Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 JB 42:1-3, 5-6, 12-17
Job answered the LORD and said:
I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be hindered.
I have dealt with great things that I do not understand;
things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know.
I had heard of you by word of mouth,
but now my eye has seen you.
Therefore I disown what I have said,
and repent in dust and ashes.
Thus the LORD blessed the latter days of Job
more than his earlier ones.
For he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels,
a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses.
And he had seven sons and three daughters,
of whom he called the first Jemimah,
the second Keziah, and the third Kerenhappuch.
In all the land no other women were as beautiful
as the daughters of Job;
and their father gave them an inheritance
along with their brothers.
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years;
and he saw his children, his grandchildren,
and even his great-grandchildren.
Then Job died, old and full of years.
Responsorial Psalm PS 119:66, 71, 75, 91, 125, 130
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
that I may learn your statutes.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
I know, O LORD, that your ordinances are just,
and in your faithfulness you have afflicted me.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
According to your ordinances they still stand firm:
all things serve you.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may know your decrees.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Alleluia SEE MT 11:25
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 10:17-24
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Cast Your Nets on the Right Side, By Artist Greg Olsen
Commentary on Luke 10:17-24 From Living Space
We saw at the beginning of chapter 10 how Jesus had sent his 72 disciples out to all the places where he himself would visit. Today we see them returning full of joy and satisfaction. “Lord, even the demons were subject to us in your name.” They discovered that, in his name, they were able to do the same things that Jesus did.
In reply, Jesus said to them: “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” The power of evil is being reversed and this was partly the doing of his disciples working in his name. And he further reassures them: “I give you the power to tread on snakes and scorpions and over the power of the enemy: nothing at all will be able to hurt you.”
‘Snakes and scorpions’ more likely represent evil powers and so the statement is not to be taken literally and still less to be tested (as some obscure sects have tried to do with predictably tragic consequences!). It is true that for the committed disciple nothing can really hurt them. Physically, maybe, but not their real selves. Nothing, as Paul says, can separate us from the love of God, that is, the love that God extends to us at every moment of every day.
Then Jesus tells his disciples the real reason why they should be happy. It is not because they have special powers over evil spirits but “because your names are written in heaven”. In other words, their blessedness comes not from what they are able to do but because they have been chosen as the instruments for God to do his work, to make the Kingdom a reality. That is the origin of our blessedness too.
Then follows a beautiful prayer of Jesus to the Father. He thanks the Father because all that is coming into the world through Jesus is being made known not to the wise and great ones of this world but to “the little ones”, the people who, in the eyes of the majority, are of no account. No one really knows the Son except the Father. And no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son reveals the Father.
And, since that day on the lake shore when Jesus called four fishermen to be his followers, he has been calling very ordinary people to know his identity, to hear his message and share his vision.
And so he can say truly to them, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see. Many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see and have not seen them, to hear what you have heard and not heard them.”
All of this applies to so many of us, too. We, for reasons only known to God himself, have been given knowledge of the Son. We too, by means of the Church, have been given a vision denied to so many, have heard the Word which is the Way to truth and life.
Whatever problems we may be facing right now, let us on this day count our blessings and express our gratitude for them. And the only way to do that is to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus and his Gospel. Let us start doing that right now.
We heard a sermon today. The priest was talking about how many people he encounters as their life looks like it is running out.
Just a few days ago, he told us, a man regretted all the sins in his life and how he could never go back to church. He feared God and was full of anxiety.
After the man died, the priest wanted all of us to contemplate this simple message: “Why Wait?”
Today really is the first day in the rest of our lives. We can seek forgiveness and follow the path of Jesus today. We can go to mass today. We can seek holiness today.
It does little good to mull over our regrets of the past. And we have no idea what tomorrow may bring. The day we need to use toward a better life, an Eternal Life, is today.
Do not be afraid.
