CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 22, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:20-21

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: All of us want to be understood. Most particularly, we want to be understood by the members of our families. But sometimes the work that we do is so important that it is worth the risk of not being understood. Pursuing our vision of God’s will for our lives strikes me as something sufficiently critical that we can risk not being understood. Doing what God wants us to do is important enough to risk being considered mad. Jesus was willing to take that risk, and he suffered his family’s sense he had lost his mind, but he never gave up on what he knew the Father called him to do. If we will walk in his steps, God will lead us. Let us ever strive to walk in his steps, following faithfully the pattern he left for us.

Saint of the day: On October 20, 1870 in Hungary, Ladislaus Batthyany-Strattmann was born into an ancient noble Hungarian family, the sixth of ten brothers. His family moved to Austria when he was six years old, and his mother died when he was 12. When of age, he studied agriculture, chemistry, physics, philosophy, literature, music, and medicine at the University of Vienna, graduating with a medical degree in 1900. On November 10, 1898, he married Countess Maria Teresa Coreth, a pious woman, and the couple had thirteen children; the whole family attended Mass and prayed the Rosary every day.

In 1902, Ladislaus opened a private 25-bed hospital in Kittsee, Austria. He worked there as a general practitioner, and later when he had more staff, specialized as a surgeon and eye doctor. During World War I, the flood of injured soldiers required him to expand the hospital to 120 beds.

In 1915, Ladislaus inherited the castle of Körmend, Hungary, and with it the family name Strattman and the title of Prince. In 1920, he moved his family to the castle and turned one wing into a hospital specializing in eye diseases. Ladislaus’ skills led him to become an internationally known specialist in opthamology.

Dr. Ladislaus never turned away a patient because they could not pay, and provided funds to the destitute. He treated all, kept them in hospital as long as necessary, gave away medications, accepted what patients would pay when they would, but never asked a fee from anyone except that they pray an Our Father for him. He prayed over each patient before working on them, knew that his skills were simply God working through his hands, and saw his family fortune as a way to help the poor. He was considered a saint in life by his family, his patients, and fellow healers. He died January 22, 1931 at Vienna, Austria of bladder cancer and was buried in the family tomb in Güssing, Hungary.

Spiritual reading: A truly loyal friend sees nothing in his friend but his heart. (Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rielvaux)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 21, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus’ appointment of 12 apostles suggests his conscious awareness of the ties between his ministry and the history of his people. At the time of the the Assyrian invasion of the northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth century, 10 of the 12 tribes were scattered and lost, and the history of God’s chosen people was disrupted. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the central message of Jesus’ ministry, suggested to the Lord the need to symbolically reestablish the 12 tribes of Israel. The naming of the 12, therefore, partly testifies to the continuity of God’s action within the lives of his chosen ones. Through our baptism, God has chosen us. We can trust that just as Jesus’ ministry continued and fulfilled the history of Israel, God will continue to remain present in our lives. The same God who cares for us today will care for us tomorrow, so no matter what troubles lie before us, we can be confident that God either will render them harmless or give us the strength to sustain the trials God sends.

Saint of the day: Born in about 1580 in England, Alban Bartholomew Roe converted to Catholicism. He studied at the English College at Douai, France, but was dismissed for an infraction of discipline. A Benedictine priest in 1612 at Dieulouard, France, he became a missionary to England. He was arrested and exiled in 1615 for his work. Returning to England in 1618, he was arrested again. He sat in prison until 1623 when the Spanish ambassador obtained his release on condition that Alban leave England. Soon after, Alban returned to his homeland and continued his covert ministry. Arrested again in 1625, he lay in prison for 17 years before being tried and condemned to death for the crime of priesthood. One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, he died with Blessed Thomas Reynolds. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on January 21, 1642 at Tyburn, England.

