Luke 14:1, 7-11
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: If we are to live a life in the spirit, one of the questions that we must address is the use of our power. The moral question at the center of this issue is the right use of power, power used to safeguard and increase the dignity of persons made in the image and likeness of God. In today’s gospel, we see Jesus commenting on jockeying for position. The commentary is about higher and lower positions at table, but it reflects many situations in life where people set themselves over others. Jesus witnesses to an order of relationships where we use our power to make ourselves small in order that we may serve others. A life lived in Christ is a life that embraces a radical reversal of social position and the use of power to increase the stations of those less fortunate than ourselves.
Saint of the day: Saint Quentin died about 287 as a martyr. The legend of his life has him as a Roman citizen who was martyred in Gaul. He is said to have been the son of a man named Zeno, who had senatorial rank. Filled with apostolic zeal, Quentin traveled to Gaul as a missionary with Saint Lucian, who was later martyred at Beauvais and others (the martyrs Victoricus and Fuscian are said to have been Quentin’s followers). Quentin settled at Amiens and performed many miracles there. Because of his preaching, he was imprisoned by the “prefect” Rictiovarus, who had traveled to Amiens from Trier. Quentin was manacled, tortured repeatedly, but refused to abjure his faith. The prefect left Amiens to go to Reims, the capital of Gallia Belgica, where he wanted Quentin judged. But, on the way, in a town named Augusta Veromanduorum (now Saint-Quentin, Aisne), Quentin miraculously escaped and again started his preaching. Rictiovarus decided to interrupt his journey and pass sentence: Quentin was tortured again, then beheaded and thrown secretly into the marshes around the Somme, by Roman soldiers.
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them, “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question.
Reflection on the gospel reading: It would seem our Lord in today’s gospel is being set up. A Pharisee invites Jesus to his house on the sabbath day, and there just happens to be a sick man in front of him. It would seem that the Pharisee wanted to test whether the Master would heal on the sabbath and, by the Pharisee’s interpretation of the Law of Moses, violate the Sabbath rest. Jesus, however, is unafraid of his test. He recognizes that the Law does not proscribe acts of love and mercy on the sabbath, and he does what love demands, that is, he heals the man. Jesus’ example challenges us to do the right no matter what external pressures we face.
Saint of the day: Alphonsus Rodriguez was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant. He was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus’ father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died. In Segovia, he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother by the Jesuits on January 31, 1571. He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local civic tad and social leaders came to his porter’s lodge for advice and direction. Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders.
Spiritual reading: If you are very busy, you should make a choice and employ yourself in the more important occupations where there is greater service of God, greater spiritual advantage for the neighbor, and the more general or perfect good. (Letter to Father Fulvio Androzzi, July 18, 1556, by Ignatius of Loyola)
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned. But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The Pharisees in this narrative warn Jesus that he must flee since Herod seeks his life, but Jesus knows his life is a part of a greater plan, and he does not run. He remains confident that God’s plan will work out as God wills it. Jesus simply goes about his work, knowing that his life ultimately is in God’s hands. We too have a choice to be confident as we go about our lives in the triumph of God’s will and plan, assured that God will work out God’s plan for us and nothing can thwart God’s ultimate objectives.
Saint of the day: Born in 1791, Gaetano Errico was the second of nine children born to Pasquale, a pasta factory manager, and Marie Marseglia Errico, who worked weaving plush. He was a good and pious child, always ready to help his father at work, or with his younger siblings. He felt a call to the priesthood at age fourteen. He was turned away by the Capuchins and Redemptorists due to his youth. Instead, he studied at a diocesan seminary in Naples from age sixteen, walking the five miles to class each day. He was ordained in Naples in 1815.
Gaetano was a school teacher for 20 years and the parish priest at the church of Saint Cosmas and Damian. He was known for his devotion to Reconciliation and ministry to the sick as well as his self-imposed austerties and penances. He made yearly retreats to the Redemptorist house in Pagani.
During his retreat in 1818, Saint Alphonsus Liguori appeared to him in a vision, and told him that God wanted Gaetano to build a new church, and to found a new religious congregation. While he initially received strong support from the local people, it faded in the face of fund-raising and work, and it wasn’t until December 1830 that he dedicated and blessed the church of Our Lady of Sorrows at Secondigliano; it has since become one of Italy’s most popular pilgrimage sites.
