Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saturday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Saturday Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary
 

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Psalms 33:12-13, 18-21: Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Gospel:  Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/083014.cfm

Reflection: What can economics and productivity teach us about the kingdom of heaven? Jesus’ story about a businessman who leaves town and entrusts his money with his workers made perfect sense to his audience. Wealthy merchants and businessmen often had to travel abroad and leave the business to others to handle while they were gone. Why did Jesus tell this story and what can it teach us? Most importantly it tells us something about how God deals with us, his disciples and servants. The parable speaks first of the Master’s trust in his servants. While he goes away he leaves them with his money to use as they think best. While there were no strings attached, this was obviously a test to see if the Master’s workers would be industrious and reliable in their use of the money entrusted to them. The master rewards those who are industrious and faithful and he punishes those who sit by idly and who do nothing with his money. The essence of the parable seems to lie in the servants’ conception of responsibility. Each servant entrusted with the master’s money was faithful up to a certain point. The servant who buried the master’s money was irresponsible. One can bury seeds in the ground and expect them to become productive because they obey natural laws. Coins, however, do not obey natural laws. They obey economic laws and become productive in circulation. The master expected his servants to be productive in the use of his money.

What do coins and the law of economics have to do with the kingdom of God? The Lord entrusts the subjects of his kingdom with gifts and graces and he gives his subjects the freedom to use them as they think best. With each gift and talent, God gives sufficient the means (grace and wisdom) for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it’s not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you seek to serve God with the gifts, talents, and graces he has given to you?

“Lord Jesus, be the ruler of my heart and thoughts, be the king of my home and relationships, and be the master of my work and service. Help me to make good use of the gifts, talents, time, and resources you give me for your glory and your kingdom.”  http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug30.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Jeanne Jugan  (1792-1879)
Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community’s compassionate care of elderly poor people.

When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).

After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend’s death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.

Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne’s reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890.

By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community’s constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1935&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
 

First Reading: Jeremiah 1:17-19
Psalms 71:1-6, 15, 17: I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God
Gospel:  Mark 6:17-29

For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero’di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married  her. For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Hero’di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he  heard him gladly. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  For when Hero’di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you  wish, and I will grant it.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.  http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug29.htm  

Reflection: Are you prepared to be a witness, and if necessary, a martyr for Jesus Christ? John the Baptist bridged the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who pointed the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. Jesus equated the coming of his kingdom with violence. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force (Matthew 11:12)John suffered violence for announcing that the kingdom of God was near. He was thrown into prison and then beheaded. Why did Herod put John to death when he knew him to be a righteous and holy man? Herod was a weak ruler. He could take a strong stand on the wrong things when he knew the right. Such a stand, however, was a sign of weakness and cowardice. Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin.

Since John’s martyrdom to the present times the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and persecution at the hands of violent people. The blood of Christian martyrs throughout the ages bear witness to this fact. Their testimony to the truth of the gospel and their willingness to suffer and die for their faith prove victory rather than defeat for the kingdom of God. Through Christ’s victory on the cross they obtain the glorious crown of victory and everlasting life with Jesus Christ. What gives us the power, boldness, and courage to witness to Jesus Christ and to the truth of the gospel? The Holy Spirit fills us with courage, love, and boldness to make Jesus Christ known and loved. We do not need to fear those who oppose the gospel, because the love of Jesus Christ is stronger than fear and death itself.  His love conquers all, even our fears and timidity in the face of opposition and persecution. We can trust in his grace and help at all times. Are you ready to make Christ known and loved, and if necessary to suffer for his sake and the sake of the gospel?

“Lord Jesus Christ, give me faith, boldness, and courage to stand firm in the truth of the gospel and to not waver in my testimony of your love and grace. Give me hope and joy in the promise of everlasting life with you in your kingdom.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug29.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Feast of the Day:  Martyrdom of John the Baptist
The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life?

This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1122&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Thursday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
 

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Psalms 145:2-7:  I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Gospel:  Matthew 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant,
whom the master has put in charge of his household
to distribute to them their food at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082814.cfm

Reflection: Has your community or town ever participated in a grand homecoming party for a celebrated hero or champion who courageously and selflessly risked all to serve their people and nation – who risked great odds to protect people from harm and who achieved great victory over an enemy bent on destroying their land and freedom? The Lord Jesus promises us a great victory celebration when he returns again to put down his enemies and to establish his everlasting kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness. That day when the Lord Jesus returns will be joy and peace for those who are prepared to meet him – but grief and sorrow for those who did not accept him as Lord and ruler of all.

