Prayer and Common Sense
16 July 2021, Friday of the 15th Week in the Ordinary Time (Memorial of Our Lady of Mt Carmel)
Today we honor Mother Mary under the title, the Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Mary, in many of her statues, is depicted as carrying the Baby Jesus (e.g MHC, OLMtCarmel, Perpetual Help, etc.). In carrying the Child Jesus, she is not only telling us that she is the Mother of God; she is also directing us all to Jesus, Her Son. Ad Jesum per Mariam. To Jesus through Mary.
Our readings today have something in common: the laws with regard to eating. The 1st Reading, (Exodus) proclaims how God, through Moses, gave instructions on how to celebrate the Passover. While eating, God’s Chosen people were saved from a calamity that cost many lives in Egypt. In order for them not to forget how God saved them by passing them over, they are called to remember, to celebrate, and to eat. In the Gospel reading, it’s the reverse. The Pharisees criticized Jesus and His disciples for eating on a Sabbath. In their rigidity, they interpreted the law, not to serve God’s people, but to oppress them, to condemn innocent people. Where is justice?
Justice is not “just-tiis”. We have to do something. How? Again, Mama Mary is telling us: Go to Jesus and learn to live and to love like Him. Jesus knew what was in the heart of the Pharisees. He knew that they used their knowledge, not to liberate those who have less but to dominate and manipulate innocent people. Because the Pharisees made the law complicated, Jesus showed them the way how to follow God’s law with a sense of freedom and responsibility. By saying, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, Jesus clearly points that love is the fulfillment of the law. When we love, we do not have give a million reasons and prove a zillion of evidences. When we love, we seek what is good for the good of the other. In today’s Gospel, the disciples were so hungry. Because Jesus willed what’s good for his hungry friends, they ate.
Jesus, as the best interpreter of the Law makes a lot of sense by using His common sense. If one is hungry, eat. If thirsty, give him a drink. If it’s dirty and things are not organized, clean. If one does something bad, give fraternal correction. If one sick, find remedies. If something is destroyed, fix it. If you open, close it. Circumstances are never hindrances to become loving. Sad to say, many of us, like the Pharisees, common sense is something that is not common. Circumstances, either simple or complex, call us to become truly human and fully divine like Jesus.
If common sense can make us truly human and fully divine like Jesus, how can we heighten this capacity? Carmel has produced saints like Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, Therese of the Child Jesus and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Faithful to Mary, Carmelites are men and women of prayer. Prayer never removes us from reality. When we pray more, all the more that common sense makes us sensitive and responsive not only to our personal needs but to the needs of others, of creation and of the world. Because it is Mary who tells us to do whatever Jesus tells us, our devotion does not only remain as novenas, by wearing of the Brown scapular, by venerating the statues and saints’ relics and by observing festivities. In doing what Jesus wants us to do, we become contemplatives in action, wherever we are, whatever we do, with whom we live and whatever we are going though in life.
“Do whatever He tells you.” Mary is calling us. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” That’s what Jesus challenges us. However, whatever, whenever, for God’s sake, let’s use our common sense. Amen.
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