Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Memorial of The Passion of St. John the Baptist

Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 430/634

First Reading: Thessalonians 4:9-11
Psalms 98:1, 7-8, 9:   
The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Gospel: Mark 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082915.cfm

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.

Whose pleasure do you seek?
King Herod, the most powerful and wealthy man in Judea, had everything he wanted, except a clear conscience and peace with God. Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to rebuke Herod for his adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. John ended up in prison because of Herodias’ jealousy. Herod, out of impulse and a desire to please his family and friends, had John beheaded.

Why did Herod put John to death when he knew him to be a righteous and holy man? Herod’s power and influence were badly flawed. He was more bent on pleasing others and making friends than on doing what was right and just in the sight of God. 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.

God is our help and our strength
Where do you get the strength of will and heart to choose what is right and to reject what is wrong and sinful? The Lord Jesus gives strength and courage to those who humbly acknowledge their dependence on him. The Lord knows our weaknesses better than we do. He pardons and heals those who ask for his mercy and forgiveness. In whatever situation we find ourselves the Lord is there to guide and direct us. Do you seek the Lord’s strength and wisdom? Ask with expectant faith and trust in the Lord’s help and grace.

The love of Christ is stronger than death
Since the martyrdom of John the Baptist to the present time, the kingdom of God 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. What fuels their faith and courage in the face of suffering, persecution, and death? They know and believe with the “eyes of faith” that nothing in this present world can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).

Power to witness the love and mercy of 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 the Lord Jesus known and loved, and if necessary to suffer for his sake and the sake of the Gospel? Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.

“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 mercy. 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

Saint 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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, Patron of Brewers

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 429

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Psalms 97:1-2B, 5-6, 10-12:   
Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082815.cfm

Reflection: Are you missing out on what’s most important in life? Being unprepared can lead to unnecessary trouble and even disaster! What good is a life-jacket left on the shore when the boat is sinking? Jesus’ story of ten single ladies waiting for a wedding procession in the middle of the night seems strange to most westerners today. But Jesus’ audience knew all too well how easily this could happen to them.

Don’t miss the most important engagement of all
Wedding customs in ancient Palestine required extra vigilance and preparation for everyone involved. (Some near eastern villages still follow this custom.) The bride and groom did not go away for their honeymoon, but celebrated for a whole week with their family and friends. It was the custom for the groom, in company with his friends, to come at his discretion and get his bride and bring her to their new home. They would take the longest route possible so that many villagers along the way could join in the wedding procession. Once they arrived and closed the doors, no one else could be admitted. If the groom decided to come and bring his bride at night, then lights were required by necessity to guide the travelers through the dark and narrow streets. No one was allowed on the village streets at night without a lamp!

To show up for a wedding party without proper attire and travel arrangements is like trying to get into a special event today that requires a prearranged permit or reservation. You just don’t get in without the proper pass. Can you imagine the frustration travelers might experience when going abroad and finding out that they can’t get into some country because they don’t have the right visa or a valid passport.

The consequences of being unprepared to meet the Lord
Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared. There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment. For example, students cannot prepare for their exams when the day of testing is already upon them. A person cannot get the right kind of character, strength, and skill required for a task at hand unless they already possess it, such as a captain with courage and nautical skills who must steer a ship through a dangerous storm at sea.

When the Lord Jesus comes to lead you to his heavenly banquet will you be ready to hear his voice and follow? Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing, and many have trained themselves to not hear. We will not be prepared to meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his heavenly banquet table. Are you ready?

“Lord Jesus, make me vigilant and attentive to your voice that I may heed your call at all times. May I find joy in your presence and delight in doing your will.” 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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Posted by: RAM | August 26, 2015

Thursday (August 27): “Stay awake!”

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

Memorial of St. Monica
Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 428

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
Psalms 90:3-5A, 12-14, 17:   
Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
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://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082715.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 for 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 to 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 was prowling about and trying 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!

Our adversary the devil seeks to rob us of the treasure which the Lord freely offers us. What is the treasure which the Lord Jesus wants us to guard lest we lose it? It is the treasure of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus himself – who is our greatest gift and portion in this life. The Scriptures remind us that there is no greater treasure on earth or in heaven than the Lord himself  (Psalm 16:5,11, Job 22:25-26, and Philippians 3:8):

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:25-26).

The Lord Jesus chooses to come and dwell in our hearts through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit. He knocks at the door of our heart and invites us to let him enter (Revelation 3:21).  Are you ready to meet the Lord – each and every day?

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/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 hisConfessions. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1120&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 427

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Psalms 139:7-12AB:   You have searched me and you know me, 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://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082615.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 would not 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/aug26.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Teresa of Jesus Jornet Ibars, Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor (d. 1897)

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 Paul VI. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2177

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
St. Louis IX of France, King, Patron of the Third Order (Memorial)

Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 426

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Psalms 139:1-3, 4-6:   You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
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://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082515.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/aug25.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Louis, 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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Posted by: RAM | August 23, 2015

Monday (August 24): “Come and see”

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

Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 629

First Reading: Revelation 21:9B-14
Psalms 145:10-13, 17-18:   Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Gospel: John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082415.cfm

Reflection: How can we know with certainty that Jesus is truly who he claims to be – the Son of God and Savior of the world? Philip was eager to tell his friend Nathaniel (who is also known as Bartholomew in Matthew 10:3 and Luke 6:14) about his decision to be a disciple of Jesus. Philip tried to convince his friend that Jesus was the Messiah, whom Moses and the prophets had foretold. Nathanial was very skeptical because he didn’t think it was possible for the Messiah to come from Nazareth, a town in Galilee. Nathaniel not only disliked the town of Nazareth, he despised its residents as unworthy of religious toleration. “How could anything good come from such a place?”

Nazareth was at the crossroads of the ancient world where people from different cultures and religions would pass through. Perhaps Nathaniel thought  its religious teachers were not orthodox in their understanding and interpretation of the law of Moses. Besides, how could the Messiah come from Galilee when the prophets said he would come from Bethlehem of Judaea? Aren’t we all a bit like Nathaniel? We are skeptical when someone tries to convince us of the truth until we can comprehend it for ourselves.

A skeptical but earnest searching for God’s truth
So what kind of proof did Philip offer to Nathanael? Rather than argue with his friend, Philip took the wiser strategy of inviting Nathanael  to “come and see” for himself who this Jesus claimed to be. Clever arguments rarely win people to the gospel; but an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ can change one’s life forever. When people are receptive to the word of Christ and when they see his love in action, the Lord Jesus himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit, touches their hearts and opens their minds to God’s revelation.

When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Jesus did something which only God could do! He opened Nathanael’s heart and his innermost thoughts and desires to God’s revelation. Jesus called Nathanael a true “Israelite in whom there is no guile.” God had chosen Jacob, who was given the name Israel, over his twin brother Essau, because Jacob was a man of faith, without guile or cunning like Essau (Genesis 25:27).  Nathanael, like Jacob, hungered for God and believed in God’s promises. Nathanael knew the scriptures; he had read the law and the prophets. And like Jacob he was waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people Israel. Nathanael was an earnest seeker of God. He not only sought to grow in understanding of God’s word, but he sought an intimate personal relationship with God as well. That is why he was willing to meet Jesus, to see if perhaps this miracle worker from Galilee might be the long-awaited Messiah and Savior.

God’s word brings blessing and refreshment for those who reflect on it
What is the significance of Jesus’ revelation of seeing Nathanael “under the fig tree”? For the people of Israel, the fig tree was a symbol of God’s peace and blessing (1 Kings 4:24b-25, Micah 4:4). It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool refreshing place to retreat, pray, and reflect on God’s word. Rabbis often gathered their disciples under the shade of the fig to teach them the wisdom and revelation of God from the Scriptures. The rabbis had an expression for comparing the fig tree to being nourished with God’s word in Scripture, “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit.”

Jesus offers the greatest gift possible – peace and friendship with God
It is very likely that Nathanael had been thinking about God “under his fig tree” and reflecting on God’s promise in the Scriptures to send a Messiah King who would free his people from sin and oppression and usher in God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace for the whole world. Perhaps Nathanael dozed off for a midday nap and dreamt of God’s kingdom like Jacob had dreamt when God gave him a vision of a great ladder which united earth with heaven (see Genesis 28:12-17). Through the gift of revelation Nathanael recognized that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the everlasting “Son of God and King of Israel” (John 1:49).  The Lord Jesus offered to Nathanael the greatest gift possible – the gift of friendship with God and free access to God’s throne in heaven.

Jesus promises that we will dwell with the living God
What does Jesus mean when he says “you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man”? One of the most remarkable revelations recorded in the bible is the dream of Jacob (Genesis 28:12-17). God had opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with the living God. In Jacob’s dream God revealed his angelic host and showed him the throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and his descendants would dwell with the living God.

Jesus, the Son of God, unites earth and heaven in himself 
Jesus’ response to Nathanael’s new faith is the promise that Jesus himself will be the “ladder which unites earth with heaven.” Jesus proclaims that he is the fulfillment of the promise made to the Patriarch Jacob and his descendants. Jesus is the true ladder or stairway to heaven. In Jesus’ incarnation, the divine Son of God taking on human flesh for our sake, we see the union of heaven and earth – God making his dwelling with us and bringing us into the heavenly reality of his kingdom through his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus gives us free access to God’s presence
Jesus’ death on the cross, where he defeated sin and won new life for us through his resurrection, opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his adopted sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each one of us to “ascend to heaven” and to bring “heaven to earth” in the daily circumstances of our lives. God’s kingdom is present in those who seek him and who strive to do his will. Through the gift of faith God opens a door for each one of us to the heavenly reality of his kingdom. Do you see with the “eyes of faith” what the Lord Jesus has done for us?

“Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for us. As you revealed yourself to your beloved patriarchs and apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may recognize your presence with me and know the power of your kingdom at work in my life. May I always find joy in your presence and never lose sight of your kingdom.” 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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 122

First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18
Psalms 34:2-3, 16-21 Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32
Gospel: 
John 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him.
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082315.cfm

Reflection: Why do some find it easier while others find it harder to accept the claims which Jesus made? Many were attracted to Jesus because he offered them something irresistible – a visible sign of God’s mercy and favor which Jesus demonstrated in his wonderful works of healing, deliverance, and miraculous signs, including the multiplication of the loaves and fish when he feed the five thousand who had gathered to hear him speak. Many stumbled, however, when Jesus made claims which only God can make. Jesus’ discourse on “eating his flesh and drinking his blood” (see John 6:51-59) which pointed to the Last Supper, caused offence to many of his followers.

Jesus claimed to be the bread of heaven, the very life of God given to us as spiritual food to sustain us on our journey to our promised homeland with the Father in heaven. Jesus did not leave any middle ground for his hearers. They must either accept his word as divine or reject it as the claim of an imposter. Even the apostles admitted that this was a “hard saying”. This expression meant that it was not just hard to understand, but hard to accept. Jesus pressed the issue with his beloved disciples because he wanted to test their faith and loyalty to him as the Holy One sent from the Father in heaven. Jesus promised his disciples nothing less than the full blessing of eternal life and union with God. Jesus assures his disciples that it is his heavenly Father who gives the invitation and the grace to believe and follow even in the “hard sayings”. Jesus knew that some would not only reject him and his word, but would do so with violence fueled by hatred, envy, and even betrayal by one of his own disciples.

Jesus told his disciples that his words were “spirit and life” (John 6:63) – his words came from the heavenly Father who is the Author of life and the One who breathes his Spirit into those who believe in him. Through the gift of faith Peter was able to receive spiritual revelation of who Jesus truly is – the Holy One of God, the eternal Son sent from the Father in heaven to redeem a fallen human race and reconcile them with God.

How does God help us grow in faith and trust in his word, even the hard sayings which are difficult to understand? Faith is a gift which God freely gives to those who listen to his word and who put their trust in him. Faith is a personal response to God’s revelation of himself. Faith is neither blind nor ignorant. It is based on the truth and reliability of God’s word. True faith seeks understanding. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, “I believe in order to understand, and I understand the better to believe.” The Lord Jesus offers all of his followers his life-giving word and Spirit to help us grow in our knowledge and understanding of God.

Paul the Apostle tells us that it is the work of the Holy Spirit who enlightens the eyes of our heart and mind to understand the truth and wisdom which comes from God (Ephesians 1:17-18). Faith is the key to understanding and experiencing God’s action and work in our personal lives. Paul the Apostle tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). We can know God personally, and we grow in recognizing his voice as we listen to his word and obey his instruction. Do you believe, as Peter did, that Jesus has the words of everlasting life and the power to change and transform your life? Ask the Lord Jesus to increase your faith that you may grow in knowing, loving, and serving him as your Lord and Redeemer, Teacher and Healer, Master and Savior.

“Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. Help me to cast aside all doubt and fear so that I may freely embrace your word with complete trust and joy. I surrender all to you. Be the Lord of my life and the Ruler of my heart. May there be nothing which hinders me from trusting in your love and following your will.” 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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 423

First Reading: Ruth 2:1-3, 8-11, 4:13-17
Psalms 113:1-8
 See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
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://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082215.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. 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 of Alexandria (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 servant according 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/aug22.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint 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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope
Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 423

First Reading: Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14-16, 22
Psalms 146:5-10
Praise the Lord, my soul!
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://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082115.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 and to give only 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 (1 John 3:1, 4:7-8, 16). God puts us first in his thoughts and concerns – do we put him first in our thoughts? God loved us first (1 John 4:19) 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
What is the nature of love? Love is the gift of giving oneself for the good 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, the Lord Jesus Christ, 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 evil 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 “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). 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. Paul the Apostle writes, “For freedom Christ has set us free… only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh [sinful inclinations], but through love be servants of one another” (Galatians 5:1,13). Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart?

“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/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

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 422

First Reading: Judges 11:29-39
Psalms 40:5, 7-10:  
 Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
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://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/082015.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/aug20.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)

Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe’s “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days.

In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light.

His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know.

Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope.

The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster.

Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1113&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

St. Louis, Bishop (Optional Memorial)
Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 421

First Reading: Judges 9:6-15
Psalms 21:2-7:  Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081915.cfm

Reflection: What can work and wages, welfare and the unemployed tell us about the kingdom of God? In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard we see the extraordinary generosity and compassion of God (Matthew 20:1-16). There is great tragedy in unemployment, the loss of work, and the inability to earn enough to live and support oneself or one’s family. In Jesus’ times laborers had to wait each day in the marketplace until someone hired them for a day’s job. No work that day usually meant no food on the family table. The laborers who worked all day and received their payment complain that the master pays the late afternoon laborers the same wage. The master, undoubtedly, hired them in the late afternoon so they wouldn’t go home payless and hungry.

God is generous and gives us work for his kingdom
God is generous in opening the doors of his kingdom to all who will enter, both those who have labored a life-time for him and those who come at the last hour. While the reward is the same, the motive for one’s labor can make all the difference. Some work only for reward. They will only put in as much effort as they think they will get back. Others labor out of love and joy for the opportunity to work and to serve others. The Lord Jesus calls each one of us to serve God and his kingdom with joy and zeal and to serve our neighbor with a generous spirit as well.

Empowered to serve with a joyful and generous spirit
The Lord Jesus wants to fill each one of us with the power and strength of the Holy Spirit so we can bear great fruit for God’s kingdom (the fruit of peace, joy, righteousness, and love) and also bring the fruit of his kingdom to our neighbor as well. We labor for the Lord to bring him praise, honor, and glory. And we labor for our neighbor for their welfare with the same spirit of loving-kindness and compassion which the Lord has shown to us.

