CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus clearly did not like hypocrisy. Jesus’ repugnance at falseness comes up again and again in the gospels. Yet the subject that the gospel treats today, passing judgment on another, is something I imagine almost all of us are guilty of.

When we judge others, we often do not have the courage to confront the person to her or his face. We might seek to change this behavior in ourselves, if we were guilty of it, through a resolve to never level a charge against another except when kindness compels us to share the observation directly with the person. If we adopted this practice, my guess is that it would eradicate most of our judgments. In the rare cases where we ought to speak to people about things we have observed in their attitudes or behaviors, we either may learn something about them that we did not know, or we may even earn their gratitude that we let them know how things they do are perceived. In any event, this kind of practice, if applied consistently, has the potential to remove from us a failing that the Lord has said he does not like.

Saint of the day: Thomas Whitbread, S.J. was born in Essex, England. He died 1679. Thomas was educated at Saint Omer and joined the Society of Jesus in 1635. He was provincial of the English mission and at the time of the Popish Plot and was convicted with four other Jesuit priests on a false charge of conspiring to murder Charles II. For this, he was hanged at Tyburn.

Spiritual reading: Let us abandon ourselves unreservedly to God; let our thought concern itself only with following the way which God through all eternity has marked out for us and which we now are treading. (Abandonment to Divine Providence by Pere Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.)

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Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 3:16-18

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today is the celebration of diversity in the undivided life of God. The Church from very close to the death and resurrection of Jesus has understood and taught the Trinitarian reality of the one God. Matthew, written probably in the 80s, has an explicit reference to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Jesus’ commandment to go out and baptize, and the oldest extent copies of Matthew contain this formula. Paul, writing to the Philippians in the 50s, quotes a beautiful Christological hymn, a hymn that well may date to the late 30s and one that contains overt inferences to the divinity of Jesus. The very term that the New Testament over and over again uses to refer to Jesus, the Greek word Kurios meaning Lord, is exclusively reserved to God in the Old Testament. It is quite true that the dogmatic definition of the Trinity occurred in 325 at Nicaea, but that event was just an effort to put a clear label on an experience that the followers of Jesus believed and prayed from the very earliest years of the Christian community. The triune nature of the one God is not something that the mind readily accepts, but it is how Christians from the very inception of the Church have interacted with God. And in an age that has recognized and celebrated the immense diversity of human experience even as it still longs for community, the interior life of God teaches us that perfect unity despite multiplicity is not just possible but the most basic condition of reality.

Spiritual reading:

God for Us, we call you Father.
God Alongside Us, we call You Jesus
God Within Us, we call you Holy Spirit.

You are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things.
Even us, and even me.

Every name falls short of you
Goodness and Greatness.

We can only see who You are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing.

As it was in the beginning, is now,
And ever shall be. Amen.

(Richard Rohr, OFM)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: I once many years ago read that the people who live in the Himlayan Mountains, who of course are good mountain climbers, employ what might be considered a spiritual practice in their mountain climbing. When they move up a mountainside, they do not look up. The reason that they don’t look up is that they believe the one who does, has to climb the mountain twice, once in his or her mind and then once in reality.

This insight is precisely the insight that Jesus shares with us in today’s gospel as we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount. The one who thinks continually about the future and is anxious about his or her needs at a future date lives the anxiety of those moments both in anticipation and on the day the cause for anxiety materializes. It is better that we live, as members of Alcoholics Anonymous recommend, one day at a time. Today has enough to keep us busy.

Saint of the day: Born in 1126 at Germany, Elizabeth of Schonau was a Benedictine abbess who was a gifted mystic. She had her first vision in 1152 and was known for ecstasies, prophecies, and diabolical visitations. She became abbess in 1157. Her cult was never formalized, but she is listed as a saint in the Roman Martyrology. Her brother, Ethbert, a Benedictine abbot, wrote her biography and recorded her visions in three books. She died June 18, 1164 at Bonn, Germany.