Jesus will return to establish his everlasting kingdom
Jesus’ first coming was a rescue mission – he was sent by the eternal Father in heaven to save us from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and his triumphant victory over the grave won pardon for us and reconciliation with our heavenly Father, and the promise of everlasting life and joy in his kingdom.  The Lord Jesus told his disciples on a number of occasions that he would return again at the end of this present age – not simply to rescue us again from our enemies – but as a victor King and Lord who will vindicate all who have believed in him – by releasing us from the curse of death and condemnation and restoring for us the plan he had from the beginning of creation – a new heavens and earth and a people perfectly united with God in peace, joy, and harmony forever. This is the background to Jesus story (parable) about the householder and the thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-51).  When the Lord Jesus returns, he doesn’t want to find us flirting with the enemy or worse joining forces with enemies who are opposed God and his kingdom.

Don’t let Satan rob you of your heavenly treasure
What does Jesus’ parable of the thief in the night teach us about God’s kingdom? If you knew that a thief in the night was about to strike your home and threaten your life, wouldn’t you seek to protect yourself from harm’s way? Jesus’ parable of the thief in the night brings home the necessity for watchfulness and being on guard to avert the danger of plunder and destruction, especially under the cover of darkness and secrecy! While no thief would announce his intention in advance, nor the time when he would strike, lack of vigilance would nonetheless invite disaster for those who are unprepared to keep their treasure and their lives secure at all times! The intruder strikes when he is least expected!

What is the treasure which the Lord Jesus wants us to guard lest we lose it? It is the treasure of his kingdom – a kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (goodness and justice) in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). We can lose our true homeland and friendship with God if we allow Satan – the deceiver and father of lies – to rob us of our faith and inheritance in the kingdom of God! The Lord Jesus fortunately does not leave us on our own – he stands watch with us to guide and lead us on the path that leads to our true home with the Father in his heaven.

Be ready to give your account to the Lord Jesus
Jesus ends his teaching on watchfulness and vigilance with another parable about a master and his servants (Matthew 24:.45-49). The storyline is similar. There is an element of surprise – the master suddenly returns home unexpectedly, probably from a long journey. He rewards the dutiful servant for his faithfulness to his master. He has performed his service with diligence and has done all that the master required of him. The master punishes the other servant who behaved wickedly. This servant was not only irresponsible – he was frequently absent from work and spent his master’s money by throwing endless parties with his friends. The wicked servant also abused his fellow workers with physical force and violence – probably to make them do the work he was supposed to do for his master. The master not only throws him out of his house, he fires him from his job! He also throws him into the worst possible place – a prison of no return where there is nothing but torment and misery.

Should we be surprised to see the master acting with such swift judgment? After all he is only giving back what they have given to him. The master rewards the faithful servant with honor, promotion, and friendship, and he punishes the unfaithful servant – who stole from his master and used his position to abuse others – by removing him from his position of trust with the master and by throwing  him into prison for robbing the master and mistreating his fellow servants. The Lord has entrusted each of us with his gifts and grace – the grace to love God with faithfulness, trust, and obedience – and the grace to love our neighbor as our self. Do you love faithfulness?

Always be prepared for your homecoming
The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory.  God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

“Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart and it is yours. Take my life and all that I possess that I may have you alone as my treasure and joy. Make me strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug28.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Augustine of Hippo, Patron of brewers (354-430)
A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience.

There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother (August 27), the instructions of Ambrose (December 7) and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love.

Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism.

In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1121&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Monica
 

First Reading:  2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
Psalms 128:1-2, 4-5:   Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Gospel:  Matthew 23:27-32

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082714.cfm

Reflection: How can you tell if someone is real or fake, genuine or counterfeit? Outward appearances can be deceptive. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah wouldnot judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth(Isaiah 11:3-4). The heart reveals the true intentions and attitudes that form the way we think of others and treat them. Jesus used strong language to warn the religious leaders and teachers about the vanity of outward appearance and pretense – wearing a mask that hides the true intentions and thoughts of the heart. In Palestine tombs were often placed by the sides of roads. They were painted white which made them glisten in the midday sun, especially around the time of the great feasts, so that people would not accidentally touch them and incur ritual impurity.