Spiritual reading of the day: You are mistaken in thinking that the cause of your disquiet, or little progress in the Lord, is due to the place, or your superiors, or your brethren. This disquiet comes from within and not from without. I mean from your lack of humility, obedience, prayer, and your slight mortification, in a word, your little fervor in advancing in the way of perfection. You could change residence, superiors, and brethren, but if you do not change the interior man, you will never do good. And you will everywhere be the same, unless you succeed in being humble, obedient, devout, and mortified in your self-love. This is the only change you should seek. I mean that you should try to change the interior man and lead him back like a servant to God. (From a Letter to Batolomeo Romano by Ignatius of Loyola, 1555)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 20, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospels over and over again suggest the profound impression that Jesus left on the people who were around him. People so desperately wanted to be near him and even to touch him that Jesus had to take precautions for his physical safety lest the crowds were to “crush him.” We live in the presence of the risen Lord, and the more we permit ourselves to be conscious of his presence, the greater our need to be with him will become. Let us strive today to draw near him, to be available to the profound impression he may leave for us. We certainly do this through prayer, but we also do this in the ways that we minister to one another and make ourselves available to the sufferings of others. If we live lives that strive to imitate Christ, Jesus will reciprocate. As the Letter from James says, “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”

Saint of the day: Iwene Tansi was born in Aguleri near Onitsha, Nigeria, in 1903. He was baptised when he was 9 years old with the Christian name, Michael. His baptism affected him deeply even at such a young age and he shocked his non-Christian parents by daring to destroy his own personal idol, traditionally given to every male child at birth.

At the age of 22, after several years of working as catechist and school teacher, he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest for the Onitsha diocese in 1937, when he was 34. As parish priest he worked zealously in Eastern Nigeria for 13 years, selflessly serving the religious and material needs of his people.

He had to travel on foot to visit his widely scattered parishes, would spend whole days hearing confessions and was always available to the people in their needs, day and night. He was particularly eager to give young people a good preparation for marriage and to counteract the tradition of “trial marriages” which prevailed among the pagans at that time. The large Christian populations of many Igbo villages are a present witness to his zeal.

However, in spite of all he was doing, he felt the call to serve God in a more direct way in a life of contemplation and prayer and, if possible to bring the contemplative monastic life to Nigeria. In 1950 his Bishop was able to free him to try his vocation at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Nottingham, England, and to be trained in view of founding a contemplative monastery in the diocese of Onitsha. His new name in the monastery was Father Cyprian. The complete change of lifestyle, particularly living under obedience when he had been a leader of people, the change of climate, food and most of all the culture shock were severe tests, but he was convinced that this is where God wanted him to be. Father Mark Ulogu, who later became Abbot of Bamenda, joined him a year later.

In 1962 Mount Saint Bernard decided to make the foundation in Africa, but for various reasons it was made in the neighboring country of Cameroon, near Bamenda, rather than in Nigeria. Although he was appointed as Novice Master of the foundation, Father Cyprian was too sick to go. He died on January 20, 1964, a few months after the departure of the founders.

Spiritual reading: To attack poverty by preaching voluntary poverty seems like madness. But again, it is direct action . . . . To be profligate in our love and generosity, spontaneous, to cut all the red tape of bureaucracy! The more you give away, the more the Lord will give you to give. It is a growth in faith. It is the attitude of the man whose life of common sense and faith is integrated. To live with generosity in times of crisis is only common sense. In the time of earthquake, flood, fire, people give recklessly; even governments do this. (“The More You Give” by Dorothy Day)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 19, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage from the gospel we read today suggests that Jesus inspired sufficient opposition even early in his ministry that the threat of death was never far from him. Mark in this passage clearly links the opposition of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus’ interpretation of the law and his willingness to challenge conventional understanding of religious duties. If we are to imitate Christ, we should never fear pursuing what we perceive to be the right course and the best action even in the face of the opposition of authority.

Saint of the day: Born on January 17, 1842 in Korczyna, Poland, from childhood Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar was surrounded by a deep religious atmosphere. He was ordained a priest in 1864, and after post graduate studies in Rome, whereby he obtain doctorates in both theology and canon law, Father Pelczar taught in the diocesan seminary in Przemysl, and, later, served as rector and professor for 22 years at Jagellonian University in Krakow.

In his concern for the most needy and the spreading of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Father Pelczar founded the Congregation of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1894. He himself formed the first members according to the needs of that time. In the spirituality of the Congregation, his own desires and concerns were reflected: the glory of God in the Mystery of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, love of Mary, the Immaculate Virgin and Queen of Poland, charity towards the sick and abandoned, concern for servant girls in need of financial and moral help, and the religious training of children and youth.

In 1899, he became an auxiliary bishop and, in 1900, local Ordinary of the Diocese of Przemysl. He was beatified in 1991 and canonized in 2003. The relics of Saint Joseph Sebastian rest in the chapel of the Cathedral Church in Przemysl. In Krakow, St. Joseph Sebastian is venerated in a special way in the church of the Sacred Heart Sisters where there is a chapel dedicated to him.

