CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 30, 2009

Jesus_Christ_Word of God2Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, we learn of three costs of discipleship. When Jesus says, “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head,” he suggests that being a minister of the gospel requires complete freedom from possessions. This does not mean that the disciple needs to be without possessions; it merely means that having things or not having them is not a paramount concern for the person who serves the gospel. Second, when Jesus says, “Leave the dead to bury the dead,” what he means is that disposal to the gospel precedes every other obligation in life. Finally, when Jesus says not to “look to what was left behind,” he isn’t speaking literally about not saying goodbye to family. This last saying sums up all three sayings in today’s passage: when we respond to Jesus’ call, it must be absolute and without condition.

Saint of the day: Jerome was a Roman Christian who lived in the fourth century. His father taught him his religion well, Jeromebut sent him to a famous pagan school. There Jerome grew to love pagan writings and lost some of his love for God. Yet, in the company of a group of holy Christians, with whom he became great friends, his heart was turned completely to God.

Later, this brilliant young man decided to live alone in a wild desert. He was afraid that his love for pagan writings would lead him away from the love of God. He went into the desert to search for God. He also studied Hebrew with a monk as his teacher. He became such a great scholar of Hebrew that he could later translate the Bible into Latin and make it accessible to many more people in the vernacular language.

St. Jerome spent long years of his life in a little cave at Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born. There he prayed, studied the Bible, and taught many people how to serve God. He wrote a great many letters and even books to defend the faith from heretics.

St. Jerome suffered from a bad temper, and his sharp tongue made him many enemies. Yet he was a very holy man who spent his life trying to serve Jesus in the best way he could. Despite his cranky temperament, he grew holy and the church has proclaimed him a great saint. He died in 419 or 420.

Spiritual reading: Soul-making is a journey that takes time, effort, skill, knowledge, intuition, and courage. It is helpful to know that all work with soul is process – alchemy, pilgrimage, and adventure – so that we don’t expect instant success or even any kind of finality. (Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore)

Glory of God-rsz

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 29, 2009

MemlingGospel reading of the day:

John 1:47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: On this feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, we have from the Church the reading from John’s gospel where Jesus mysteriously tells Nathaniel that he saw him under the fig tree and Nathaniel responds with a confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus then tells him that he will see greater things and obliquely refers to Jacob’s dream where he saw the angels climbing up and down a ladder between God and humanity. In the image that Jesus presents to Nathaniel, the Lord is clearly the bridge that connects God and God’s people. May we cross that bridge today.

Saint of the day: We call the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael “saints” because they are holy. But they are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They protect human beings, and we know something about each of them from the Bible.

ArchangelsMichael’s name means “who is like God?” Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation, and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We ask Michael to make us strong in our love of the Good News.

Gabriel’s name means “the power of God.” He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke’s Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We ask Gabriel to help us to proclaim the Good News.

Raphael’s name means “God has healed.” We read the story of Raphael’s role in Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God’s throne. We ask Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to the store or school.

morgan29Spiritual reading: The soul at its highest is found like God, but an angel gives a closer idea of Him. That is all an angel is: an idea of God. ~Meister Eckhart

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 28, 2009

46498Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel provides Luke’s account of two sayings we have encountered recently in our Sunday readings from Mark’s gospel. The latter saying, in fact, the saying about one not in the company of Jesus casting out demons in Jesus’ name we encountered just yesterday while the question about who is the greatest was in our Sunday reading a week ago.

We read Luke’s account of Jesus’ prediction of his passion and death on Saturday. Luke does something striking and unambiguous in his rendering of this event. While Mark interjects a discussion about Elijah and John, Luke goes right to this argument among the apostles about who is the greatest. Luke is pointing out, by the way he constructs this plot, that while the apostles were totally at a loss about what to say about Jesus’ suffering and death, they were ready and eager to talk about who is the greatest. Luke emphasizes this point when he has Jesus take the child to make the point that Jesus has not chosen the apostle because they were something special: God could choose anyone to do the job he has given to the apostles, even a powerless child. The greatness of the apostles does not derive from who they are but from the mission they have been given.

And so it is with us. We may suffer the temptation to think we are something special. But whatever gifts we have, they are not ours but the Lord’s. Our focus should not be on what we have but what we do.