True beauty and goodness come from within
Jesus equates true beauty and goodness with a clean heart and mind that is set on God and his way of love and goodness and sin with a corrupt mind and heart that is set on doing what is wrong and evil. Jesus issued a stern warning to the scribes and Pharisees not to condemn them but to call them to examine their hearts in the light of God’s truth and holiness. Jesus called them hypocrites because their hearts were set on pleasing themselves rather than God. A hypocrite is an actor or imposter who says one thing but does the opposite or who puts on an outward appearance of doing good while inwardly clinging to wrong attitudes, selfish desires and ambitions, or bad intentions. Many scribes and Pharisees had made it a regular practice to publicly put on a good show of outward zeal and piety with the intention of winning greater honors, privileges, and favors among the people.

Sin is ugly because it corrupts heart and mind
Jesus warns that what truly corrupts a person is not external ritual impurity but the impurity of wrong and sinful attitudes that come from within a person’s mind and heart – such as pride, greed, sloth, envy, hatred, gluttony, and lust – these are what produce sinful habits (vices) and ways of speaking, acting, judging, and treating others. That is why every good deed is beautiful in God’s sight and every wrong or sinful deed is ugly in his sight. The scribes and Pharisees were intensely religious in their outward observances, but their outward show didn’t match the inner reality of the state of their minds and hearts. They not only neglected the poor and the weak, but they were intolerant towards anyone who challenged their idea of religion. That is why so many of the prophets in past ages – who warned about tolerating evil desires and unjust behavior towards one’s neighbor – were persecuted and even killed by their own rulers and people.

Jesus chastised the religious leaders for being double-minded and for demanding from others standards which they refused to satisfy. They professed admiration for the prophets who spoke God’s word by building tombs in their honor. But their outward show of respect did not match their inward refusal to heed the prophets’ warning to turn away from sinful attitudes and from neglecting to lead their people – through teaching and their own example – in God’s way of love and holiness of life. They shut themselves to heaven and they hindered others from growing in the knowledge of God’s truth and goodness. They rejected Jesus as their Messiah because their hearts were blinded and hardened to the voice of God.

The Holy Spirit renews the heart and mind
True beauty, goodness, and piety come from within – from a heart that is set on pleasing God and a mind that is set on hearing and obeying God’s word. Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and harmful habits and addictions that lead us into wrong and sinful ways of thinking, acting, and relating to others. Only the humble of heart can receive from God true wisdom and understanding, pardon and healing. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to renew our minds and hearts and to lead us in God’s way of love and holiness. Ask the Holy Spirit to purify your heart and mind and to fill you with the power of God’s love and goodness.

“Lord Jesus, incline my heart to your wisdom and teach me your ways. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may love your ways and obey your word.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug27.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Monica, Patron of Wives and Abuse Victims  (322?-387)
The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.

Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.

When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.

In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.

She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.

Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his Confessionshttp://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1120&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Tuesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
 

First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-17
Psalms 96:10-13:   The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082614.cfm

Reflection: Do you allow any blind-spots to blur your vision of God’s kingdom and his ways? Jesus went to the heart of the matter when he called the religious leaders of his day blind Pharisees and hypocrites! A hypocrite is an actor or imposter who says one thing but does the opposite or who puts on an outward appearance of doing good while inwardly clinging to wrong attitudes, selfish desires and ambitions, or bad intentions. Many scribes and Pharisees had made it a regular practice to publicly put on a good show of outward zeal and piety with the intention of winning greater honors, privileges, and favors among the people. Jesus had a very good reason for severely rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, the religious teachers and leaders, for misleading people and neglecting the heart and essence of God’s law – love of God and love of neighbor

What forms our outward practices and habits?
The scribes in particular devoted their whole lives to the study of God’s law contained in the five books of Moses (Torah). As the religious experts of their day, they took great pride in their knowledge and outward observance of the commandments and precepts of the law of Moses. They further divided the 613 precepts of the Law of Moses into thousands of tiny rules and regulations. They were so exacting in their interpretations and in trying to live them out, that they had little time for much else. By the time they finished compiling their interpretations it took no less than fifty volumes to contain them! Jesus chastised them for neglecting the more important matters of religion, such as justice and the love of God. In their misguided zeal they had lost sight of God and of his purpose for the law.