Spiritual reading: I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him. (Teresa of Avila)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 18, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: When we have a “how to” guide to shape our behavior, we don’t have to give it a lot of thought. The less we have to think about it, the less significance we give to it, and the less our behavior is the product of our relationship to the situation where we find ourselves. Our behavior becomes rote and devoid of any deep meaning. When Jesus says that that the human person is not made for the sabbath but the sabbath for the human person, he reassures us that rules are meant to be broken, and our lives are meant to be creative responses to the realities that surround us. We are called to be little less than gods! Divinity is creativity: let us live our lives creatively that we be images of the creative God.

Saint of the day: Jaime Hilario Barbal was born on January 2,1898 at Enviny in northern Spain as Manuel Barbal. Raised in a pious and hardworking family near the Pyrenees mountains, he entered the seminary at age 12, but when his hearing began to fail in his teens, he was sent home. He joined the Brothers of the Christian Schools at age 19, entering the novitiate on February 24, 1917 at Irun, Spain, taking the name Jaime Hilario. An exceptional teacher and catechist, he believed strongly in the value of universal education, especially for the poor. However, his hearing problems grew worse, and in the early 1930s, he was forced to retire from teaching and began to work in the garden at the LaSalle house at San Jose, Tarragona, Spain.

He was imprisoned in July 1936 at Mollerosa, Spain when the Spanish Civil War broke out and religious were swept from the street. Transferred to Tarragona in December, then confined on a prison ship with some other religious. He was convicted on January 15, 1937 of being a Christian brother. Two rounds of volley fire from a firing squad did not kill him, possibly because some of soldiers intentionally shot wide; their commander then murdered Jaime on January 18, 1937 with five shots at close range. First of the 97 LaSalle Brothers killed in Catalunia, Spain during the Spanish Civil War to be recognized as a martyr.

Spiritual reading: Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 17, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

Reflection on the gospel: We have lived through times where people have sought reassurance in old answers to the enduring questions and sometimes have made idols of culturally-conditioned answers that arose in another age to address situations in another age. There are many examples across a wide spectrum of concerns, such as systematic theology, ethics, and scripture study, but let’s just attend to an intimate experience for all of us in the Catholic tradition, how we worship as a community. The Tridentine Mass, the Mass universal in Roman Catholicism until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, was a 16th century convention that unified breathtakingly diverse Catholic liturgical practices that varied from province to province and even town to town in the Middle Ages. The need for the unity that Mass of Trent imposed reflected the Church’s response to the Reformation, and the capacity of the printing press to disseminate a standard set of practices made such unity possible. Scholarship has revealed that that Mass bore only the outline of the Eucharist that the early Church celebrated, and it certainly was not the Eucharistic practice Jesus “modeled” for the disciples. Jesus’ own experience, and the experience of Christians across the centuries, was the adaptability of the Gospel to the cultural conditions prevalent in different communities at different times. This is what the Lord meant by pouring wine into new wine skins. We are not to make idols of outward forms, such as a particular liturgical practice. We live in news times with immense new scholarship and new philosophical understandings. The message cannot stand still. We ever must explore how to make the enduring gospel relevant to the age in which we live, comprehensible in the language of the day, and alive in the ears of our hearers.

Saint of the day: Anthony of Egypt, the Father of Cenobites and the Father of Western Monasticism, was born in 251 at Heracleus, Egypt. Following the death of his parents when he was about 20, he insured that his sister completed her education; sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned; gave the proceeds to the poor, joined the anchorites who lived nearby, and moved into an empty sepulcher. At age 35, he moved alone to the desert, living 20 years in an abandoned fort.

Anthony barricaded the place for solitude, but admirers broke in. He agreed to be the spiritual counselor of others. His recommendation was to base life on the Gospel. The word about him spread, and so many disciples arrived that Anthony founded two monasteries on the Nile, one at Pispir and one at Arsinoe. Many of those who lived near him supported themselves by making baskets and brushes.

Anthony briefly left his seclusion in 311, going to Alexandria to fight Arianism, and to comfort the victims of Maximinus’ persecution. At some point in his life, he met with his sister again. She, too, had withdrawn from the world, and directed a community of nuns. Anthony retired to the desert, living in a cave on Mount Colzim.

