Posted by: RAM | January 26, 2017

Friday (January 27): What the kingdom of God is like

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Holy Name
St. Angela Merici, Patron of the sick, disabled and physically challenged people and those grieving the loss of parents (1474-1540)
Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 321

First Reading: Hebrews 10:32-39
Psalms 37:3-6, 23-24, 39-40:  The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day
and the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.
Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.”

He said,
“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012717.cfm

Reflection:  What can mustard seeds 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. Just as a seed has no power to change itself until it is planted in the ground, so we cannot change our lives to be like God until God gives us the power of his Holy Spirit.

The Lord of the Universe is ever ready to transform us by the power of his Spirit. Are you ready to let God change you by his life-giving Word and Spirit? The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to the Lord Jesus and allow his word to take root in us, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within 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?

Peter Chrysologous (400-450 AD), an early church father, explained how the ” tree of the cross” spread its branches throughout the world and grew into a worldwide community of faith offering its fruit to the whole world:

It is up to us to sow this mustard seed in our minds and let it grow within us into a great tree of understanding reaching up to heaven and elevating all our faculties; then it will spread out branches of knowledge, the pungent savor of its fruit will make our mouths burn, its fiery kernel will kindle a blaze within us inflaming our hearts, and the taste of it will dispel our unenlightened repugnance. Yes, it is true: a mustard seed is indeed an image of the kingdom of God. Christ is the kingdom of heaven. Sown like a mustard seed in the garden of the virgin’s womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world. Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has produced seasoning enough for the flavoring and preservation of every living creature with which it comes in contact. As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it is crushed they are exceedingly evident. So it was with Christ; he chose to have his body crushed, because he would not have his power concealed….

Christ became all things in order to restore all of us in himself. The man Christ received the mustard seed which represents the kingdom of God; as man he received it, though as God he had always possessed it. He sowed it in his garden, that is in his bride, the Church. The Church is a garden extending over the whole world, tilled by the plough of the gospel, fenced in by stakes of doctrine and discipline, cleared of every harmful weed by the labor of the apostles, fragrant and lovely with perennial flowers: virgins’ lilies and martyrs’ roses set amid the pleasant verdure of all who bear witness to Christ and the tender plants of all who have faith in him. Such then is the mustard seed which Christ sowed in his garden. When he promised a kingdom to the patriarchs, the seed took root in them; with the prophets it sprang up; with the apostles it grew tall; in the Church it became a great tree putting forth innumerable branches laden with gifts. And now you too must take the wings of the psalmist’s dove, gleaming gold in the rays of divine sunlight, and fly to rest for ever among those sturdy, fruitful branches. No snares are set to trap you there; fly off, then, with confidence and dwell securely in its shelter. (SERMON 98)

Do you allow the seed of God’s word to take deep root in your life and transform you into a fruit-bearing disciple of Jesus Christ?

“Lord Jesus, 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://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/jan27.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Angela Merici, Patron of the sick, disabled and physically challenged people and those grieving the loss of parents (1474-1540)
St. Angela Merici was an Italian religious educator and founder of the Ursulines whose deep prayer life and relationship with the Lord bore the fruit of mystical encounters with God. She was born on March 21, 1474 in Desenzano, a small town on the shore of Lake Garda in Lombardy.

At just 10-years-old, Angela and her older sister became orphans and went to live with their uncle in Salo. There they led a quiet and devout Catholic Christian life. After the untimely death of her sister, Angela was saddened by the fact the that she had not had the opportunity to receive her last Sacraments and was concerned for her sister’s eternal salvation.

Angela was inspired by the Holy Spirit to dedicate herself to the Lord and to give her life in service to the Church to help everyone grow closer to the Lord. Still filled with grief, she prayed for God to reveal the condition of her deceased sister’s soul. In a vision, she learned her sister was in Heaven with the company of saints. She became increasingly more devout and joined the Third Order of St. Francis where she also pledged to remain a consecrated virgin, forsaking marriage to one man to be married to the Lord and His Church.

