Gospel reading of the day:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lamp stand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus tells us to use our gifts. It is not enough for us to spend our days surfing the Internet, watching television, and eating our meals. Jesus asks us to get up out of our chairs, walk down the stairs, and go into great big world to be present to our sisters and brothers. Being a lamp that shines out from a stand means taking a risk to move out of our comfort zones and do something which is a bold new adventure. The call to do this is the same for us whether it is our 17th or our 70th birthday. Jesus warns us that not making ourselves available in this way, means the little we have will be taken away.
Saint of the day: Today’s example of faithful trust in God’s care, John Bosco, was born in 1815 in Piedmont, Italy. His father died when the boy was 2 years old, and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, he did so for extra money for his family. Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks he saw magicians perform, and then present one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier in church. He worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, and carpenter while attending college and the seminary. Ordained in 1841, he became a teacher and worked with youth, finding places where they could meet, play, and pray. He would teach catechism to orphans and apprentices. A chaplain in a hospice for girls, he wrote short treatises aimed at explaining the faith to children and then taught children how to print them. He founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Chistians, and Saint Francis de Sales. He founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and the Union of Cooperator Salesians in 1875. He died in 1888 at Turin, Italy. Thousands attended his funeral.
Spiritual reading of the day: The chief thing is to take the burden on one’s shoulders. As you press forward, it soon shakes down and the load is evenly distributed. (John Bosco)
Gospel reading of the day:
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.” Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: After an introduction that shows Jesus as a man of action who moves about the small towns of Galilee, healing the people and showing great power, Mark commences a number of parables. As a teaching instrument, Jesus makes his point in his parables by taking ordinary circumstances in life to tell a story that makes a deeper point. The parable of the sower is just such a case. Jesus teaches that through everything, God is building up the Kingdom. Even if in one place or another, God’s efforts seem to be partly or completely ineffective, the ultimate outcome of the entire project is an immense success. Expressed simply, the parable tells us that God will ultimately win, and we can be confident that all the setbacks the Kingdom seems to experience will not prevent God’s final victory.
Saint of the day: Louis Wiaux, the third of six children, was born in 1841 in a small village in French-speaking Belgium where almost everyone was a devout practicing Catholic. His father was a blacksmith, while his mother helped to run a small cafe in part of the family home, where no rough language was allowed and where the evening of Belgian beer and card playing always concluded with the recitation of the rosary. Louis proved neither physically nor emotionally suited to his father’s trade; he was convinced that the Lord was calling him to a different kind of forge. No sooner had he met the Brothers in a nearby school than he determined to enter the novitiate at Namur and took the name Mutien. After two years, teaching elementary classes, Brother Mutien was assigned to the boarding school at Malonne where he would spend the next fifty-eight years. He had difficulties at first coping with the demands of both teaching and prefecting. He was rescued by the Brother in charge of the courses in music and art, at the time an important feature of the curriculum. From then on Brother Mutien was not only an effective teacher of those subjects, a vigilant prefect in the school yard, and a catechist in the nearby parish, but a tremendous influence on the students by his patience and evident piety. He was known to spend whatever time he could before the tabernacle or at the grotto of Our Lady. Among the Brothers, it was said that he had never been seen violating even the smallest points in their Rule. After his death on January 30, 1917 at Malonne, his fame began to spread through Belgium, where many miracles were attributed to him.
Spiritual reading: The effect of true love is the reciprocal communication of all good things between the persons who love each other; whence it follows that charity cannot exist without sacrifice (Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola)
The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: A strong movement in Christianity identifies the family as the core of Christian life, but it is hard to identify anything in the gospels which directly supports this assumption. We can reason to the importance of strong and loving family units from our Lord’s preoccupation with self-sacrifice, his stance against violence, and his willingness to submit when his mother expresses concerns. In the exchange with the rich young man, he acknowledges the commandment to honor father and mother. But Jesus in the gospels never admonishes us to prefer family over anything else: in fact, he does quite the opposite. Jesus tells us that our real families are those who prefer the will of God. The biological family is the natural unit which nurtures, educates, raises, and supports us, but God alone is the final object of anything which exists in the world. We are to use every created thing only insofar as it directs us to our final goal. If our families prefer the will of God to everything else, they are consistent with our ultimate purpose, but if family life is not rooted in the gospels and Christ, it can become a sort of false idol and the people who promote it, a type of idolator. Mary’s firm and fixed position in Jesus’ family derived not so much from the biological ties between mother and son but instead from the surrender they together made to the will of God.
