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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

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St. Augustine Zhao Rong
& the Chinese Martyrs

Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
Psalm 105:2-7
Matthew 10:1-7

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"Their heart is false." —Hosea 10:2

The more the Israelites prospered, the more they slipped into idolatrous worship, setting up altars and pillars dedicated to false gods (Hos 10:1). Isn't that like us? We delude ourselves into thinking that once we strike it rich, we'll give God His share of our attention. However, this is a self-deception. We've inherited a fallen nature, warped by original sin. Our flesh is never satisfied; it always wants more. The more we have, the more we want for ourselves, and the less time we have for God. "If you live according to the flesh, you will die" (Rm 8:13).

Our fleshly, fallen nature cannot be tamed. The flesh always rebels against the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:17). Thus we can never accommodate the flesh, for its tendency is at enmity with God and cannot please Him (Rm 8:7-8). If the flesh could be tamed and improved, wouldn't Jesus have simply taught us how to do that? Jesus is the Way (Jn 14:6), and His way is to crucify the flesh. Jesus "suffered in the flesh" (1 Pt 4:1), was crucified, rose from the dead, and defeated the flesh forever.

Through Baptism, Jesus has crucified our fallen nature and shares His divine nature with us (2 Pt 1:4). When we live our Baptism, we live in the Spirit, Who fights against our flesh (Gal 5:17). Each day, take up your cross (Lk 9:23) and live your Baptism. Crucify your "flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal 5:24). With St. Paul, proclaim: "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal 2:19).

Prayer:  Father, I will know and live nothing but Christ crucified (1 Cor 2:2, RNAB).

Promise:  "The reign of God is at hand!" —Mt 10:7

Praise:  Of St. Augustine Zhao Rong's companions in martyrdom, 86 were Chinese, and 33 were missionary priests and nuns. They counted all else as loss, even their lives, so that Jesus could be their Gain (Phil 3:8).

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 4, 2008

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