When Angela was 20-years-old, her uncle died and she returned to Desenzano. She found that around her hometown there were many young girls who had no education and no hope. Her heart was moved. She also became distressed by their ignorance and upset at the parents who had not educated them.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Angela became convinced there was great need for a better way of teaching these young girls. So, she opened her own home to them and began to teach them herself. She devotedly taught them the Catholic Christian faith. By her example and instruction, she taught them to how to pray and participate in the sacramental life of the Church. She evangelized and catechized these young girls, opening them up to the life of grace.

Another vision from the Lord revealed to Angela that she was to found an institution with other consecrated virgins to further devote their lives toward the religious training of young girls. These women had little money and no power, but were bound together by their dedication to education and commitment to Jesus Christ and service to His Church.

Living in their own homes, the girls met for prayer and classes where Angela reminded them, “Reflect that in reality you have a greater need to serve [the poor] than they have of your service.”

Angela’s charming nature and natural leadership qualities made this a successful endeavor. She was so successful she accepted an invitation from the neighboring town, Brescia, to establish a similar school there.

In 1524, she eagerly took on the opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. During the journey, she was suddenly struck with blindness while on the island of Crete. This didn’t stop her though; she continued the journey with as much enthusiasm as she would have if she had her vision. She made the entire pilgrimage and visited the sacred shrines. On the journey back home, her sight was miraculously restored while she was praying before a crucifix in the same place where she had become blind. The Lord showed Angela through this experience that she must never shut her eyes to the needs she saw around her ? to not shut her heart to God’s call.

During the Jubilee year in 1525, Angela traveled to Rome to gain the special grace of the plenary indulgence offered to all Christian pilgrims. Pope Clement VII had heard of Angela and her great holiness. He noted her wonderful success as a religious teacher for young girls and invited her to stay in Rome. Angela was humble, disliked publicity and kindly declined the generous offer.

Though she turned him down, perhaps the pope’s request gave her the inspiration or the push to make her little group more formal. Although it was never recognized formally as a religious order in her lifetime, Angela’s Company of Saint Ursula, or the Ursulines, was the first group of women religious to work outside of the cloister and became the first teaching order of women in the Catholic Church.

On November 25, 1535, Angela gathered together 12 young virgins and laid down the foundation for the Order of the Ursulines at a small house near the Church of St. Afra in Bresica with Angela’s Company of Saint Ursula, under the patronage of St. Ursula.

Angela’s goal was to elevate family life through Christian education for women ? the future wives and mothers. The community she founded was different than many of the religious orders of women which existed in her day. She believed it was important to teach the girls in their own homes with their own families. One of her favorite sayings was, “Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.”

Though the women in the community wore no special religious habit and took no formal vows, Angela wrote a Rule of Life for those who lived and served in the community of women. They did pledge to live a life of consecrated celibacy, poverty and obedience. They lived this Rule of Life within their own homes.

This was the first group of consecrated women to work outside of a formal cloister or convent in her day and became the first teaching order of women in the Catholic Church. The community existed as what is called a “secular institute” until years after Angela’s death.

The Ursulines opened both schools and orphanages and in 1537, Angela was elected “Mother and Mistress” of the group. Her Rule was officially approved by Pope Paul III in 1544 and the Ursulines became a recognized religious community of women with a teaching ministry.

Before her death, Angela reassured her Sisters who were afraid to lose her in death: “I shall continue to be more alive than I was in this life, and I shall see you better and shall love more the good deeds which I shall see you doing continually, and I shall be able to help you more.”

St. Angela Merici died on January 27, 1540. Clothed in the habit of a Franciscan tertiary, Angela was buried in the Church of St. Afra in Brescia.

St. Angela Merici was beatified on April 30, 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and canonized May 24, 1807 by Pope Pius VII.

Angela is often attributed with a cloak and ladder.

She is the patron saint of sickness, disabled and physically challenged people, and those grieving the loss of parents. Her feast day is celebrated on January 27. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=21

More Saints of the Day:
St. Angela Merici
St. Aviates
St. Avitus
St. Candida
St. Datius
St. Devota
St. Emerius
St. Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch
St. Gamo
St. Gilduin
St. Henry de Osso y Cervello
St. Julian of Le Mans
St. Julian of Le Mans
St. Julian of Sora
St. Lupus of Chalons
St. Marius
St. Maurus
St. Natalis
Bl. Rosalie du Verdier de la Soriniere
St. Sabas of Serbia
St. Theodoric of Orleans

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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