Saint of the day: Gildas the Wise was born around 500 and died about. 570, although some scholars believe he may have died as early as 554. Gildas may have been born in the lower valley of Clydeside in Scotland. He is often called “Badonicus” because he was born in the year the Britons defeated the Saxons at Bath. He may have married and been widowed, but he eventually became a monk at Llanilltud in southern Wales, where he was trained by Saint Illtyd together with Saint Samson and Saint Paul Aurelian, though he was much younger. Well-known Irish monks, including Saint Finnian, became his disciples. He made a pilgrimage to Ireland to consult with his contemporary saints of that land and wrote letters to far-off monasteries. He seems to have had considerable influence on the development of the Irish church.
Around 540 he wrote the famous work De excidio et conquestu Britanniae with the purpose of making known “the miseries, the errors, and the ruin of Britain.” The work laid bare and severely criticized the lives of Britain’s rulers and clerics, blaming their moral laxity for the triumph of the Anglo-Saxon invaders. Although the fierceness of its rhetorical invectives has been criticized the wide scriptural scholarship that it reveals is uncontested. It also shows that he was knowledgeable about Virgil and Ignatius. This work was cited by Saint Bede.
He is considered to be the first English historian. He lived as a hermit for some time on Flatholm Island in the Bristol Channel, where he copied a missal for Saint Cadoc and may have written De excidio. Gildas made a pilgrimage to Rome and on his return founded a monastery on an island near Rhuys (Rhuis or Morbihan) in Brittany, which became the center of his cult. Though he lived for a time on a tiny island in Morbihan Bay, he gathered disciples around him and does not seem to have cut himself off entirely from the world; he did travel to other places in Brittany. He is said to have died on the isle of Houat, though this is uncertain.
The De excidio, which very influential in the early Middle Ages, may not have been written entirely by Gildas. Some of it may have been a forgery shortly after his time. The work serves as an example of the classical and early Christian literature that was then available in England. Gilda’s writings were used by Wulfstan, archbishop of York, in the 11th century in his Sermon of the Wolf to the English people during the disordered reign of Ethelred the Unready.
The chronology of Gildas’s life has been disputed. Some say that the lives of two men of the same name have been confused. Some early Irish martyrologies commemorate his feast as does the Leofric Missal (c. 1050) and Anglo-Saxon calendars of the 9th through 11th centuries (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Gill, Farmer, Walsh, White).
Spiritual reading: Make sure you practice this very interesting mortification: that of not making your conversation revolve around yourself. (The Forge by Josemaria Escriva)
The readings this week from Paul and Luke are continuations from last week. In the gospel we see the negative reaction of the Nazarenes to Jesus’ claim of fulfilling the Isaiah passage and their attempt to punish Him by pushing Him off the cliff. Clearly Jesus proves that he is not welcomed in His home town.
Our second reading today is probably familiar to many because it is used frequently at weddings and other times. Its topic of love is important because it is at the very core of Christianity. As we saw a few weeks ago, one of the very basic gifts of the Spirit was the gift of love. Important really because God Himself is Love and really only in discovering love and having it can we really come to know God. Our daily living, our motivations need to come out of that love. It is a trademark of being Christian so to speak. From love all the rest flows, from God to our neighbor, to the commandments, especially “love one another as I have loved you”. Love seeks out God and others. It is a reaching out an embracing. One thing though is that our motivation must be out of that spirit of love within us. Strangely enough we can do the right thing for the wrong reason. Is our zeal or concern over truth or orthodoxy, over morality or justice, out of anger, bitterness, or judgments, things which should be beyond me, or anything else short of the love I myself want from God? Can we love our enemy? Can we forgive a murderer? In the most difficult circumstance are we able to still love? Love is a challenge, it is a call to go beyond the mere minimum I am required to do, and goes beyond the law, the dogma, the act, to the person. That is where love calls us, that is where Jesus was in His day. Did He not say, It is all summed up this way: “ Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
This then is how we can really bring Christ to others. Do our work and actions out of love. This is a real challenge for us. It doesn’t change good to evil or vice versa. It will encourage us to act and council and judge out of loving with an eye on what God’s love and forgiveness mean. Enough pain and harshness, anger and bitterness are around us. Change will come only one at a time.