God’s law of love reveals what is truly important and necessary
Jesus used the example of tithing to show how far they had missed the mark. God had commanded a tithe of the first fruits of one’s labor as an expression of thanksgiving and honor for his providential care for his people (Deuteronomy 14:22; Leviticus 27:30). The scribes, however, went to extreme lengths to tithe on insignificant things (such as tiny plants) with great mathematical accuracy. They were very attentive to minute matters of little importance, but they neglected to care for the needy and the weak. Jesus admonished them because their hearts were not right. They were filled with pride and contempt for others who were not like themselves. They put unnecessary burdens on others while neglecting to show charity, especially to the weak and the poor.

The scribes and Pharisees meticulously went through the outward observance of their religious duties and practices while forgetting the realities of God’s intention and purpose for the law – his love and righteousness (justice and goodness). Jesus used a humorous example to show how out of proportion matters had gotten with them. Gnats were considered the smallest of insects and camels were considered the largest of animals in Palestine. Both were considered ritually impure. The scribes went to great lengths to avoid contact with gnats, even to the point of straining the wine cup with a fine cloth lest they accidently swallowed a gnat. The stark contrast must have drawn chuckles as well as groans.

God’s love shapes our minds and transforms our hearts and actions 
What was the point of Jesus’ humorous and important lesson? The essence of God’s commandments is rooted in love – love of God and love of neighbor, righteousness (justice and goodness), and mercy. God is love and everything he does, including his justice and goodness, flows from his love for us. True love is costly and sacrificial – it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. Do you allow the love of God to shape and transform the way you live your daily life – including the way you think of others, speak of them, and treat them?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your love and mercy that I may always think, speak, and treat others with fairness, loving-kindness, patience, and goodness.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug26.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars (d. 1897)
Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Born in Catalonia, Spain, she overcame many difficulties in her youth and eventually became a teacher at Lerida. Desirous to enter the religious life, she failed to win entry into the convent at the advice of her spiritual director, decided to launch her own congregation. On January 27, 1872, at Barbastro, Spain, she began the Little Sisters of the Poor, called the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Age. Considerable zeal, she had founded by the time of death more than fifty houses for her congregation. Beatified in 1958, she was canonized in 1974 by Pope VI.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2177

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Louis IX of France, King, Patron of the Third Order (Memorial)
 

First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
Psalms 96:1-5:   Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.
Gospel: Matthew 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it.”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082514.cfm

Reflection: When the Lord Jesus knocks on the door of your heart are you ready to answer and receive him (Revelations 3:20)? The Lord offers each one of us an open door to the kingdom of God, but we can shut ourselves out if we ignore or reject his offer. What is the door to the kingdom of heaven? When Jacob fled from his brother Essau, who wanted to kill him for stealing his birthright (Genesis 27:41), Jacob sought refuge in the wilderness. There God pursued him and gave him a vision that both changed his life and the life of his people. As Jacob slept on a star-lit hillside God showed him a great ladder or stairway that extended from earth to heaven. This stairway was filled with a multitude of angels ascending and descending before the throne of God.

An open door to the throne of God
God opened heaven to Jacob, not only to give him a place of refuge and peace, but to offer him the blessing of dwelling in intimate friendship with the living God. God spoke to Jacob and renewed the promises which he had made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, and now to Jacob and his descendants. God promised not only to bless and protect Jacob, but to make him and his descendants a blessing to all the nations as well. When Jacob awoke he exclaimed:  “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven”(Genesis 28:17). God opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with the living God.

Jesus is the door to God’s kingdom
Jesus proclaimed to his disciples that he came to fulfill the prophetic dream of Jacob in his very own person: “You will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:51). Jesus proclaimed that he is the door (John 10:8-9) and the way(John 14:6) that makes it possible for us to access heaven and God’s very throne. But Jesus woefully warned the religious leaders and successors of  Jacob that they were shutting the door of God’s kingdom not only on themselves but on others as well. The word woe expresses sorrowful pity as well as grief and sadness.Why did Jesus lament and issue such a stern rebuke?

Don’t be misled by wrong-headed teachers
Jesus was angry with the religious leaders because they failed to listen to God’s word and they misled the people they were supposed to teach and lead in the ways of God. They were blindly leading people to “pharisaism”- to their own ideas, rules, and practices which God did not intend or require – rather than to God’s intention and way of life for his people. Jesus also chastised them for their hyprocisy – a hypocrite is an actor or imposter who says one thing but does the opposite. Jesus gave some examples to show how misguided they were in their thinking and practices.