Saint of the day: Born at Pouy, Gascony, France, in 1580 into a peasant family, Vincent de Paul died at Paris, September 27, 1660. He made his humanities studies at Dax with the Cordeliers, and his theological studies, interrupted by a short stay at Saragossa, were made at Toulouse where he graduated in theology. Ordained in 1600, he remained at Toulouse or in its vicinity acting as tutor while continuing his own studies

saint-vincent-de-paulThe deathbed confession of a dying servant opened Vincent’s eyes to the crying spiritual needs of the peasantry of France. This seems to have been a crucial moment in the life of the man from a small farm in Gascony, France, who had become a priest with little more ambition than to have a comfortable life.

It was the Countess de Gondi (whose servant he had helped) who persuaded her husband to endow and support a group of able and zealous missionaries who would work among the poor, the vassals and tenants and the country people in general. Vincent was too humble to accept leadership at first, but after working for some time in Paris among imprisoned galley-slaves, he returned to be the leader of what is now known as the Congregation of the Mission, or the Vincentians. These priests, with vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability, were to devote themselves entirely to the people in smaller towns and villages.

Later Vincent established confraternities of charity for the spiritual and physical relief of the poor and sick of each parish. From these, with the help of St. Louise de Marillac, came the Daughters of Charity, “whose convent is the sickroom, whose chapel is the parish church, whose cloister is the streets of the city.” He organized the rich women of Paris to collect funds for his missionary projects, founded several hospitals, collected relief funds for the victims of war and ransomed over 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. He was zealous in conducting retreats for clergy at a time when there was great laxity, abuse and ignorance among them. He was a pioneer in clerical training and was instrumental in establishing seminaries.

Most remarkably, Vincent was by temperament a very irascible person—even his friends admitted it. He said that except for the grace of God he would have been “hard and repulsive, rough and cross.” But he became a tender and affectionate man, very sensitive to the needs of others.

5506132-lgSpiritual reading: What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 27, 2009

qg_bar_0809_07Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel speaks in many ways about the relationships between non-Christians and Christians, and the messages that the passage implies may not be altogether flattering to us who have accepted the baptism of the Lord. The disciples in this passage from the gospel tell Jesus they encountered a man who was exorcising devils in Jesus’ name. This man was not a disciple of Jesus, and the disciples report they told him to stop his use of Jesus’ name because he was not one of them. There has been a history of triumphalism among Christians, and perhaps the account we read today is the first record of that history.

Human goodness surrounds us, and I have found courageous kindness everywhere is my life, among people who believe in Jesus and among those who do not. Jesus corrects his disciples for believing only those who are numbered among his followers can do good things. Jesus knew, and all of us can witness, that human beings, whether or not they are Christians, are quite capable of much good. God speaks in every human heart, whether or not that heart is attached to a mind that confesses Jesus, and we do well to recognize and celebrate God’s achievements among believers and non-believers alike.

Moreover, we who subscribe to the Lord’s way of life often do not live it. How much do we become a scandal for non-believers? In America in recent decades, many of us Christians have demonstrated such unbridled intolerance that we have made the word Christian synonymous with bigoted and closed-minded. How can we claim to carry Christ’s gospel to the world when our arrogant dogmatism repels the very persons we profess we would attract.

We must proclaim Jesus Christ with a mind open to goodness wherever it is to be found. Most of us live lives that can carry the gospel to nonbelievers only through the attractiveness of our lives, so is it not better that we should live lives that actually do attract people?

Spiritual reading: Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew. (Saint Francis de Sales)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 26, 2009

rembrandt-van-rijn-christ-on-the-cross-detail-of-the-headGospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:43b-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus has revealed his identity to his disciples, but he has told them that he is something quite different than they imagined. While the disciples dreamed of a future that held earthly prestige, Jesus tells them his fate was one of betrayal and suffering. It is hard even for us, who know so well this story, to understand that suffering is an intrinsic component of the mission that Jesus lived and preached, but it is our call to embrace the suffering that life hands us. Certainly, we need not go and look for it; it will come and find us. But when it comes, we should not resist it. Everything is gift from the hands of God.