Paul the Apostle reminds us, “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not others, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward – you are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). Do you perform your daily tasks and responsibilities with cheerfulness and diligence for the Lord’s sake? And do you give generously to others, especially to those in need of your care and support?

“Lord Jesus,fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may serve you joyfully and serve my neighbor willingly with a generous heart, not looking for how much I can get, but rather looking for how much I can give.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug19.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. John Eudes (1601-1680)

How little we know where God’s grace will lead. Born on a farm in northern France, John died at 79 in the next “county” or department. In that time he was a religious, a parish missionary, founder of two religious communities and a great promoter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

He joined the religious community of the Oratorians and was ordained a priest at 24. During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, he volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese. Lest he infect his fellow religious, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.

At age 32, John became a parish missionary. His gifts as preacher and confessor won him great popularity. He preached over 100 parish missions, some lasting from several weeks to several months.

In his concern with the spiritual improvement of the clergy, he realized that the greatest need was for seminaries. He had permission from his general superior, the bishop and even Cardinal Richelieu to begin this work, but the succeeding general superior disapproved. After prayer and counsel, John decided it was best to leave the religious community. The same year he founded a new one, ultimately called the Eudists (Congregation of Jesus and Mary), devoted to the formation of the clergy by conducting diocesan seminaries. The new venture, while approved by individual bishops, met with immediate opposition, especially from Jansenists and some of his former associates. John founded several seminaries in Normandy, but was unable to get approval from Rome (partly, it was said, because he did not use the most tactful approach).

In his parish mission work, John was disturbed by the sad condition of prostitutes who sought to escape their miserable life. Temporary shelters were found but arrangements were not satisfactory. A certain Madeleine Lamy, who had cared for several of the women, one day said to him, “Where are you off to now? To some church, I suppose, where you’ll gaze at the images and think yourself pious. And all the time what is really wanted of you is a decent house for these poor creatures.” The words, and the laughter of those present, struck deeply within him. The result was another new religious community, called the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge.

He is probably best known for the central theme of his writings: Jesus as the source of holiness, Mary as the model of the Christian life. John’s devotion to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary led Pius XI to declare him the father of the liturgical cult of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1112&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 420

First Reading: Judges 6:11-24
Psalms 85:9, 11-14: The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”
Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081815.cfm

Reflection: Was Jesus really against wealth (Matthew 19:23)? And why did he issue such a strong warning to the rich (as well as to the rest of us who desire to be rich)? We know that Jesus was not opposed to wealth per se, nor was he opposed to the wealthy. He had many friends who were well-to-do, including some notorious tax collectors! One even became an apostle! Jesus’ warning reiterated the wisdom of the Old Testament:  “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is perverse in his ways” (Proverbs 28:6; see also Psalm 37:16). “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; be wise enough to desist” (Proverbs 23:4).

We are all poor beggars in need of God
Jesus seems to say that it is nearly impossible for the rich to live as citizens of God’s kingdom. The camel was regarded as the largest animal in Palestine. The “eye of the needle” could be interpreted quite literally or it could figuratively describe the narrow and low gate of the city walls which was used by travelers when the larger public gate was locked at night. Normal sized people had to “lower” themselves to enter that gate. A camel would literally have to kneel and crawl through it. Until we humbly kneel before the Lord and acknowledge our total need and dependence on him, we will not find true peace, security, and happiness that can sustain us now and forever. Only God alone can satisfy our deepest need and longing.

Augustine of Hippo reminds us that we are all poor beggars of God.

“Even though you possess plenty, you are still poor. You abound in temporal possessions, but you need things eternal. You listen to the needs of a human beggar, yet you yourself are a beggar of God. What you do with those who beg from you is what God will do with his beggar. You are filled and you are empty. Fill your empty neighbor from your fullness, so that your emptiness may be filled with God’s fullness.” (Sermon 56,9)

Possessions can create false security and independence
Why is Jesus so cautious about wealth? Wealth can make us falsely independent. The church at Laodicea was warned about their attitude towards wealth and a false sense of security: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing” (Revelations 3:17). Wealth can also lead us into hurtful desires and selfishness (see 1 Timothy 6:9-10). Look at the lesson Jesus gave about the rich man and his sons who refused to aid the poor man Lazarus (see Luke 16:19ff). They neglected to serve God. Only those who put their trust in God and who depend on him, and who share what they have with those in need, will find true peace, security, and happiness which lead to everlasting life and joy in God’s kingdom.

Where is your treasure?
The Scriptures give us a paradox – we lose what we keep and we gain what we give away. Generosity will be amply repaid, both in this life and in the age to come (Proverbs 3:9-10, Luke 6:38). Jesus offers us an incomparable treasure which no money can buy and no thief can steal. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Material wealth will shackle us to this earth unless we guard our hearts and set our treasure in God and his everlasting kingdom. Where is your treasure?

“Lord Jesus, you have captured our hearts and opened to us the treasures of heaven. May you always be my treasure and delight and may nothing else keep me from giving you my all.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug18.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Louis of Toulouse (1274-1297)

When he died at the age of 23, Louis was already a Franciscan, a bishop and a saint!

Louis’s parents were Charles II of Naples and Sicily and Mary, daughter of the King of Hungary. Louis was related to St. Louis IX on his father’s side and to Elizabeth of Hungary on his mother’s side.

Louis showed early signs of attachment to prayer and to the corporal works of mercy. As a child he used to take food from the castle to feed the poor. When he was 14, Louis and two of his brothers were taken as hostages to the king of Aragon’s court as part of a political deal involving Louis’s father. At the court Louis was tutored by Franciscan friars under whom he made great progress both in his studies and in the spiritual life. Like St. Francis he developed a special love for those afflicted with leprosy.

While he was still a hostage, Louis decided to renounce his royal title and become a priest. When he was 20, he was allowed to leave the king of Aragon’s court. He renounced his title in favor of his brother Robert and was ordained the next year. Very shortly after, he was appointed bishop of Toulouse, but the pope agreed to Louis’s request to become a Franciscan first.

The Franciscan spirit pervaded Louis. “Jesus Christ is all my riches; he alone is sufficient for me,” Louis kept repeating. Even as a bishop he wore the Franciscan habit and sometimes begged. He assigned a friar to offer him correction — in public if necessary — and the friar did his job.

Louis’s service to the Diocese of Toulouse was richly blessed. In no time he was considered a saint. Louis set aside 75 percent of his income as bishop to feed the poor and maintain churches. Each day he fed 25 poor people at his table.

Louis was canonized in 1317 by Pope John XXII, one of his former teachers. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1105&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 419

First Reading: Judges 2:11-19
Psalms 106:34-37, 39-40, 43-44:  Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22

A young man approached Jesus and said,
“Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”
He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good?
There is only One who is good.
If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He asked him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother;
and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The young man said to him,
“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,
sell what you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,
for he had many possessions.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081715.cfm

Reflection:

Where can you find true peace, security, and happiness?
A young man who had the best the world could offer – wealth, position, and security – came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money and possessions could not buy him. The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for. He protested that he kept all the commandments – but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart. One thing kept him from giving himself wholeheartedly to God. While he lacked nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had. He placed his hope and security in what he possessed. So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed.

What do you treasure the most?
Why did he go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can possibly have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. See Jesus’ parable about the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). Selling all that we have could mean many different things – our friends, our job, our style of life, what we do with our free time.

Possessiveness and fear robs us of joy and abundant life
Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. Those who are generous towards God and others find that they cannot outmatch God in generosity. God blesses us with innumerable spiritual goods – such as long-lasting peace, unspeakable joy, enduring love, abiding relationships and friendship that do not fade or fail – that far outweigh the fleeting joys of material possessions which fail to satisfy us beyond the present moment. God alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true and everlasting  joy with Jesus?

“Lord Jesus, you alone can satisfy the deepest longing in my heart. No other treasure can compare with you. Keep me free from all discontentment, possessiveness, greed and selfishness, that I may have joy in knowing that you alone are my true Treasure and my Portion.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug17.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Joan of the Cross (1666-1736)

An encounter with a shabby old woman many dismissed as insane prompted St. Joan to dedicate her life to the poor. For Joan, who had a reputation as a businesswoman intent on monetary success, this was a significant conversion.

Born in 1666 in Anjou, France, Joan worked in the family business—a small shop near a religious shrine—from an early age. After her parents’ death she took over the shop herself. She quickly became known for her greediness and insensitivity to the beggars who often came seeking help.

That was until she was touched by the strange woman who claimed she was on intimate terms with the deity. Joan, who had always been devout, even scrupulous, became a new person. She began caring for needy children. Then the poor, elderly and sick came to her. Over time she closed the family business so she could devote herself fully to good works and penance.

She went on to found what came to be known as the Congregation of St. Anne of Providence. It was then she took the religious name of Joan of the Cross. By the time of her death in 1736 she had founded 12 religious houses, hospices and schools. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1982. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1110&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 119

First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalms 34:2-7: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel: John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081615.cfm

Reflection: Why did Jesus offer himself as “food and drink”? The Jews were scandalized and the disciples were divided when Jesus said “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.” What a hard saying, unless you understand who Jesus is and why he calls himself thebread of life. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves (John 6:3-13), when Jesus said the blessing, broke and distributed the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, is a sign that prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. The Gospel of John has no account of the Last Supper meal (just the foot washing ceremony and Jesus’ farewell discourse). Instead, John quotes extensively from Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life.

In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in a thanksgiving sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator as the giver and sustainer of life. Melchizedek, who was both a priest and king (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1-4), offered a sacrifice of bread and wine. His offering prefigured the offering made by Jesus, our high priest and king (Hebrews 7:26; 9:11; 10:12). The remembrance of the manna in the wilderness recalled to the people of Israel that they live – not by earthly bread alone – but by the bread of the Word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).

At the last supper when Jesus blessed the cup of wine, he gave it to his disciples saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Jesus was pointing to the sacrifice he was about to make on the cross, when he would shed his blood for us – thus pouring himself out and giving himself to us – as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world. His death on the cross fulfilled the sacrifice of the paschal (passover) lamb whose blood spared the Israelites from death in Egypt.

Paul the Apostle tells us that “Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians5:7). Paul echoes the words of John the Baptist who called Jesus the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus made himself an offering and sacrifice, a gift that was truly pleasing to the Father. He “offered himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14) and “gave himself as a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).

Jesus chose the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum – giving his disciples his body and his blood as the true bread of heaven. Jesus’ passing over to his Father by his death and resurrection – the new passover – is anticipated in the Last Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the church in the glory of God’s kingdom. When the Lord Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites us to take his life into the very center of our being. That life which he offers is the very life of God himself. Do you hunger for the bread of life?

“Lord Jesus, you nourish and sustain us with your very own presence and life-giving word. You are the bread of life – the heavenly food that sustains us now and that produces everlasting life within us. May I always hunger for you and be satisfied in you alone.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug16.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Stephen of Hungary (975-1038)

The Church is universal, but its expression is always affected—for good or ill—by local culture. There are no “generic” Christians; there are Mexican Christians, Polish Christians, Filipino Christians. This fact is evident in the life of Stephen, national hero and spiritual patron of Hungary.

Born a pagan, he was baptized around the age of 10, together with his father, chief of the Magyars, a group who migrated to the Danube area in the ninth century. At 20 he married Gisela, sister to the future emperor, St. Henry. When he succeeded his father, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianization of the country for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. He asked the pope to provide for the Church’s organization in Hungary—and also requested that the pope confer the title of king upon him. He was crowned on Christmas day in 1001.

Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor.

In 1031 his son Emeric died, and the rest of Stephen’s days were embittered by controversy over his successor. His nephews attempted to kill him. He died in 1038 and was canonized, along with his son, in 1083. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1109&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 622

First Reading: Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10
Psalms 45:10-12, 16: The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081515.cfm

Reflection: How strong is your hope in the promises of God? Mary is a model of faith and hope for us. And she is among “the first-fruits” of “all those who belong to Jesus” and who share in his triumph (1 Corinthians15:20-24). There is a venerable tradition dating back to the early church which marks Mary’s “falling asleep” (called the Feast of Dormition in many Eastern churches) and her heavenly birthday when she was received into heaven. Her reception into heaven is seen as a sign to all believing Christians of the promise Jesus made that we too would be received into paradise. At the last supper Jesus told his disciples that he would prepare a place for them in his Father’s house. “And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).

The Holy Spirit makes faith come alive within us
What enabled Mary to grow in faith and to persevere in hope in the face of obstacles and trials? The Gospel of Luke reveals the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s life. When Elizabeth and Mary greeted one another they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to give a Savior. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the Anointed King in the womb of Mary.

Those who are humble and hungry for God receive his Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Mary accepted her mission with uncompromising faith and obedience. She acted with unwavering trust and faith because she believed that God would fulfill the word he had spoken. Her great hymn of praise echoes the song of Hannah (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10) and proclaims the favor of the Lord: God exalts the lowly and he fills the hungry.

The Holy Spirit fills us with the joy and hope of heaven
The Holy Spirit is ever ready to renew your faith and hope in God’s promises and to make you strong in love for God and your neighbor. Do you live in the joy and confidence of God’s indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more closely. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joys of heaven, and my love for You as my All.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug15.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith: “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The pope proclaimed this dogma only after a broad consultation of bishops, theologians and laity. There were few dissenting voices. What the pope solemnly declared was already a common belief in the Catholic Church.

We find homilies on the Assumption going back to the sixth century. In following centuries the Eastern Churches held steadily to the doctrine, but some authors in the West were hesitant. However, by the 13th century there was universal agreement. The feast was celebrated under various names (Commemoration, Dormition, Passing, Assumption) from at least the fifth or sixth century. Today it is celebrated as a solemnity.

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s Assumption into heaven. Nevertheless, Revelation 12 speaks of a woman who is caught up in the battle between good and evil. Many see this woman as God’s people. Since Mary best embodies the people of both Old and New Testament, her Assumption can be seen as an exemplification of the woman’s victory.

Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul speaks of Christ’s resurrection as thefirstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Since Mary is closely associated with all the mysteries of Jesus’ life, it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit has led the Church to belief in Mary’s share in his glorification. So close was she to Jesus on earth, she must be with him body and soul in heaven. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1108&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 417

First Reading: Joshua 24:1-13
Psalms 136:1-24: His mercy endures forever.
Gospel: Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying,
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”
He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator made them male and female and said,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh
?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
They said to him, “Then why did Moses command
that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?”
He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
(unless the marriage is unlawful)
and marries another commits adultery.”
His disciples said to him,
“If that is the case of a man with his wife,
it is better not to marry.”
He answered, “Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”Top of Form
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081415.cfm

Reflection: What is God’s intention for our state in life, whether married or single?
Jesus deals with the issue of divorce by taking his hearers back to the beginning of creation and to God’s plan for the human race. In Genesis 2:23-24 we see God’s intention and ideal that two people who marry should become so indissolubly one that they are one flesh. That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve. They were created for each other and for no one else. They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come. Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal. Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands.

Whether married or single – be consecrated for the Lord
Jesus, likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Both marriage and the single life are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God. Our lives are not our own, but they belong to God. He gives strength, joy, and blessing to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life. Do you seek the Lord Jesus and his grace for your state of life?

“Lord Jesus Christ, your call to holiness extends to all in every state of life. Sanctify our lives – as married couples and as singles – that we may live as men and women who are consecrated to you. Make us leaven in a society that disdains life-long marriage fidelity, chastity, and living single for the Lord.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug13.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941)

“I don’t know what’s going to become of you!” How many parents have said that? Maximilian Mary Kolbe’s reaction was, “I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would happen to me. She appeared, holding in her hands two crowns, one white, one red. She asked if I would like to have them—one was for purity, the other for martyrdom. I said, ‘I choose both.’ She smiled and disappeared.” After that he was not the same.

He entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lvív (then Poland, now Ukraine), near his birthplace, and at 16 became a novice. Though he later achieved doctorates in philosophy and theology, he was deeply interested in science, even drawing plans for rocket ships.

Ordained at 24, he saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day. His mission was to combat it. He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work and suffering. He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary’s protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a “City of the Immaculata”—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers. He later founded one in Nagasaki, Japan. Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary.

In 1939 the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed. Niepokalanow was severely bombed. Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In 1941 he was arrested again. The Nazis’ purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders. The end came quickly, in Auschwitz three months later, after terrible beatings and humiliations.

A prisoner had escaped. The commandant announced that 10 men would die. He relished walking along the ranks. “This one. That one.” As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line. “I would like to take that man’s place. He has a wife and children.” “Who are you?” “A priest.” No name, no mention of fame. Silence. The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine. In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began in darkness. But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang. By the eve of the Assumption four were left alive. The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying. He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle. It was filled with carbolic acid. They burned his body with all the others. He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1107&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Feast of Saint Benilde Romançon, FSC
Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 416

First Reading: Joshua 3:7-11, 13-17
Psalms 114:1-6: Alleluia!
Gospel: Matthew 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
“Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081315.cfm

Reflection: Does mercy overlook justice? Justice demands that everyone be given their due. So when is it right to show mercy and pardon to those who have acted unjustly or wrongly? The prophet Amos speaks of God forgiving transgression three times, but warns that God may not revoke punishment for the fourth (see Amos 1:3-13; 2:1-6). When Peter posed the question of forgiveness, he characteristically offered an answer he thought Jesus would be pleased with. Why not forgive seven times! How unthinkable for Jesus to counter with the proposition that one must forgive seventy times that.

No limit to granting forgiveness and pardon 
Jesus makes it clear that there is no limit to giving and receiving forgiveness. He drove the lesson home with a parable about two very different kinds of debts. The first man owed an enormous sum of money – millions in our currency. In Jesus’ time this amount was greater than the total revenue of a province – more than it would cost to ransom a king! The man who was forgiven such an incredible debt could not, however, bring himself to forgive his neighbor a very small debt which was about one-hundred-thousandth of his own debt.The contrast could not have been greater!

Jesus paid our ransom to set us free from the debt of sin
No offense our neighbor can do to us can compare with our own personal debt to God for offending him! We have been forgiven an enormous debt we could not repay on our own. That is why the Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who freely and willing gave up his life for our sake to ransom us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Paul the Apostle states, “you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23 ) and that price was Jesus’ death on the cross. Through the shedding of his blood on the cross, Jesus not only brought forgiveness and pardon for our offenses, but release from our captivity to Satan and bondage to sin.

Set free from futile thinking and sinful living
The Lord Jesus sets us free from a futile mind and way of living in sin and spiritual darkness. “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers …with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18). Christ “gave himself to redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). Iniquity describes the futile ways of wrong thinking, sinful attitudes and wrong behavior, and disregarding or treating God’s commandments lightly. We have been forgiven an enormous debt which we could never possibly repay. We owe God a debt of gratitude for the mercy and grace he has given us in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Forgiving others is a sacred duty
If God has shown mercy to us in granting us pardon for our sins, then we, in turn, must show mercy and forgiveness towards every person who has offended us. The willingness to forgive those who offend us is a sacred duty. If we expect God to pardon us and show us his mercy when we sin and disobey his commandments, then we must be willing to let go of any resentment, grievance, or ill-will we feel towards our neighbor. Jesus teaches us to pray daily for the grace and strength to forgive others in the same measure in which God has forgiven us (Matthew 6:12,14-15). If we do show mercy and forgiveness to our fellow human beings, how can we expect God to forgive us in turn? The Apostle James says that “judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).

Mercy seasons justice and perfects it
Mercy is the flip-side of God’s justice. Without mercy justice is cold, calculating, and even cruel. Mercy seasons justice as salt seasons meat and gives it flavor. Mercy follows justice and perfects it. Justice demands that the wrong be addressed. To show mercy without addressing the wrong and to pardon the unrepentant is not true mercy but license. C.S. Lewis, a 20th century Christian author wrote: “Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.”  If we want mercy shown to us we must be ready to forgive others from the heart as God has forgiven us. Do you hold any grudge or resentment towards anyone? Ask the Lord to purify your heart that you may show mercy and loving-kindness to all – and especially to those who cause you grief and ill-will.

“Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug13.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Benilde Romançon (Thuret, France, 14.06.1805 – Saugues, 13.08.1862)

He is the first of these everyday saints, canonized in 1967. He came from a farming family, those who earned heaven and their bread from the land. He lived during the Restoration times, with a war raging, while political storms shook Europe. None of this succeeded in shaking his total dedication to the one purpose in his life, his apostolic ministry in the primary schools of Aurillac, Limoges, Moulins, Clermont and Billom, before moving to Saugues, where he labored for the last twenty years of his life.

Nothing very exciting marked his character, his intellect or his apostolic work. There is no grand apostolic undertaking to record; no learned speeches, no pedagogical or ascetical publications, no new foundations or reforms initiated. There was nothing special about him, one might say.

Unbelievable, but true. This modest existence proved to be a serious obstacle to his canonization. I would like to quote here what Brother Leone Napione, Postulator at that time said when he introduced the new saint in the “aula magna” of Rome’s Sacred Heart University, on October 28th 1967, on the eve of his canonization: ”When saint Thérèse of Lisieux was canonised, her ’little way‘ was not formally recognised. It was similar to the ’very little way‘ of Brother Benilde. It was then inevitable that the Promoter of the Faith, popularly called ’the devil’s advocate,’ should use this statement of ’nothing extraordinary‘ to deny the heroism of Brother Benilde’ virtues. And with what ardor he did it. That was his job, no doubt, but perhaps it grew out of his personal conviction, raising this animadversion, or objection, at every stage of the process, introduction and then at the three successive stages. The defense lawyers used the cleverest pleading imaginable to oppose the objection: first one lawyer, then a second who finally gave up and was replaced by a third, who argued more boldly and mustered even stronger arguments.

It was Pope Pius XI who saved the humble Brother Benilde from this so often repeated objection. He was a great Pope, one with eyes looking toward heaven and with his Alpine climber’s feet firmly planted on the ground. It was he who made the proclamation, first in somewhat restrained words in the more intimate setting of the general Congregation, but later fully orchestrated in the public address of January 6th 1928. The Pope affirmed the possibility of reaching heroism by fulfilling perfectly one’s daily duties. This truth had remained eclipsed until then. The Pope felt that it should be fully displayed, to shine forever. In these words – I only quote the gist – Pope Ratti expressed himself:

’That what is extraordinary, great events, splendid enterprises – just by getting known arise and awaken our best tendencies, acts of generosity, dormant energies often hidden deep in the soul…But that which is common, of everyday occurrence, that which does not stand out, is not brilliant – all that does not excite us and fascinate us.  But such is the life of so many people. It is usually woven around common, daily events. For this reason the Church appears to us very wise when we are invited to admire the examples of the commonest and humblest everyday virtues, all the more precious because humble and common. How often do we have to face extraordinary events in life? Very seldom. Woe to us if holiness were to be tied solely to those extraordinary circumstances. What would most people do? And yet the call to holiness is made to all without distinction… Here then is the great lesson this humble Servant of God brings us once again: holiness is not attached to extraordinary acts, but rather to common, everyday acts performed in an uncommon way‘.

In this way Brother Benilde, without intending to and without wanting to, furnished a great Pontiff with the opportunity to move in the direction of a better interpretation when it comes to valuing heroism through the practice of virtue – from one that is based on the exceptional and the extraordinary to one that is based on the normal and the commonplace. In this way, holiness came to be presented as unsophisticated, as built into the very fabric of everyday life, family life, professional life, civil life, religious life. What a difference there lies between what we see and a reality that was extraordinary, as in Brother Benilde’s case“.

His was a very long process. It started on November 23rd 1899 at Le Puy, France, and it was not until April 4th 1948 that he was beatified by Pius XII On October 29th 1967, he was canonized by Paul VI. His liturgical feast is on August 13th. http://www.lasalle.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/postulacion/d671_07_en.pdf

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 415

First Reading: Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Psalms 66:1-3, 5, 8, 16-17: Blessed be God who filled my soul with fire!
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.
If he refuses to listen even to the Church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081215.cfm

Reflection: What’s the best way to repair a damaged relationship? Jesus offers his disciples spiritual freedom and power for restoring broken or injured relationships.

Don’t brood over an offense – speak directly and privately 
What can we learn from Jesus’ instructions about how to mend a damaged relationship (Matthew 18:15-20)? If you feel you have been wronged by someone, Jesus says the first step is to speak directly but privately to the individual who has done the harm. One of the worst things we can do is brood over our grievance. This can poison our mind and heart and make it more difficult to go directly to the person who caused the damage.

Seek the help of wise Christians
If we truly want to settle a difference with someone, we need to do it face to face. If this fails in its purpose, then the second step is to bring another person or persons, someone who is wise and gracious rather than someone who is hot-tempered or judgmental. The goal is not so much to put the offender on trial, but to persuade the offender to see the wrong and to be reconciled. And if this fails, then we must still not give up, but seek the help of the Christian community. Note the emphasis here is on restoring a broken relationship by seeking the help of other Christians who hopefully will pray and seek a solution for reconciliation based on Christian love and wisdom, rather than relying on coercive force or threat of legal action, such as a lawsuit.

Pray for the offender – for healing and reconciliation
Lastly, if even the Christian community fails to bring about reconciliation, what must we do? Jesus seems to say that we have the right to abandon stubborn and obdurate offenders and treat them like social outcasts. The tax-collectors and Gentiles were regarded as “unclean” by the religious-minded Jews and they resorted to shunning them. However we know from the Gospel accounts that Jesus often had fellowship with tax-collectors (as well as other public sinners), ate with them, and even praised them at times! Jesus refuses no one who is open to receive pardon, healing, and restoration.

Set no obstacle in seeking to heal your brother’s wound
When you are offended, are you willing to put aside your own grievance and injury in order to help your brother’s wound? The Lord Jesus wants to set us free from resentment, ill-will, and an unwillingness to forgive. The love of Christ love both purifies and sets us free to do good to all – even those who cause us grief. The call to accountability for what we have done and have failed to do is inevitable and we can’t escape it, both in this life and at the day of judgment when the Lord Jesus will return. But while we have the opportunity today, we must not give up on praying for those who cause us offense. With God’s help we must seek to make every effort to win them with the grace and power of God’s healing love and wisdom. Do you tolerate broken relationships or do you seek to repair them as God gives you the opportunity to mend and restore what is broken?

“Lord Jesus, make me an instrument of your healing love and peace. Give me wisdom and courage to bring your healing love and saving truth to those in need of healing and restoration.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug12.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1562-1641)

Jane Frances was wife, mother, nun and founder of a religious community. Her mother died when Jane was 18 months old, and her father, head of parliament at Dijon, France, became the main influence on her education. She developed into a woman of beauty and refinement, lively and cheerful in temperament. At 21 she married Baron de Chantal, by whom she had six children, three of whom died in infancy. At her castle she restored the custom of daily Mass, and was seriously engaged in various charitable works.

Jane’s husband was killed after seven years of marriage, and she sank into deep dejection for four months at her family home. Her father-in-law threatened to disinherit her children if she did not return to his home. He was then 75, vain, fierce and extravagant. Jane Frances managed to remain cheerful in spite of him and his insolent housekeeper.

When she was 32, she met St. Francis de Sales who became her spiritual director, softening some of the severities imposed by her former director. She wanted to become a nun but he persuaded her to defer this decision. She took a vow to remain unmarried and to obey her director.

After three years Francis told her of his plan to found an institute of women which would be a haven for those whose health, age or other considerations barred them from entering the already established communities. There would be no cloister, and they would be free to undertake spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They were primarily intended to exemplify the virtues of Mary at the Visitation (hence their name, the Visitation nuns): humility and meekness.

The usual opposition to women in active ministry arose and Francis de Sales was obliged to make it a cloistered community following the Rule of St. Augustine. Francis wrote his famous Treatise on the Love of God for them. The congregation (three women) began when Jane Frances was 45. She underwent great sufferings: Francis de Sales died; her son was killed; a plague ravaged France; her daughter-in-law and son-in-law died. She encouraged the local authorities to make great efforts for the victims of the plague and she put all her convent’s resources at the disposal of the sick.

During a part of her religious life, she had to undergo great trials of the spirit—interior anguish, darkness and spiritual dryness. She died while on a visitation of convents of the community. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1111&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Memorial of St. Clare of Assisi, Virgin, Foundress of II Order
Lectionary: 414

First Reading: Deuteronomy 31:1-8
Deutoronomy 32:3-4AB, 7, 8, 9 and 12: The portion of the Lord is his people.
Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14:

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081115.cfm

Reflection: Are you surprised to see the disciples discussing with Jesus who is the greatest? Don’t we do the same thing? The appetite for glory and greatness seems to be inbred in us. Who doesn’t cherish the ambition to be “somebody” whom others admire rather than a “nobody”? Even the Psalms speak about the glory God has destined for us. You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor(Psalm 8:5).

Whose glory do you seek?
Jesus made a dramatic gesture by placing a child next to himself to show his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the “bottom of the rung” and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants. What is the significance of Jesus’ gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor at his right side. It is customary, even today, to seat the guest of honor at the right side of the host.

The lowly of heart empty themselves of pride
Who is the greatest in God’s kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart – who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant and child before God. The simple of heart know that they belong to God – he is their father, teacher, and provider – the one who shows them the way of peace, joy, and life everlasting. They are content to recognize their total dependence on God who is the source of all goodness and every good gift.

Jesus restores us to the people he has made holy
What does Jesus’ story about a lost sheep tell us about God and his kingdom? Shepherds normally counted their sheep at the end of the day to make sure all were accounted for. Since sheep by their very nature are very social, an isolated sheep can quickly become bewildered and even neurotic. The shepherd’s grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out and not merely mourned for. God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that all be saved and restored to fellowship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God (Luke 15:7). Seekers of the lost are much needed today. Do you pray and seek after those you know who have lost their way to God?

“Lord Jesus, teach me your way of humility and simplicity of heart that I may find perfect joy in you. May your light shine through me that others may see your truth and love and find hope and peace in you.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug11.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

One of the more sugary movies made about Francis of Assisi (October 4) pictures Clare as a golden-haired beauty floating through sun-drenched fields, a sort of one-woman counterpart to the new Franciscan Order.

The beginning of her religious life was indeed movie material. Having refused to marry at 15, she was moved by the dynamic preaching of Francis. He became her lifelong friend and spiritual guide.

At 18, she escaped one night from her father’s home, was met on the road by friars carrying torches, and in the poor little chapel called the Portiuncula received a rough woolen habit, exchanged her jeweled belt for a common rope with knots in it, and sacrificed the long tresses to Francis’ scissors. He placed her in a Benedictine convent, which her father and uncles immediately stormed in rage. She clung to the altar of the church, threw aside her veil to show her cropped hair and remained adamant.

End of movie material. Sixteen days later her sister Agnes joined her. Others came. They lived a simple life of great poverty, austerity and complete seclusion from the world, according to a Rule which Francis gave them as a Second Order (Poor Clares). Francis obliged her under obedience at age 21 to accept the office of abbess, one she exercised until her death.