In their zeal to win converts, the religious leaders required unnecessary and burdensome rules and practices which obscured the more important matters of religion, such as love of God and love of neighbor.  And at the same time they made exceptions for themselves by devising clever ways to evade binding oaths and solemn promises which they had made to God. The Jews treated an oath made to God as a binding obligation that must not be broken under any circumstance, but the Pharisees found clever ways to evade their obligations when inconvenience got in the way. They forgot that God hears every word we utter (especially our oaths and promises) and he sees the intentions of our heart even before we speak or act.

God’s ways and thoughts are different from ours
The scribes and Pharisees preferred their idea of religion to God’s idea. They failed to lead others to God because they listened to their own ideas of what is true religion and they failed to understand the true meaning and intention of God’s word. Through their own pride and prejudice they blindly shut the door of their own hearts and minds to the truth of God’s kingdom.

The prophets of the Old Testament had repeatedly warned God’s people to seek the Lord and to put aside their own thoughts and ideas of religion in order to hear and understand God’s mind and intentions for his people. The prophet Isaiah wrote,

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts… For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:6-9).

Seek God’s kingdom first
How can we shut the door of God’s kingdom in our own personal lives? We close it through stubborn pride, disobedience, and ignorance. Do you submit your mind to God’s word or do you cling to your own thoughts and ideas of what is right, true, and good for you? Do you allow the world’s way of thinking to form the way you think, act, and speak – or do you allow God’s word of truth to form the way you think, act, and speak? Do you ignore God’s word through indifference or lack of reflection on his word?

The Lord Jesus wants to speak to us each and every day – to help us grow in our knowledge and understanding of his love and truth. The Lord is knocking at the door of your heart – are you receptive and ready to listen to his voice as he speaks through his life-giving Word?  as he opens our minds and hearts to receive his Word and allow it to transform our lives. God’s kingdom is always present to those who seek him with a humble mind and a willing heart. The Lord invites us to pray daily, “May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

“Lord Jesus, your word is life for me. May I never shut the door to your heavenly kingdom through my stubborn pride or disbelief. Help me to listen to your voice attentively and to conform my life more fully to your word.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug25.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Louis IX, King of France, Patron of Tertiaries  (1226-1270)
At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice.

He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children.

Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years.

He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court.

Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II.

Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace.

Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion.

Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1118&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
 

First Reading: Isaiah 22:19-23
Psalms 138:1-3, 6, 8:  Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
Second Reading:  Romans 11:33-36
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082414.cfm

Reflection: Who is Jesus for you? At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: “Who do the people say that I am and who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13). Jesus was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

The gift of faith
What enabled Peter to recognize that Jesus was more than a man of flesh and blood? Through the gift of faith Peter recognized that Jesus was the “Anointed One” – called the Messiah in Hebrew and the Christ in Greek – and the only begotten Son who was sent from the eternal Father in heaven to redeem a fallen human race. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God himself. We cannot recognize the true reality of God the Father and the only begotten Son except through the gift of revelation which God gives to those who seek him. Jesus then conferred on Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers could overcome. Jesus played on Peter’s name which is the same word for “rock” in both Aramaic and Greek.

Spiritual rock and living stones
To call someone a “rock” is one of the greatest of compliments. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: “I have discovered a rock to found the world upon.” Abraham put his trust in God and made God’s word the foundation of his life and the bedrock of his faith. Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to proclaim that Jesus was truly the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God.

The New Testament describes the church, the people of God, as a spiritual house and temple of the Holy Spirit with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks – spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

“Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior who has set me free from sin and deception. Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you as Lord and Savior.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug24.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Bartholomew
In the New Testament, Bartholomew is mentioned only in the lists of the apostles. Some scholars identify him with Nathanael, a man of Cana in Galilee who was summoned to Jesus by Philip. Jesus paid him a great compliment: “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him” (John 1:47b). When Nathanael asked how Jesus knew him, Jesus said, “I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48b). Whatever amazing revelation this involved, it brought Nathanael to exclaim, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel” (John 1:49b). But Jesus countered with, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this” (John 1:50b).

Nathanael did see greater things. He was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (see John 21:1-14). They had been fishing all night without success. In the morning, they saw someone standing on the shore though no one knew it was Jesus. He told them to cast their net again, and they made so great a catch that they could not haul the net in. Then John cried out to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

When they brought the boat to shore, they found a fire burning, with some fish laid on it and some bread. Jesus asked them to bring some of the fish they had caught, and invited them to come and eat their meal. John relates that although they knew it was Jesus, none of the apostles presumed to inquire who he was. This, John notes, was the third time Jesus appeared to the apostles.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1117&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Rose of Lima, Virgin (Optional Memorial)

 

First Reading: Ezekiel 43:1-7
Psalms 85:9-14:  The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082314.cfm

Reflection: Who doesn’t desire the praise and respect of others? We want others to see us at our best with all of our strengths and achievements – rather than at our worst with all of our faults and shortcomings. God sees us as we truly are – sinners and beggars always in need of his mercy, help, and guidance.