He built nearby a small house for himself and a lay-brother who took care of the church; this was the beginning of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Gaetano served as first Superior General. Gaetano died October 29, 1860 of natural causes and was canonized in 2008.
Spiritual reading: If I did not believe, if I did not make what is called an act of faith (and each act of faith increases our capacity for faith), if I did not have faith that the works of mercy do lighten the sum total of suffering in the world, so that those who are suffering in this ghastly struggle somehow mysteriously find their pain lifted and some balm of consolation poured on their wounds, if I did not believe these things, the problem of evil would indeed be overwhelming. (Dorothy Day)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus had many disciples, but he wished to entrust 12 of them with a special mission to carry the gospel into the world. We know from the gospels that Jesus was a person of prayer, and the gospels suggest that whenever he had a special decision to make, he consulted God in prayer before he made his decision. When Jesus selected the 12 apostles, he went up the mountain to pray and ask God to guide his decision. Jesus is the model and pattern of our lives: if we wish to follow Jesus, when we have decisions we need to make, we can turn prayerfully to the God who made and sustains us to seek God’s counsel and guidance.
Saint of the day: Today is the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, the apostles. Jude was the son of Cleophas, who died a martyr and Mary who stood at the foot of the Cross. Mary was one of the women who anointed Christ’s body after death. Brother of Saint James the Lesser; nephew of Mary and Joseph; blood relative of Jesus Christ, and reported to look a lot like him. He hay have been a fisherman. He was a writer of a canonical letter. He preached in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia with Saint Simon. His patronage of lost or impossible causes traditionally derives from confusion by many early Christians between Jude and Judas; not understanding the difference between the names, they never sought through prayer Jude’s help, and devotion to him became something of a lost cause. Tradition says he was beaten to death with a club, then beheaded post-mortem in 1st century Persia. Simon was an Apostle who evangelized in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Several places claim to have been the site of his martyrdom. The Abbyssinians claim he was crucified in Samaria; Lipsius says he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia; Moses of Chorene writes that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia; many locations claim to have relics.
Spiritual reading: He received us with joy. We felt remorse about being forced to carry out the order of his execution, because we revered him as a very good and innocent man. He constantly preached to us about the Christian religion. In prison we always saw him praying to his God with a joyful countenance. (Statement by the Executioners of Saint Joachim Royo Pèrez)
Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”
Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: These two sayings of Jesus remind us that projects which begin small can result in great things: a tiny mustard seed grows into an immense bush and a little yeast and flour rise to a batch of dough. God calls us to trust that our little projects, like a prayer for a suffering friend, a word of encouragement to a homeless person, or patience when a coworker makes a mistake, can bear great results when we trust that it is God who nurtures our little projects. The Kingdom of God is latent in every act of kindness, ready to bring forth prodigies.
Saint of the day: Saint Abraham was a holy hermit, listed in some records as “the Poor” of “the Child.” Writings have survived that speak of his purity of heart and the simplicity of his lifestyle. He was born in Menuf or Minuf, Egypt, a site northwest of Cairo in the Delta region of the Nile, and became a disciple of St. Pachomius, the founder of cenobitic monasticism. Abraham spent almost two decades in a cave near Pachomius’ foundations in the Delta. Saint Abraham the Poor died 367.
Spiritual reading: You must always reflect on what takes place within your own mind: not what other may do, whether they are good or bad, but what you make of their deeds – in other words, how you can use their deeds, both good and bad, and how much you can profit from them, whether by favoring and helping them, or by having compassion and correcting them. (Meditations by Guigo I)
Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day.” The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.
Reflection on the gospel reading: In the gospel passage from Mark that we read yesterday, Jesus cured blind Bartimaeus. I observed that all of us suffer from various forms of blindness. Today, in the narrative Luke gives us, Jesus cures a woman who was stooped as the result of the curvature of her spine. Again, by analogy, are not all of us, in a spiritual sense, bent over in some way by the cares and concerns that afflict us: all of us carry anxieties and burdens that cause us to stoop. It is interesting to note that the woman did not ask for healing: Jesus saw her plight and in love simply volunteered to heal her. Jesus looks at us, as he did the woman in today’s gospel passage, with compassion, and unbidden even by our asking, reaches out to heal us of the things that weigh us down. Luke teaches us today that all we need do is place ourselves in proximity to the Lord that he may see us as we make our way.
