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Friday, June 27, 2008

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St. Cyril of Alexandria

2 Kings 25:1-12
Psalm 137
Matthew 8:1-4

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"How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten! May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy." —Psalm 137:5-6

For decades, I have been a cantor, musician, and worship leader. In these roles, I constantly use my right hand and my tongue. God gave me these members of my body, along with musical gifts, for use in His service. So I can especially appreciate the oath sworn by the exiled psalmist. He pledged to his Babylonian captors that he would rather lose his hand and tongue, and therefore his primary way to make a living, than use his God-given talents in a sacrilegious way (Ps 137:5-6).

Starving singers and actors often face the temptation to use their God-given talents and physical beauty to accept roles in objectionable films as a stepping stone to making it big. A politician might be tempted to use his God-given "people-skills" illegally "just this once" to score a big victory. When times are hard and people are just trying to get by, they are strongly tempted to cheat, exploit the powerless at work, utilize artificial contraception, sterilization, or abortion, etc. rather than take up their cross and follow Jesus in faithfulness and trust (Lk 9:23).

It's better to lose our hands, tongue (2 Mc 7:10), or eyes (Mt 5:29) than to use the gifts God gave us to act contrary to His will. God gave us these gifts, and He also will give us whatever else we need (Mt 6:30). "Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides" (Mt 6:33).

Prayer:  Father, may I always glorify You in my body (1 Cor 6:20).

Promise:  "Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him and said, 'I do will it. Be cured.' Immediately the man's leprosy disappeared." —Mt 8:3

Praise:  St. Cyril used his gifts to speak and preach the truth. God used St. Cyril to foster unity in a conflicted church.

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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