Spiritual reading: Loving your neighbor means living in voluntary poverty, stripping yourself, putting off the old Adam, denying yourself, etc. It also means non-participation in those comforts and luxuries which have been manufactured by the exploitation of others. While our brothers and sisters suffer, we must be compassionate with them, suffer with them. While they suffer from lack of necessities, we will refuse to enjoy comforts. These resolutions, no matter how hard they are to live up to, no matter how often we fail and have to begin over again, are part of the Vision. And we must keep this vision in mind, recognize the truth of it, the necessity for it, even though we do not, cannot, live up to it…though in our execution we may fall short of the mark over and over. St. Paul says it is by little and by little that we proceed. (“Meditations” by Dorothy Day)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel today reminds us that our values shape our perspectives. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be, reminds us that what we treasure orients us, and If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness reminds us that our basic orientation in life shapes how we see things. If we value money, money will be the filter that shapes our perspectives. On the other hand, if we value God, union with God will shape our perspectives. In the verse that immediately follows the gospel narrative we read today, the Lord counsels us that we cannot serve two masters: we must choose among the possibilities, and that choice will give us the path that we shall follow. Scripture tells us that we have been made little less than gods, and gods of course create. What we are to become is an act of our divine creative power, instilled in us by God. Let us value what is right that we may choose to become what is best.

Saint of the day Adam Chmielowski was born on August 20, 1845 in Poland to a wealthy aristocratic family. He initially studied agriculture in order to manage the family estate. Involved in politics from his youth, he lost a leg at age 17 when injured while fighting in an insurrection. In Krakow, he became a popular, well-known and well-liked artist. His interest in politics and art made him keenly aware of the human misery around him. A gentle and compassionate soul, he felt called to help those in need. After years of reflection, he understood that this desire was how God was calling him to service and Himself.

A Franciscan tertiary, taking the name Albert, he abandoned painting and began a life of working with and for the poorest of Krakow. In 1887, he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of Saint Francis, Servants of the Poor, known as the Albertines (named for him) or the Gray Brothers (after their rough gray habits). In 1891, he founded the women’s congregation of the Order (Gray Sisters). The Albertines organized food and shelter for the poor and homeless.

Albert preached that the great calamity of our time was that so many refused to see and voluntarily relieve the suffering of their miserable brothers and sisters. The “haves” lived away from the “have-nots” in order to ignore them and leave their care to others.

In 1949, Karol Wotlywa, later elected bishop of Rome, wrote a well-received play about Albert; the work was filmed in 1997, released as Brother of Our God. Albert was the spiritual teacher of Blessed Maria Bernardina Jablonska. He died December 25, 1916 at Krakow, Poland, of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: The holiest, most common, most necessary practice in the spiritual life is the presence of God, that is, to take delight in and become accustomed to His divine company, speaking humbly and talking lovingly with Him at all times, at every moment, without rule or system. (The Practice of the Presence of God by Br. John Lawrence of the Resurrection.)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel reading tells us that God already knows what we need before we ask God for anything, so why should we pray at all? Soren Kierkegaard once observed that prayer was not something that changes God but something that changes ourselves. Modern science, of course, can offer us nothing to explain God, but it has taught us much about how the material world changes, and our ability to see into the brain as it engages in various activities tells us much about what prayer actually does do. We know as scientific fact that prayer changes our brains and makes us better people.

The practice of meditation engages the social circuitry of the brain. Meditation attunes us to other human beings. It connects us to our shared humanity. It allows us to read and understand the emotions of other people: it makes us more compassionate. We can feel the pain of other people and want to take action to ameliorate it. The Lord’s prayer, then, captures the very essence of the neurological implications of a life spent with daily meditation. It is fundamentally a “we” prayer. The we of our reliance on God as a parent common to us all; the we that acknowledges God’s greatness; the we that submits to God’s will; the we of our shared need for food, forgiveness and compassion, being spared, and being saved from evil.

In this gospel passage, Jesus emphasizes the need for mercy: how can we expect mercy if we fail to show mercy? And just as Jesus clearly understood and science now confirms, meditation is exactly the road that opens us, in compassion and with mercy, to experience our shared humanity.