Saint of the day: Contardo Ferrini was the son of a teacher who went on to become a learned man himself, one acquainted with some dozen languages. Today he is known as the patron of universities.
Born in Milan, he received a doctorate in law in Italy and then earned a scholarship that enabled him to study Roman-Byzantine law in Berlin. As a renowned legal expert, he taught in various schools of higher education until he joined the faculty of the University of Pavia, where he was considered an outstanding authority on Roman law.
Contardo was learned about the faith he lived and loved. “Our life,” he said, “must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity.” As a scholar he studied the ancient biblical languages and read the Scriptures in them. His speeches and papers show his understanding of the relationship of faith and science. He attended daily Mass and became a lay Franciscan, faithfully observing the Third Order rule of life. He also served through membership in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
His death in 1902 at the age of 43 occasioned letters from his fellow professors that praised him as a saint; the people of Suna where he lived insisted that he be declared a saint.
Spiritual reading: The everyday itself must be prayed. But how is that supposed to happen? How will the everyday itself become a prayer? Through selflessness and prayer. (The Need and Blessing of Prayer by Karl Rahner, S.J.)
Gospel reading of the day:
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
Reflection on the gospel reading: I am loathe to repeat the cliche that there are many ways in which we humans can suffer from blindness, but it is perhaps a cliche because it it so apparent to all of us that it is true. Certainly, there is the kind of physical blindness that afflicted Bartimaeus, and we all have met people who cannot see in the physical way that Bartimaeus could not see. But there are many other kinds of blindness as well: kinds that are more pervasive and afflict even more of us than those whose physical vision is impaired. There are many examples: We can be blind to the beauty in God’s creation; we can be blind to the situations that others face; we can be blind to our own situation; we can be blind to the deepest meaning of life; we can be blind to the path that God calls us to tread. Bartimaeus in a sense represents all of us, for his physical blindness stands as a symbol of all the ways in which all of us are blind.
All of us have suffered, I think, the experience of being dismissed, of having our feelings and ideas being diminished. Bartimaeus was a man of little account in the world in which he lived, so in this second sense, Bartimaeus represents all of us. Because of Bartimaeus’s similarities to us in his inability to see and his weakness before the world, he has something to teach us: when he hears that Jesus is passing by, this blind, dismissed, and diminished human fearlessly shouts out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
The people around him tell him to be quiet. After all, Jesus is an important person, and Bartimaeus is a man of no position in the world. Bartimaeus, however, is undeterred. Consonant with Jesus’ teaching that we should be confident and consistent in prayer, Bartimaeus shouts again, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Bartimaeus is persistent in asking Jesus for help, and as the result of his persistence, Jesus hears him cry out and calls Bartimaeus to come to himself. Bartimaeus throws off his cloak, and in his nakedness, he approaches the Lord.
Jesus asks Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” And Bartimaeus responds, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus grants his request, and with his newly acquired vision, Bartimaeus is able to follow the Lord along the Lord’s way.
So it with us: in the midst of our blindness and marginalization, we may become disheartened and fail to call out to Jesus, “Son of David, have pity on me.” But let us be attentive: the Lord is passing by. If he appears at first not to hear us, let us cry out again, “Have pity on me,” and persist until he hears our call. When the Lord asks us what we want, let us throw off our cloaks, those things which conceal who we are, and in the complete vulnerability of our nakedness before the Lord, approach him in confidence that if we ask for our sight, the Lord will not deny us. And when he restores us, let us with our new eyes train our sight on his way and follow the path he lays out for us as he leads us in his way.
Spiritual reading: Contemplation is also the response to a call: a call from Him Who has no voice, and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being: meant to respond to Him and signify Him. Contemplation is this echo. It is a deep resonance in the inmost center of our spirit in which our very life loses its separate voice and re-sounds with the majesty and the mercy of the Hidden and Living One . . . It is awakening, enlightenment, and the amazing intuitive grasp by which love gains certitude of God’s creative and dynamic intervention in our daily life. Hence contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return. On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery, and His own freedom. (New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton)
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage from Luke’s gospel shows Jesus as a person rooted in his contemporary situation, a person who knew the events of his day, and a person who reflected on the deeper meaning of current events. God likewise has called us to live in a certain time and be people immersed in a situation, people who probe the deepest meanings of the things that occur around us as we look for manifold signs of God’s hand.