Descriptions paint him as uniformly modest and courteous. His example led many to take up the monastic life, and to follow his way. Anthony died in 356 at Mount Colzim of natural causes. His friend late in life was Saint Paul the Hermit who buried the aged anchorite. Anthony’s biography was written by his friend Saint Athanasius.

Spiritual reading of the day: We are all called to be saints. Every one of us has heard, and still hears, ringing in his conscience, the command: “Climb higher;” higher, ever higher, until while we are on this earth we can reach up to grasp the heavens, until we can join our saints, whether they be the venerable saints of old or the wonderful saints of modern times, who were our own contemporaries, and in whom our Mother the Church already rejoices. (Writings and Addresses While Patriarch of Venice by Angelo Roncalli)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 16, 2011

Today’s gospel reading:

John 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Reflections on the gospel reading: In all four gospels, John the Baptist plays a role in Jesus’ identification as the Son of God. In the three synoptic accounts, that identification is part of John’s baptizing of Jesus, but here in John’s account, there is no mention of John baptizing Jesus. In the three synoptic accounts, the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God appears to be an experience that Jesus has, and the texts are ambiguous about whether anyone else perceives the revelation. Here, the text clearly suggests the Baptist has an insight into Jesus’ identity that dawns upon him in a flash of recognition. Whether the identification of Jesus as the Son of God is part of Jesus’ baptism, occurs in this second context, or occurs for different persons at different time, the text does not make clear to us. But the scriptures here and elsewhere bring up a common experience among people who encountered Jesus. In Luke’s gospel, for instance, we read of Simeon and Anna looking on the infant Jesus and knowing the child was the promised one of Israel. Here, John looks upon Jesus and instantly understands there is something astonishing in this man. Indeed, over and over again in the gospel accounts, we find evidence that people who encounter Jesus are incredibly impressed by him, that some characteristic or characteristics in him set him apart, that something about him made people sit up and take notice.

In our own lives, I suspect, if we are available to the experience, we too have had encounters with the Lord that make us sit bolt upright, that suddenly strike us and rivet our attention, that inspire within us a sense of wonder and awe. Our faith tells us that Jesus is near us today: let us prepare ourselves, yes: paradoxically prepare ourselves, to be surprised today by the wonder of him. If we trust that we shall encounter him, he will not disappoint us. We only need to look if we are to see and recognize him.

Spiritual reading of the day: White smoke rising up the valley, against the light, slowly taking animal forms, with a dark background of wooded hills behind. Menacing and peaceful, probably brush fires, maybe a house, probably not a house. Cold, quiet morning, watch ticks on the desk. Produce nothing. Perhaps I am stronger than I think. Perhaps I am afraid of my own strength and turn it against myself to make myself weak. Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me. It is simply time that I must pray intently for the needs of the whole world and not be concerned with other, seemingly ‘more effective’ forms of action. For me, prayer comes first, the other forms of action follow, if they have their place. And they no doubt do to some extent. (Daily Meditations from His Journals by Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 15, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 12:13-17

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?”

Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel passage points to a preoccupation of Jesus, his concern with hearts that are true. A consistent theme in the gospels tells us that Jesus sees the hypocrisy of the people around him. There are lots of things that the gospel could have told us interested Jesus: whether people wore nice clothes, were attractive, were tall or short. None of these things apparently concerned Jesus. What concerned him was whether people meant what they said and said what they meant, whether they said, “Yes,” when they meant, “Yes,” and, “No,” when they meant, “No.” There are other lessens we can draw from this passage, like Jesus’ position on our relationship to government or Jesus’ sharp and probing intelligence, but what preoccupied our Lord in the exchange was his questioners’ fidelity to their hearts, that their outsides and insides matched in some way. If we wish to make a home for Jesus in our hearts, let them be true and sharp places that reflect on our faces and in our words the good that we nurture inside us.

Saint of the day: We celebrate today in the United States the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., a person recognized in the calendar of the Episcopal Church as a human being of heroic virtue. Born on January 15, 1929, King was an African American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States and he is frequently referenced as a human rights icon today.

A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president.

King’s efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War, both from a religious perspective.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. national holiday in 1986.

