Posted by: RAM | November 11, 2016

Saturday (November 12): “Will not God secure the rights of his chosen ones?”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Souls
Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr
Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 496

44 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: 3 John 5-8
Psalms 112:1-6: Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
Gospel: Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, “There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.’”
The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/111216.cfm

Reflection:  What can a shameless and unjust judge pitted against a crusty and pestering woman teach us about justice and vindication in the kingdom of God? Jesus tells a story that is all too true – a defenseless widow is taken advantaged of and refused her rights. Through sheer persistence she wears down an unscrupulous judge until he gives her justice. Persistence pays off, and that’s especially true for those who trust in God. Jesus illustrates how God as our Judge and Vindicator is much quicker to come to our defense and to bring us his justice, blessing, and help when we need it. But we can easily lose heart and forget to ask our heavenly Father for his grace and help.

Faith-filled persistence reaps the fruit of justice and grace
Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) to give his disciples fresh hope and confidence in God’s unfailing care and favor towards us (grace). In this present life we can expect trials and adversity, but we are not without hope in God. The Day of the Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices perpetrated by a fallen world of sinful people and that God’s love is stronger than death (Song of Songs 8:6). Those who put their faith in God and entrust their lives to him can look forward with hope and confident assurance. They will receive their reward – if not fully in this present life then surely and completely in the age to come in God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17).

Jesus ends his parable with a probing question for us. Will you and I have faith – the kind of faith that doesn’t give up or lose hope in God – but perseveres to the end of our lives – and to the end of this present age when the Lord Jesus will return in glory as Ruler and Judge of All? Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. We could not believe, trust, and persevere with hope if God did not first draw us to himself and reveal to us his merciful love and care. If we want to grow and persevere in faith until the end of our days, then we must nourish our faith with the word of God and ask the Lord to increase it (Luke 17:5). When trials and setbacks disappoint you, where do you place your hope and confidence? Do you pray with expectant faith and confident hope in God’s merciful care and provision for you?

“Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make it strong that I may never doubt your word and promise to be with me always. In every situation I face – whether trials, setbacks, or loss – may I always find strength in your unfailing love and find joy and contentment in having you alone as the treasure of my heart.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/nov12.htm www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2016 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Josaphat of Polotsk (1580-1623)
Josaphat, an Eastern Rite bishop, is held up as a martyr to church unity because he died trying to bring part of the Orthodox Church into union with Rome.

In 1054, a formal split called a schism took place between the Eastern Church centered in Constantinople and the Western Church centered in Rome. Trouble between the two had been brewing for centuries because of cultural, political, and theological differences. In 1054 Cardinal Humbert was sent to Constantinople to try and reconcile the latest flare up and wound up excommunicating the patriarch. The immediate problems included an insistence on the Byzantine rite, married clergy, and the disagreement on whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. The split only grew worse from there, centering mostly on whether to except the authority of the Pope and Rome.

More than five centuries later, in what is now known as Byelorussia and the Ukraine but what was then part of Poland-Lithuania, an Orthodox metropolitan of Kiev and five Orthodox bishops decided to commit the millions of Christians under their pastoral care to reunion with Rome. Josaphat Kunsevich who was born in 1580 or 1584 was still a young boy when the Synod of Brest Litovsk took place in 1595-96, but he was witness to the results both positive and negative.

Many of the millions of Christians did not agree with the bishops decision to return to communion with the Catholic Church and both sides tried to resolve this disagreement unfortunately not only with words but with violence. Martyrs died on both sides. Josaphat was a voice of Christian peace in this dissent.

After an apprenticeship to a merchant, Josaphat turned down a partnership in the business and a marriage to enter the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Vilna in 1604. As a teenager he had found encouragement in his vocation from two Jesuits and a rector who understood his heart. And in the monastery he found another soulmate in Joseph Benjamin Rutsky. Rutsky who had joined the Byzantine Rite under orders of Pope Clement VIII after converting from Calvinism shared the young Josaphat’s passion to work for reunion with Rome. The two friends spent long hours making plans on how they could bring about that communion and reform monastic life.

The careers of the two friends parted physically when Josaphat was sent to found new houses in Rome and Rutsky was first made abbot at Vilna. Josaphat replaced Rutsky as abbot when Rutsky became metropolitan of Kiev. Josaphat immediately put into practice his early plans of reform. Because his plans tended to reflect his own extremely austere ascetic tendencies, he was not always met with joy. One community threatened to throw him into the river until his general compassion and his convincing words won them over to a few changes.