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Reflection on the gospel: Jesus is the revelation of the Father–God’s making Godself concrete and present in human history. Since the Father is good, the Son is good, and the Spirit of God opens hearts to recognize the goodness of the Son is the goodness of the Father. If the source of evil is the source of Jesus’ actions, the world makes no sense, because evil cannot manifest itself in good acts. Despite every sign that God loves us, we close our hearts to the evidence, given us over and over throughout the course of our lives. When we completely close our hearts to the Spirit, we allow the Spirit no room to move in our lives, and when the door to grace is closed, there is no hope.
Saint of the day: Joseph Freinademetz was born in 1852, the fourth child of Giovanmattia and Anna Maria Freinademetz in Oies a section of the town of Badia in the southern Dolomites, which was then part of Austria and now part of Italy. He studied theology in the diocesan seminary of Brixen and was ordained priest on July 25, 1875. He was assigned to the community of San Martino di Badia, not far from his own home.
During his studies and the three years in San Martino, Freinademetz continually felt a calling to be a missionary. He contacted Arnold Janssen, founder of the mission house Society of the Divine Word in Steyl, a village in the south-east of the Netherlands. With the permission of his parents and his bishop, he moved to Steyl in August 1878, where he received training as a missionary.
In March 1879 he and his confrere John Baptist Anzer boarded a ship to Hong Kong, where they arrived five weeks later. They stayed there for two years. Freinademetz was based in Sai Kung until 1880 and set up a chapel on the island of Yim Tin Tsai in 1879. In 1881 they moved to the province South Shantung that they were assigned to. At the time of their arrival, there were 12 million people living in this province, of which 158 had been baptized.
Freinademetz was very active in the education of Chinese laymen and priests. He wrote a catechetical manual in Chinese, which he considered a crucial part of their missionary effort. In 1898, he was sick with laryngitis and tuberculosis, so Anzer, who had become bishop, and other priests convinced him to go to Japan to recuperate. He returned but was not fully cured. When his bishop had to leave China for a journey to Europe in 1907, the administration of the diocese was assigned to Freinademetz.
There was an outbreak of typhus in this time, and he helped wherever he could, until he himself became infected. He returned to Taikia, South Shandong, where he died on January 28, 1908. He was buried in Taikia, at the twelfth station on the Way of the Cross.
Spiritual reading: Love is the only language everyone understands. (Joseph Freinademetz)
Gospel reading of the day:
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus provides a concise description of his mission: to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. At the core of Christian vocation is the imitation of the Lord, so when the poor ask us for some change on the street, we do not walk by as though we didn’t hear; we reach into our pockets to find something. When we encounter captives, we do not close them out of hearts; we let them in. When we encounter spiritual blindness, we say a kind word that invites understanding and forgo any curt word that closes down dialogue. When we do as Jesus does, we seek to free the oppressed, whether their oppression is religious, political, or economic. In our cumulative actions, we proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord and renounce any hope that the mediocre is just good enough. We are for each other the Christ and for no one do we allow ourselves to become just one more stumbling block.
Spiritual reading: If you wish mercy, show mercy to the weak. (Rumi)
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 and especially by the members of our families. The work that we do though is sometimes so important that it is worth the risk of 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: Angela Merici was born in northern Italy in about 1470. Her life was a pilgrim journey for a way to fulfill God’s plan for her. Her search began when her family life experience planted a seed of desire for God. It was fueled by two profound spiritual experiences in her early life. The first was an understanding of the eternal peace being enjoyed by her beloved, recently deceased, sister; it left her with profound faith in a God whose “dazzling face . . . contents every afflicted heart.” The second experience showed her that she, and others like her, were to live a consecrated lives “in the world.”
Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among economically-challenged children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s personable nature and physical beauty complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood.
She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals.
She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost.
At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death in 1540.
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage from Mark’s gospel that we read today is one of the alternative endings to the gospel. Jesus, after his resurrection, appears to the apostles and commissions them to go out and teach the whole world about his coming and his way of life. If we read between the lines, it says to us that if we are willing to trust God, extraordinary things will come to pass in our lives and the lives of people whom we encounter. It is a message that fits well the feast of Paul’s conversion, which we celebrate today. Because Paul trusted God’s inspiration, he was able to follow Jesus, taking the gospel into the whole world. Extraordinary things did come to pass, not just for Paul, but also for the countless numbers of men and women who through the centuries have come to know Jesus because Paul responded so completely to Jesus’ commission.