The nuns went barefoot, slept on the ground, ate no meat and observed almost complete silence. (Later Clare, like Francis, persuaded her sisters to moderate this rigor: “Our bodies are not made of brass.”) The greatest emphasis, of course, was on gospel poverty. They possessed no property, even in common, subsisting on daily contributions. When even the pope tried to persuade her to mitigate this practice, she showed her characteristic firmness: “I need to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from the obligation of following Jesus Christ.”

Contemporary accounts glow with admiration of her life in the convent of San Damiano in Assisi. She served the sick, waited on table, washed the feet of the begging nuns. She came from prayer, it was said, with her face so shining it dazzled those about her. She suffered serious illness for the last 27 years of her life. Her influence was such that popes, cardinals and bishops often came to consult her—she never left the walls of San Damiano.

Francis always remained her great friend and inspiration. She was always obedient to his will and to the great ideal of gospel life which he was making real.

A well-known story concerns her prayer and trust. She had the Blessed Sacrament placed on the walls of the convent when it faced attack by invading Saracens. “Does it please you, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children I have nourished with your love? I beseech you, dear Lord, protect these whom I am now unable to protect.” To her sisters she said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in Jesus.” The Saracens fled. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1104&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr
Lectionary: 618

First Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10
Psalms 112:1-2, 5-9:  Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Gospel: John 12:24-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081015.cfm

Reflection: What can a grain of wheat tell us about life and the kingdom of God?  Jesus drew his parables from the common everyday circumstances of life. His audience, mostly rural folk in Palestine, could easily understand the principle of new life produced by dead seeds sown into the earth. What is the spiritual analogy which Jesus alludes to? Is this, perhaps, a veiled reference to his own impending death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day? Or does he have another kind of “death and rebirth” in mind for his disciples? Jesus, no doubt, had both meanings in mind for his disciples.

The image of the grain of wheat dying in the earth in order to grow and bear a harvest can be seen as a metaphor of Jesus’ own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection. Jesus knew that the only way to victory over the power of sin and death was through the cross. Jesus reversed the curse of our first parents’ [Adam and Eve] disobedience through his obedience to the Father’s will – his willingness to go to the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and to defeat death once and for all. His obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit. His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love. There is a great paradox here. Death leads to life. When we “die” to our selves, we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to “die” to oneself? It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s will must be “crucified” or “put to death”. God gives us grace to say “yes” to his will and to reject whatever is contrary to his loving plan for our lives. Jesus also promises that we will bear much “fruit” for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake. Jesus used forceful language to describe the kind of self-denial he had in mind for his disciples.

What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself?  The expression to hate something often meant to prefer less. Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven.  Our hope is in Paul’s reminder that “What is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 15:42). Do you hope in the Lord and follow joyfully the path he has chosen for you?

“Lord Jesus, let me be wheat sown in the earth, to be harvested for you. I want to follow wherever you lead me. Give me fresh hope and joy in serving you all the days of my life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug10.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Lawrence (d. 258?)

The esteem in which the Church holds Lawrence is seen in the fact that today’s celebration ranks as a feast. We know very little about his life. He is one of those whose martyrdom made a deep and lasting impression on the early Church. Celebration of his feast day spread rapidly.

He was a Roman deacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. Four days after this pope was put to death, Lawrence and four clerics suffered martyrdom, probably during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian.

Legendary details of his death were known to Damasus (Dec 11), Prudentius, Ambrose (December 7)  and Augustine (August 28). The church built over his tomb became one of the seven principal churches in Rome and a favorite place for Roman pilgrimages.

A well-known legend has persisted from earliest times. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”

Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.”

The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared, with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!” http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1103&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito

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

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 116

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8
Psalms 34:2-9:  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30–5:2
Gospel: John 6:41-51

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
“I am the bread that came down from heaven, ”
and they said,
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?
Do we not know his father and mother?
Then how can he say,
‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Stop murmuring among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
Not that anyone has seen the Father
except the one who is from God;
he has seen the Father.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080915.cfm

Reflection: God offers his people abundant life, but we can miss it. What is the bread of life which Jesus offers? It is first of all the life of God himself – life which sustains us not only now in this age but also in the age to come. The Rabbis said that the generation in the wilderness have no part in the life to come. In the Book of Numbers it is recorded that the people who refused to brave the dangers of the promised land were condemned to wander in the wilderness until they died. The Rabbis believed that the father who missed the promised land also missed the life to come. God sustained the Israelites in the wilderness with manna from heaven. This bread foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers.

Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The manna from heaven prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper which Jesus gave to his disciples on the eve of his sacrifice. The manna in the wilderness sustained the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It could not produce eternal life for the Israelites. The bread which Jesus offers his disciples sustains us not only on our journey to the heavenly paradise, it gives us the abundant supernatural life of God which sustains us for all eternity.

When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood and partakers of his divine life. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.

Jesus offers us the abundant supernatural life of heaven itself – but we can miss it or even refuse it. To refuse Jesus is to refuse eternal life, unending life with the Heavenly Father. To accept Jesus as the bread of heaven is not only life and spiritual nourishment for this world but glory in the world to come. When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the “bread of life”?

“Lord Jesus, you are the living bread which sustains me in this life. May I always hunger for the bread which comes from heaven and find in it the nourishment and strength I need to love and serve you wholeheartedly. May I always live in the joy, peace, and unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, both now and in the age to come.”. http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug9.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Edith Stein (1891-1942)

A brilliant philosopher who stopped believing in God when she was 14, Edith Stein was so captivated by reading the autobiography of Teresa of Avila that she began a spiritual journey that led to her Baptism in 1922. Twelve years later she imitated Teresa by becoming a Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Born into a prominent Jewish family in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Edith abandoned Judaism in her teens. As a student at the University of Göttingen, she became fascinated by phenomenology, an approach to philosophy. Excelling as a protégé of Edmund Husserl, one of the leading phenomenologists, Edith earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1916. She continued as a university teacher until 1922 when she moved to a Dominican school in Speyer; her appointment as lecturer at the Educational Institute of Munich ended under pressure from the Nazis.

After living in the Cologne Carmel (1934-38), she moved to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands. The Nazis occupied that country in 1940. In retaliation for being denounced by the Dutch bishops, the Nazis arrested all Dutch Jews who had become Christians. Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa, also a Catholic, died in a gas chamber in Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Pope John Paul II beatified Teresa Benedicta in 1987 and canonized her in 1998. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1915&calendar=1

Saints 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 Follow @TheOneKin Tweets by @Pontifex @CardinalChito  

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

Feast of Holy Father Dominic, Priest, Founder of the Order of Preachers
Saturday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 412

First Reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-13
Psalms 18:2-3A, 3BC-4, 47 and 51 I love you, Lord, my strength.
Gospel: Matthew 17:14-20

A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080815.cfm

Reflection: What kind of faith does the Lord expect of us, especially when we meet set-backs and trials? Inevitably there are times when each of us disappoint others or disappoint ourselves when we suffer some kind of set-back or failure. In this Gospel incident the disciples of Jesus fail to heal an epileptic boy. Jesus’ response seems stern; but it is really tempered with love and compassion. We see at once Jesus’ dismay with the disciples’ lack of faith and his concern to meet the need of this troubled boy and his father. With one word of command Jesus rebukes the evil spirit that has caused this boy’s affliction and tells the spirit to “never enter him again”.

Pray with expectant faith
Jesus tells his disciples that they can “remove mountains” if they have faith in God. The expression to “remove mountains” was a common Jewish phrase for removing difficulties. A wise teacher who could solve difficulties was called a “mountain remover”.  If we pray with expectant faith God will give us the means to overcome difficulties and obstacles. When  you meet trials and disappointments how do you respond? With faith and trust in Jesus?

“Lord Jesus, help my unbelief! Increase my faith and trust in your saving power. Give me confidence and perseverance, especially in prayer. And help me to bring your healing love and truth to those I meet”. http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug8.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Dominic, Patron of Astronomers (1170-1221)

If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work.

Born in old Castile, Spain, he was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in the Acts of the Apostles.

On a journey through France with his bishop, he came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians (Cathari, “the pure”) held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.

Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 he founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).

His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God.” http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1101&calendar=1

Saints of the Day

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

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 411

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Psalms 77:12-16, 21:  I remember the deeds of the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080715.cfm

Reflection: What is the most important investment you can make with your life? Jesus poses some probing questions to challenge our assumptions about what is most profitable and worthwhile. In every decision of life we are making ourselves a certain kind of person. The kind of person we are, our character, determines to a large extent the kind of future we will face and live. It is possible that some can gain all the things they set their heart on, only to wake up suddenly and discover that they missed the most important things of all. Of what value are material things if they don’t help you gain what truly lasts in eternity. Neither money nor possessions can buy heaven, mend a broken heart, or cheer a lonely person.

The great exchange – my life for His Life
Jesus asks the question: What will a person give in exchange for his or her life? Everything we have is an out-right gift from God. We owe him everything, including our very lives. It’s possible to give God our money, but not ourselves, or to give him lip-service, but not our hearts. A true disciple gladly gives up all that he or she has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God. God gives without measure. The joy he offers no sadness or loss can diminish.

True freedom and gain
The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin, despair, and death. What is the cross which Jesus Christ commands me to take up each day? When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done. Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will, all that I have and possess. You have given them to me; to you, O Lord, I restore them; all things are yours, dispose of them according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.” (Prayer of Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556) http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug6.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Cajetan, Patron of workers; gamblers; job seekers; unemployed people; Albania; Italy; Malta; Argentina; Brazil; El Salvador; Guatemala (1480-1557)

Like most of us, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life—first as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia.

His life took a characteristic turn when he joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination at 36. When he was 42 he founded a hospital for incurables at Venice. At Vicenza, he joined a “disreputable” religious community that consisted only of men of the lowest stations of life—and was roundly censured by his friends, who thought his action was a reflection on his family. He sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them.

The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that was “sick in head and members.” Cajetan and three friends decided that the best road to reformation lay in reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. (One of them later became Paul IV.) Together they founded a congregation known as the Theatines (from Teate [Chieti] where their first superior-bishop had his see). They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was wrecked when Emperor Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527. The Theatines were outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before the Protestant Reformation. He founded a monte de pieta (“mountain [or fund] of piety”) in Naples—one of many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on the security of pawned objects. The purpose was to help the poor and protect them against usurers. Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1100&calendar=1

Saints of the Day

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

Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Lectionary: 614

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalms 97:1-2, 5-6, 9:  The Lord is king, the Most High over all the earth.
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-19
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John,
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080615.cfm

Reflection: Are you prepared to see God’s glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus’ face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3).
When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (see Exodus 34:29). Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles – Peter, James, and John.

What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem – his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his son because he obeyed. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God’s presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8).

The Lord wants to share his glory with each of us
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory – he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father’s glory: follow me – obey my words – take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the blessings of my Father’s kingdom – your name will be written in heaven.

Jesus succeeded in his mission because he went to Calvary so that Paradise would be restored to us once again. He embraced the cross to obtain the crown of glory that awaits each one of us, if we will follow in his footsteps.

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD), an early church bible scholar and writer, shows us how the transfiguration can change our lives:

“When he is transfigured, his face also shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, and are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the sons of day, and walk honestly as in the day. Being manifest, he will shine unto them not simply as the sun, but as demonstrated to be the sun of righteousness.”

Stay awake spiritually – Don’t miss God’s glory and action 
Luke’s Gospel account tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God’s glory and action because we are asleep spiritually?  There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the “unexamined life” can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ.  Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.

Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence?

“Lord Jesus, keep me always alert and awake to you, to your word, your action, and your daily presence in my life. Let me see your glory.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug6.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Feast of the Day: Transfiguration of the Lord

All three Synoptic Gospels tell the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36). With remarkable agreement, all three place the event shortly after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ first prediction of his passion and death. Peter’s eagerness to erect tents or booths on the spot suggests it occurred during the Jewish weeklong, fall Feast of Booths.

In spite of the texts’ agreement, it is difficult to reconstruct the disciples’ experience, according to Scripture scholars, because the Gospels draw heavily on Old Testament descriptions of the Sinai encounter with God and prophetic visions of the Son of Man. Certainly Peter, James and John had a glimpse of Jesus’ divinity strong enough to strike fear into their hearts. Such an experience defies description, so they drew on familiar religious language to describe it. And certainly Jesus warned them that his glory and his suffering were to be inextricably connected—a theme John highlights throughout his Gospel.

Tradition names Mt. Tabor as the site of the revelation. A church first raised there in the fourth century was dedicated on August 6. A feast in honor of the Transfiguration was celebrated in the Eastern Church from about that time. Western observance began in some localities about the eighth century.

On July 22, 1456, Crusaders defeated the Turks at Belgrade. News of the victory reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III placed the feast on the Roman calendar the following year. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1099&calendar=1

Saints of the Day

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

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome (Optional Memorial)

Lectionary: 409

First Reading: Numbers 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26-29, 34-35
Psalms 106:6-7, 13-14, 21-23:  Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And her daughter was healed from that hour.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080515.cfm

Reflection: Do you ever feel “put-off” or ignored by the Lord? 
This passage (Matthew 15:21) describes the only occasion in which Jesus ministered outside of Jewish territory. (Tyre and Sidon were fifty miles north of Israel and still exist today in modern Lebanon.) A Gentile woman, a foreigner who was not a member of the Jewish people, puts Jesus on the spot by pleading for his help. At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and this made his disciples feel embarrassed. Jesus does this to test the woman to awaken faith in her.

Jesus first tests the woman’s faith
What did Jesus mean by the expression “throwing bread to the dogs”? The Jews often spoke of the Gentiles with arrogance and insolence as “unclean dogs” since the Gentiles did not follow God’s law and were excluded from God’s covenant and favor with the people of Israel. For the Greeks the “dog” was a symbol of dishonor and was used to describe a shameless and audacious woman. There is another reference to “dogs” in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not give to dogs what is holy” (Matthew 7:6).  Jesus tests this woman’s faith to see if she is earnest in receiving holy thingsfrom the hand of a holy God. Jesus, no doubt, spoke with a smile rather than with an insult because this woman immediately responds with wit and faith – “even the dogs eat the crumbs”.

Seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith
Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her faith and for her love. She made the misery of her child her own and she was willing to suffer rebuff in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. No one who ever sought Jesus with earnest faith – whether Jew or Gentile – was refused his help. Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?

“Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May I trust you always and pursue you with indomitable persistence as this woman did. Increase my faith in your saving power and deliver me for all evil and harm. ” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug5.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica

First raised at the order of Pope Liberius in the mid-fourth century, the Liberian basilica was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III shortly after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as Mother of God in 431. Rededicated at that time to the Mother of God, St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honoring God through Mary. Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it has survived many restorations without losing its character as an early Roman basilica. Its interior retains three naves divided by colonnades in the style of Constantine’s era. Fifth-century mosaics on its walls testify to its antiquity.

St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals in memory of the first centers of the Church. St. John Lateran (November 9) represents Rome, the See of Peter; St. Paul Outside the Walls, the See of Alexandria, allegedly the see presided over by Mark (April 25); St. Peter’s, the See of Constantinople; and St. Mary’s, the See of Antioch, where Mary is supposed to have spent most of her life.

One legend, unreported before the year 1000, gives another name to this feast: Our Lady of the Snows. According to that story, a wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the basilica’s dome every August 5. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1098&calendar=1

Saints of the Day

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

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest
Lectionary: 408

First Reading: Numbers 12:1-13
Psalms 51:3-7, 12-13:  Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080415.cfm

Reflection: Does the Lord seem distant when trials or adversity come your way? It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm. Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. While Jesus was not with them in the boat, he, nonetheless watched for them in prayer. When he perceived their trouble he came to them on the sea and startled them with his sudden appearance. Do you look for the Lord’s presence when you encounter difficulty or challenges?