The prophet Isaiah warned both the rulers and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to humbly listen and submit to God’s teaching so they couldlearn to do good and to cease from evil (Isaiah 110,17). Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees, the teachers and rulers of Israel, to teach and serve their people with humility and sincerity rather than with pride and self-promotion. They went to great lengths to draw attention to their religious status and practices. In a way they wanted to be good models of observant Jews. “See how well we observe all the ritual rules and regulations of our religion!” In their misguided zeal for religion they sought recognition and honor for themselves rather than for God. They made the practice of their faith a burden rather than a joy for the people they were supposed to serve.

True respect for God inclines us to humble ourselves and to submit to his wisdom and guidance. We cannot be taught by God unless we first learn to listen to his word and then obey his instruction.

One Father and Teacher
Was Jesus against calling anyone a rabbi, the Jewish title for a teacher of God’s word (Matthew 23:7-8), or a father? The law of Moses in Scripture specifically instructed all fathers to be teachers and instructors for their children to help them understand and obey God’s instructions (Deuteronomy 6:7)? Why did Jesus rebuke the scribes and Pharisees, the religious authorities of the Jewish people, in the presence of his disciples? Jesus wanted to warn both his own disciples and the religious leaders about the temptation to seek honors and titles that draw attention to ourselves in place of God and his word. Pride tempts us to put ourselves first above others.

The Scriptures give ample warning about the danger of self-seeking pride: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall(Proverbs 16:18). God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:24).

Origen (185-254 AD), an early Christian teacher and bible scholar, reminds those who teach and lead to remember that they are first and foremost “disciples” and “servants” who sit at the feet of their Master and Teacher the Lord Jesus Christ:

“You have one teacher, and you are all brothers to each other…Whoever ministers with the divine word does not put himself forward to be called teacher, for he knows that when he performs well it is Christ who is within him. He should only call himself servantaccording to the command of Christ, saying, Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all.”

True humility
Respect for God and for his ways inclines us to humility and to simplicity of heart – the willing readiness to seek the one true good who is God himself. What is the nature of true humility and why should we embrace it as essential for our lives? We can easily mistake humility as something demeaning or harmful to our sense of well-being and feeling good about ourselves. True humility is not feeling bad about yourself, or having a low opinion of yourself, or thinking of yourself as inferior to all others. True humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, whereas a low self-opinion tends to focus our attention on ourselves. Humility is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Viewing ourselves honestly, with sober judgment, means seeing ourselves the way God sees us (Psalm 139:1-4).

A humble person makes a realistic assessment of oneself without illusion or pretense to be something one is not. A truly humble person regards oneself neither smaller nor larger than one truly is. True humility frees us to be ourselves as God regards us and to avoid falling into despair and pride. A humble person does not want to wear a mask or put on a facade in order to look good to others. Such a person is not swayed by accidentals, such as fame, reputation, success, or failure. Do you know the joy of Christ-like humility and simplicity of heart?

Humility is the queen or foundation of all the other virtues because it enables us to see and judge correctly, the way God sees. Humility helps us to be teachable so we can acquire true knowledge, wisdom, and an honest view of reality. It directs our energy, zeal, and will to give ourselves to something greater than ourselves. Humility frees us to love and serve others willingly and selflessly, for their own sake, rather than for our own. Paul the Apostle gives us the greatest example and model of humility in the person of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and… who humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Do you want to be a servant as Jesus loved and served others? The Lord Jesus gives us his heart – the heart of a servant who seeks the good of others and puts their interests first in his care and concern for them.

“Lord Jesus, you became a servant for my sake to set me free from the tyranny of selfish pride and self-concern. Teach me to be humble as you are humble and to love others generously with selfless service and kindness.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug23.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Rose of Lima  (1586-1617)
The first canonized saint of the New World has one characteristic of all saints—the suffering of opposition—and another characteristic which is more for admiration than for imitation—excessive practice of mortification.

She was born to parents of Spanish descent in Lima, Peru, at a time when South America was in its first century of evangelization. She seems to have taken Catherine of Siena (April 29) as a model, in spite of the objections and ridicule of parents and friends.

