Posted by: RAM | January 23, 2018

Wednesday (January 24): Jesus taught people using parables

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Holy Name

Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Wednesday in the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 319

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-17
Psalms 89:4-5, 27-30:  For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
Gospel: 
Mark 4:1-20
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction he said to them,
“Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
“The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that
they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012418.cfm

Reflection:  Why did Jesus speak to people in parables? Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus used simple word-pictures, called parables, to help people understand who God is and what his kingdom or reign is like. Jesus used images and characters taken from everyday life to create a miniature play or drama to illustrate his message. This was Jesus’ most common way of teaching. His stories appealed to the young and old, poor and rich, and to the learned and unlearned as well. Over a third of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain parables told by Jesus.

Cyril of Alexandria (150-215 AD ), an early church teacher, described the purpose of Jesus’ parables:

“Parables are word pictures not of visible things, but rather of things of the mind and the spirit. That which cannot be seen with the eyes of the body, a parable will reveal to the eyes of the mind, informing the subtlety of the intellect by means of things perceivable by the senses, and as it were tangible.” (COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.5.4)

Parable of the sower
What does the parable about seeds and roots say to us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The Scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3).

Jesus’ parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn’t want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.

Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God’s word.

Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it.  Do you hunger for God’s word?

Secrets of the kingdom
Why does Jesus say that the secrets of the kingdom of God will be revealed to some while others will not be able to recognize nor understand the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11-12)? Origen (185-254 AD), an early church Bible scholar, comments on why Jesus makes a distinction between those who are ready to hear and understand his message with those who are not ready to hear nor understand:

“Sometimes it does not turn out to be an advantage for one to be healed quickly or superficially, especially if the disease by this means becomes even more shut up in the internal organs where it rages more fiercely. Therefore God, who perceives secret things and who knows all things before they come to be, in his great goodness delays the healing of such persons and defers the remedy to a later time. If I may speak paradoxically, God heals them by not healing them, lest a premature recovery of health should render them incurable. This pertains to those whom our Lord and Savior addressed as ‘those outside,’ whose hearts and reins he searches out. Jesus covered up the deeper mysteries of the faith in veiled speech to those who were not yet ready to receive his teaching in straightforward terms. The Lord wanted to prevent the unready from being too speedily converted and only cosmetically healed. If the forgiveness of their sins were too easily obtained, they would soon fall again into the same disorder of sin which they imagined could be cured without any difficulty.” (ON FIRST PRINCIPLES 3.1.7)

The Lord Jesus will give us perceiving eyes and listening ears to understand the message of his kingdom if we approach him with faith and humility and the readiness to be taught. The proud cannot see nor hear the truth of God’s kingdom because they trust in their own opinion and perception of what is true or real. They have shut their minds to the supernatural truth of God and his word. Do you approach God’s word with trust and humility or with doubtful pride and skepticism?

“Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it”. http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2018/jan24.htm

Saint of the Day: St. Francis de Sales, Patron of Catholic writers, the Catholic press, the deaf, journalists, adult education (1567-1622)
St. Francis de Sales was born to a noble family at Chateau de Sales in the Kingdom of Savoy near Geneva, Switzerland on August 21, 1567. He was a Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

Francis was both intelligent and gentle. From a very early age, he desired to serve God. He knew for years he had a vocation to the priesthood, but kept it from his family. His father wanted him to enter a career in law and politics.

In 1580, Francis attended the University of Paris, and at 24-years-old, he received his doctorate in law at the University of Padua.

All the time, he never lost his passion for God. He studied theology and practiced mental prayers, but kept quiet about his devotion. To please his father, he also studied fencing and riding.

God made his will clear to Francis one day while he was riding. Francis fell from his horse three times that day. Every time he fell, the sword came out of the scabbard, and every time it came out, the sword and scabbard came to rest on the ground in the shape of the Christian cross.

After much discussion and disagreement from his father, Francis was ordained to the priesthood and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, in 1593, by the Bishop of Geneva.

During the time of the Protestant reformation, Francis lived close to Calvinist territory. He decided he should lead an expedition to bring the 60,000 Calvinists back to the Catholic Church.

For three years, he trudged through the countryside, had doors slammed in his face and rocks thrown at him. In the bitter winters, his feet froze so badly they bled as he tramped through the snow.

Francis’ unusual patience kept him working. No one would listen to him, no one would even open their door. So, Francis found a way to get under the door. He wrote out little pamphlets to explain true Catholic doctrine and slipped them under the doors. This is one of the first records we have of religious tracts being used to communicate the true Catholic faith to people who had fallen away from the Church.

The parents wouldn’t come to him, so Francis went to the children. When the parents saw how kind he was as he played with the children, they began to talk to him.

By the time Francis returned home, it is believed he brought 40,000 people to the Catholic Church.

He forged wonderful alliances with Pope Clement VIII and Henry IV of France, and in 1601 Francis joined Henry IV on a diplomatic mission. He was to give Lenten sermons at the Chapel Royal. Henry grew attached to Francis and saw him as a “rare bird” who was devout, knowledgeable and a gentleman.