This dramatic incident on the sea of Galilee revealed Peter’s character more fully than others. Here we see Peter’s impulsiveness – his tendency to act without thinking of what he was doing. He often failed and came to grief as a result of his impulsiveness. In contrast, Jesus always bade his disciples to see how difficult it was to follow him before they set out on the way he taught them. A great deal of failure in the Christian life is due to acting on impulse and emotional fervor without counting the cost. Peter, fortunately in the moment of his failure clutched at Jesus and held him firmly. Every time Peter fell, he rose again. His failures only made him love the Lord more deeply and trust him more intently.

The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. Do you rely on the Lord for his strength and help? Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in his great love for us. When calamities or trials threaten to overwhelm you, how do you respond? With faith and hope in God’s love, care and presence with you?

“Lord Jesus, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and your power to help me. In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling to you as Peter did. Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the right”. http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug4.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. John Vianney (1786-1859)

A man with vision overcomes obstacles and performs deeds that seem impossible. John Vianney was a man with vision: He wanted to become a priest. But he had to overcome his meager formal schooling, which inadequately prepared him for seminary studies.

His failure to comprehend Latin lectures forced him to discontinue. But his vision of being a priest urged him to seek private tutoring. After a lengthy battle with the books, John was ordained.

Situations calling for “impossible” deeds followed him everywhere. As pastor of the parish at Ars, John encountered people who were indifferent and quite comfortable with their style of living. His vision led him through severe fasts and short nights of sleep. (Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.)

With Catherine Lassagne and Benedicta Lardet, he established La Providence, a home for girls. Only a man of vision could have such trust that God would provide for the spiritual and material needs of all those who came to make La Providence their home.

His work as a confessor is John Vianney’s most remarkable accomplishment. In the winter months he was to spend 11 to 12 hours daily reconciling people with God. In the summer months this time was increased to 16 hours. Unless a man was dedicated to his vision of a priestly vocation, he could not have endured this giving of self day after day.

Many people look forward to retirement and taking it easy, doing the things they always wanted to do but never had the time. But John Vianney had no thoughts of retirement. As his fame spread, more hours were consumed in serving God’s people. Even the few hours he would allow himself for sleep were disturbed frequently by the devil.

Who, but a man with vision, could keep going with ever-increasing strength? In 1929, Pope Pius XI named him the patron of parish priests worldwide. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1097&calendar=1

More Saint of the Day

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

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 407

First Reading: Numbers 11:4-15
Psalms 81:12-17:   Sing with joy to God our help.
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over–
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080315.cfm

Reflection: What can truly satisfy our deepest hunger and longing? Wherever Jesus went multitudes of people gathered to meet him – people from every part of society – rich and poor, professionals and laborers, even social outcasts and pagans. What drew them to Jesus? Were they simply curious or looking for a healing? Many were drawn to Jesus because they were hungry for God. Jesus’ message of God’s kingdom and the signs and wonders he performed stirred fresh hope and expectation that God was acting in a new and powerful way to set people free from sin and oppression and to bring them the blessings of his kingdom.

God never rests in caring for our needs
Jesus never disappointed those who earnestly sought him out. We see a marvelous example of this when Jesus and his twelve disciples got into the boat to seek out a lonely place for some rest along the lake of Galilee, only to discover a crowd of a few thousand people had already gathered in anticipation of their arrival! Did Jesus’ disciples resent this intrusion on their plan to rest awhile? Jesus certainly didn’t – he welcomed them with open-arms. His compassion showed the depths of God’s love and care for his people. Jesus spoke the word of God to strengthen them in faith and he healed many who were sick.

God multiplies the little we have to bring great blessing to others
As evening approached the disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away. Jesus, instead, commanded his disciples to feed the whole crowd. Why did Jesus expect his disciples to do what seemed impossible – to feed such a large and hungry crowd when there was no adequate provision in sight? Jesus very likely wanted to test their faith and to give them a sign of God’s divine intervention and favor for his people. Jesus took the little they had – five loaves and two fish – and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all until were satisfied of their hunger. Twelves baskets full of fish and loaves that were leftover show the overflowing generosity of God’s gifts to us – gifts that bring blessing, healing, strength, and refreshment.

Bread from heaven to sustain us on our journey
Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts (Luke 9:10-17, Mark 6:34-44, John 6:51-58, Matthew 14:13-21). What is the significance of this miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude recalled the miraculous provision of manna in the wilderness under Moses’ leadership and intercession for his people (Exodus 16). The daily provision of food for the people of Israel during their forty years of journeying in the barren wilderness foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would pass on to his disciples at his last supper meal on the eve of his sacrifice on the cross. Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience (John 6:32-35). The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, when Jesus said the blessing, broke and distributed the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, is a sign that prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper which sustains us on our journey to the kingdom of heaven.

God multiplies the little we have so we can bring his blessing to others
The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God’s provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who lack?

“Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug3.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Lydia Purpuraria
Lydia Purpuraria (1st century) was born at Thyatira (Ak-Hissar), a town in Asia Minor, famous for its dye works, (hence, her name which means purple seller). She became Paul’s first convert at Philippi. She was baptized with her household, and Paul stayed at her home there. Her feast date is August 3.

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

Our Lady of the Angels of Portiuncula (Solemnity)
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 113

First Reading: Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Psalms 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54:  The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Gospel: John 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080215.cfm

Reflection: Is there anything in this life that can truly satisfy our deepest hunger and longing? Many sought Jesus out because he offered them something no one else could give – bread from heaven from the very hand of God himself. When Jesus had performed the miracle of multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish to provide a refreshing and satisfying meal for more than 5000 people (see John 6:1-15), they wanted to make him their king – no doubt because they wanted more. When Jesus withdrew from the crowd and quietly returned to Capernaum to be with his twelve disciples, they ran to seek him there (John 6:24-25). Jesus met them with a probing question – are you looking for physical food that perishes or food that gives eternal life?

Satisfying the hunger for truth, life, and love
Jesus’ question to the crowd, and to each one of us as well, echoes the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2)? There are two fundamental types of hunger – physical and spiritual. Only the Lord Jesus can satisfy the hunger in our heart – the hunger for truth, life, and love. Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger for truth – because in him alone is the Truth which is found in God. Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger for life – because he alone can give us abundant life – the supernatural life of God which transforms us now and lasts forever. Jesus alone can satisfy our deepest hunger for love – the love of God that knows no end, that never fails nor forsakes us, that outlasts sin and death. Jesus alone can satisfy the eternal hunger of our heart, mind, and spirit.

Theresa of Avila’s prayer book contained a bookmark which she wrote: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes.  Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices. Is God enough for you?

Doing the works of God
Jesus also spoke about the works of God and what we must do to be doing the works of God, namely to believe in God’s Son whom he has sent into the world. The Lord Jesus offers a new relationship with God which issues in a new kind of life – a life of sacrificial love, selfless service, and the forgiveness of others which corresponds to God’s mercy, goodness and loving kindness; a life of holiness, purity, and truth which corresponds to God’s holiness; and a life of obedience and trust which corresponds to God’s offer of abundant life, peace, and happiness. This is the work which Jesus directs us to and enables us to perform in the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you hunger for the bread which comes down from heaven and thirst for the words of everlasting life?

“Lord Jesus, you are the true Bread of Heaven. Only you alone can truly satisfy the deepest longing and hunger of my heart. Nourish me with the bread of life that I may be truly satisfied in you alone as the giver of life.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug2.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868)

Born in La Mure d’Isère in southeastern France, Peter Julian’s faith journey drew him from being a priest in the Diocese of Grenoble (1834) to joining the Marists (1839) to founding the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (1856).

In addition to those changes, Peter Julian coped with poverty, his father’s initial opposition to Peter’s vocation, serious illness, a Jansenistic overemphasis on sin and the difficulties of getting diocesan and later papal approval for his new religious community.

His years as a Marist, including service as a provincial leader, saw the deepening of his eucharistic devotion, especially through his preaching of Forty Hours in many parishes.

Inspired at first by the idea of reparation for indifference to the Eucharist, Peter Julian was eventually attracted to a more positive spirituality of Christ-centered love. Members of the men’s community, which Peter founded, alternated between an active apostolic life and contemplating Jesus in the Eucharist. He and Marguerite Guillot founded the women’s Congregation of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament.

Peter Julian Eymard was beatified in 1925 and canonized in 1962, one day after Vatican II’s first session ended. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1929&calendar=1

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

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 406

First Reading: Leviticus 25:1, 8-17
Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 7-8:  O God, let all the nations praise you!
Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080115.cfm

Reflection: Do you ever feel haunted by a past failure or a guilty conscience? King Herod, the most powerful and wealthy man in Judea, had everything he wanted, except a clear conscience and peace with God. Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to rebuke Herod for his adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. He ended up in prison because of Herodias’ jealousy. Herod, out of impulse and a desire to please his family and friends, had John beheaded. Now his conscience is pricked when he hears that all the people are going to Jesus to hear his message of repentance and to see his mighty works. Herod is now haunted by the thought that the prophet he murdered might now be raised from the dead!

A sign of vanity and cowardice
Unfortunately for Herod, he could not rid himself of sin by ridding himself of the man who confronted him with his sin. Herod’s power and influence was badly flawed. 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. Where do you get the strength of will and heart to choose what is right and to reject what is bad?

God is our help and our strength
The Lord Jesus gives grace and help to the humble, to those who acknowledge their weaknesses and their sinfulness, and who look to God for his mercy and pardon, wisdom and strength. His grace and pardon not only frees us from a guilty conscience, it enables us to pursue holiness in every area of our lives, in our thoughts and intentions as well as our words and actions.

Fight fear with faith
God’s grace enables us to fight fear with faith and to overcome the temptation to compromise good with evil. Do you rely on God’s grace and help to choose his way of holiness and to reject whatever would weaken your faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ?

“Heavenly Father, form in me the likeness of your Son Jesus that I may imitate him in word and deed. Help me to live the gospel faithfully and give me the strength and courage I need to not shrink back in the face of hardship and temptation.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/aug1.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.

In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.

At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups.

He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.

Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions.

He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.

His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.

At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.

Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1094&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Lectionary: 405

First Reading: Leviticus 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34-37
Psalms 81:3-6, 10-11:  Sing with joy to God our help.
Gospel: Matthew 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house.”
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073115.cfm

Reflection: Are you critical towards others, especially those who are close to you? The most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative, neighbor, student, or worker we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his home town, not simply as the carpenter’s son, but now as a rabbi with disciples. It would have been customary for Jesus to go to the synagogue each week during the Sabbath, and when his turn came, to read from the scriptures during the Sabbath service. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns.

What sign would he do in his hometown? Jesus startled them with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazareth took offense at him and refused to listen to what he had to say. They despised his preaching because he was a carpenter from the working class, and a mere layman untrained by religious scholars. They also despised him because of his family background. After all, Joseph was a tradesman as well and Mary had no special social distinctions.

Familiarity breeds contempt
How easily familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus could do no mighty works in his hometown because the people who were familiar with him were closed-minded and despised his claim to speak and act in the name of God. If people come together to hate and refuse to understand others different than themselves, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others. How do you view those who are familiar to you? With kindness and respect or with a critical and judgmental spirit?

The Lord Jesus offers us freedom from sin, prejudice, contempt, and fear. His love and grace sets us free to love others with the same grace and mercy which he has shown to us. Only Jesus can truly set us free from the worst tyranny possible – slavery to sin and the fear of death. His victory on the cross brings us pardon and healing, and the grace to live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you know the joy and freedom which Christ’s love brings to our hearts?

“Lord Jesus, your love conquers every fear and breaks the power of hatred and prejudice. Flood my heart with your mercy and compassion, that I may treat my neighbor with the same favor and kindness which you have shown to me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul30.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)

The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat (near Barcelona). He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned.

It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the Spiritual Exercises.

He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. He spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods.

In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others (one of whom was St. Francis Xavier, December 2) vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general.

When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society.

Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1093&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 404

First Reading: Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
Psalms 84:3-6, 8, 11: How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!
Gospel: Matthew 13:47-53

Jesus said to the disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom
both the new and the old.”
When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073015.cfm

Reflection: What can a story of a dragnet and a great catch of fish tell us about God’s kingdom? The two most common ways of fishing in Jesus’ time was with a casting-net (or hand-net) which was thrown from the shore and the drag-net or trawl which was let down or cast into the waters from a boat. As the boat moved through the waters the dragnet was drawn into the shape of a great cone which indiscriminately took in all kinds of fish and flotsam and jetsam swept in its path. It usually took several men to haul such a net to shore.

Reward and judgment at the end of the age
What is Jesus’ point here? Just as a drag-net catches every kind of fish in the sea, so the church acts as God’s instrument for gathering in all who will come. Just as the drag-net does not or cannot discriminate, so the church does not discriminate between the good and the bad, the useless and the useful. God’s kingdom is open to all who will accept and believe. But there will come a time of separation, at the close of the age, when the angels will send the good and the bad to their respective destinations. Our duty is to gather in all who will come.

God, in the end of this age, will give the good (those who accept God’s word and obey it) and the bad (those who reject God and his word) the reward they deserve. God offers the treasure of his kingdom to all who believe in him and who accept his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Do you hunger for God and for his everlasting kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy?

Trained for the kingdom of heaven
What is the point of Jesus’ parable about a “scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:52)? Scribes were specially devoted to the study and practice of God’s word entrusted to Moses (the first five books of the Bible) and in instructing others in how to live according to it. In the Old Testament Ezra was called “the ready scribe of the law of the God of heaven” (Book of Ezra 7:6,21). He received this title because he “had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). Ezra’s heart was set on the kingdom of heaven because he revered God’s word and he taught others through example and instruction to love and obey God’s word.

The old and new treasure of God’s word
Why does Jesus compare a “trained scribe” with a “householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52)? Some people love to store up old prized possessions along with their newly acquired prizes. Others are eager to get rid of the old to make room for the new. So why does Jesus seem to emphasize keeping the old along with the new? Why not replace the old, especially if the new seems to be better or more useful? Wouldn’t a person want to throw away an old pair of shoes and replace them with a new pair – especially if the old pair became well-worn or torn beyond repair? But, who in his right mind would throw away an old precious jewel or some old gold coins simply because they were ancient and maybe tarnished a bit? Precious gems and gold do not lose their value with age!

Like choice vintage wine they increase in value. Jesus’ parable of the “old” and the “new” certainly points to the “older covenants” which God made with his covenanted people of the Old Testament, beginning with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with Moses on Mount Sinai, and with King David the precursor of the Messiah (Psalm 89:3 and Psalm 110:1). Jesus’ parable also points to the “new covenant” which he came to establish through the shedding of his blood on the cross and the anointing of his Holy Spirit who seals the new covenant on the day of Pentecost. Jesus did not come to abolish the Old Covenant but to fulfill it. The Lord calls us to treasure all of his word – all of his commandments, promises, precepts, and teaching (Psalm 119:14,72,127,162). Do you promise to keep all of God’s commands? The Lord gives strength, blessing, and joy to those who treasure all of his word.

We would be impoverished today if we only possessed the treasures of the word of God in the “Old Testament” Scriptures or if we only knew the treasures of the “New Testament” Scriptures. Both the Old and New Testament Scriptures are given by the same eternal Father, inspired by the same eternal Holy Spirit, and fulfilled by the same eternal Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and who was sent from heaven to take on human flesh for our salvation (John 1:1-3,14).