Josaphat faced even more problems when he became first bishop of Vitebsk and then Polotsk in 1617. The church there was literally and figuratively in ruins with buildings falling apart, clergy marrying two or three times, and monks and clergy everywhere not really interested in pastoral care or model Christian living. Within three years, Josaphat had rebuilt the church by holding synods, publishing a catechism to be used all over, and enforcing rules of conduct for clergy. But his most compelling argument was his own life which he spent preaching, instructing others in the faith, visiting the needy of the towns.

But despite all his work and the respect he had, the Orthodox separatists found fertile ground with they set up their own bishops in the exact same area. Meletius Smotritsky was named his rival archbishop of Polotsk. It must have hurt Josaphat to see the people he had served so faithfully break into riots when the King of Poland declared Josaphat the only legitimate archbishop. His former diocese of Vitebsk turned completely against the reunion and him along with two other cities.

But what probably hurt even more was that the very Catholics he looked to for communion opposed him as well. Catholics who should have been his support didn’t like the way he insisted on the use of the Byzantine rite instead of the Roman rite. Out of fear or ignorance, Leo Sapiah, chancellor of Lithuania, chose to believe stories that Josaphat was inciting the people to violence and instead of coming to his aid, condemned him. Actually his only act of force was when the separatists took over the church at Mogilev and he asked the civil power to help him return it to his authority.

In October 1623, Josaphat decided to return to Vitebsk to try to calm the troubles himself. He was completely aware of the danger but said, “If I am counted worthy of martyrdom, then I am not afraid to die.”

The separatists saw their chance to get rid of Josaphat and discredit him if they could only stir Josaphat’s party to strike the first blow. Then they would have an excuse to strike back. Their threats were so public that Josaphat preached on the gospel verse John16:2, “Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.” He told the people, “You people want to kill me. You wait in ambush for me in the streets, on the bridges, on the highways, in the marketplace, everywhere. Here I am; I came to you as a shepherd. You know I would be happy to give my life for you. I am ready to die for union of the Church under St. Peter and his successor the Pope.”

But aside from words, Josaphat insisted that his party not react in anyway that did not show patience and forbearance. When the separatists saw that they were not getting the violent response they had hoped for they decided to wear Josaphat and the others down as they plotted more direct action. A priest named Elias went to the house where everyone was staying and shouted insults and threats to everyone he saw, focusing on calumniating Josaphat and the Church of Rome.

Josaphat knew of the plot against him and spent his day in prayer. In the evening he had a long conversation with a beggar he had invited in off the streets.

When Elias was back the next morning of November 12, the servants were at their wits’ ends and begged Josaphat’s permission to do something. Before he went off to say his office he told them they could lock Elias away if he caused trouble again. When he returned to the house he found that the servants had done just that and Josaphat let Elias out of the room.

But it was too late. The mistake had been made. Elias had not been hurt in anyway but as soon as the mob saw that Elias had been locked up they rejoiced in the excuse they had been waiting for. Bells were rung and mobs descended on the house. By the time they reached the house, Elias had been released but the mob didn’t care; they wanted the blood they had been denied for so long.

Josaphat came out in the courtyard to see the mob beating and trampling his friends and servants. He cried out, “My children what are you doing with my servants? If you have anything against me, here I am, but leave them alone!” With shouts of “Kill the papist” Josaphat was hit with a stick, then an axe, and finally shot through the head. His bloody body was dragged to the river and thrown in, along with the body of a dog who had tried to protect him.

The unsung heroes of this horrible terrorism were the Jewish people of Vitebsk. Some of the Jewish people risked their own lives to rush into the courtyard and rescue Josaphat’s friends and servants from the bloodthirsty mobs. Through their courage, lives were saved. These same Jewish people were the only ones to publicly accuse the killers and mourn the death of Josaphat while the Catholics of the city hid in fear of their lives.

As usual violence had the opposite affect from that intended. Regret and horror at how far the violence had gone and the loss of their archbishop swung public opinion over toward the Catholics and unity. Eventually even Archbishop Meletius Smotritsky, Josaphat’s rival, was reconciled with Rome. And in 1867 Josaphat became the first saint of the Eastern church to be formally canonized by Rome. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=71

More Saints of the Day
St. Anastasius XIX
St. Astericus
St. Benedict and Companions
St. Cadwallader
St. Cummian Fada
St. Emilian Cucullatus
St. Evodius
Bl. Gregory Lakota
St. Josaphat of Polotsk
St. Livinus
St. Machar
St. Namphasius
St. Nilus the Elder
St. Paternus
St. Patiens
St. Renatus
St. Rufus of Avignon
St. Ymar

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas

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