CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on December 31, 2008

Gospel of the day:

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.

Reflection on the gospel: The Prologue from the Gospel of John seems to be a hymn of the Johannine community that members of that community sang as part of their worship. There is strong evidence that John’s gospel enjoyed the benefit of one or more editors, and that an editor took the hymn and added it to the start of the gospel. In any event, what can we make of this hymn and, indeed, the testimony of the other gospels except that people who were very near Jesus in history, who enjoyed the testimony of people who had walked with Jesus, had a very high opinion of him?

We are used to conciliar statements about Jesus’ nature, statements removed by centuries from the Lord’s life in Palestine and made dubious in the minds of skeptics because of their remoteness in time from the flesh and blood Jesus, but here at the start of John’s gospel, there are some extraordinary claims made about who Jesus is. These claims relate closely to an experience of him by people who saw him, heard him, touched him, knew him. Added to this testimony the willingness of many of those who saw, heard, touched, and knew him to go to their deaths for what they had seen and what they had heard, claims such as those which we have in the Prologue seem to me to be very powerful indeed.

We close another year fully conscious that God has blessed us but also aware that human nature always admits of failure. We trust God to wipe away every tear and make all things new again. Joy to each of you in the new year 2009.

Saint of the day: Born on January 31, 1597 at Font-Couverte, France, John Regis was the son of a wealthy merchant. Educated at Jesuit college at Beziers, and at Cahors, Le Puy, Auch, and Tournon, he joined the Jesuit Order at age 18. A preacher, he was a catechist who was so good that children he taught helped bring their parents back to the Church. A priest at age 34, he worked with plague victims in Toulouse. He taught at Pamiers.

His skill at preaching caused him to be sent as evangelist to provinces that had fallen to the Huguenots following the Edict of Nantes, places where many had abandoned the Church. Not known for a polished style or appearance, his simple method of preaching the Truth, and his willingness to work for the poor, converted crowds of farmers, workers, and county folk. When pressed about his image he replied, “The rich never lack confessors.” He lived off apples, black bread, and whatever came to hand, preferring to spend his time preaching, teaching, and hearing confessions.

He established hostels for prostitutes, whom he called “Daughters of Refuge,” who wished to leave the business. He was often assaulted for his trouble. He helped a group of country girls stay away from the cities by establishing them in the lacemaking and embroidery trade, an area of which he is a patron saint.

Regis established the Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament; to the society women he offered the “gift” of a few hungry mouths to feed, while to others he sent notes like, “Sir, you will provide food for the poor people whose names are listed below, and you will give them six sous for their lodging. If you are unable to provide them with food, you will give them a further six sous so that they may buy it themselves.” They did. He established a granary for the poor which sometimes miraculously refilled and demanded (and received) treatment for the poor by doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. He was known for miraculous healing, but said that “every time God converts a hardened sinner he is working a far greater miracle.”

At one point, there was a movement against him by some of his fellow Jesuits who felt his zealous “signs of simplicity and indiscretion” did not best showcase their order nor follow its teachings. Regis’ bishop, however, recognized there was more jealousy than theology in the complaint and ignored it. Regis asked for transfer to Canada where he could preach without worries about politics in his order, but he was ordered to continue his good works in the French countryside.

At age 43, Regis had a premonition of his death. He spent three days in retreat, made a general confession, and resumed his mission in mountain villages. Bad weather set in, he spent his days preaching, his nights in poor shelter, developed pleurisy and then pneumonia. His last words: “Jesus, my Savior, I recommend my soul to You.” Regis died on December 30, 1640 of pneumonia while preaching a mission at La Louvesc, Dauphine, France.

Spiritual reading: Every part of the journey is of importance to the whole. (The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila)

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