Unity of the Old and New Testaments
There is a profound unity between the Old and New Testaments. Both are divinely inspired by one and the same Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). The Old Testament prepares for the New and the New Testament fulfils the Old – the two shed light on each other. The Old Testament prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ as the redeemer of all who would be saved through his sacrifice on the cross. The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New. That is why Jesus interpreted the Old Testament Scriptures for his disciples and explained how he came to fufill what was promised and foreshadowed in the Old (Luke 24:27). That is why we read the Old Testament in the light of Christ’s saving death and resurrection. Do you revere the word of God in the Scriptures – both old and new – and see their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Lord Jesus, may your word take deep root in my heart and transform my way of thinking, discerning, and acting. May your Spirit open my ears to hear and understand the word of God in the Scriptures that I may revere and treasure both the Old and the New Testaments which God has prepared for all who desire to enter his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Help me to be a diligent student and faithful disciple of your word.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul30.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Leopold Mandic (1887-1942)

Western Christians who are working for greater dialogue with Orthodox Christians may be reaping the fruits of Father Leopold’s prayers.

A native of Croatia, Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and was ordained several years later in spite of several health problems. He could not speak loudly enough to preach publicly. For many years he also suffered from severe arthritis, poor eyesight and a stomach ailment.

Leopold taught patrology, the study of the Church Fathers, to the clerics of his province for several years, but he is best known for his work in the confessional, where he sometimes spent 13-15 hours a day. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.

Leopold’s dream was to go to the Orthodox Christians and work for the reunion of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. His health never permitted it. Leopold often renewed his vow to go to the Eastern Christians; the cause of unity was constantly in his prayers.

At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is “to have lost all sense of sin,” Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation.

Leopold, who lived most of his life in Padua, died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1090&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Memorial of Saint Martha
Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 403/607

First Reading: Exodus 34:29-35
Psalms 99:5-7, 9: Holy is the Lord our God.
Gospel: John 11:19-27

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072915.cfm

Reflection: What gives us hope and joy in the face of death? The loss of a loved one naturally produces grief and anguish of heart. When Martha, the sister of Lazarus and a close friend of Jesus, heard that Jesus was coming to pay respects for the loss of Lazarus, she immediately went out to meet him before he could get to her house. What impelled her to leave the funeral party in order to seek Jesus out? Was it simply the companionship and consolation of a friend who loved her brother deeply? Or did she recognize in Jesus the hope that God would restore life?

Jesus strengthens us in faith and hope
Martha, like many Orthodox Jews, believed in the life to come. The loss of her brother did not diminish her hope in the resurrection. She even gently chides Jesus for not coming soon enough to save Lazarus from an untimely death. Jesus does something unexpected and remarkable both to strengthen her faith and hope in the life to come and to give her a sign of what he was to accomplish through his own death and resurrection. Jesus gave to her belief a new and profound meaning: He came from the Father to defeat sin and death for us and to restore life to those who believe in him.

Jesus gives abundant life now and forever
Jesus states unequivocally the he himself is the Resurrection and the Life. The life he offers is abundant life – life which issues from God himself. And everlasting life – the fulness of life which knows no end. Do you seek the abundant life which Jesus offers to those who believe in him?

“Lord Jesus, you are the Resurrection and the Life. Strengthen my faith and hope in your promises that I may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul29.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Martha, Patron of Cooks

Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death.

No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner.

Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “…[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a).

Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27). http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1091&calendar=1

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Feastday of Saint Brother Jaime Hilario
Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 402

First Reading: Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
Psalms 103:6-13: The Lord is kind and merciful.
Gospel: Matthew 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072815.cfm

Reflection: Are you quick to judge the faults of others? Jesus’ parable teaches us patience lest we judge before the time is right. Jesus also warns that there is an enemy who seeks to destroy the good seed of his word before it can bear fruit. Both good and evil can be sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. We must stand guard lest evil take root in our hearts and corrupt us.

Reaping what we sow in this life
Charles Read wrote: “Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” In the day of judgment each will reap what he or she has sown in this life. Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fulness of God’s love. Do you allow the love of Jesus Christ to rule in your heart, thoughts, and actions?

“Lord Jesus, may your all-consuming love rule in my heart and transform my life that I may sow what is good, worthy, and pleasing to you.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul28.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Brother Jaime Hilario (1898-1937)

Raised in a pious and hardworking family near the Pyrenees mountains. Entered the seminary at age 12, but when his hearing began to fail in his teens, he was sent home. Joined the Brothers of the Christian Schools at age 19, entering the noviate on 24 February1917 at Irun, Spain, taking the name Jaime Hilario. Exceptional teacher and catechist, he believed strongly in the value of universal education, especially for the poor. However, his hearing problems grew worse, and in the early 1930s, he was forced to retire fromteaching, and began work in the garden at the LaSalle house at San Jose, Tarragona, Spain. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=7259

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 401

First Reading: Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34
Psalms 106:19-23: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Gospel: Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:

I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072715.cfm

Reflection: What can mustard seeds and leaven teach us about the kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God’s kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of  men and women who are receptive to God’s word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within.

Hidden power of transforming seeds and leaven
Leaven is another powerful agent of change. A lump of dough left to itself remains just what it is, a lump of dough. But when the leaven is added to it a transformation takes place which produces rich and wholesome bread when heated – the staple of life for humans.

God’s word has power to transforms us
The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield our lives to Jesus Christ and allow his word to take root in our heart, we are transformed and made holy by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Paul the Apostle says, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Do you believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit?

“Heavenly Father, fill me with your Holy Spirit and transform me into the Christ-like holiness you desire. Increase my zeal for your kingdom and instill in me a holy desire to live for your greater glory.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul26.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Pantaleon, Patron of Physicians, midwives, livestock, invoked against headaches, consumption, locusts, witchcraft, accidents and loneliness, helper for crying children (275-303)

St Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. He was such a famous doctor that the Emperor himself chose him for his own doctor. Pantaleon was a Christian, but the bad influence from the pagan court caused him to give up his Christian faith entirely.

A holy priest named Hermolaos made him realize what a sin he had committed. Pantaleon listened to him, detested his sin and joined the Church once more. To make up for what he had done, he greatly desired to suffer and die for Jesus. In the meantime, he imitated Our Lord’s charity by taking care of poor sick people without any charge for his medical services.

When the Emperor Diocletian began his persecution, Pantaleon at once gave away everything he owned to the poor. Not long afterwards, he was accused of being a Christian. He was given the choice of denying his Faith or being put to death. No torture could force Pantaleon to deny his Faith.

There has been strong devotion in past ages to this Saint. In the East he is called the “Great Martyr and Wonder-worker.” Saint Pantaleon’s feast day is July 27th.

http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1088&calendar=1

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 110

First Reading: 2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalms 145:10-11, 15-18: The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Gospel: John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him,
because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.
Jesus went up on the mountain,
and there he sat down with his disciples.
The Jewish feast of Passover was near.
When Jesus raised his eyes
and saw that a large crowd was coming to him,
he said to Philip,
“Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”
He said this to test him,
because he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him,
“Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough
for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples,
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish;
but what good are these for so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them,
and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves
that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said,
“This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off
to make him king,
he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072615.cfm

Reflection: Can anything on this earth truly satisfy the deepest longing and hunger we experience for God? A great multitude had gathered to hear Jesus, no doubt because they were hungry for the word of life. Jesus’ disciples wanted to send them away at the end of the day because they did not have the resources to feed them. They even complained how much money it would take to feed such a large crowd – at least six month’s wages! Jesus, the Bread of Life, took the little they had – five loaves and two fish – and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all until they were satisfied of their hunger.

The people of Israel had been waiting for the prophet whom Moses had promised: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren – him shall you heed (Deuteronomy 18:15). The signs which Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand signified that God has indeed sent him as the anointed Prophet and King. Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle that is repeated in all four gospel accounts. What is the significance of this particular miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God’s provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under Moses’ leadership (Exodus 16). This daily provision of food in the barren wilderness foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers.

Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks, and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.

When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the “bread of life”?

The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God’s provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who are in need?

“Lord Jesus, you satisfy the deepest longing of our heart and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul26.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Saints Joachim and Anne

In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.

The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.

The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.

Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1088&calendar=1

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of Saint James, the Greater, Apostle
Lectionary: 605

First Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalms 126:1-6: Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Gospel: Matthew 20:20-28

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072515.cfm

Reflection: Who doesn’t want to be first, and to be esteemed and honored by others? We seem to have an unquenchable thirst for recognition and fame, power and authority to rule our own lives as we please as well as the lives of others. Should we be surprised to see the disciples of Jesus thirsting for power, position, and authority? James and John, the sons of Zebedee, urged their mother to strike a deal with Jesus, their Master and Messiah. They wanted the distinction of being first and most important in position, next to Jesus, of course!

Jesus turns authority and power upside down
When Jesus called the twelve apostles to be his inner circle of disciples who would teach and exercise spiritual authority on his behalf, he did the unthinkable! Jesus taught contrary to the world’s understanding of power, authority, and position, by reversing the order of master and servant, lord and subject, first and last! Jesus wedded authority with love, position with sacrifice, and service with humility. Authority without love is over-bearing and slavish. Position without respect and concern for the subordinate is demeaning and rude. And service without generosity and sacrifice is cheap and unkind.

Those who wish to serve with the Lord Jesus and to exercise authority in God’s kingdom must be prepared to sacrifice – not just some of their time, money, and resources – but their whole lives and all that they possess! Jesus used stark language to explain what kind of sacrifice he had in mind. His disciples must drink his cup if they expect to reign with him in his kingdom. The cup he had in mind was a bitter one involving crucifixion. What kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for us? For some disciples such a cup entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom. But for many, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations.

Christ’s way of love and service
A disciple of Jesus must be ready to lay down his or her life – each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required – and even to the point of shedding one’s blood if necessary for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. What makes such sacrifice a joy rather than a burden? It is love – the kind of “love which God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression: “to serve is to reign with Christ.”  We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service and love for one another, just as Jesus did for our sake. Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as  Jesus has taught and modeled for us?

“Lord Jesus, make me a servant of love for your kingdom, that I may seek to serve rather than be served. Inflame my heart with love that I may give generously and serve joyfully for your sake.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul25.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. James, the Greater, Patron of Laborers

This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20).

James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani.

Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!”

The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.

On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).

James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).

This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1087&calendar=1

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
St. Sharbel Makhluf, Priest (Optional Memorial)
Lectionary: 399

First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17
Psalms 19:8-11: Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
Gospel: Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Hear the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom
without understanding it,
and the Evil One comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072415.cfm

Reflection: How good are you at listening, especially for the word of God? God is ever ready to speak to each of us and to give us understanding of his word.  This parable of Jesus is a warning to those who hear and who preach the word of God. What makes us ineffective and unresponsive to God’s word? Preoccupation with other things can distract us from what is truly important and worthwhile. And  letting our hearts and minds be consumed with material things can easily weigh us down and draw us away from the treasure that lasts for eternity.

Allowing God’s word to take root in our heart
God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart which is docile and ready to hear what God has to say. One lesson is clear: the harvest is sure.While some seed will fall by the wayside and some fall on shallow ground and never come to maturity, and some be choked to death by the thorns; nonetheless a harvest will come. The seed that falls on good soil, on the heart that is receptive, will reap abundant fruit. Are you teachable and eager to learn God’s truth? And do you allow anything to keep you from submitting to God’s word with joy and trusting obedience?

“Lord Jesus, help me to guard the word you have planted in my heart that no doubt or temptation may keep me from believing and obeying you. May I be fruitful in your service and may I never fear to speak of you to others and to share with them the good news of the gospel.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul24.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Sharbel Makhluf (1828-1898)

Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely.

Joseph Zaroun Makluf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later.

Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.

He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1928&calendar=1

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 398

First Reading: Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20
Psalms Daniel 3:52-56 : Glory and praise for ever!
Gospel: Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:

You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072315.cfm

Reflection: Do you want to grow in your knowledge of God? Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) once said: “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” Both faith and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to hear God’s word with clarity so we can know God better and grow in the knowledge of his love and truth. Jesus, however, had to warn his disciples that not everyone would understand his teaching.

Closed hearts – prejudiced minds
The prophet Isaiah had warned that some would hear God’s word, but not believe, some would see God’s actions and miracles, and remained unconvinced. Ironically some of the greatest skeptics of Jesus’ teaching and miracles were the learned scribes and Pharisess who prided themselves on their knowledge of scripture, especially on the law of Moses. They heard Jesus’ parables and saw the great signs and miracles which he performed, but they refused to accept both Jesus and his message. How could they “hear and never understand” and “see but never perceive”? They were spiritually blind and deaf because their hearts were closed and their minds were blocked by pride and prejudice. How could a man from Galilee, the supposed son of a carpenter, know more about God and his word, than these experts who devoted their lives to the study and teaching of the law of Moses?

The humble of heart receive understanding
There is only one thing that can open a closed, confused, and divided mind – a broken heart and humble spirit! The word disciple means one who is willing to learn and ready to submit to the wisdom and truth which comes from God. Psalm 119 expresses the joy and delight of a disciple who loves God’s word and who embraces it with trust and obedience. “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” (Psalm 119:97-99)

Listen with reverence and faith
God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God’s word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may “hear but not understand” and “see but not perceive.” God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God’s word, we must listen with reverence and faith. Do you believe God’s word and do you submit to it with trust and reverence?

Jerome, an early church bible scholar who lived between 342-419 AD, wrote: “You are reading [the scriptures]? No.Your betrothed is talking to you. It is your betrothed, that is, Christ, who is united with you. He tears you away from the solitude of the desert and brings you into his home, saying to you, ‘Enter into the joy of your Master.'”

“Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide. Open my ears to hear God’s word and open my eyes to understand God’s action in my life. May my heart never grow dull and may my ears never tire of listening to the voice of Christ.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul23.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word Singapore

Saint of the Day: St. Bridget (1303?-1373)

From age seven on, Bridget had visions of Christ crucified. Her visions formed the basis for her activity—always with the emphasis on charity rather than spiritual favors.

She lived her married life in the court of the Swedish king Magnus II. Mother of eight children (the second eldest was St. Catherine of Sweden), she lived the strict life of a penitent after her husband’s death.

Bridget constantly strove to exert her good influence over Magnus; while never fully reforming, he did give her land and buildings to found a monastery for men and women. This group eventually expanded into an Order known as the Bridgetines (still in existence).

In 1350, a year of jubilee, Bridget braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome. Although she never returned to Sweden, her years in Rome were far from happy, being hounded by debts and by opposition to her work against Church abuses.

A final pilgrimage to the Holy Land, marred by shipwreck and the death of her son, Charles, eventually led to her death in 1373. In 1999, she, Saints Catherine of Siena (April 29) and Teresa Benedicts of the Cross (Edith Stein, August 9) were named co-patronesses of Europe. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1085&calendar=1

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Posted by: RAM | July 21, 2015

Wednesday (July 22): “I have seen the Lord!”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene
Lectionary: 397/603

First Reading: Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15
Psalms 78:18-19, 23-28: The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Gospel: John 20:1-2, 11-18

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew,
“Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her,
“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he told her.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072215.cfm

Reflection: Do you recognize the presence and reality of the Lord Jesus in your life? How easy it is to miss the Lord when our focus is on ourselves! Mary Magdalene did not at first recognize the Lord Jesus after he had risen from the grave because her focus was on the empty tomb and on her own grief. It took only one word from the Master, when he called her by name, for Mary to recognize him.

Recognizing the Lord’s presence in our lives
Mary’s message to the disciples, I have seen the Lord, is the very essence of Christianity. It is not enough that every Christian know something about the Lord, but that each one of us know him personally and intimately. It is not enough to argue about him, but that we meet him. Through the power of his resurrection we can encounter the living Lord who loves us personally and shares his glory with us.