Saint of the day: The Carthusian Martyrs were a group of monks of the London Charterhouse, the monastery of the Carthusian Order in central London, who were put to death by the English state from June 19, 1535 to September 20, 1537. The method of execution was hanging, disemboweling while still alive, and then quartering. The group also includes two monks who were brought to that house from the Charterhouses of Beauvale and Axholme and similarly dealt with. The total is of 18 men. At the outset of the “King’s Great Matter,” (the term that described Henry VIII’s decision to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn) the government was anxious to secure the public acquiescence of the monks of the London Charterhouse, since for the austerity and sincerity of their mode of life they enjoyed great prestige. When this attempt failed in this, the only alternative was to annihilate the resistance, since a refusal engaged the prestige of the monks in the opposite sense. The Church remembers today several of those Carthusians who willingly embraced death before they would betray the consciences.

Spiritual reading: Dear Lord, I do not ask to see the path. In darkness, in anguish and in fear, I will hang on tightly to your hand, and I will close my eyes, so that you know how much trust I place in you. (Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel calls us to reflect on the meaning of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Today’s reading addresses three pillars of religious practice among Jesus’ own people, and by extension and adoption, among us who are Jesus’ followers. Those three practices are almsgiving, prayer, and penance. There is a common theme among the three. Yes, Jesus encourages us to give to the poor, pray, and repent, but he tells us to do each of these things in a way that does not draw attention to ourselves. When we do these things to gain the admiration of other people, we have received our reward. Our religious practice is to be a relationship between God and ourselves: it is not to make us look better in the eyes of other people. The passage from Matthew emphasizes that true religion is an “inside job;” it suggests we should cultivate religion that does not seek the approval of human beings and is performed in a way that only God sees. Let us give freely to the poor. Let us pray continuously in our hearts. Let us seek to set right the injuries we do to our relationship with God. But let us make of each of these practices an affair of the heart which God alone sees.

Saint of the day: Born at Pibrac (near Toulouse), France, in 1579, Saint Germaine was the daughter of Laurent Cousin, a farm worker, and his wife, Marie Laroche. Her mother died while she was still an infant. A sickly child, she suffered scrofula among other conditions, and her right hand was deformed. Her father and his second wife treated her badly. After her stepmother’s children were born, Germaine was kept isolated from her siblings. She slept in the stable or in a cupboard under the stairs and was poorly fed on scraps. At the age of nine, Germaine was put to work as a shepherdess, which is not a terrible business for one who liked to pray.

Germaine was very devout, however, and refused to miss Mass. If she heard the bell calling the faithful to Mass while she was tending the sheep, she set her crook and her distaff in the earth, declared her flock to be under the care of her guardian angel, and went to church. Her sheep never came to any harm during her absences, even though ravening wolves inhabited the nearby forest of Boucône.

Germaine was so poor that it is hard to imagine she would have the resources to exercise the corporal works of mercy. Yet love can always find a way. She was always ready to lend a hand to anyone needing it, especially the children whom she would gather in the fields to teach a simple catechism. She shared what little food she received with those poorer than herself.

The neighbors laughed at her religious devotion and called her ‘the little bigot’; Germaine took it all in good humor. Once in the winter her stepmother accused her of stealing bread and pursued her threateningly with a stick. When Germaine opened her apron, summer flowers tumbled out. The neighbors and her parents were awed and began to treat her as a holy person. Her parents invited her to rejoin the household, but Germaine chose to continue living as before.

At 22, she was found dead on her straw pallet under the stairs. She died in 1601. Documents attest to more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces through the intervention of Saint Germain. They include cures of every kind (of blindness, both congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), and the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845.

Spiritual reading:

Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.
(From A Man for All Seasons)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel that we read today is a statement about what constitutes human perfection: be you perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect is how the passage ends, and everything that precedes it is the definition of perfection. The passage is not the usual way we think of perfection. What Jesus says is the perfection to which we disciples must aspire is a radical stance utterly contrary to the wisdom of the world and even many religions. Love, in psychological terms, is joy in the presence of a person accompanied by acceptance of that person. It is easy to feel joy and acceptance in the presence of people who feel joy and acceptance in our presence, but to experience joy and acceptance in the presence of our enemies and persecutors is an an extraordinary thing. It is not a thing we can do naturally; it is the experience of people who are plugged into the life of God. What is difficult for us is easy for God, and the nearer we draw to God through daily prayer and meditation, the more the perfection of the Father flows into us and makes possible for us what otherwise would be unnatural and even impossible. We are not called to keep a rule book perfectly. We are called to love perfectly.

