CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 31, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 14:12-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Reflection on the gospel: Jesus conducted an extensive ministry of meals. Many scholars see in this ministry a foretaste of the Eucharist. Indeed, there is evidence that when early Christians gathered to celebrate the Eucharist, they did it in the context of a full meal they shared together to commemorate Jesus’ table ministry. Seen in that light, Jesus’ teaching that we should invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind to share in a banquet suggests just how expansive our invitation to others to share the Eucharist needs to be. An expansive vision of participation in the Eucharist reflects our understanding of Jesus’ teaching on this matter; indeed, St. Paul in his chastisement of the Corinthians for their exclusion of the poor from the meal before the Eucharist includes an admonition that what makes one unworthy of receiving the Body of Christ is the exclusion of people from sharing in the meal. In an age when some communities of believers publish lists of people excluded from the Lord’s table, it is sobering to ponder what worthiness to receive the Lord might really mean in light of the New Testament’s teaching.

Saint of the day: The son of a butcher and born in Florence in about 1370, Thomas Bellaci led such a wild life for a time that parents warned their sons to stay away from him. A rich man in town befriended him and led him deeper into depravity. Accused of a serious crime that he had not committed, Thomas went to his friend for protection. The man would not even see him and told him to stay away. Crushed, Thomas wandered the streets until he met a priest who listened to his story and took Thomas into his home. Ultimately, he was able to get Thomas declared innocent of the crime.

Thomas broke off his former associations and began to lead a life of prayer and penance. Filled with grace, he asked to be admitted to a Franciscan friary as a lay brother. He went on to become a model friar, fasting, keeping vigils, disciplining himself. He wore the cast-off clothes of his brothers. He was frequently wrapped in ecstasy. Though he was never ordained a priest and remained content to serve as a lay brother, Thomas was appointed novice master. Many young men followed in his path of holiness.

Thomas founded numerous friaries in southern Italy. And Pope Martin V called upon him to preach against the Fraticelli, a branch of heretical Franciscans. He was also asked to go to the Orient to promote the reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches. There he was imprisoned and expected to receive the crown of martyrdom. But the pope ransomed him for a large sum of money. Thomas returned to Italy and died in 1447 on a journey to Rome, where he had hoped to receive permission to return to the Orient.

johnathenSpiritual reading: Praise ye and bless the Lord, and give thanks to Him and serve Him with great humility. (“The Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 30, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage we read today from Matthew picks up the same theme we read in yesterday’s gospel from Luke: the need to make ourselves small in the eyes of the world. In this passage from Matthew, Jesus ties the failure to be thought of as of little consequence to a number of vices and then proposes corollary virtues to which we can strive. Jesus reflects in this narrative that there are among us people who are powerful and lay down rules that they enforce on people who are less powerful; even so, these same powerful people do not follow the rules they want others to follow: that is, they are hypocrites. There are people who make great shows about why they are special, but their outward signs of respectability do not match their interior realities: that is, they are inauthentic. There are people who want to occupy privileged places of honor and be held in special esteem: that is, they are haughty. Jesus rejects phoniness, guile, conceit. Instead, he called us to humility: a willingness to be counted as of little consequence, a deep honesty about all that is good and bad about ourselves, and a sense of right proportion about mughilour place among the hosts of people who surround us and of whom God is especially fond.

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)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 29, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

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 so 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. A life lived in Christ is a life where the greatest washes the feet of the least.

Saint of the day: Chiara “Luce” Badano was born in Italy in 1971, to devout parents who had waited 11 years to welcome their first and only child. From a young age, she was active in the Focolare Movement, and her joyful witness earned her the nickname “Luce” (Light).

As early as age 12, Chiara expressed a desire to give herself totally to Jesus, to take Him her spouse — and she set out to “give Him to others” in the ordinariness of her daily life. Full of zeal for God and souls, Chiara was eager to reach the heights of holiness — never guessing that her opportunity to be united to Christ would come much sooner than she expected.

At age 17, Chiara was diagnosed with bone cancer, and an unsuccessful surgery left her paralyzed from the waist down — but this did not dampen her spirits. Throughout her excruciating illness, Chiara remained cheerful and offered up her suffering for souls, even refusing morphine because she wished to remain alert and to offer her pain to Jesus. She often said, “It’s for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it too.”

Chiara died in 1990 at age 19. Her last words to her family were, “Be happy, because I am happy!” Chiara’s parents were present at her beatification in September 2010.

Spiritual reading: Medicine has laid down its weapons. With interrupting the treatments, the pains in my back have increased. I can scarcely move. I feel so small and the road ahead is so hard….I often feel that the pain is suffocating me. It is the Bridegroom who is coming out to meet me, no? If I also repeat with you: ‘if you wish it, I also wish it’ … with you I am sure that together with him we will conquer the world! (Blessed Chiara Badano on her experience with terminal stages of bone cancer)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 28, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 6:12-16

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 St.Simon_Jude_IconChrist, 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: Blessed are those who give bread to the poor, seeing past their poverty to their divinity. (Proverbs 22:9)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 27, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:31-35

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.

holy hermitSaint 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)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 26, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: At the heart of the passage that we read today lies the question, “How many will be saved?” Jesus, as he so often did, did not answer the question directly. Instead, he addressed the underlying assumptions in the question.

When we read the gospels, we can never lose sight of the fact that Jesus lived in a time and place that had a particular viewpoint. In Jesus’ time and place, the assumption among the people with whom he lived was that they were God’s chosen people. They were a people set apart, a people who knew the rules, a people who had to do a certain set of activities that would guarantee them salvation. Everyone else was just plain out of luck.

Jesus, however, challenges this presupposition. He says that being a member of the “chosen people” does not of itself guarantee a place in the kingdom of God. Moreover, he says that many people who are not among the “chosen,” people who “come from the east and the west and from the north and the south,” will recline at the table of God.

It is easy for all of us to imagine that our membership in some group is the guarantee that we need to be “right,” which may include the implicit suggestion that other people are “wrong.” Jesus in today’s gospel essentially says, “This is not so.”

We too may be tempted to believe that something about us makes us “right” in a way that other people are not. If we are to hear what Jesus says in today’s gospel, we have to let go of this notion. God’s kingdom is not the exclusive property of one people over another people, of one group over another group. It is a place of inclusion, not of exclusion.

Before we speculate on the central question of the gospel passage, “How many will be saved?” we perhaps do well to ask the question, “What exactly does it mean to be saved?” Certainly, in the Catholic tradition, it has meant for a good period of time in Church history to “die in a state of grace” and without mortal sin. But these are cliches that border on meaningless for their overuse. What then does it mean to be saved? Does it not mean to live a life for others? A life that does not close down in and on itself, but instead, an expansive life that frees other people from the bondage of self? A life that so loves that it invites and allows other to love?

Ultimately, we cannot know how many people will be saved, but if the evidence of our lives provides any answer to the question, we perhaps should assume that the answer question is, “Many will be saved.” If our God is a God who will let recline at the table of the kingdom people from north, south, east, and west, perhaps the gospel does directly answer the question: the expansive and all embracing love of God will in the end conquer many hearts.

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.

Contardo FerriniBorn 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.

praying handsSpiritual 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.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 25, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:18-21

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what can I compare MustardSeed-main_Fullit? 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.”

1855876296_305d907f74_oReflection 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: Peter de Geremia was born in 1381 at Palermo, Sicily. Educated at the University of Bologna, he was a brilliant law student. One night while he meditated on the worldly success he would have, he was visited by the spirit of a deceased relative, a man who had also been a lawyer, whose pride and perjury had lost him his chance at paradise. Shaken, Peter devoted himself to prayer, asking for his vocation. Soon he received a word that he should become a Dominican. In a rage, his father came to Bologna to stop him, but when he saw completely happy Peter was, the older man gave him his blessing.

Peter became one of the finest preachers in Sicily, always preaching in the open air because no church was large enough to hold the crowds. He became an abbey prior.

One day when there was no food for the community, Peter asked a fisherman for a donation; he was rudely refused. Getting into a boat, Peter rowed from the shore and made a sign to the fish; they broke the nets and followed him. The fisherman apologized, Peter made another sign to the fish, and they returned to the nets. The monastery was ever afterward supplied with fish.

Sent to establish regular observance in Sicilian monasteries. Called to Florence to help heal the Greek schism, he managed a brief union. Offered a bishopric, but refused.

Once when Peter was preaching at Catania, Mount Etna erupted and lava flowed toward the city. The people begged him to save them. He preached a brief sermon on repentance, went to the nearby shrine of Saint Agatha, removed the saint’s veil, and held it towards the lava flow. The eruption ceased, and the town was saved. He died March 3, 1452 in Sicily of natural causes.

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)

contemplation

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 24, 2011

Gospel reading:

Luke 13:10-17

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 today gospel reading: The Lord heals a woman on the sabbath and receives a rebuke from the leader of the synagogue for having violated the sabbath rest. Jesus takes him to task for his hypocrisy pointing out that the people of his day even on the sabbath would untie their beasts of burden to lead them to water. He points out that the value of a human being is much greater. How often do we become so bound by laws and regulations that we forget the basic human goods that trumps every other concern? Jesus calls us to a freedom of heart that is prepared to do good no matter the cost.

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 098_StAntonioMarieClaretbut 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)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 23, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: For Israel, of course, the Law is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Law in its strictest interpretation represents a way of life that influences behaviors in every part of life. When the Pharisees asked Jesus which of the laws in the Torah was the greatest, he essentially replies by citing two laws and making of them one law, that is a law of love for God and neighbor. Jesus is saying that there is no way to love God without love of neighbor and the opposite as well: they are like two sides of a coin. Jesus at the end of today’s gospel reading tells us that we shouldn’t sweat the little things. If we love God and neighbor, everything else pretty much will take care of itself.

Spiritual reading: The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of one who is naked. The shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices you commit. (Saint Basil the Great)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 13:1-9

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: Peter of Alcantara was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended.

103f. St Peter of Alcantara bestBorn into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.

Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: “To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara.”

In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.

As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.

Spiritual reading: I think that there is no passage of the Gospel that has made a deeper impression on me or changed my life more than this one: “Whatever you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me.” If we think of it, that these are the words of Uncreated Truth, words from the mouth that said, “This is my body… this is my blood…” then how forcefully we are impelled to seek Jesus and love him in the “little ones.” (Charles de Foucauld)