on them………………..if you set your heart on things which pass away so quickly, and do not press on towards that place where lasting joy remains.” (The Imitation of Christ, Book 1 Chapter 1).
Here we find sound words that echo the teaching of Our Blessed Lord in the Gospel above. Another sound guide to transforming our lives to be more like how Christ exhorts us, can be found in ‘The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola’.
The First Principle and Foundation
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.”
St. Ignatius, from the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises
Some food for thought.
O Sweet Jesus! Pierce my heart so that my tears of pentitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and may the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever. Amen. (Conclusion to the Fifteen Prayers of Saint Bridget of Sweden).