The saints have so great a love of God that what seems bizarre to us, and is indeed sometimes imprudent, is simply a logical carrying out of a conviction that anything that might endanger a loving relationship with God must be rooted out. So, because her beauty was so often admired, Rose used to rub her face with pepper to produce disfiguring blotches. Later, she wore a thick circlet of silver on her head, studded on the inside, like a crown of thorns.

When her parents fell into financial trouble, she worked in the garden all day and sewed at night. Ten years of struggle against her parents began when they tried to make Rose marry. They refused to let her enter a convent, and out of obedience she continued her life of penance and solitude at home as a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. So deep was her desire to live the life of Christ that she spent most of her time at home in solitude.

During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly and the sick. This was a beginning of social services in Peru. Though secluded in life and activity, she was brought to the attention of Inquisition interrogators, who could only say that she was influenced by grace.

What might have been a merely eccentric life was transfigured from the inside. If we remember some unusual penances, we should also remember the greatest thing about Rose: a love of God so ardent that it withstood ridicule from without, violent temptation and lengthy periods of sickness. When she died at 31, the city turned out for her funeral. Prominent men took turns carrying her coffin.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1116&calendar=1

St. Philip Benizi (1233-1285), Patron of The Minor Basilica in Monte Senario (Fiesole) in the Diocese of Florence, Tuscany, Italy; Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines
Servite cardinal and preacher. Born in Florence, Italy, to a noble family, he was educated in Paris and Padua where he earned a doctorate in medicine and philosophy. He practiced medicine for some time, but in 1253 he joined the Servite Order in Florence. He served as a lay brother until 1259, when his superiors directed him to be ordained. Philip soon became known as one of the foremost preachers of his era, becoming master of novices at Siena in 1262 and then superior of several friaries and prior general of the Servites against his own wishes. in 1267. Reforming the order with zeal and patience, he was named as a possible candidate to become pope by the influential Cardinal Ottobuoni just before the election to choose a successor to Pope Clement IV. This possibility was so distressing to Philip that he fled and hid in a cave until the election was finally over. He attended the Council of Lyons which brought about a brief reunion with the Orthodox, worked to bring peace between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines in 1279, assisted St. Juliana in founding the third order of the Servites, and in 1284, dispatched the first Servite missionaries to the Far East. He retired to a small Servite house in Todi, where he died on August 22. He was canonized in 1671.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=5432
More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary
 

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalms 107:2-9:  Give thanks to the Lord; his love is everlasting.
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082214.cfm

Reflection: What is the purpose of God’s law and commandments? The Pharisees prided themselves in the knowledge of the law of Moses and the ritual requirements of the law. They made it a life-time practice to study the 613 precepts of the Torah – the books of the Old Testament containing the Law of Moses – along with the numerous rabbinic commentaries on the law. The religious authorities tested Jesus to see if he correctly understood the law as they did. Jesus startled them with his profound simplicity and mastery of the law of God and its purpose.

God’s love rules all
Jesus summarized the whole of the law in two great commandments found in Deuteronomy  6:5 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” – and Leviticus 19:18 –  “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. God’s love directs all that he does – His love is holy, just, and pure because it seeks only what is good, beneficial, and life-giving – rather than what is destructive, evil, or deadly. That is why he commands us to love – to accept what is good, lovely, just, and pure and to reject whatever is contrary.

God puts us first in his thoughts
God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us. God puts us first in his thoughts and concerns – do we put him first in our thoughts? God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding goodness and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God’s love, truth, and goodness, the more we love what he loves and reject whatever is hateful and contrary to his will. God commands us to love him first above all else – his love orients and directs our thoughts, intentions, and actions to what is wholly good and pleasing to him. He wants us to love him personally, wholeheartedly, and without any reservation or compromise.

The nature of love – giving to others for their sake
Love is the gift of oneself for the sake of others – it is wholly other oriented and directed to the welfare and benefit of others. Love which is rooted in pleasing myself is self-centered and possessive – it is a selfish love that takes from others rather than gives to others. It is a stunted and disordered love which leads to many hurtful and sinful desires – such as jealousy, greed, envy, and lust. The root of all sin is disordered love and pride which is fundamentally putting myself above God and my neighbor – it is loving and serving self rather than God and neighbor. True love, which is wholly directed and oriented to what is good rather than evil, is rooted in God’s truth and righteousness (moral goodness).