Saint of the day: Joseph the Hymnographer was born in about 810. He was the most prolific of the Greek hymn writers. A native of Sicily, he was forced to leave his island in 830 in the wake of an invasion by the Arabs, journeying to Thessalonica and then to Constantinople. He abandoned the Byzantine capital in 841 to escape the severe Iconoclast persecution, but on his way to Rome he was captured by pirates and held for several years in Crete as a slave. Finally escaping, he returned to Constantinople and founded a monastery. For his ardent defense of the icons, he was sent into exile in the Chersonese. Joseph is credited with the composition of about one thousand canons. He died in 886 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: There are people who suffer terrible distress, and they cannot tell anyone of it, and they go about full of suffering. But if you meet them with a kindly countenance, you may lighten their load with your joy. And it is no small thing to cheer another. (Martin Buber)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We return to Ordinary Time now that we have celebrated all the feasts associated with Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. The gospel passage that the Church offers us today, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, is ultimately about the dignity of Jesus’ followers. The notion that we should fail to offer resistance might at first thought seem a sign of weakness, and it is certainly contrary both to our basic impulses and the wisdom of the world. Does not great provocation and injustice call on us to offer active resistance to injury? To strike when we have been hit; kick back, when kicked; bite, when bitten? Doesn’t the admonition, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth seem to us exactly what justice requires? But Jesus invites us to something both greater and deeper: to not live at the level of those who harm others even when natural justice affords us the right to inflict hurt in return for hurt. Our resistance then, as Christians, is to witness to the dignity of the human person by the strength implicit in our silence before provocations by those who yield to violence. It is this passage of the gospel which most explicitly lends itself to the practice of non-violence that marked the missions of such immense moral authorities as Gandhi and Martin Luther King: the notion that the proper reaction to evil is non-violent action. It is not that we lie down before evil. Rather, it is that we stand up for what is right without the use of injury and harm: this is the dignity, the great moral strength, that is our vocation as Christians. What we are called to is far more courageous than the use of force: it is resistance to evil that wholly rejects the tools of evil.

Saint of the day: Anthony of Padua was born in 1195 at Lisbon, Portugal as Ferdinand de Bulhoes. At the age of 15, this son of a knight at the court of King Alfonso II became an Augustinian monk at San Vincente just outside Lisbon. He had studied under the priests of the Lisbon cathedral, who had inspired him. In 1212, Ferdinand migrated to the priory of Santa Cruz at Coîmbra because he found the visits of friends too disturbing. At Coîmbra Ferdinand was well-educated by teachers from Montpellier, Toulouse, and Paris in Scripture. He was ordained in 1219 or 1220.

He had lived a quiet life as a canon in Coîmbra for eight years when Don Pedro of Portugal brought from Morocco in 1220 the relics of recent Franciscan martyrs. On hearing of their martyrdom, Anthony was fired with missionary zeal, which he had little hope of fulfilling as a canon regular. He laid his heart bare before some Franciscans who had come to Holy Cross Monastery to beg. With their encouragement, Ferdinand transferred to the Franciscan Order at Olivares in 1221 and took the name Anthony. He left to go to Morocco to evangelize. Shipwrecked at Sicily, he joined some other brothers who were going to Assisi. He lived in a cave at San Paolo leaving only to attend Mass and sweep the nearby monastery. One day when a scheduled speaker failed to appear, the brothers pressed him into speaking. He impressed them so that he was thereafter constantly traveling, evangelizing, preaching, and teaching theology through Italy and France. A gifted speaker, he attracted crowds everywhere he went, speaking in multiple tongues. One of the most beloved of saints, his images and statues are found everywhere. He died June 13, 1231.

Spiritual reading: The moral revival that certain people wish to impose will be much worse than the condition it is meant to cure. If our present suffering ever leads to revival, this will not be brought about through slogans, but in silence and moral loneliness, through pain, misery, and terror, in the profoundest depths of each person’s spirit. (Simone Weil)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 12, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Happy Pentecost! The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Guide, and our Peace: come, let us embrace the Spirit of God. Let us ask the Spirit for good counsel. Let us plead for the Spirit to give us wisdom. Let us fall down and worship the Holy Spirit of God.