Saint of the day: Today is the memorial of Cosmas and Damian. These two martyrs were twin brothers from Syria who lived in the fourth century. They were very famous students of science and both became excellent doctors. Cosmas and Damian saw Cosmas and Damianin every patient a brother or sister in Christ. For this reason, they showed great charity to all and treated their patients to the best of their ability. Yet no matter how much care a patient required, neither Cosmas nor Damian ever accepted any money for their services. For this reason, they were called by a name in Greek which means “the penniless ones.”

Every chance they had, the two saints told their patients about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because the people all loved these twin doctors, they listened to them willingly. Cosmas and Damian often brought health back to both the bodies and the souls of those who came to them for help.

When Diocletian’s persecution of Christians began in their city, the saints were arrested at once. They had never tried to hide their great love for their Christian faith. They were tortured, but nothing could make them give up their belief in Christ. They had lived for him and had brought so many people to his love. So at last, they were put to death in the year 303. These holy martyrs are named in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass.

Spiritual reading: Unless you believe, you will not understand. (De Libero Arbitrio by Augustine of Hippo)

Joe Diele’s Homily from Sunday, September 14

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 26, 2009

Joe Diele’s Homily for Sunday, August 13

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture by Mike on September 26, 2009

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 25, 2009

0x0_1541169 Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples are praying in solitude. In the midst of the prayer, the question of Jesus’ identity, mission, and fate arise. God has an idea for each of our lives and draws us to this idea through the various events of our lives. God calls us into communion with Godself to plug into a relationship which works out the nature our calling through prayerful recognition of how God works in our lives. This passage from Luke reminds us that it is in prayer that we sort through the various facts and emotions of that divine idea for our lives and learn what it is that God created us to be and to do.

Saint of the day: Born on April 4, 1894 to the n38433999278_7697Sicilian nobility, Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet was the son of Marquis Luigi Dusmet. Educated at the abbey of San Martino delle Scales from when he was five-years-old, he became a Benedictine monk who made his formal vows on August 13, 1840 at the abbey of Monte Cassino. He taught philosophy and theology in Benedictine houses. A priest Giuseppe was prior of the monastery of San Severino, Naples from 1850 and became prior of the monastery of San Flavio, Caltanissetta, Sicily in 1852. From 1858, he was abbot of the monastery of San Nicolo l’Arena, Catania, Sicily. The monastery was later confiscated by the state soon after the founding of the kingdom of Italy. In 1867, he came archbishop of Catania, Sicily and a cardinal in 1889.

Spiritual reading: In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth. (Mahatma Ghandi)

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Carry the gospel with you

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

121117337_73b1457543Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: I long have loved much a song from the 1970s musical, “Godspell,” a song called, “Day by Day.” The lyrics of that song ask that day-by-day, we may see Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly, follow him more nearly. In the passage that we read from Luke today, Herod too wants to see Jesus, but he wants to see him in a way quite different from the song from “Godspell.”

The Herod about whom we read today was the son of Herod the Great. Herod the Great, of course, in Matthew’s gospel is the king whom the magi visited and who, for fear of his throne, put to death all the boys of Bethlehem under the age of two. Herod the Great in his will provided that his kingdom be divided among his four sons, so Herod the Tetrarch who appears in today’s passage is a ruler of a fourth part of the kingdom of his father. “Tetrarch” actually means, “ruler of a fourth part.”

In today’s narrative, Herod has been hearing quite a bit about Jesus and the wonders that Jesus works. Herod is a superstitious man, and like his father before him, he fears Jesus. But Herod also is curious about him and wants to see him, perhaps so Jesus can perform some “magic” for him.

One moral to this gospel passage is that there are different ways to see Jesus. There is the wrong path, that is, the way that Herod wants: to perceive the Lord with neither faith nor hope and think about him much the way we might be amused by the tricks of a trained animal. And there is the way that the song “Day by Day” contemplates: to look into life and each part of the world to see, love, and follow the Lord.

