Jesus of Teresa

15 October 2021, Friday of the 28th Week in the Ordinary Time

Memorial of St Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Lk 12: 1-7

What can prevent us from inheriting God’s kingdom?  Last Sunday, Jesus clearly pointed out that people who are too attached to their wealth cannot inherit God’s reign.  Today, Jesus is again pointing out to us another reality that can prevent God to reign in our lives:  hypocrisy.  In the Gospel, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  But we have to find this “Pharisee” in us. 

If our religiosity is just a plain showcase to cover the inconsistencies of the ego, that’s hypocrisy.  If we think that our piety can hide our need for God’s mercy, that is hypocrisy.  If our knowledge of God does not manifest love of neighbor, that is hypocrisy.  In other words, hypocrisy, as inflating the ego, is spiritual arrogance.  The more we hide our flaws by wearing a mask that put ourselves up as better than the rest, God, in His great love for us, will remove that façade.  How? 

St Teresa of Avila, whose memorial we celebrate today, experienced how the Lord removed the mask that she was wearing in order to hide herself from God.  In other words, St Teresa experienced what Jesus said in today’s Gospel, “There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.”  Just like the rest of us, St Teresa did not start very well.  As a teenager, she was flirtatious and vain.  Because her father could not control her, she was sent to a convent for her education.  As a Carmelite nun, she was into worldly life that led her to be away from God. At 41, she experienced crisis.  In this crisis, she longed for a deeper union with God and she found it through prayer and contemplation.  Renewed by the Lord, St Teresa, together with St John of the Cross, reformed the Carmelite Order.  What can we learn from this Carmelite nun who is a Doctor of the Church?

First, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid”.  St Teresa was a woman of courage not because of her abilities in reforming an order.  She was a woman of valor because by allowing God to put into light what she was hiding in darkness, she faced her own flaws and defects.  From there, she realized that she needed God:  Solo Dios basta!  Do not be afraid if God is purifying our minds and hearts, our intentions and motivations.  When we are detached from things that are passing, our hearts are attached to God who remains.

Second, pray.  When we pray, “Young kingdom come”, we are telling God, “Lord, I let go of my ego.”  St Teresa teaches that when we pray, we do not seek consolations from God but we better seek the God of consolation.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus consoles us by these words, “Even your hairs of your head have all been counted… You are worth more than many sparrows.”  If God takes good care of these sparrows and the rest of creation, how much more for us?  And so, pray, not for ganda/pogi points but to grow in faith, hope and love of God and of our neighbors.

Third, be a friend of the Lord.  For St Teresa, prayer life is friendship with the Lord.  One time as she was travelling to her convent during a fierce rainstorm, she slipped down an embankment and fell squarely into the mud. The irrepressible nun looked up to heaven and admonished her Maker, “If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few of them!” God never spoils us. He wants us to walk on the path of conversion with a sense of responsibility and maturity.  If we are experiencing challenges in life, the Lord is just teaching us that in letting go of our ego, we are learning how to fly!

One time, Teresa came upon a beautiful child on a stairway.  The little child asked, “What is your name?”  St. Teresa answered, “I am Teresa of Jesus.”  Then she asked the little child his name and he replied, “I am Jesus of Teresa!” Hypocrisy can be a hindrance to inherit God’s kingdom.  But even if hypocrisy is the biggest stumbling block, God will seek us and take us to Himself.  Amen. 

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