Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 16, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

John 6:30-35

The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:

He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down cristo8from heaven and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus invites us in this passage to become one with him, to pitch our tents with him as he pitched his tent among us. The commitment he asks of us us a commitment of our whole persons, both what we believe and what we do as the result of our belief. Many liturgical Christians have seen in the Discourse on the Bread of Life a discussion of the Eucharist, and the Eucharist with everything it means for our solidarity with Jesus, the suffering world, and one another is a central theme in this and the passages which follow. But it is an invitation not to participate in the Eucharist and nothing else, but the implications of the Bread of Life are much more than liturgy; we are called to be people immersed in the Scriptures, people who are available for the poor and needy, people who live prayerfully. The communion to which Jesus invites us is one where we are immersed in the Lord’s own life.

Saint of the day: Today’s saint is the patron of homeless people. Benedict Joseph Labre was born in March 1748 at Amettes, near Boulogne, the son and eldest child of a shopkeeper. After a private education with an uncle, the parish priest at Erin, he tried his vocation unsuccessfully with a number of strict monastic communities: Carthusians (Val-Sainte-Aldegonde, Neuville), Trappists (La Trappe, twice), and Cistercians (Sept-Fonts); in all, there were perhaps eleven attempts at monastic life.

By 1770, when he was 22, it was clear that Benedict Joseph had no vocation to any religious community, and he thereafter lived as a destitute pilgrim, walking to shrines all over Europe. His only possessions, besides the single set of clothes he wore, were two rosaries, and three books: a New Testament, a Breviary, and The Imitation of Christ.

He settled permanently in Rome in 1774 (except for an annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy House at Loreto), sleeping at night in the Colosseum, and spending his days in the churches of Rome, especially those where the Forty Hours’ Devotion was being observed. Santa Maria dei Monti became his favorite Roman church, where he was devoted to a fresco of the Madonna and Child with Saints Stephen, Lawrence, Augustine and Francis. Toward the end of his life, when he had grown severely ill, he did accept shelter sometimes at a hospice for poor men.

By Holy Week of 1783 he was near death, and on Wednesday he collapsed just outside Santa Maria dei Monti after attending Mass. A passerby, a local butcher, picked him up off the street and carried Benedict Joseph to his own nearby home, where, that evening at about eight o’clock, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph died at age 35 after receiving the sacraments. So great was the crowd thronging his funeral that troops had to be called in to maintain public order.

Within a few months of his death, more than 130 miracles ascribed to the Benedict Joseph had been carefully recorded. That year, G. L. Marconi, a priest who had been his confessor, published a biography. Benedict Joseph Labre was canonized in 1881.

Part of the butcher’s house where he died (near Santa Maria dei Monti) was converted into a chapel with an altar, two cupboards containing the scanty relics he left, and a life-size recumbent CFp_WL_041501_hostsstatue of the Saint, marking the spot where he died, over which hangs a painting of the Madonna. He was buried beneath an altar in a chapel of Santa Maria dei Monti, where there is another life-size marble effigy. The death mask that was made before his burial is extant. Also preserved is one portrait made during his life. While the saint was in an ecstasy before an image of our Lady, he was painted by Antonio Cavallucci, and this portrait hangs in the National Gallery, Rome.

Spiritual reading: I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)


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