How God loves us
God loves us wholly, completely, and perfectly for our sake – there is no limit, no holding back, no compromising on his part. His love is not subject to changing moods or circumstances. When God gives, he gives generously, abundantly, freely, and without setting conditions to the gift of his love.  His love does not waver, but is firm, consistent, and constant. He loves us in our weakness – in our fallen and sinful condition. That is why the Father sent his only begotten Son to redeem us from slavery to sin and its disordered cravings, desires, passions, and addictions. God the Father always seeks us out to draw us to his throne of mercy and help. God the Father corrects and disciplines us in love to free us from the error of our wrong ways of thinking and choosing what is harmful and wrong rather than choosing what is good and wholesome for us. Do you freely accept God’s love and do you willingly choose to obey his commandments?

We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given
How can we possibly love God above all else and obey his commandments willingly and joyfully, and how can we love our neighbor and willing lay down our life for their sake? Paul the Apostle tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given to those who open their heart to God and who freely accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Love grows with faith and hope
What makes our love for God and his commands grow in us? Faith in God and hope in his promises strengthens us in the love of God. They are essential for a good relationship with God, for being united with him. The more we know of God the more we love him and the more we love him the greater we believe and hope in his promises. The Lord Jesus, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new freedom to love as he loves. Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart? Paul the Apostle says: hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us (Romans 5:5). Do you know the love which conquers all?

“Lord Jesus, your love surpasses all. Flood my heart with your love and increase my faith and hope in your promises. Help me to give myself in generous service to others as you have so generously given yourself to me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug22.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Feast of the Day:  Queenship of Mary
Pius XII established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.

In the fourth century St. Ephrem (June 9)  called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the 11th to 13th centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his 1954 encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1115&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope
 

First Reading: Ezekiel 36:23-28
Psalms 51:12-15, 18-19: I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”   http://usccb.org/bible/readings/082114.cfm

Reflection: What can a royal wedding party tell us about God’s kingdom? One of the most beautiful images used in the Scriptures to depict what heaven is like is the wedding celebration and royal feast given by the King for his newly-wed son and bride. Whatever grand feast we can imagine on earth, heaven is the feast of all feasts because the Lord of heaven and earth invites us to the most important banquet of all – not simply as bystanders or guests – but as members of Christ’s own body, his bride the church! The last book in the Bible ends with an invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb – the Lord Jesus who offered his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and who now reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Spirit and the Bride say, Come! (Revelations 22:17).  The Lord Jesus invites us to be united with himself in his heavenly kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Whose interests come first – God or mine?
Why does Jesus’ parable of the marriage feast seem to focus on an angry king who ends up punishing those who refused his invitation and who mistreated his servants? Jesus’ parable contains two stories. The first has to do with the original guests invited to the marriage  feast. The king had sent out invitations well in advance to his subjects, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for coming to the feast. How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King’s request because they put their own interests above his. They not only insulted the King but the heir to the throne as well. The king’s anger is justified because they openly refused to give the king the honor he was due. Jesus directed this warning to the Jews of his day, both to convey how much God wanted them to share in the joy of his kingdom, but also to give a warning about the consequences of refusing his Son, their Messiah and Savior.

An invitation we cannot refuse!
The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation. The “good and the bad” along the highways certainly referred to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and to sinners. This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness! But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. God’s grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.

Cheap grace or costly grace?
Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian in Germany who died for his faith under Hitler’s Nazi rule, contrasted “cheap grace” and “costly grace”.

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

God invites each of us as his friends to his heavenly banquet that we may celebrate with him and share in his joy. Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

“Lord Jesus, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting kingdom.”   http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug21.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Pius X  (1835-1914)
Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children.

The second of 10 children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at 68, one of the 20th century’s greatest popes.

Ever mindful of his humble origin, he stated, “I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor.” He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he said in tears to an old friend. To another, “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemani.”

Interested in politics, he encouraged Italian Catholics to become more politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections—a practice that reduced the freedom of the 1903 conclave which had elected him.

In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened confiscation of Church property if governmental control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X courageously rejected the demand.

While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his predecessor had done, he denounced the ill treatment of indigenous peoples on the plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake and sheltered refugees at his own expense.

On the 11th anniversary of his election as pope, Europe was plunged into World War I. Pius had foreseen it, but it killed him. “This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” He died a few weeks after the war began and  was canonized in 1954.  http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1114&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. ram

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