Spiritual reading of the day: We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 14, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s passage, Jesus uses the healing of a paralytic to demonstrate his authority to forgive sins. There is an analogy here: sin is compared to a physical paralysis and forgiveness is compared to being made whole. Sin makes us unable to move freely through our lives, but Jesus forgives us our sins as a kind of healing that makes us able to move. If we allow ourselves to tap into that forgiveness, we can grow free of the debilitating nature of our brokenness. It is Jesus who saves us in every way that a man and a woman can be saved.

Saint of the day: Felix was the son of Hermias, a Syrian who had been a Roman soldier. He was born on his father’s estate at Nola near Naples, Italy. On the death of his father, Felix distributed his inheritance to the poor, was ordained by Bishop St. Maximus of Nola, and became his assistant. When Maximus fled to the desert at the beginning of Decius’ persecution of the Christians in 250, Felix was seized in his stead and imprisoned. He was reputedly released from prison by an angel, who directed him to the ailing Maximus, whom he brought back to Nola. Even after Decius’ death in 251, Felix was a hunted man but kept well hidden until the persecution ended. When Maximus died, the people unanimously selected Felix as their Bishop, but he declined the honor in favor of Quintus, a senior priest. Felix spent the rest of his life on a small piece of land sharing what he had with the poor, and died there on January 14. His tomb soon became famous for the miracles reported there, and when St. Paulinus became bishop of Nola almost a century later (410), he wrote about his predecessor, the source of our information about him, adding legendary material that had grown up about Felix in the intervening century. His feast day is January 14th.

Spiritual reading: Spin a little every day; thread by thread weave your design until it is finished and you will infallibly succeed. But be careful not to hurry, because you will tangle the thread with knots and confuse the spindle. Therefore advance always, and even if your progress is at a slow pace, you will still travel far. (Letter by Padre Pio, 1917)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 13, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Reflection on the gospel: In the culture that Jesus occupied, leprosy was a fearful thing for both an individual and the individual’s community. The law of Moses demanded that the individual move out of normal society and proscribed contacts by unaffected persons with the affected person.

Yet in today’s gospel, Jesus touches the leper, an action that in the law of his people, made him unclean. Jesus touches the leper not merely as an action of healing but as an action of compassion: Mark tells us Jesus was “moved with pity.”

Who are the lepers in our own age? Who are we prescribed from touching? I think if we probe our memories and emotions, we will find various classes of people we consider untouchable. Perhaps they are homeless people whose clothes smell of urine. Perhaps they are people with HIV. Perhaps they are persons who occupy a particular rung in the ladder of social classes. Perhaps they are gay men or lesbians. Perhaps they are members of other groups of minority persons, defined racially or ethnically.

Whoever they are, whatever repels us about them, if we are to imitate Christ, we are to seek them out and touch them. Touch them, yes, metaphorically, but even touch them, yes, if it is appropriate, physically. It is in human touch that we manifest many forms of compassion, and if the metaphorical dimensions of touch are included, it is in human touch that we manifest every form of compassion.

Our journey to be like Jesus is to move beyond the confines of our proscriptions about who is touchable and who is untouchable to embrace every person with compassion and acceptance. Our journey to be like Jesus is to touch the leper God places today in our path.

Saint of the day: Hilary was born in 315 at Poitiers, France of wealthy polytheistic, pagan nobility. His early life was uneventful as he married, had children (including Saint Abra), and studied on his own. Through his studies he came to believe in salvation through good works, and then monotheism. As he studied the Bible for the first time, he literally read himself into the faith and was converted by the end of the New Testament. Hilary lived the faith so well he was made bishop of Poitiers from 353 to 368. Hilary opposed the emperor’s attempt to run Church matters, and was exiled; he used the time to write works explaining the faith. His teaching and writings converted many, and in an attempt to reduce his notoriety, he was returned to the small town of Poitiers where his enemies hoped he would fade into obscurity. His writings continued to convert pagans. He introduced Eastern theology to the Western Church. He fought Arianism with the help of Saint Viventius. He died in 368 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: {God speaking to Symeon the New Theologian in a vision:} … according to the nature which is Mine, I am altogether invisible, uncircumscribed, formless, intangible, impalpable, immoveable, ever-moving, filling all things while altogether nowhere at all, not in you, not in any of the angels or prophets who have approached Me of old or who now draw near, by whom I have never been seen at all, nor am seen now. (On the Mystical Life by Symeon the New Theologian)