The Lord Jesus gives us “eyes of faith” to see the truth of his resurrection and his victory over sin and death (Ephesians 1:18). The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our hope – the hope that we will see God face to face and share in his everlasting glory and joy.

Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Do you recognize the Lord’s presence with you, in his word, in the “breaking of the bread”, and in his church, the body of Christ?

“Lord Jesus, may I never fail to recognize your voice nor lose sight of your presence in your saving word.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul22.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word Singapore

Saint of the Day: St. Mary Magdalene

Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene. Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.

Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women. Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication, at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or, possibly, severe illness.

Father Wilfrid J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the New Catholic Commentary, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.” Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that she “is not…the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.” She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother. And, of all the “official” witnesses that might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given. She is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.” http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1084&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest, Doctor of the Church (Feast)
Lectionary: 396

First Reading: Exodus 14:21-15:1
Psalms Exodus 15:8-9, 10 and 12, 17: Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
Gospel: Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside,
asking to speak with you.”
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072115.cfm

Reflection: Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Why does Jesus seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives is unquestionable. Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.

God offers the greatest of relationships
What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity. God offers us the greatest of relationships – union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (1 John 4:8,16).

God’s love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, and unstopable. Nothing can deter him from ever leaving us, ignoring us, or treating us unkindly. He will love us no matter what. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us – to be united with him and to share in his love and unity of persons (1 John 3:1). God is a trinity of persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and a community of love. That is why Jesus challenged his followers and even his own earthly relatives to recognize that God is the true source of all relationships. God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love.

The heavenly Father’s offer of friendship and adoption
Jesus Christ is God’s love incarnate – God’s love made visible in human flesh (1 John 4:9-10). That is why Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and the shepherd who seeks out the sheep who have strayed and lost their way. God is like the father who yearns for his prodigal son to return home and then throws a great party for his son when he has a change of heart and comes back (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that we become the adopted children of God – his own sons and daughters. That is why Jesus told his disciples that they would have many new friends and family relationships in his kingdom. Whoever does the will of God is a friend of God and a member of his family – his sons and daughters who have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ.

Our brothers and sisters redeemed in the blood of Christ
An early Christian martyr once said that “a Christian’s only relatives are the saints” – namely those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and adopted as sons and daughters of God. Those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ and who live as his disciples enter into a new family, a family of “saints” here on earth and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. Our adoption as sons and daughters of God transforms all of our relationships and requires a new order of loyalty to God first and to his kingdom of righteousness and peace. Do you want to grow in love and friendship? Allow God’s Holy Spirit to transform your heart, mind, and will to enable you to love freely and generously as he loves.

“Heavenly Father, you bless us with many relationships and you invite us into the community of your sons and daughters who have been redeemed by your son, Jesus Christ. Help me to love my neighbor with charity, kindness, compassion, and mercy, just as you have loved me. In all of my relationships, and in all that I do and say, may I always seek to bring you honor and glory.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul21.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619)

At first glance perhaps the most remarkable quality of Lawrence of Brindisi is his outstanding gift of languages. In addition to a thorough knowledge of his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French.

He was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.

When he was just 16 he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.

With his facility for languages he was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.

In 1956 the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.

Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.

Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1451&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
39th Death Anniversary of Rev. Fr. Godofredo Aldenhuijsen, cicm
Lectionary: 395

First Reading: Exodus 14:5-18
Psalms Exodus 15:1-6 : Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
Gospel: Matthew 12:38-42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072015.cfm

Reflection: What would the Lord Jesus say about our generation? Jesus gave a rather stern warning to his generation when they demanded a sign from him. It was characteristic of the Jews that they demanded “signs” from God’s messengers to authenticate their claims. Jesus faulted them for one thing: spiritual adultery. The image of adultery was often used in the Scriptures for describing apostasy or infidelity towards God.

Signs from God
When the religious leaders pressed Jesus to give proof for his claims to be the Messiah sent from God, he says in so many words that he is God’s sign and that they need no further evidence from heaven than his own person. The Ninevites recognized God’s warning when Jonah spoke to them, and they repented (Jonah 3:5). And the Queen of Sheba recognized God’s wisdom in Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-9). Jonah was God’s sign and his message was the message of God for the people of Nineveh. Unfortunately the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were not content to accept the signs right before their eyes. They had rejected the message of John the Baptist and now they reject Jesus as God’s Anointed One (Messiah) and they fail to heed his message.

Simeon had prophesied at Jesus’ birth that he was destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against… that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus confirmed his message with many miracles in preparation for the greatest sign of all – his resurrection on the third day.

The Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom and understanding
The Lord Jesus, through the gift of his Holy Spirit, offers us freedom from sin and ignorance, and he gives us wisdom and understanding so that we may grow in knowledge of God and his ways. Do you thirst for God and for the wisdom which comes from above? James the Apostle says that the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity (James 3:17). A double-minded person cannot receive this kind of wisdom. If we wish to be wise in God’s ways, then we must humble ourselves before him, like attentive students who wish to learn, and submit our heart and mind to his will for our lives.

The single of heart and mind desire one thing alone – God who is the source of all wisdom, goodness, truth, and knowledge. Do you wish to be wise and loving as God is wise and loving? Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the wisdom which comes from above and to free your heart from all that would hinder God’s loving action in your life.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may grow in wisdom and knowledge of your love and truth. Free me from stubborn pride and wilfulness that I may wholly desire to do what is pleasing to you.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul20.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Apollinaris (1st century)

According to tradition, St. Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1927&calendar=1

Commemoration: Rev. Fr. Godofredo Aldenhuijsen, CICM

At the age of 14, young Godofredo entered the Minor Seminary of St. Michels Gestel, North Brabant and later joined the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary [CICM] at Scheut on September 7, 1903.  He took his philosophy at the Mother House in Scheut and his Theology at the Jesuit Theological Seminary in Louvain.

At the age of 26, on July 18,1909, Godofredo Aldenhuijsen was ordained a priest of God at the seminary in Scheut with Msgr. Van Ronsle as the officiating prelate.  Barely three months after ordination, the new priest, together with 7 Belgian missionaries, boarded a steam-powered train in Brussels for Genoa, a trip which took some 24 hours, as the train sliced through the borders of Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy.  At Genoa the missionary entourage unpacked their bags in the comfortable cabins of the German ocean liner, “Princess Alice”, of the Norddeutscher Lloyd Lines for their four-week voyage to Hong Kong – then to the Philippines.

Father Godofredo first set foot on Philippine soil in October, 1909.  But Paco was not to be his first assignment.  In the morning of October 23, 1909, after spending his first night in the country at an old house on 2020 Herran [Pedro Gil Street], Father Godofredo boarded a train at the old wooden station in Paco for his first taste of missionary work: to teach in a school in Cavite.

During the first 50 years of his priesthood,  he was made parish priest of San Roque in June, 1910. After. a year he was transferred as assistant parish priest in Pasig, Rizal [now Pasig City]. His first assignment to become parish priest of Paco came on September 7, 1912.  He was to remain there for 7 years. In 1919, he was reassigned to Pasig, this time as parish priest.  Completing his first 13 years in the Philippines in April, 1922, his superior sent him to Sparrendaal, Holland, to serve as procurator of one of the study houses.  He returned to the Philippines in July, 1924, to become once more parish priest of Pasig.  Then he was made Provincial Superior of the Congregation from July 15, 1925 to August, 1930. In March, 1931, he returned to Paco.

Even the briefest review of Father Godofredo’s life, however, shows the builder in the man. First he built the Paco rectory in 1916 where the St. John’s Building now stands.  Then for two years, 1931 to 1933, he built the concrete church of Paco, complete with two towers.  In 1934 he broke ground for the Paco Catholic School building, the new rectory, and a convent for the Sisters of the Missionary Canonesses of St. Augustine.   In 1938, having completed a year-by-year expansion of what used to be only an elementary school, Father Godofredo witnessed the first High School Commencement Exercises of Paco Catholic School.

Fr. Godofredo continued to stay in Paco even after the other CICM Fathers and ICM Sisters have taken over the administration of the School and the Parish.  He also celebrated mass in the small chapel in what used to be the Sisters’ Convent and the in the parish church. He died peacefully in the morning of July 20, 1976.  He was initially buried in the CICM cemetery in Pasig City.  His remains were transferred beneath his bust in the church patio and now in the high school quadrangle.

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 107

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalms 23:1-6:   The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071915.cfm

Reflection: What does the image of a shepherd tell us about God’s care for us? Shepherding was one of the oldest of callings in Israel, even before farming, since the Chosen People had traveled from place to place, living in tents, and driving their flocks from one pasture to another. Looking after sheep was no easy calling. It required great skill and courage. Herds were often quite large, thousands or even ten thousands of sheep. The flocks spent a good part of the year in the open country. Watching over them required a great deal of attention and care.

Stray sheep must be brought back lest they die
Sheep who strayed from the flock had to be sought out and brought back by the shepherd. Since hyenas, jackals, wolves, and even bear were common and fed on sheep, the shepherds often had to do battle with these wild and dangerous beasts. A shepherd literally had to put his life on the line in defending his sheep. Shepherds took turns watching the sheep at night to ward off any attackers. The sheep and their shepherds continually lived together. Their life was so intimately bound together that individual sheep, even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.

God himself leads us like a good shepherd
The Old Testament often spoke of God as shepherd of his people, Israel. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! (Psalm 80:1) We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). The Messiah is also pictured as the shepherd of God’s people: He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms(Isaiah 40:11).

Jesus told his disciples that he was the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for his sheep (Matthew 18:12, Luke 15:4, John 10). When he saw the multitude of people in need of protection and care, he was moved to respond with compassionate concern. His love was a personal love for each and every person who came to him in need.

Jesus is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls
Peter the apostle called Jesus the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). Do you know the peace and security of a life freely submitted to Jesus, the Good Shepherd? In the person of the Lord Jesus we see the unceasing vigilance and patience of God’s love. In our battle against sin and evil, Jesus is ever ready to give us help, strength, and refuge. Do you trust in his grace and help at all times?

“Lord Jesus, you guard and protect us from all evil. Help me to stand firm in your word and to trust in your help in all circumstances. May I always find rest and refuge in the shelter of your presence.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul19.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Arsenius the Great (d. 450)
Confessor and hermit on the Nile. Arsenius, who was born in Rome in 354, was the tutor of the children of Emperors Theodosius I the Great, Arcadius, and Honorius. At that time, Arsenius was a Roman deacon recommended for the office by Pope St. Damasus. lie served at Theodosius’ court in Constantinople for about ten years and then became a monk in Alexandria, Egypt. Inheriting a fortune from a relative, Arsenius studied with St. John the Dwarf and became a hermit in the desert of Egypt. In 434, he left Skete and went to the rock of Troe, near Memphis, Egypt, and to the island of Canopus near Alexandria. He died at Troe. Arsenius is sometimes called “the Roman” or “the Deacon.” http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1560

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Saturday Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 394

First Reading: Exodus 12:37-42
Psalms 136:1, 23-24, 10-15:   His mercy endures forever. 
Gospel: Matthew 12:14-21

The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus
to put him to death.

When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place.
Many people followed him, and he cured them all,
but he warned them not to make him known.
This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071815.cfm

Reflection: How do we achieve success and victory in our lives? In everyone’s life there are key moments or turning points on which the whole of one’s life hinges. The mounting confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus was such a decisive event and crisis. The religious leaders became intolerant of Jesus because of their prejudice. Nothing that Jesus would do or say from this point on would be right in their eyes. They conspired, not simply to oppose Jesus but to eliminate him.

Courage and determination to do God’s will
Jesus met this defiance with courage and determination to do his Father’s will. He used the crisis to teach his disciples an important lesson for God’s way to success and victory. The only way to glory in God’s kingdom is through the cross – the cross of suffering and humiliation – which Jesus endured for our sake and for our salvation. We, too, are called to take up our cross every day – to die to sin, selfishness, envy, pride, strife, and hatred – and to lay down our lives in humble service and love for one another, just as Jesus did for our sake.

Matthew quotes from the “Suffering Servant” prophecies of Isaiah to explain how Jesus the Messiah would accomplish his mission – not through crushing power – but through love and sacrificial service (Isaiah 42:1-4). In place of a throne Jesus chose to mount the cross and wear a crown of thorns. He was crucified as our Lord and King (John 19:19; Philippians 2:11) There is no greater proof of God’s love for us than the sacrificial death of his only begotten Son for our sake and our salvation (John 3:16).

Jesus died not only for the Jews but for all the Gentile nations as well. Isaiah had prophesied centuries before, that the Messiah would bring justice to the Gentiles. To the Greek mind, justice involved giving to God and to one’s fellow citizen that which is their due (whatever is owed to them). Jesus taught his disciples to give God not only his due, but to love him without measure just as he loves us unconditionally – without limits or reservation.

Justice tempered with love and mercy
Jesus brings the justice of God’s kingdom tempered with divine love and mercy. He does not bruise the weak or treat them with contempt, but rather shows understanding and compassion. He does not discourage the fainthearted but gives hope, courage, and the strength to persevere through trying circumstances. No trials, failings, and weaknesses can keep us from the mercy and help which Jesus offers to everyone who asks. His grace is sufficient for every moment, every situation, and every challenge we face. When you meet trials and difficulties, do you rely on God’s help and grace?

“Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. Give me strength when I am weak, hope when I am discouraged, peace when I am troubled, consolation when I am sad, and understanding when I am perplexed. Make me an instrument of your love and peace to those who are troubled and without hope.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul18.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Frederick, Patron against deafness (d. 838)

St. Frederick, Bishop of Utrecht, Martyr Frederick was trained in piety and sacred learning among the clergy of the Church of Utrecht. Being ordained priest, he was charged by Bishop Ricfried with the care of instructing converts, and about 825 he was chosen to succeed him as bishop of Utrecht. The new bishop at once began to establish order everywhere, and sent St. Odulf and other zealous and virtuous labourers into the northern parts to dispel the paganism which still subsisted there.

According to tradition St. Frederick became involved in the difficulties between the sons of the emperor, Louis the Debonair, and their father and step-mother. During these disturbances the party of the young princes charged the Empress Judith with numerous immoralities. Whatever may have been the truth of these stories, St. Frederick is said to have admonished her of them, with charity but with the effect of drawing upon himself the fury and resentment of the empress. He also got himself disliked elsewhere. The inhabitants of Walcheren were barbarous and most averse from the Gospel. On which account, St. Frederick, when he sent priests in the northern part of his diocese, took this most dangerous and difficult part chiefly to himself; and nothing gave him more trouble than marriages contracted within the forbidden decrees and the separation of the parties (that the union of Louis and Judith was itself incestuous was an afterthought of hagiographers).

The story goes on that, on July 18, 838, after St. Frederick had celebrated Mass and was about to make his thanksgiving, he was stabbed by two assassins. He died in a few minutes, reciting that verse of Psalm 144, “I will praise the Lord in the land of the living”. The eleventh century author of his life says that these assassins were employed by the Empress Judith, who could not pardon the liberty he had taken to reprove her sins, and was incited thereto by her husband. William of Malmesbury and others repeat the same; but later writers, such as Baronius and Mabillon, think that they were rather sent by some of the inhabitants of Walcheren. And this seems the more likely opinion: for no contemporary makes the charge against Judith and it is not at all in consonance with the attitude of Louis towards episcopal authority and Christian conduct. St.