FranciscanTauSaint of the day: Born on March 1, 1653 at San Severino, Pacificus was the son of Antonio Divini and Mariangela Bruni, both of whom died when Pacificus was about three-years-old. They left him to be raised by an uncle. Pacificus joined the Franciscans in December 1670 and was ordained in 1678. A professor of philosophy, he taught novices and served as a parish missionary. His health failed and he spent his final 29 years lame, deaf, and blind, leading a contemplative life. Pacificus is said to have received ecstasies and been a miracle worker.

jpc_samaritanSpiritual reading: Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. (Isaiah the Prophet)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 23, 2009

jesus_icon_iGospel reading of the day:

Luke 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In this passage, Jesus sends out the Twelve to extend the work that he himself has been doing. The Twelve have walked, watched, and heard the Master for an extended period of time: in effect, they have been in training. Now, while the Lord is still with them, he sends the Twelve out on a sort of supervised training. Jesus sends them out to calm troubled souls, heal sick people, and announce the good news. He asks them to work in perfect freedom, unaffected by material concerns and grateful for any kind of generosity that comes their way. The work of the Church begins here in this passage, for what the Lord charged the Twelve to do, he charges us to do: in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, to tell of the good news, heal people who hurt, not be picky, and accept the good that come to us with gratitude.

Saint of the day: Padre Pio was born on May 25, 1887 to a southern Italian farm family as Francesco Forgione as the 417px-Padre_Pioson of Grazio, a shepherd. At age 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone, and joined the order at age 19. He suffered several health problems, and at one point, his family thought he had tuberculosis. He was ordained a priest at age 22 on 10 August 1910.

While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata on September 20, 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following World War II, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was said to be able to bilocate, levitate, and heal by touch. Founded the House for the Relief of Suffering in 1956, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. In the 1920s, he started a series of prayer groups that continue today with over 400,000 members worldwide. He died on September 23, 1968 of natural causes.

His canonization miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, age 7, the son of a doctor who works in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo founded by Padre Pio. On the night of June 20, 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning, doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy´s internal organs had ceased to give signs of life. That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo´s mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio´s monastery, the child’s condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: “Don´t worry; you will soon be cured.”

Spiritual reading: He did not say, ‘You will not be tempted, you will not be troubled, you will not be uncomfortable;” rather, he said, ‘You will not be overcome.’” (Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, politics, scripture by Mike on September 22, 2009

EADsupper withMMGospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Luke makes clear elsewhere in his gospel, particularly in the infancy narratives, that he greatly esteems the faithfulness of the mother of Jesus. We can imply from that fact that Jesus in today’s gospel does not critique the behavior of his mother or brothers. We are to draw another lesson from this text.

The gospel demands from us a complete commitment that creates ties among the baptized which are deeper than the bonds in a family. What Jesus says in this passage is that those who hear God’s word and act upon it are his truest family.

Saint of the day: Augustinian bishop Thomas of Villanueva was born in 1488 at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, as the son of a miller. He studied at the University of Alcala, earned a licentiate in Thomas of Villanuevatheology, and became a professor there at the age of twenty-six. He declined the chair of philosophy at the university of Salamanca and instead entered the Augustinian Canons in Salamanca in 1516.

Ordained in 1520, he served as prior of several houses in Salamanca, Burgos, and Valladolid, as provincial of Andalusia and Castile, and then court chaplain to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. During his time as provincial of Castile, he dispatched the first Augustinian missionaries to the New World. They subsequently helped evangelize the area of modern Mexico. He was offered but declined the see of Granada but accepted appointment as archbishop of Valencia in 1544. As the see had been vacant for nearly a century, Thomas devoted much effort to restoring the spiritual and material life of the archdiocese. He was also deeply committed to the needs of the poor. He held the post of grand almoner of the poor, founded colleges for the children of new converts and the poor, organized priests for service among the Moors, and was renowned for his personal saintliness and austerities. While he did not attend the sessions of the Council of Trent, he was an ardent promoter of the Tridentine reforms throughout Spain. He died in 1555.

Spiritual reading: Facing outward, human existence is spiritual insofar as it intentionally engages reality as a maximally inclusive whole and makes the cosmos an intentional object of thought and feeling. Facing inward, life has a spiritual dimension to the extent that it is experienced as the project of one’s most vital and enduring self, and it is structured by experiences of sudden transformation and subsequent slow development. (Spirituality, Diversion and Decadence: The Contemporary Predicament by Peter H. Van Ness)

sun-moon-northpole

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 21, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Tax collectors in the time and place that Jesus lived were Jews who worked for the Romans. Perceived as people who violated the Law of Moses, tax collectors were social outcasts. The passage that we read today describes Jesus’ call of a tax collector, Matthew, to follow him. The text demonstrates that Jesus did not allow the biases of people who surrounded him to influence his decisions about who would accompany him. Matthew leaves everything in an instant to follow the Lord, and in a meal that celebrates his welcome among the Lord’s disciples, the Pharisees and scribes accuse Jesus of keeping poor company. The Lord, however, says that he has come to heal the sick and implicitly accuses the Pharisees of scribes of legalisms and a lack of mercy. Here, then, as over and over again throughout the scriptures, the Lord counsels us to let go of rigid adherence to law in order that we might lavishly love one another.