In 1602, Bishop Granier died and Francis was consecrated Bishop of Geneva, although he continued to reside in Annecy. He only set foot in the city of Geneva twice — once when the Pope sent him to try to convert Calvin’s successor, Beza, and another when he traveled through it.

In 1604, Francis took one of the most important steps in his life — the step toward extraordinary holiness and mystical union with God.

In Dijon, Francis saw a widow listening closely to his sermon — a woman he had seen already in a dream. Jane de Chantal was a dedicated Catholic Christian on her own, as Francis was, but it was only when they became friends they began to become saints.

Jane wanted him to take over her spiritual direction, but, not surprisingly, Francis wanted to wait. “I had to know fully what God himself wanted. I had to be sure that everything in this should be done as though his hand had done it.” Jane was on a path to mystical union with God and, in directing her, Francis was compelled to follow her and become a mystic himself.

Years after working with Jane, he made up his mind to form a new religious community. In 1610, he founded The Order of Visitation.

Francis was overworked and often ill because of his constant load of preaching, visiting, and instruction — even catechizing a deaf man so he could take first Communion. He believed the first duty of a bishop was spiritual direction and wrote to Jane, “So many have come to me that I might serve them, leaving me no time to think of myself. However, I assure you that I do feel deep-down- within-me, God be praised. For the truth is that this kind of work is infinitely profitable to me.” For him active work did not weaken his spiritual inner peace but strengthened it.

He gave spiritual direction to most people through letters, which attested to his remarkable patience. “I have more than fifty letters to answer. If I tried to hurry over it all, I would be lost. So, I intend neither to hurry or to worry. This evening, I shall answer as many as I can. Tomorrow I shall do the same and so I shall go on until I have finished.”

During this time, it was wrongly thought that achieving real holiness of life was a task reserved for only for the clergy and those in religious life, and not for lay men and women. In addition, that only contemplatives, people who withdraw from active participation in the world, could really achieve holiness.

Francis insisted that every Christian was called to holiness and sanctity, lived within their own state in life. In holding that belief, he reflected the teaching of Jesus and the early Church Fathers.

Francis laid the groundwork for the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on what is now called the ?universal call to holiness. It reaffirms the teaching of Jesus and the early Church that every Baptized Christian is called to sanctity, no matter what their career or state in life. In every career and state in life, Christians can become more and more like Jesus Christ. That is, after all, what holiness really means.

Francis gave spiritual direction to lay people who were living real lives in the real world. He had proven with his own life that people could grow in holiness while involved in a very active occupation. He also recognized that Christian marriage and family life is itself a call to holiness.

His most famous book, INTRODUCTION TO THE DEVOUT LIFE, was written for ordinary lay people in 1608, not just the clergy and religious. Written originally as letters, it became an instant success all over Europe — though some clergy rejected the notion that lay men and women could achieve holiness in the experience of their daily life. Some tore it up because Francis encouraged dancing and jokes!

For Francis, the love of God was like romantic love. He said, “The thoughts of those moved by natural human love are almost completely fastened on the beloved, their hearts are filled with passion for it, and their mouths full of its praises. When it is gone, they express their feelings in letters, and can’t pass by a tree without carving the name of their beloved in its bark. Thus, to those who love God can never stop thinking about him, longing for him, aspiring to him, and speaking about him. If they could, they would engrave the name of Jesus on the hearts of all humankind.”

The key to love of God was prayer.

“By turning your eyes on God in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with God. Begin all your prayers in the presence of God.”

For busy people living in the world, he advised, “Retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart, even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others and talk to God.”

The test of prayer was a person’s actions.

“To be an angel in prayer and a beast in one’s relations with people is to go lame on both legs.”

He believed the worst sin was to judge someone or to gossip about them. Even if we say we do it out of love we’re still doing it to look better ourselves. We should be as gentle and forgiving with ourselves as we should be with others.

As he became older and more ill he said, “I have to drive myself but the more I try the slower I go.” He wanted to be a hermit but he was more in demand than ever. The Pope needed him, then a princess, then Louis XIII. “Now I really feel that I am only attached to the earth by one foot…” He died on December 28, 1622, after giving a nun his last word of advice: “Humility.”

St. Francis de Sales was beatified on January 8, 1661 and canonized on April 19, 1665 by Pope Alexander VII.

He is often featured with the Heart of Jesus and a Crown of Thorns.

In 1923, Pope Pius XI named St. Francis de Sales the patron saint of Catholic writers and the Catholic press because of the tracts and books he wrote. He is also the patron saint of the deaf, journalists, adult education, and the Sisters of St. Joseph. His feast day is celebrated on January 24. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=51

More Saints of the Day:
Bl. Anicet Hryciuk
St. Artemius
St. Babylas
Bl. Bartlomiej Osypiuk
St. Bertrand
Bl. Daniel Karmasz
St. Exuperantius of Cingoli
St. Felician of Foligno
Bl. Filip Geryluk
St. Francis de Sales
St. Guasacht
Bl. Ignacy Franczuk
Bl. John Grove
St. Macedonius
St. Mardonius
St. Messalina
Bl. Michal Wawryszuk
Bl. Onufry Wasyluk
St. Thyrsus & Projectus
Bl. William Ireland
St. Zama

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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: