Posted by: RAM | March 3, 2017

Saturday (March 4): “Follow me.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of St. Joseph
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Lectionary: 222

First Reading: Isaiah 58:9-14
Psalms 86:1-6: Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/03417.cfm

Reflection:  When your neighbor stumbles through sin or ignorance, do you point the finger to criticize or do you lend a helping hand to lift him or her up? The prophet Isaiah tells us that God repays each in kind. When we bless others, especially those who need spiritual as well as physical and material help, God in turn blesses us.

Who do you point the finger at?
When Jesus called a despised tax collector to be his disciple he surprised everyone including Levi (also known as Matthew). The religious leaders were especially upset with Jesus’ behavior towards public sinners like Levi. The Jewish  people were roughly divided into two groups: the orthodox Jews who rigidly kept the law and all its petty regulations, and the rest who didn’t keep all the minute regulations. The orthodox treated the latter like second class citizens. They scrupulously avoided their company, refused to do business with them, refused to give or receive anything from them, refused to intermarry, and avoided any form of friendship with them, including table fellowship. Jesus’ association with the latter, especially with tax collectors and public sinners, shocked the sensibilities of these orthodox Jews.

A true physician of body, mind, and soul
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus unorthodox behavior in eating with public sinners, Jesus’ defense was quite simple. A doctor doesn’t need to treat healthy people – instead he goes to those who are sick. Jesus likewise sought out those in the greatest need. A true physician seeks healing of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Jesus came as the divine physician and good shepherd to care for his people and to restore them to wholeness of life.

The orthodox were so preoccupied with their own practice of religion that they neglected to help the very people who needed the greatest care. Their religion was selfish because they didn’t want to have anything to do with people not like themselves. Jesus stated his mission in unequivocal terms: I came  not to call the righteous, but to call sinners. Ironically the orthodox were as needy as those they despised. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Do you thank the Lord for the great mercy he has shown to you? And do you seek the good of all your neighbors and show them mercy and kindness?

Leave all and follow Christ
What does it mean to “leave all and follow the Lord”? Bede the Venerable (673-735 AD), an Anglo-Saxon monk who wrote numerous commentaries on the Scriptures, explains what it meant for Matthew and for us to “follow” as disciples of the Lord Jesus:

“By ‘follow’ he meant not so much the movement of feet as of the heart, the carrying out of a way of life. For one who says that he lives in Christ ought himself to walk just as he walked, not to aim at earthly things, not to pursue perishable gains, but to flee base praise, to embrace willingly the contempt of all that is worldly for the sake of heavenly glory, to do good to all, to inflict injuries upon no one in bitterness, to suffer patiently those injuries that come to oneself, to ask God’s forgiveness for those who oppress, never to seek one’s own glory but always God’s, and to uphold whatever helps one love heavenly things. This is what is meant by following Christ. In this way, disregarding earthly gains, Matthew attached himself to the band of followers of One who had no riches. For the Lord himself, who outwardly called Matthew by a word, inwardly bestowed upon him the gift of an invisible impulse so that he was able to follow.”

Are you ready to forsake all for the Lord Jesus Christ?

“Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you: Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.”  (Prayer of Augustine, 354-430) http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/mar4.htm copyright (c) 2016 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Saint of the Day: St. Casimir (1461-1484)
Casimir grew up in a world where his life was not his own. As a prince of Poland, the second son of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, his life was scheduled to cement his father’s authority and increase Poland’s power.

Casimir realized from an early age that his life belonged to someone else, but to a much higher King than his father. Despite pressure, humiliation, and rejection, he stood by that loyalty through his whole life.

Born the third of thirteen children in 1461, Casimir was committed to God from childhood. Some of that commitment was the result of a tutor, John Dlugosz, whose holiness encouraged Casimir on his own journey.

It may be hard for us to imagine royal luxury as a pressure. But for Casimir, the riches around him were temptations to forget his true loyalties. Rebelling against the rich, fashionable clothes he was expected to enjoy, he wore the plainest of clothes.

Rejecting even ordinary comforts, he slept little, spending his nights in prayer. And when he did sleep, he lay on the floor not on a royal bed. Even though he was a prince, many of those around him must have laughed and joked at his choices. Yet, in the face of any pressure, Casimir was always friendly and calm.

Though his father must have wondered about him, he must have seen and admired Casimir’s strength. He showed that he misunderstood this strength when he sent Casimir as head of an army to take over the throne of Hungary at the request of some nobles there. Casimir felt the whole expedition was wrong but was convinced to go out of obedience to his father. He could not help but feel at every step that it was disobedient to his other Father. So when soldiers started deserting, he was only too glad to listen to the advice of his officers and turn back home. His feelings were confirmed when he discovered that Pope Sixtus IV had opposed the move.

His father, however, was furious at being deterred from his plans and banished Casimir to a castle in Dobzki, hoping that imprisonment would change Casimir’s mind. Casimir’s commitment to what he believed was right only grew stronger in his exile and he refused to cooperate with his father’s plans any more despite the pressure to give in. He even rejected a marriage alliance his father tried to form. He participated in his true King’s plans wholeheartedly by praying, studying, and helping the poor.

He died at the age of 23 in 1484 from lung disease. He was buried with his favorite song, a Latin hymn to Mary called “Omni die dic Mariae” which we know as “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.” Because of his love for the song, it is known as the Hymn of St. Casimir though he didn’t write it.

Casimir is patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=33

More Saints of the Day:
St. Adrian
St. Appian
St. Basil and Companions
St. Basinus
St. Casimir
St. Casimir of Poland
St. Felix of Rhuys
Bl. Humbert
St. Lucius I
St. Owen
St. Peter of Pappacarbone
St. Placide Viel

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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