From Peace and Freedom
As this is the Jubilee Year of mercy, it is appropriate to reflect on the aspect of mercy in the life of St Therese of the Child Jesus. Most of the time, we speak of her love for the Lord. Indeed, the whole spirituality of St Theresa is love, since she says that the only vocation is love. She came to understand that if one loves the Lord and loves the Church, then it would be sufficient. When we speak of love, we cannot also but speak of mercy. Indeed, in the scripture, the fundament themes are God’s love and His mercy. Mercy and charity then is the expression of God’s love.
Indeed, we are called to extend mercy to all, especially to all those who are mourning and in trouble. In the first reading, we are reminded that the Church is called to be a mother of mercy. Like a mother, the Church is called to console her people. “Rejoice Jerusalem, Rejoice, rejoice for her, all you who mourned her! That you may be suckled, filled, from her consoling breast, that you may savour with delight her glorious breast. For thus says the Lord: Now towards her I send flowing peace, like a river, and like a stream in spate the glory of the nations. At her breast will her nurslings be carried and fondled in her lap.” This text of course was written in the context of the Israelites in exile. The Church has the same responsibility to her members and that of humanity to console the world and assure them of peace. “Like a son comforted by his mother will I comfort you.” There are so many people in the world living in exile, without hope, love, consolation because they are suffering. How can the Church show mercy to comfort the world?
What can we learn from St Theresa in demonstrating our love in mercy? Firstly, like her we need to discover the love of God. Unless we come to realize God’s unconditional love and mercy, we cannot be agents of His mercy and love. St Theresa in her spiritual journey came to realize that it is not what we do or who we are that merits the love of God. Rather, God, like a mother, loves every child uniquely, fully and unconditionally. Which mother is willing to give up her child even if that child suffers from physical or mental disadvantages? In the eyes of the mother, every child is precious to her and loved by her as much because that child is her own flesh and blood. So too, God loves us like His own, like His child, because we are the children of God. This is what the gospel tells us as well. Jesus welcomed children and loved them not because they were intelligent or able to contribute anything to society but simply because they were lovable and loving. “The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them.” When St Theresa received this insight that she was precious to God and loved by Him unconditionally and totally, it was enough for her.
Indeed, many of us suffer from low self-esteem. Many of us are not able to reach out to others or to really love others because we do not even love ourselves. We are always comparing ourselves with others. We always feel that others are better than us. We check our YouTube, Facebook, our tweeters and our Instagram to see how many likes and dislikes we have. We are always concerned about whether we are likeable, good enough, loved enough, popular enough and thought well by others. So when serving others, we serve with ulterior motives; more to satisfy our needs and the needs of those whom we love. We serve to feel good about ourselves and to feel that we are needed. We serve with an ulterior motive to make us feel that we are better than others and can do things for others. This kind of service is not done out of pure love for the poor or for others but more as a means to boost our ego and our self-esteem. This explains why there is so much competition, protectionism, and jealousy among church organizations. Instead of seeking the lowest position, many look for appreciation and recognition by the Church and the clergy. They want to be the best. Instead of helping each other, each organization cares only for itself. Such service smacks of pride that comes from insecurity.
Hence, the antidote to insecurity and low self-esteem is the encounter with the unconditional love of God. This was the insight of St Theresa. When she was young she thought that she had to do great things to be loved by God. She dreamt that she would be a missionary for Christ. But she was young and her health was poor. She was so sickly that her Mother Superior forbade her to fast. She was devastated that she could not serve the Lord in great ways. Then one day, the Lord revealed to her that it was not necessary.
It was the vision she had of the Lord showing her the garden of all sorts of flowers. She came to realize that not all could be roses. For the garden to be beautiful, all sorts of plants and flowers were needed to complete the beauty of the garden. If all were roses, then the garden would lack color and true beauty. Accordingly, she came to realize that all of us, regardless who we are have a role to play in this creation and the salvation of humanity. We cannot all be doctors, lawyers or accountants or priests. But all of us have been given the gift needed to do what we have to do as determined by the Lord. If each one of us simply makes the best of whatever gift the Lord gave us, develop it well, exercise it for the service and love of others, we will find fulfillment and happiness.