Saint of the day: The apostle Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. Though the Romans probably did not allow extremes of extortion, their main concern was their own purses. They were not 092_St.Matthewscrupulous about what the “tax-farmers” got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as “publicans,” were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with “sinners.” So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.

Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that “many” tax collectors and “those known as sinners” came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus’ answer was, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.

The traditional view is that the Gospel of Matthew was composed by Matthew, though modern Biblical scholars widely dismiss the possibility that the apostle Matthew wrote the gospel. Scholars have made several suggestions as to the identity of the author: a converted rabbi or scribe, a Hellenised Jew, a Gentile convert who was deeply knowledgeable about the Jewish faith, or a member of a “school” of scribes within a Jewish-Christian community. Most scholars hold that the author was a Jewish-Christian, rather than a Gentile.

Spiritual reading: Every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old. (Matthew 13:52)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 20, 2009

PictJesusChildrenMaesGospel 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. 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 the 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 reading: The Church calls us on this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time to reflect on a passage redolent with subtle and overt foreboding. Though Mark does not spell it out, the subsequent passages of the gospel suggest that at the start of this passage, that is, with Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, the Lord is leaving Galilee for the last time in his life. The rest of Mark’s gospel shows Jesus on the way to Jerusalem and the events of Jesus’ fateful last week of his ministry. At the same time as Jesus winds down his public ministry in Galilee, he turns his attention to his closest followers: the passage tells us that as Jesus journeys through Galilee, he did not wish anyone to know about it. Jesus doesn’t want to be distracted: often times, as people wind down their lives, they focus their attention more and more on the people who are nearest to them.

There also is overt foreboding as well. For the second time in Mark’s gospel, Jesus predicts to his followers that he will be handed over and killed. Just as they did when Jesus first predicted his death, this second time, the disciples do not understand. Even worse, they seem to regress, because after the first prediction, at least Peter engages the Lord in a conversation, but after this prediction, they are afraid even to question him.

Even so, the passage reveals that Jesus’ warning may not entirely have eluded the disciples: when Jesus and the disciples arrive in Capernaum, Jesus asks them what they were arguing about on the road. In fact, Jesus knows quite well what they were arguing about: the question of who among them is the greatest. Because the question of who is greatest follows the second prediction of Jesus’ passion and because the disciples are embarrassed that Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, some writers have wondered whether the disciples might have been discussing who would take over the group once Jesus died.

But Jesus confounds their expectations about greatness when he tells the disciples that the one who desires to be the greatest is not the one who lords it over others but the one who makes himself the servant of all. Over and over again, the gospels make clear that Jesus availed himself of circumstances to create teachable moments. Obviously, a child was near at hand; at this time and in this culture, a child was not a symbol of innocence but rather, a symbol of powerless and a person devoid of any social status. Jesus calls this youth, totally without influence, over to himself and says that, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.” In Jesus’ day, not unlike oftentimes our own, an emissary enjoyed the benefits of the status of the one who sent him. What Jesus is telling us is that when we receive people who powerless and without influence, we receive him. Jesus’ teaching here is entirely consistent with his sermon at the end of Matthew’s gospel where he says that the elect will say to him:

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?

In last week’s gospel, Jesus invited us to pick up our crosses and follow him. In this week’s gospel, he invites us through our deaths to ourselves to embrace the lives of the most marginalized among us.

Spiritual reading: If we were . . . to speak to God with far fewer words and much more heart, I believe that our heart would have opened up, and we would spoken a word of prayer. (The Need and Blessing of Prayer by Karl Rahner, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 19, 2009

092208_1552_TheParableo1_1

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable. “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked saviorit. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold.” After saying this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”

Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. He answered, “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you; but to the rest, they are made known through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

“This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage comes in Luke’s gospel immediately after Luke’s observation, which was in the gospel passage we read yesterday, that Jesus went about with his companions preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. When Luke presents the parable of the sower, he provides an example of the kind of teaching that Jesus gave to illustrate the nature of the kingdom.

