Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 24, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel: There is a theme in Jesus’ teaching of receiving the weakest among us as we would receive Jesus. In the Matthean description of the judgment, Jesus says that whoever feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, clothes the naked, gives shelter to the homeless, visits the sick, visits prisoners, buries the dead, that whoever does these things for another, does them for Jesus. In today’s gospel passage, Jesus says whoever receives a child, receives Jesus, but not just Jesus, but the one who sent Jesus. Jesus is able to so completely identify with the other that both the injuries and the blessings she or he sustains, the Lord sustains. When we remember this, our gifts to the wounded we encounter become much easier for us to practice. Let us then surrender ourselves to the discipline of seeing the Lord in each one we encounter, not just even but most especially the weakest ones God puts in our path. This best serves us not as an allegory or an ideal but as a way of life that we enact from day to day.

We are about to enter into Lent. In this season of baptismal renewal, people often give up little things as a form of repentance, but it would be better I think to make a discipline of service to those among us who have less than we do, to make for instance a practice of giving a dollar each day for 40 days to a homeless person on the street, than to mortify ourselves through eschewing, say, chocolate. Me, I say, if the choice is between not eating chocolate and not serving the poor, eat chocolate and serve the poor.

Saint of the day: A nobleman born in 1200, Luke Belludi was brought into the Franciscans by Saint Anthony of Padua and Saint Francis of Assisi. Anthony’s companion in his travels and preaching, Luke tended him in his last days and took Anthony’s place upon his death. He served as th guardian of the Friars Minor in the city of Padua.

In 1239, Padua fell, nobles were executed, the mayor and council banished, the university of Padua closed, and the church dedicated to Saint Anthony left unfinished. Luke was expelled, but secretly returned, visiting the tomb of Saint Anthony to pray for help. One night a voice from the tomb assured him that the city would soon be delivered; it was. Luke was elected provincial minister, and furthered the completion of the great basilica in honor of Anthony. He died about 1285.

Spiritual reading: May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in. (Mother Teresa)

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