Holiness and perfection is not about what great things we do but how we do small or big things with attention, love and devotion. When St Theresa came to realize that, she was content to be a “Little Flower” for the Lord. She no longer desired to be great like the rest. She realized that she need not be “great” in the eyes of the world or desire office and position. She was happy to love Jesus in whatever little ways she could and do it with love. Jesus would be happy so long as she did it out of great love for Him. That is why on her feast we choose the second reading from Corinthians when St Paul elaborates what this love concretely entails. “Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”
Thus, in this year of mercy, we are called to cling on to God’s love for us so that we learn how to be merciful to ourselves by accepting our imperfections in life. Unless we accept ourselves for who we are, with all the inadequacies and imperfections, we cannot grow in genuine love for others. How can we be merciful to others if we are not even merciful to ourselves? By loving ourselves as the Lord loves us, we learn to love others patiently and to be ever ready to excuse and forgive. If the Lord loves us and forgives us for our sinfulness and imperfections, we too are called to do the same. Indeed, when we think of this beautiful insight and the child-like spirituality of St Theresa, becoming a saint, it is not something beyond our reach. We can all become saints. Not all are called to be martyrs or missionaries abroad or even to give up our lives for some great cause. We only need to offer to the Lord whatever we do, regardless of our vocation in life, whether as mothers, teachers, servants, workers or students, in love for the Lord and for the service of others. So whatever we do, the Lord is not concerned about what we can do for Him but whether we are doing everything out of love and devotion. God is self-sufficient. He does not need us to do great things for Him. All He asks from us is our love. Like St Theresa, He is happy if we spend all our time adoring and loving Him, contemplating on His beauty.
For St Theresa, knowledge is not so much gaining great insights or knowing deep theology. It has to do with how much we love, not how much we think. This is what the responsorial psalm tells us. “O my Lord, within my heart pride will have no home every talent that I have comes from you alone. Lord, my eyes do not look high nor my thoughts take wings for I can find treasures in ordinary things. Great affairs are not for me deeds beyond my scope in the simple things I do I find joy and hope.” Indeed, for St Theresa, those deep spiritual and theological books that she read gave her much headache. Not understanding them, she gave up and simply read the bible. Savoring the Word of God gave her much unction, consolation and insight into the mercy and love of God. This was what transformed her life. This is what prayer is all about, contemplating on His love and mercy! Then, infused with His love, we will be able to go out to love and show mercy to others.
So, like a child today, let us come to the Lord. Like a child with humility we dwell on His love and let us bask in His love. With St Paul, we say, “When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face.” The Lord invites us to come to Him like a child. So with childlike faith, love and hope, we learn to relate to the Lord. When we do that, we will find the joy of His presence and love. We will indeed, as the refrain of the psalm say, “And like a child at rest close to its mother’s breast, safe in your arms my soul is calmed.”
Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
Therese Martin was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. However, only five of these children lived to reach adulthood. Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention. Her mother died when she was 4 years old. As a result, her father and sisters babied young Therese. She had a spirit that wanted everything.
At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life. From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy. At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God. She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God. Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love. After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Her last words were the story of her life: “My God, I love You!”
The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, “Story of a Soul”. She described her life as a “little way of spiritual childhood.” She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God’s love. “What matters in life,” she wrote, “is not great deeds, but great love.” Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Therese’s spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.
She loved flowers and saw herself as the “little flower of Jesus,” who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God’s garden. Because of this beautiful analogy, the title “little flower” remained with St. Therese.
Her inspiration and powerful presence from heaven touched many people very quickly. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925. Had she lived, she would have been only 52 years old when she was declared a Saint.
“My mission – to make God loved – will begin after my death,” she said. “I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.” Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese’s signature. Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her “little way.” She has been acclaimed “the greatest saint of modern times.” In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church – the only Doctor of his pontificate – in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.
The message of St. Therese is beautiful, inspiring, and simple. Please visit the areas in this section of the Web site to learn more about this wonderful Saint.
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