Frederick composed a prayer to the Blessed Trinity which for many ages was used in the Netherlands. The reputation of his sanctity appears from a poem of Rabanus Maurus, his contemporary, in praise of his virtues. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=349

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 393

First Reading: Exodus 11:10–12:14
Psalms 116:12-13, 15-18:   I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071715.cfm

Reflection: What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment.

Mercy and not sacrifice
Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the Scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom. In their hunger, David and his men ate of the holy bread offered in the Temple. Jesus also quoted of the Sabbath work involved in worship in the Temple. This kind of work was usually double the work of worship on weekdays. Jesus then quotes from the prophet Hosea (6:6): I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. While the claims of ritual sacrifice are important to God, mercy and kindness in response to human need are even more important. Do you honor the Lord in the way you treat your neighbor and celebrate the Lord’s Day?

“Lord, make us to walk in your way: Where there is love and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance; where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor annoyance; where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice; where there is peace and contemplation, there is neither care nor restlessness; where there is the fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter; where there is mercy and prudence, there is neither excess nor harshness; this we know through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226) http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul16.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Servant of God Francis Garcés and Companions (c. 1781)

Government interference in the missions and landgrabbing sparked the Indian uprising which cost these friars their lives.

A contemporary of the American Revolution and of Blessed Junipero Serra, Francisco Garcés was born in 1738 in Spain, where he joined the Franciscans. After ordination in 1763, he was sent to Mexico. Five years later he was assigned to San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, one of several missions the Jesuits had founded in Arizona and New Mexico before being expelled in 1767 from all territories controlled by the Catholic king of Spain. In Arizona, Francisco worked among the Papago, Yuma, Pima and Apache Native Americans. His missionary travels took him to the Grand Canyon and to California.

Friar Francisco Palou, a contemporary, writes that Father Garcés was greatly loved by the indigenous peoples, among whom he lived unharmed for a long time. They regularly gave him food and referred to him as “Viva Jesus,” which was the greeting he taught them to use.

For the sake of their indigenous converts, the Spanish missionaries wanted to organize settlements away from the Spanish soldiers and colonists. But the commandant in Mexico insisted that two new missions on the Colorado River, Misión San Pedro y San Pablo and Misión La Purísima Concepción, be mixed settlements.

A revolt among the Yumas against the Spanish left Friars Juan Diaz and Matias Moreno dead at Misión San Pedro y San Pablo. Friars Francisco Garcés and Juan Barreneche were killed at Misión La Purísima Concepción (the site of Fort Yuma). http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1449&calendar=1

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Month of the Most Precious Blood

Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Optional Memorial)
Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 392

First Reading: Exodus 3:13-20
Psalms 105:1, 5, 8-9, 24-27:  The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071615.cfm

Reflection: What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the Gospel? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, and the yoke of God. Jesus says his yoke is “easy”. The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with his life, our will with his will, and our heart with his heart. To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and obedience.

Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says his “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus’ presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?

Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
Jesus offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sinful habits and hurtful desires. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a weight of glory and victory with him. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of love, grace, and freedom from the power of sin. Do you trust in God’s love and submit to his will and plan for your life?

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul16.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah (northern Israel) in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726 it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.

St. Teresa of Avila (October 15) called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” St. John of the Cross (December 14) credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel and helping him escape from prison. St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (October 1) believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion, she dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.

There is a tradition (which may not be historical) that Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1446&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 391

First Reading: Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12
Psalms 103:1B-2, 3-4, 6-7:    The Lord is kind and merciful.
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071515.cfm

Reflection: Do you want to know the mind and thoughts of God? Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God. What does Jesus’ prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time he shows loving care and goodness toward all his children. All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15).

Pride and inordinate love of self
Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. What makes us ignorant and blind to the things of God? Certainly intellectual pride, coldness of heart, and stubbornness of will shut out God and his kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness. Pride is the root of all vice and the strongest influence propelling us to sin. It first vanquishes the heart, making it cold and indifferent towards God. It also closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. What is pride? It is the inordinate love of oneself at the expense of others and the exaggerated estimation of one’s own learning and importance.

Simplicity of heart
Jesus contrasts intellectual pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like “infants” in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in the one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy. They seek one thing – the “summum bonum” or “greatest good,” who is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility, the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him, as God, to do all. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Only the humble in heart can receive true wisdom and understanding of God and his ways. Do you submit to God’s word with simple trust and humility?

Jesus reveals the Father to us
Jesus makes a claim which no one would have dared to make – he is the perfect revelation of God. One of the greatest truths of the Christian faith is that we can know the living God. Our knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God, but we can know God personally. The essence of Christianity, and what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions, is the knowledge of God as our Father. Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like.

In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus is the perfect revelation of God – a God who loves us completely, unconditionally, and perfectly. Jesus also promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in his name. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray with confidence, Our Father who art in heaven ..give us this day our daily bread.  Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his love and care for you?

“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul15.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Bonaventure (1221-1274)

Bonaventure, Franciscan, theologian, doctor of the Church, was both learned and holy. Because of the spirit that filled him and his writings, he was at first called the Devout Doctor; but in more recent centuries he has been known as the Seraphic Doctor after the “Seraphic Father” Francis because of the truly Franciscan spirit he possessed.

Born in Bagnoregio, a town in central Italy, he was cured of a serious illness as a boy through the prayers of Francis of Assisi. Later, he studied the liberal arts in Paris. Inspired by Francis and the example of the friars, especially of his master in theology, Alexander of Hales, he entered the Franciscan Order, and became in turn a teacher of theology in the university. Chosen as minister general of the Order in 1257, he was God’s instrument in bringing it back to a deeper love of the way of St. Francis, both through the life of Francis which he wrote at the behest of the brothers and through other works which defended the Order or explained its ideals and way of life. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1445&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin
Lectionary: 390

First Reading: Exodus 2:1-15
Psalms 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34:   Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns
where most of his mighty deeds had been done,
since they had not repented.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum:

Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom,
it would have remained until this day.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” http://usccb.org/bible/readings/071415.cfm

Reflection: If Jesus were to visit your community today, what would he say? Would he issue a warning like the one he gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida? And how would you respond? Wherever Jesus went he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida had been blessed with the visitation of God. They heard the good news and experienced the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities? The word woe can mean misfortune, calamity, distress, sorrow, sadness, misery, grief, or wretchedness. It is as much an expression of sorrowful pity and grief as it is of dismay over the calamity and destruction which comes as a result of human folly, sin, and ignorance.

Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the Gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of heart, mind, and soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and obedience or with doubt and indifference?

“Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfilment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226) http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul14.htm/ http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin, was canonized on 10/21/2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle. Kateri became converted as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it. Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified. She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the “Lily of the Mohawks”. Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. Pilgrimages at these sites continue today.

St. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. Her feastday is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=154

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Most Precious Blood

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 389

First Reading: Exodus 1:8-14, 22
Psalms 124:1-8 Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 10:34–11:1

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071315.cfm

Reflection:  Why does Jesus describe his mission and the coming of God’s kingdom in terms of conflict, division, and war? Jesus told his disciples that he did not “come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). The “sword” which Jesus speaks of here is not a physical weapon that cuts people down, but a spiritual weapon that cuts through the inner core of our being to expose the corruption of sinful thoughts and intentions as well as the lies and deception of Satan and his kingdom of darkness.

Sword of the Spirit
Scripture speaks of God’s word as a sharp two-edged sword that “pierces to the division of soul and spirit… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, Revelations 19:15). Scripture also describes “God’s word” as the “sword of the Spirit” which has power to destroy every spiritual stronghold that keep people in bondage to sin, deception, and Satan (Ephesians 6:17). Jesus came to rescue us and bring us freedom to live as citizens of God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

Spiritual warfare
Jesus’ mission was an act of war against the spiritual forces who oppose the kingdom of God and his rule over the earth and the heavens. That is why Jesus identified Satan as the ruler of this world whom he will cast out (John 12:31). The battle Jesus had in mind was not an earthly conflict between individuals and nations, but a spiritual warfare between the forces of Satan and the armies of heaven. Jesus came to wage war against the spiritual powers of this present world that turn the minds and hearts of people away from God and his kingdom of peace and truth.

Kingdom of light versus kingdom of darkness
The Scriptures make clear that there are ultimately only two kingdoms or powers and that they stand in opposition to one another – God’s kingdom of light and  Satan’s kingdom of darkness. John the Apostle contrasts these two oppossing kingdoms in the starkest of terms: We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The Scriptures describe the “world” as that society of people who are opposed to God and his kingdom of righteousness, truth, and goodness. Jesus came to overthrow Satan’s power and to set us free from everything that would hold us back from knowing, loving, and serving God who has loved each one of us with boundless mercy, compassion, and goodness.

God must take first place
Jesus told his disciples that if they followed him it would be costly because they must put God’s kingdom first and obey his word. Whenever a great call is given it inevitably causes division between those who accept and reject it. When Jesus remarked that division would cut very close to home his listeners likely recalled the prophecy of Micah: a man’s enemies are the men of his own household(Micah 7:6). The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or any other thing above God is a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God, a loyalty which is higher than that owed to spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do.

The just reward
True love for God compels us to express charity towards our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not go unrewarded. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Jesus sets before his disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the will of God which leads to everlasting life, peace, and joy with God. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)?

“Lord, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has conceived the things you have prepared for those who love you. Set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that we may love you in and above all things and so receive the rewards you have promised us through Christ our Lord.” (from A Christian’s Prayer Book)

http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jul13.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2015 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day:  St. Henry, Patron of the childless, of Dukes, of the handicapped and those rejected by Religious Order (972-1024)

As German king and Holy Roman Emperor, Henry was a practical man of affairs. He was energetic in consolidating his rule. He crushed rebellions and feuds. On all sides he had to deal with drawn-out disputes so as to protect his frontiers. This involved him in a number of battles, especially in the south in Italy; he also helped Pope Benedict VIII quell disturbances in Rome. Always his ultimate purpose was to establish a stable peace in Europe.

According to eleventh-century custom, Henry took advantage of his position and appointed as bishops men loyal to him. In his case, however, he avoided the pitfalls of this practice and actually fostered the reform of ecclesiastical and monastic life. He was canonized in 1146. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1443&calendar=1

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Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
13 Days Before the First Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: 1 John 2:22-28
Psalms 98:1-4:  All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Gospel: John 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
“I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/010215.cfm

Reflection:  Do you recognize the presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? John the Baptist did such a great job of stirring the peoples’ expectation of the Messiah’s arrival, that many thought he might be the Messiah himself, or at least the great prophet Elijah who was expected to reappear at the Messiah’s coming (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15). John had no mistaken identity. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah King.

John points to the Redeemer who comes to save us from sin and death
John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament Prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! John saw from a distance what the Messiah came to accomplish – our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize your identity as an adopted child of God and a citizen of God’s heavenly kingdom?

John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his prophetic mission:Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Jesus Christ by the testimony of your witness and example?

The Lord reveals his presence to us through the Holy Spirit
Luke tells us that when the presence of the Lord Jesus was revealed to Mary (Luke 1:35), and to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), and to John the Baptist in the womb of his mother (Luke 1:15,41), and to Zechariah, John’s father (Luke 2:67) – they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the presence of the Lord Jesus who comes to dwell within us. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with the Holy Spirit and to renew in you the gifts of faith, hope, and love, and the boldness and courage to point others to the presence and power of the Lord Jesus.

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel that I may eagerly point others to you as John did through his life and testimony.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/jan2.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saints of the Day: St. Gregory Nazianzen (329-390)

After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.

When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.

His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.” http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1249&calendar=1

St. Basil the Great (d. 379), Patron of hospital administrators

St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens, where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. A little later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law. Eventually he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus which he directed for five years. He wrote a famous monastic rule which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was ordained and, in 370, made bishop of Caesaria. In this post until his death in 379, he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity. This earned for him the title of “Great” during his life and Doctor of the Church after his death. Basil was one of the giants of the early Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82 was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. His feast day is January 2. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=261

More Saints 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 Divine Infancy
Friday of the First Week of Advent
20 Days Before Christmas
40 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120514.cfm

Reflection:  Are there any blind-spots in your life that keep you from recognizing God’s power and mercy? When two blind men heard that Jesus was passing their way, they followed him and begged for his mercy. The word mercy literally means “sorrowful at heart”. But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another’s misfortune and suffering as if it were their own. When two blind men approached Jesus, he questioned their earnestness. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Jesus put them to the test, not to rebuff them, but to strengthen their faith and trust in God’s mercy. He touched their eyes, both to identify with their affliction and to awaken faith in them. Their faith grew as they responded to his word with confident hope. Jesus restored their sight – both physically and spiritually to the reality of God’s kingdom. Faith opens the way for us to see the power of God’s kingdom and to experience his healing presence in our lives.

In Jesus we see the fulness of God’s mercy and the power of his kingdom – power to save from death and destruction, to forgive sins and lift the burden of guilt, and to heal infirmities and release the oppressed. Jesus never refused to bring God’s mercy to those who earnestly sought it. How can we seek and obtain God’s mercy? God gives mercy to the lowly in heart – to those who recognize their need for God and for his forgiveness and healing power.

God wants to change and transform our lives to set us free to live as his sons and daughters and citizens of his kingdom. Faith is key to this transformation. How can we grow in faith? Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience – an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in the confident expectation that he will fulfill his promises to us and bring us into the fulness of his kingdom – a kingdom of  righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Do you know the peace and joy of God’s kingdom?

“Lord Jesus, help me to draw near to you with faith and trust in your saving power and mercy. Free me from doubt and unbelief that I may approach you confidently and pray boldly with expectant faith. Let your kingdom come and may your will be done in me.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec5.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Sabas (b. 439)

Born in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), Sabas is one of the most highly regarded patriarchs among the monks of Palestine, and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.

After an unhappy childhood in which he was abused and ran away several times, Sabas finally sought refuge in a monastery. While family members tried to persuade him to return home, the young boy felt drawn to monastic life. Although the youngest monk in the house, he excelled in virtue.

At age 18 he traveled to Jerusalem, seeking to learn more about living in solitude. Soon he asked to be accepted as a disciple of a well-known local solitary, though initially he was regarded as too young to live completely as a hermit. Initially, Sabas lived in a monastery, where he worked during the day and spent much of the night in prayer. At the age of 30 he was given permission to spend five days each week in a nearby remote cave, engaging in prayer and manual labor in the form of weaving baskets. Following the death of his mentor, St. Euthymius, Sabas moved farther into the desert near Jericho. There he lived for several years in a cave near the brook Cedron. A rope was his means of access. Wild herbs among the rocks were his food. Occasionally men brought him other food and items, while he had to go a distance for his water.

Some of these men came to him desiring to join him in his solitude. At first he refused. But not long after relenting, his followers swelled to more than 150, all of them living in individual huts grouped around a church, called a laura.

The bishop persuaded a reluctant Sabas, then in his early 50s, to prepare for the priesthood so that he could better serve his monastic community in leadership. While functioning as abbot among a large community of monks, he felt ever called to live the life of a hermit. Throughout each year–consistently in Lent–he left his monks for long periods of time, often to their distress. A group of 60 men left the monastery, settling at a nearby ruined facility. When Sabas learned of the difficulties they were facing, he generously gave them supplies and assisted in the repair of their church.

Over the years Sabas traveled throughout Palestine, preaching the true faith and successfully bringing back many to the Church. At the age of 91, in response to a plea from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sabas undertook a journey to Constantinople in conjunction with the Samaritan revolt and its violent repression. He fell ill and soon after his return, died at the monastery at Mar Saba. Today the monastery is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and St. Sabas is regarded as one of the most noteworthy figures of early monasticism. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1220&calendar=1

More Saints 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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