Luke records the parable of the sower of the seed in much the same way that Mark and Matthew relate it, but there is a difference in nuance. While Matthew emphasizes understanding, Luke emphasizes faith and perseverance. In Luke’s account of the parable, everyone hears the word, but Luke is aware that it is possible to lose what one has received. For Luke, our faith in Jesus and the kingdom must not disappear when the Devil comes to test us or when it is choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life; instead, Luke encourages us to nurture our faith and let it bear fruit through perseverance. Membership in God’s kingdom, then, according to Luke’s rendition of the parable, consists of faith and perseverance in faith. The Church ever has taught that we should always pray to persevere to the end, so let us pray for one another.

Saint of the day: Saint Januarius was a martyred bishop about whom very little is known. According to legendary sources, he died in 305 during the Diocletian persecution of Christians. 200px-SaintJanuariusHe was imprisoned while visiting incarcerated deacons at the sulphur mines of Puteoli, the modern Pozzuoli. After many tortures, including being thrown to lions in Pozzuoli’s Flavian Amphitheater, he was beheaded at Solfatara, along with his companions, who were a deacon, a lector, and several friends.

There is little known of the life of Januarius but local Neapolitan tradition says he was born in Benevento to a rich patrician family that traced its descent to the Caudini tribe of the Samnites. At a young age of 15, he became local priest of his parish in Benevento, which at the time was relatively pagan. When Januarius was 20, he became Bishop of Naples and befriended Juliana of Nicomedia and St.Sossius whom he met during his priestly studies as young boys. As Bishop of Naples, he performed many miracles. During the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, he hid his fellow Christians and prevented them from being caught. Unfortunately, while visiting Sossius in jail, he too was arrested. He was placed in a furnace to be cooked alive, he came out unscathed. He was pushed into the Flavian Amphitheater at Pozzuoli to be eaten by wild bears, who had not eaten in days. Yet the animals refused to eat them, instead licking their toes. Januarius was beheaded along with Sossius and his companions at Solfatara.

image_phpSlfFzKDespite very limited information about his life and works, he is famous for the reputed miracle of the annual liquefaction of his blood, first reported in 1389. The dried blood is safely stored in small capsules in a reliquary. When these capsules are brought into the vicinity of his body on three occasions in the year, the dried blood supposedly liquefies.

Thousands of people assemble to witness this event in the cathedral of Naples. The archbishop, at the high altar amid prayers and invocations, holds up a glass phial that is said to contain the dried blood of the city’s patron saint. When the liquefaction has taken place, the archbishop holds up the phial again and demonstrates that liquefaction has taken place. The announcement of the liquefaction is greeted with a 21-gun salute at the 13th-century Castel Nuovo.

orpheusSpiritual reading: The great malady of the twentieth century, implicated in all of our troubles and affecting us individually and socially, is “loss of soul.” When soul is neglected, it doesn’t just go away; it appears symptomatically in obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning. Our temptation is to isolate these symptoms or to try to eradicate them one by one; but the root problem is that we have lost our wisdom about the soul, even our interests in it. (Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 18, 2009

jesus.140190546Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Reflection on the gospel reading: There is in this passage from the gospel of Luke a sort of joyful vision of the pilgrim Church as Jesus makes his way with his companions. We are the Body of Jesus made manifest in the world, and we go about through the various missions we receive from God proclaiming the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God. There is here in this passage the companionship of the Twelve, who symbolize the ministries of service, teaching, and sacrament. There is here the ministry of witness by those whom Jesus has healed. There is here the ministry of those people to whom God has entrusted wealth, such as Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward, who support the Church’s work with their material gifts. There also is here the journey of all the men and women who make the Body of Christ traveling together life’s dusty paths. Jesus in today’s gospel is unafraid as he goes on his way, joyful for the companionship the Father bestowed on him, bold in his proclamation of the word that the Father has entrusted to him. Let us as Church be the same: where Jesus goes we go together.