Saint of the day: Today is the celebration of the call of Paul the Apostle. Paul likely was born on the early first century. The Acts of the Apostles records that he was a citizen of Tarsus, an important Roman city in what is now modern day Turkey. Part of the Jewish diaspora, Paul himself says that he was a Pharisee, and Acts suggests he studied the rabbinic law in Jerusalem. Both Acts and the Pauline letters suggest that Paul persecuted the sect of Jews who believed that Jesus was the messiah. Likely in the late 30s on the road to Damascus to preach against the new sect, Paul had a profound experience. Acts at three places describes the experience, and though the accounts conflict in their details, we know that Paul himself said that he was the last of the apostles to see the risen Jesus, and that it was on account of this that he called himself an apostle. Christians have termed the experience a conversion, but Paul never ceased seeing himself as a Jew, and conversion may overstate the case. The feast might be better styled, “the call of Paul,” for through it, Paul experienced the need to spread the Gospel to the very ends of the earth, and it is quite possible that his missionary efforts extended even to Spain. Paul likely died in Nero’s persecution, probably either in 63 or 67.
Spiritual reading: I assure you, brothers, the gospel I proclaimed to you is no mere human invention. I did not receive it from any man, not was I schooled in it. It came by revelation from Jesus Christ. You have heard, I know, the story of my former way of life in Judaism. You know that I went to extremes in persecuting the Church of God, and tried to destroy it. But the time came when he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by his favor chose to reveal his Son to me, that I might spread among the Gentiles the good tidings concerning him. Immediately, without seeking human advisers or even going to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, I went off to Arabia; later I returned to Damascus. Three years after that I went up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, with whom I stayed fifteen days. I did not meet any other apostles except James, the brother of the Lord. The communities of Christ in Judea had no idea what I looked like; they had only heard that “he who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy,” and they gave glory to God on my account. (Paul in the Letter to the Galatians)
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: Born in Savoy in 1567 to a well-placed family, Francis de Sales’s parents intended that he become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. He studied at La Roche, Annecy, and Clermont College in Paris. He pursued legal studies at the University of Padua and became a Doctor of Law. He returned home and found a position as Senate advocate.
It was at this point that he received a message telling him to “leave all and follow me.” He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family.
Francis became a priest and assumed the position of Provost of the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. A preacher, writer, and spiritual director in the district of Chablais, his simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to Catholicism.
He became the Bishop of Geneva at age 35. He traveled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could. He was friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. He turned down a wealthy French bishopric and helped to found the Order of the Visitation with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. He was a prolific correspondent and has been named a Doctor of the Church. He died on December 28, 1622 at Lyons and is buried at Annecy.
Spiritual reading: Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew. (Saint Francis de Sales)
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, based on the preeminence of loving relationship, and his willingness to challenge conventional understandings of religious duties, which hewed more closely to enforcement of the letter of the law. 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: Nikolaus Gross was born on September 30, 1898 in Germany. A miner, he became the father of seven. A member of the Christian miners’ labor union at age 19, he became its secretary at 22. A member of the Zentrum Christian Party at age 20, he worked at age 22 on the West German Workers’ Newspaper, the newspaper of the Catholic Workers’ Movement and became its director at age 24.
A nonviolent opponent of Nazism from its beginnings, Nickolaus worked with distinguished Catholic intellectuals who opposed the regime. From Cologne, he exposed the lies and harmful effects of Nazi propaganda, and he worked for the revolt of consciences against Hitler. Declared an enemy of the state, his newspaper was shut down in 1938, but at great risk, he continued to publish an underground edition.
He tried to organize resistance among Catholic workers in preparation for the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944. Though neither he nor the members of his group were implicated in the assassination attempt, Nikolaus was arrested on August 12, 1944 for treason, and sentenced to death by a People’s Court on January 15, 1945. A martyr, he was executed January 23, 1945 at the Berlin-Plotzensee prison. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered.
Spiritual reading: The majority of great enterprises result from daily fulfillment of one’s duty in small, everyday things. What is valuable in the doing is our special love for the poor and the sick. (Nikolaus Gross)