Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage that the Church gives us to consider on this Thanksgiving Day is a narrative that we encountered recently. Even so, it bears repeating. In the passage, ten lepers are healed, but only one, the one who is a foreigner, the one who stands outside the community, understands his own obligation of gratitude to the God who has made him whole. In many ways throughout the course of the year, God has made us complete and entire. Today as every day, let us model ourselves on the pattern of that outsider who stopped, reflected, understood what God has done, and fell on his knees to the Giver of All Gifts full of thanks.

Saint of the day: John Berchmans (1599-1621) personifies the ideal that ordinary deeds done extraordinarily well lead to great holiness. He died very young, only five years after entering the novitiate, but his great desire to be a priest inspired him to live religious life fully. He was born to a very religious family in Diest, Belgium, and started studies that would lead to the priesthood early in his life. He lived in the rectory of Notre Dame parish while he studied, but after three years his father told him he would have to leave school and learn a practical trade to help his family’s poor finances. The pastor of the Diest Béguinage offered to pay for Berchmans’ education in return for his service as a servant; in 1612 the young man took the same arrangement in Mechlin at the household of Canon Froymont. In Mechlin, though, Berchmans met the Jesuits and decided to join them rather than become a diocesan priest. His father was disappointed because a diocesan priest could contribute to the family while a Jesuit could not, but he gave his son permission to pursue his goal.

Berchmans entered the Jesuits in 1616 and performed all the novice duties with joy and exacting fidelity. He also sought to control himself through penances. A few months after he entered the Jesuits, his mother died; then his father gave up his shoemaking shop and entered the diocesan seminary. He was ordained a priest in April 1618. Later that year, on Sept. 25, John pronounced the three vows of religious life and went to Antwerp to study philosophy. After only three weeks he was informed that he would move to Rome for studies. Before he could return to Mechlin to say goodbye to his father, the latter died suddenly.

The young Jesuit arrived in Rome on Dec. 31 and joined the community at the Roman College, where he was as faithful to his studies and religious life as he had been in the novitiate. He excelled in his studies and at the end of his third year he was selected to defend the entire course of philosophy in a public disputation. His health had suffered from the effort he had put into studying for his final exam, and he became steadily weaker as he prepared for the public disputation, held on July 8. He hoped to rest when it was over, but he was also selected to represent the Roman College at another disputation to be held in August at the Greek College. The two events took too much out of his weakened condition.

On August 7 he suffered an attack of dysentery, and then a fever set in. When the superior saw how pale and weak Berchmans was, he sent him to the infirmary. The young Jesuit grew more ill day by day as his lungs became inflamed and he grew weaker and weaker. He spoke of Paradise as if he would soon be there when other scholastics came to visit. The brother infirmarian suggested that he should receive Communion the next day, even though it was not a Sunday. The Jesuit community came in procession bringing Viaticum to the their dying brother. He asked for his crucifix, rosary and rule book and received a steady stream of visitors, including Father General. He spent his final night in prayer and died on August 13 in the morning.

Spiritual reading:

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son, and Holy Ghost,
supreme in highest heaven,
the one eternal God,
whom earth and heaven adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

(Martin Rinkart, 1636)

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