Saint of the day: Joseph of Cupertino was born on June 17, 1603 as Joseph Desa at Cupertino in Italy. Joseph’s father, Felice Desa, was a poor carpenter who died before the boy was born. Creditors drove his mother, Francesca Panara, from her home, and Joseph was born in a stable. Starting at age eight, he received ecstatic visions that left him gaping and staring into space. He had a hot temper, which his strict mother worked to overcome.

JosephCupertinoAs a youth, Joseph was apprenticed to a shoemaker. At age 17, he applied for admittance to the Friars Minor Conventuals, but was refused due to his lack of education. He applied to the Capuchins and was accepted as a lay-brother in 1620, but his ecstasies made him unsuitable for work, and he was dismissed. Abused by his family, he continued his prayers, and was accepted as an oblate at the Franciscan convent near Cupertino. His virtues were such that he became a cleric at 22 and a priest at 25. Joseph still had little education, could barely read or write, but received such a gift of spiritual knowledge and discernment that he could solve intricate questions.

His life became a series of visions and ecstasies, which could be triggered any time or place by the sound of a church bell, church music, the mention of the name of God or of the Blessed Virgin or of a saint, any event in the life of Christ, the sacred Passion, a holy picture, the thought of the glory in heaven, and so on. Yelling, beating, pinching, burning, piercing with needles – none of this would bring him from his trances, but he would return to the world on hearing the voice of his superior in the order. He would often levitate and float (which led to his patronage of people involved in air travel) and could hear heavenly music.

Even in the 17th century, there was interest in the unusual, and Joseph’s ecstasies in public caused both admiration and disturbance in the community. For 35 years, he was not allowed to attend choir, go to the common refectory, walk in procession, or say Mass in church. To prevent making a spectacle, he was ordered to remain in his room with a private chapel. He was brought before the Inquisition, and sent from one Capuchin or Franciscan house to another. But Joseph retained his joyous spirit, submitting to Divine Providence, keeping seven Lents of 40 days each year, never letting his faith be shaken. He died September 18, 1663 at Ossimo, Italy of an infection.

We_are_in_God's_handsSpiritual reading: Through our body, we are but a fragment of the universe, a point in space, an instant in the duration of time, a mist, a breath, and the laws governing matter dominate us. Through the Spirit, we can remove ourselves from this servitude and lead a life liberated from space and time. (The Gospel Within by Fr. Maurice Zundel)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on September 17, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 7:36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what 88 - The Parable of the Two Debtorssort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”

Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We have today a passage that appears uniquely in Luke’s gospel. The passage depicts a dichotomy in the visions of the moral life, ethical life as a response to divinely mandated legislation and ethical life as a relationship with God. In Simon’s view, the woman who presents herself to Jesus is defiled by her history of sin, but in Jesus’ view, what happened before is not important: all that matters is her relationship with God right here and right now. God does not legislate rules for our behavior; rather, God continually loves us into existence and calls us to respond with joy and acceptance of this gift which we each have received. All of us rely on the saving work of Jesus to gain access to the Father’s presence.

Saint of the day: Robert Bellarmine was born in Italy in 1542. A serious boy who did not like playing game, he often repeated sermons he had hear to his younger brothers and sisters. He also liked to explain the lessons of the catechism to the little farm Robert_Bellarmine3children of the neighborhood. Bellarmine’s father hoped to make a famous gentleman out of his son. For this reason, he encouraged his son to study broadly, including both music and art, too. Bellarmine came to desire to become a Jesuit priest, but his father had different plans for him. For a whole year, the young man worked to persuade his father.

At last, when he was eighteen, his father permitted Robert Bellarmine to join the Jesuits. As a young Jesuit, he did well in his studies. He was sent to preach even before he became a priest. When one good woman first saw such a young man, not even a priest yet, going up into the pulpit to preach, she knelt down to pray. She asked the Lord to help him not become frightened and stop in the middle. When he finished his sermon, she stayed kneeling. This time, however, she was thanking God for the magnificent sermon.

St. Robert Bellarmine became a famous writer, preacher, and teacher. He wrote thirty-one books, some of which occupied the shelves of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. He spent three hours every day in prayer. He had a deep knowledge of sacred matters. Yet even when he had become a cardinal, he considered the catechism so important, that he himself taught it to his household and to the people.

Cardinal Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621.

feather on the breath of GodSpiritual reading: Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God. (Hildegard of Bingen)