Happy Pentecost when the Seven-Fold Spirit rains down upon us!

Spirit derives from the Latin word spiritus, a word that can mean breath. Holy Spirit of God, animate us! Enliven us!

Spirit derives from the Latin word spiritus, a word that can mean wind. Holy Spirit, surprise and refresh us like a gentle breeze that comes on us by surprise on a hot day!

O bright and true Spirit of God, who loves us into existence, make our relationships with one another and God full of light and faithfulness!

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blessed!

Spiritual reading: Prayer, fasting, vigil and all other Christian activities, however good they may be in themselves, do not constitute the aim of our Christian life, although they serve as the

indispensable means of reaching this end. The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christ’s sake, they are only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. (Saint Seraphim of Sarov)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 11, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?”

It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In contemporary biography, writers seek to present what they know about people, questions like what their subjects liked and disliked, how they went about answering questions, and the ways they related to other people. Ancient biographers, however, weren’t interested in questions like personal predilections or cognitive and social styles; they focused on stories about what people said and what they did.

The gospels, I think, leave us with a somewhat dissatisfying sense of our Lord’s personality, that is, I think they leave us with a somewhat dissatisfying sense of the Lord’s personality right up to the the point of the resurrection accounts. Somehow, the accounts of the resurrected Lord so excited the authors that they left us traces not only of the resurrected Lord’s deeds and sayings but also his attitudes and approaches toward people. This gospel presents perhaps the best example of what I see of the depiction of Jesus’ personality evident in the resurrection accounts.

In today’s passage, Peter apparently exhibited a certain preoccupation with what was going to happen to someone else. While the Lord is talking to Peter about Peter, Peter seems to want to change the subject. He effectively says, “Hey, Lord, what about that guy over there?” And our Lord replies, “Peter, never mind that guy over there. What happens to him is not your concern. Pay attention to what I am telling you: you, Peter, are to follow me.”

So it is with us. We naturally are concerned with what happens to the people around us, but we ultimately exercise responsibility for our own behavior. We need to keep our eye on the ball: Jesus has charged us, just as he charged Peter, to follow him. If we do this, we will discharge our duties to one another, as well.

Saint of the day: All we know of Barnabas is to be found in the New Testament. A Jew, born in Cyprus and named Joseph, he sold his property and gave the proceeds to the Apostles, who gave him the name Barnabas. He lived in common with the earliest converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. He persuaded the community there to accept Paul as a disciple; was sent to Antioch, Syria to look into the community there; and brought Paul there from Tarsus. With Paul, he brought Antioch’s donation to the Jerusalem community during a famine and returned to Antioch with John Mark, his cousin. The three went on a missionary journey to Cyprus, Perga (when John Mark went to Jerusalem) and Antioch in Pisidia, where they were so violently opposed by the Jews that they decided to preach to the pagans. Then they went on to Iconium and Lystra in Lycaonia, where they were first acclaimed gods, then stoned out of the city, and then returned to Antioch in Syria.

When a dispute arose regarding the observance of the Jewish rites, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem, where at a council, it was decided that pagans did not have to be circumcised to be baptized. On their return to Antioch, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark on another visitation to the cities where they had preached, but Paul objected because of John Mark’s desertion of them in Perga. Paul and Barnabas parted, and Barnabas returned to Cyprus with Mark; nothing further is heard of him, though it is believed his rift with Paul was ultimately healed. Tradition has Barnabas preaching in Alexandria and Rome, the founder of the Cypriote Church, the Bishop of Milan (which he was not), and has him stoned to death at Salamis about the year 61. The apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas was long attributed to him, but modern scholarship now attributes it to a Christian in Alexandria between the years 70 and 100; the Gospel of Barnabas is probably by an Italian Christian who became a Moslem; and the Acts of Barnabas once attributed to John Mark are now known to have been written in the fifth century.

Spiritual reading: It is for the prodigal son that the Father lays out his banquet. If the son had lived economically, he would not have thought of returning. (“Prodigal Sons” by Simone Weil)