Still, there is a caution: our every interpretation of an event is not necessarily correct. The passage demonstrates that Jesus recognized that the things which happened to a person do not reflect God’s judgment on an individual. Bad things do indeed happen to good people, and when they happen, we are left to stare into the face of God, face the reality that the immensity of our challenges fit meaningfully into the tapestry of the whole project God has undertaken in creating us in freedom, and make an act of faith in the dynamism of the ultimate good of God’s creation. It is not always easy, but belief in a loving God calls us to strive to see the bigger picture and take the long view.
Ultimately, as with the parable Jesus teaches us in this passage, we need to wait and test whether the insights we receive bear fruit. We need to remain vigilant and wait upon the Lord.
Saint of the day: Anthony Mary Claret was an archbishop and the founder of the Claretians. The son of a weaver, he was born in Salient in Catalonia, Spain in 1807. He took up weaving but then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented his entering the order, and he served as a secular priest. In 1849, he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the Claretians, and the Apostolic Training Institute of the Immaculate Conception, Claretian nuns. From 1850 to 1857, Anthony served as the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He returned to the court of Queen Isabella II as confessor and went into exile with her in 1868. In 1869 and 1870, Anthony participated in the First Vatican Council. He died in the Cistercian monastery of Fontfroide in southern France on October 24, 1870. Anthony Mary Claret had the gift of prophecy and performed many miracles. He was opposed by forces in Spain and Cuba and endured many trials.
Spiritual reading: The love of Christ arouses us, urges us to run, and to fly. (Anthony Marie Claret)
Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison. I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: All of us who love God seek God’s will; in fact, the spiritual life, in a sense, is a process of discernment of God’s will. Today’s reading counsels us to look at the signs of the times. Where do we look for the signs of God’s activities? We tend to think of things as inside of ourselves and outside of ourselves, but the fact of the matter is that our insides are a part of the whole, and what is inside is continuous with what is outside. What is God saying to us right here, right now? God is in the midst of our thoughts, feelings, and social interactions. God is present in all the facts of our existence, inside and outside of us: God is shouting at us in the midst of all the cacophony of our existence, if only we will attend.
Saint of the day: Saint John of Capistrano was born in 1386 at Capistrano, Italy. The son of a former German knight, his father died when John was still young. He studied the law at the University of Perugia and worked as a lawyer in Naples, Italy. He served as the reforming governor of Perugia under King Landislas of Naples. When war broke out between Perugia and Malatesta in 1416, John tried to broker a peace, but instead his opponents ignored the truce, and John became a prisoner of war.
During his imprisonment he came to the decision to change vocations. He had married just before the war, but the marriage was never consummated, and with his bride’s permission, it was annulled. He became a Franciscan at Perugia on October 4, 1416. He was a classmate of Saint James of the Marches and a disciple of Saint Bernadine of Siena. A noted preacher while still a deacon, he commenced his work in 1420. An itinerant priest throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, he preached to tens of thousands. He established communities of Franciscan renewal. John wrote extensively, mainly against the heresies of the day.
After the fall of Constantinople, he preached Crusade against the Muslim Turks. At age 70 he was commissioned to lead it and marched off at the head of 70,000 Christian soldiers. He won the great battle of Belgrade in the summer of 1456. He died of natural causes in the field at Villach, Hungary a few months later on October 23, 1456, but his army delivered Europe from the Turks.
Spiritual reading: Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.” Now a light does not illumine itself, but instead it diffuses its rays and shines all around upon everything that comes into its view. So it must be with the glowing lives of upright and holy clerics. By the brightness of their holiness they must bring light and serenity to all who gaze upon them. They have been placed here to care for others. Their own lives should be an example to others, showing how they must live in the house of the Lord. (Mirror of the Clergy by John of Capistrano)
We formally dedicated on October 18 our new parish in Maryland, St. Charles of Brazil, named for our founder, Charles Duarte-Costa, with a Eucharistic liturgy at 3:00 followed by a meal shared in common. Our Presiding Bishop, Tony Santore, led our Eucharistic assembly joined by other CACINA clergy, Pastor Kristi Kunkel of Our Saviour Lutheran Church, and Rev. Joan Stiles. Here are some photos from the day.
We gather for Eucharist:
We shared a meal afterward to celebrate what God is doing among us:
Presiding Bishop Tony Santore and the President of the House of Delegates Carl Pope: