When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven, but the children of the Kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour his servant was healed.
Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him.
When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:
He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.
Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, we have a series of healing stories. First, Jesus heals the centurion’s servant. Jesus then heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Finally, Jesus heals all the sick people they bring to him at the end of the day. These various healing stories, coming one on upon another, show how freely Jesus heals. In the first case, someone who is not sick pleads for someone who is sick but at a distance. In the second case, Jesus himself goes to a person who is sick. In the third case, people bring to Jesus those who are sick. In the initial narrative, the stranger pleads with Jesus. Then Jesus heals the relative of his friend. Afterward, Jesus heals crowds. In all of these cases, Jesus heals with neither conditions nor boundaries: People ask for others; people ask for themselves; people don’t ask. It doesn’t matter: Jesus is lavish, profligate, even wanton in his healing. Indeed, we might say and we ought always to remember that Jesus is the prodigal healer.
Saint of the day: Born in October 1864, José Gregorio Hernández was a Venezuelan physician. In 1888 Hernández graduated as a medical doctor in the Universidad Central de Venezuela, in Caracas. The Venezuelan government awarded him a grant to continue his studies in Europe. Hernández traveled to Paris, France, where he studied other fields of medicine such as bacteriology, pathology, microbiology and histology, and physiology. Following his return to Venezuela, he became a leading doctor at the Hospital José María Vargas.
Between 1891 and 1916, Hernández dedicated himself to teaching, medicine, and religious practice. He sought priesthood on two occasions, but his fragile physical conditions would ultimately prevent him from achieving that status. He studied at the Monastery of Lucca in Italy for ten months in 1908. In 1913, he enrolled at the Latin American Pío School of Rome to continue the priestly career, but had to return to Venezuela for health reasons. Among the scientific publications of this famous Venezuelan are The Elements of Bacteriology (1906), About the Angina Pectoris of Malaric Origin (1909) and The Elements of Philosophy (1912).
Dr. Hernández treated the poor for free and even bought them medicines with his own money. One day, while bringing medicine to the home of one of his patients in Caracas, Hernández was struck by a car and killed. After his life, the legend of Dr. Hernández began to grow in Venezuela. People around the country started claiming to have been granted miracles after praying to him. At present, Dr. Hernandez is commonly invoked as “José Gregorio” by both doctors and patients for healing purposes.He is also called upon for protection during overland journeys. Eventually, his name became known all over Latin America and Spain. He was declared Venerable in 1986, and a miracle that might lead to his beatification has been approved at the diocesan level.
Spiritual reading: Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
Today, Luke’s gospel makes a transition and change seeing Jesus leave Galilee and starting his journey up to Jerusalem. The Chronology of Luke’s gospel has been interrupted by the cycle of the liturgical year with the celebrations of Christmas and Lent and Easter. We have seen the beginning of his ministry and the rejection of his town. The ministry has been a relaxed one for the most part until now. In setting out to Jerusalem, we see a more resolute, determined Jesus with one thought in mind to fulfill his life’s work and pointedly allowing nothing to stand in the way.
This section of Luke is called “Journey to Jerusalem”. Part of this journey is through Samaria and some dealings with the Samaritans. This was a rugged journey which he knew would lead ultimately to his death. He saw no turning back, no delay. He was strong, even harsh at stopping his disciples wanting to delay. His journey, his mission once begun must move forward without delay. Nothing should be in the way, whether it be lack of lodging, or a family death, or any other concern, only one thing was important and that was to go up to Jerusalem.
As followers of Jesus, do we see the same resolve in us? Is following him simply being or doing like him in a relaxed easy way? Certainly we must care for the poor and teach and minister to those in need, but is this following Jesus in a way adequate to be faithful in today’s times? Is it enough to simply imitate his actions or must we dig deeper and search out his motivation and imitate that as the ultimate goal for ministry today? His goal or motivation was to draw all things into one, and that one thing was himself. Should our life, our actions be drawn on anything else? As followers this becomes our prime commitment In committing ourselves we paradoxically free ourselves to act and live a true life in the spirit which Paul spoke of today in the second reading. We are freed to act, to reach out, to draw others in.
To sum up, we, too, are on a journey with Jesus and are called to follow along even to the end even if it brings about our own Golgotha. If we are to draw all things to him, can we expect any less than what he received?
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The passage contrasts what Jesus wants for the leper and what Jesus wants for himself. The leper says that if Jesus wishes Jesus can heal him. The leper is then healed, so there is no question of what Jesus wishes for him. But Jesus doesn’t heal to make a point about himself. Jesus doesn’t heal for his self-aggrandizement. We know that because he tells the leper to tell no one about what he did. Jesus models for us doing good for no reason but that it is the right thing to do.
Saint of the day: Blessed Severian Stefan Baranyk was born in Austrian Galicia (today Western Ukraine) in July 1889. He entered the monastery of the Order of St Basil the Great in Krekhiv in 1904. On May 16, he took his first monastic vows and then on September 21, 1910 he took his perpetual vows. He was ordained to the priesthood on February 14, 1915. Baranyk was known for his preaching, and his life was noted for his special kindness to youth and orphans. In 1932 he was made the prior of the Basilian monastery in Drohobych.
On June 26, 1941, the NKVD arrested him. He was taken to Drohobych prison and never seen alive again. After the Soviets withdrew from the city his mutilated body was seen by a boy in the prison with signs of torture, including cross shaped knife slashes across his chest. But his body has never been found. There is some evidence that indicates the body was boiled and served as soup to prisoners. The exact date of his death, except that it occurred in late June 1941, is unknown. He was beatified in June 2001.
Spiritual reading: God is the dots and the spaces between the dots; nothing can fall out of God, and all is tenderly and joyously held. (Cynthia Bourgeault)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Reflection on the gospel reading: A controversy between faith and works has raged in western Christianity for five centuries. One group of Christians claims that it is faith in Jesus that saves us. Another group of Christians claims that it is doing good things that saves us. But reading today’s gospel might be a cautionary note to both camps. Jesus says in today’s gospel that saying, “Lord, Lord,” is not enough; prophesying is not enough; commanding the demons is not enough; doing great works for the Lord is not enough. If neither believing nor doing is enough to save us, what is? Jesus says that it is doing the will of the Father, but he doesn’t elaborate what the will of the Father is, except that we act on these words he has spoken.
A few pages back, earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says his Father causes the sun to shine on the good and bad alike: so too with the rain, that God causes it to fall without discrimination on the just and unjust. Then he tells us to do likewise, to love with abandon and without prejudice. It is love that will save us in the end.
Saint of the day: Alfredo Versoza y Florentin was born on December 9, 1877 at Vigan Ilocos Sur. He was the second among the seven children of Don Alejandro Versoza and Doña Micaela Florentin of the gremio de mestizos of Vigan. After he completed his theological studies at the University of Santo Tomas where he obtained his Degree in Theology, he was ordained a priest on December 24, 1904. During his first years as a priest, he served in a number of parish assignments and was diligent in bringing the gospel and the sacraments even to remote communities.
On September 6, 1916, Fr. Afredo Versoza was selected the second Bishop of Lipa when he was then 39 years old, and became a bishop on January 20, 1917. He was the fourth Filipino to become a bishop and the first from Northern Luzon. Bishop Versoza opened many catechetical centers and gave importance to them. He founded a religious institute, the Missionary Catechists of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in 1923. He built churches, convents, seminaries, schools, and a monastery. He used his personal money for his priests and the poor.
Various projects of Bishop Versoza were destroyed during the Second World War. Many people were killed including priests and nuns. The most terrible atrocity was the massacre and holocaust of thousands of individuals in the seminary of Lipa. After the war, the bishop was able to source for fund from the Philippine War Damage Commission. With insufficient fund, the bishop was forced to use his personal inheritance for the rebuilding of the damaged edifices. It was at this time that the Bishop built the Carmelite Monastery in the very spot of the massacre occurred.
In 1948, there was a Carmelite Postulant praying at the garden of the monastery. Suddenly, A beautiful lady robed in dazzling clothes appeared. The lady appeared often to the postulant. Later she introduced herself as “Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace.” Shower of roses from the sky were also reported and numerous people witnessed the said phenomenon. One day Bishop Versoza went to observe this alleged phenomenon. At first, the bishop was skeptical. He went to the monastery to tell the nuns including Bishop Alfredo Obviar, who was serving as a monastery chaplain, that they should display prudence. When Bishop Versoza entered the Monastery, roses fell upon him. The bishop was astounded. After some months, the bishop received a letter from Rome asking him to retire as Ordinary of Lipa. Bishop Versoza returned home to Vigan and lived in utter poverty.
On the night of June 27, 1954, Sunday, the bishop died at the age of 76. The bishop’s remains were buried in a mausoleum at the Cathedral of Vigan. The investigation into his his virtues as a first step in the process of canonization began in January 2013.
Spiritual reading: To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living. (John Henry Newman)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus asks Christians to cultivate a spirit of discernment–to be as wise as serpents even if our conduct is as harmless as doves. Not everyone who sets himself up as a minister of the gospel, Jesus says, is interested in the well-being of the community. There are pastors who act purely out of their self interest. Jesus says we are to know who is who and what is what by the outcomes of people’s behaviors. Paul tells us what to look for in the letter to Galatians, if a person exhibits fruits such hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, division, and envy, we can assume the tree is rotten. But if what the minister witnesses is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, we are safe to assume the tree is good.
Saint of the day: Born in Fiumicello di Campodarego (Padua) on November 22, 1863 and baptized Giacinto Bonaventura, Andrea Giacinto Longhin became a Capuchin at Bassano del Grappa August 27, 1879. That is when he took the name Andrea. After making solemn profession in October 1883 and completing theological studies in Venice, he was ordained priest in June 1886. From 1888 to 1902 he was dedicated to the formation of the young friars in the Province. He was elected Provincial Minister 1902.
He was eventually appointed bishop of Treviso and was outstanding in his dedication to the catechesis of the young and the pastoral care of his clergy. He was advocate of the poor, of workers, and of the farmers. During World War I, he exercised special care for everyone, especially refugees, soldiers, the wounded, and the clergy. After the war, he encouraged the work of reconstruction, not only of churches but of Christian life and was strong in his defense of the faithful against anti-Christian ideologies. His apostolic efforts were recognized by the people, clergy and fellow bishops.
Struck down by illness in October 1935, he suffered for nine months. He died June 26, 1936. From November 5, 1936, his remains were entombed in Treviso Cathedral. The initial processes concerning his reputation for holiness were held in Padua and Udine from April 1964 until June 1967. The decree to examine his writings was issued in December 1971. His cause was introduced in December 1981. The apostolic process was carried out in Treviso between June 1982 and June 1985 and in December 1998 his heroic virtue was recognized. He was beatified in 2002.
I called through your door,
“The mystics are gathering
in the street. Come out!”
“Leave me alone.
“I don’t care if you’re dead!
Jesus is here, and he wants
to resurrect somebody!”
Gospel reading of the day:
Matthew 7:6, 12-14
“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: For Christians, relationship entails an active pursuit of the good of the other. Jesus might have said, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to you.” But Christian life is mission and discipleship–it is not passive but instead requires loving engagement with the building up of others. Christian life is to put ourselves compassionately in the shoes of the other and work for that person’s good as though we were working for our own.
Saint of the day: Dominic Henares, OP died in Tonkin, Vietnam in 1838; he is one of the Martyrs of Vietnam. Bishop Dominic Henares and the tertiary catechist Francis Chien died together with many others during the Annamite persecution.
Bishop Henares was born in Spain in 1765. He became bishop- coadjutor to Ignatius Delgado in 1803. In 1838, Bishop Henares, Bishop Ignatius Delgado, the apostolic-vicar of Tonkin, and Francis Chien were captured during a persecution stirred up by the mandarin. The prelates and a young priest had been hidden in the village of Kien-lao, and were accidentally betrayed by a little child who was cleverly questioned by a pagan teacher searching for the foreigners.
Alarmed at the sudden activities, the captors of Bishop Delgado put him into a small cage which was locked around him, and then put into jail with criminals. Delgado was tortured but refused to hint at the location of the others and was eventually killed. The young priest escaped.
Bishop Henares was captured at the same time. He had hidden himself in a boat, and the nervousness of the boatmen gave him away. Five hundred soldiers were detached to bring in the two dangerous criminals–the bishop and his catechist. They, too, were questioned endlessly. Two weeks after the death of Bishop Delgado, Henares was led out and beheaded in company with Chien.
Spiritual reading: Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution, but a church that walks serene because it bears the force of love. (Archbishop Oscar Romero)
Luke 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
Reflection on the gospel reading: On this Nativity of John the Baptist, we remember that God is gracious, for this is the meaning of the name that Elizabeth and Zechariah gave to their child. Elizabeth and Zechariah had passed the time in their lives when children typically were born to people, and this was a source of embarrassment, no doubt, to Elizabeth in a culture that placed great stock on a woman’s ability to bear children. How often does God come into our lives at times of bareness and abandonment to instill life in us in some way that we could not have anticipated? God is gracious because God enters our lives in unexpected ways to make possible what we believed to be impossible. In this case, of course, not only did Elizabeth and Zechariah receive a child when they had despaired of the possibility, but the child they received was one marked by God for a special mission and a deep holiness. When God acts in our lives, God sometimes does not merely surprise us but also outdoes our every expectation. God is gracious.
Spiritual reading: I believe that, essentially, the ultimate disposition to the reception of that infused knowledge that is wisdom can be resumed in one word: death to all that is not God. (René Voillaume)
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: Jesus speaks today about trust. A persistent temptation in the world has been to trust in money, power, and prestige. Today’s gospel is evidence that it was a phenomenon in Jesus’ time as much as it is one in our time.
We are funny creatures with odd priorities. We spend years worrying about how to acquire money, power, and prestige, often ignoring our health, spirituality, and relationships, and then when we wind up wrecked in some way, through sickness, despair, or isolation. We turn then to the money, power, and prestige we’ve acquired to fix the problems we created by ignoring our health, spirituality, and relationships in the first place. This is the practical effect of Jesus’ warning it is impossible to serve God and mammon.
Then there is the problem of living in the moment, a spiritual axiom which attends all the great spiritual traditions. All traditions agree that the secret to holiness is attention to the present moment: paying attention to what God has placed in front of us right here, right now. If we live our lives with our minds forever on some future moment, we perpetually ignore the present one. And when the future we have attended to arrives, it doesn’t matter, because we’re not present to it. Our minds at that moment are on the horizon. So we reach the end of our lives without ever really having lived.
Jesus calls us to trust God’s providence. God is right here. God is present to you in this moment. God does not forget you. God is often (but not always) slow, but God never fails. The gospel passage we read today asks us to dare to trust that God really is real and really does take care of us from moment to moment, if only we will have the eyes to see. So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Saint of the day: Today’s saints are among the first martyrs of the English Reformation in the 16th century. They were different in background and temperament but united in choosing God’s values over worldly temptations.
John Fisher came from humble circumstances, but was naturally gifted. He rose steadily to become chancellor of the University of Cambridge, a post he held until his death. He was also named Bishop of Rochester by King Henry VIII, a post he accepted with reluctance because he was uncomfortable with power.
When the new theories of Luther swept Europe and England, Fisher preached vigorously against them in the churches and the university. He wrote four volumes of refutations against the German monk, and even influenced the king, who wrote a small treatise in defense of the faith. However Fisher’s friendship with King Henry foundered on the issue of the king’s marriage. The king wanted it dissolved. Bishop John upheld the sanctity of marriage and the supremacy of the Pope and contested the king’s views in Parliament and in the university. The king had him imprisoned and later put to death.
Thomas More was a lawyer by training and a scholar by temperament. His rise to public life was rapid: first as under-sheriff of London, then as a member of the king’s privy council, and finally at the age of 50, as Lord Chancellor of England.
Thomas was an accomplished writer. His book Utopia, on an imaginary country where everything works well, made him the friend of many learned people, among whom was the scholar Erasmus who called him, “a man for all seasons.” The king, Henry VIII, was a personal friend.
Nevertheless this personal friendship dissolved into hostility when the king could not get what he wished: an annulment from the Pope from his marriage, in order to marry the younger woman his heart desired. Henry declared himself head of the Church in England and demanded that all loyal subjects take an oath of allegiance to him. Thomas refused, was imprisoned, and later executed.
Both John Fisher and Thomas More were among the highest placed in the land. Yet on a matter of principle, they chose their conscience over the demands of their sovereign. Their example encourages us to choose God’s ways even at the cost of life itself.
Spiritual reading: David wasn’t thinking of being king when he was tending sheep; he was just doing what God sat before him. (John Fisher)
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
We often hear what Paul said that we are called to put on Christ and become uniquely one with Him. What Luke is telling us today is that in putting on Christ we must put ourself behind us and begin to look out and grow in seeking out other people. What that means is we must accept the cross as part of putting on Christ. It doesn’t mean that we go out and seek to be punished or actively persecuted, but that we know and understand that we have a new way of life that is not really concerned with what the world or others think of us. What sets in, hopefully, is a certain passivity to accept what God sends our way and to let His way be our way. Remember that in Christ’s time the Pharisees and priests sought to follow the law but personalized it where the law became more their own possession than God’s law leading them to become poor leaders. In passively following Jesus we can actively and hopefully daily put ourself aside and really follow his way.
Even today, I ask you, in putting on Christ have we truly done away with all prejudices. Have we put aside nationality, gender, financial condition, or any of the real or imagined definitions of a person or group to see that really we are one and only one in Christ. As believers we can slip in holding the cross by failing to see the person in front of us at any moment. That moment strangely could be as important as many years before it if we remain sensitive to God’s will. Unfortunately we can miss these moments if we become overly invested in ourselves. A contradiction? Yes it is. After all, wasn’t Jesus’ life a contradiction? He said he took it up to lose it. Could it mean any less for us? It means walking with Him even when we are against the flow of the world. How we answer Jesus’ question of who he is, is personal and compelling. Doing and saying the right thing is what we call today politically correct, but God is not politically correct, He is our loving Father and calls us to be like Him and follow His Son. He cares for us individually and as a church but church is not and institution or a building but individual persons each caring one for another as He does for us. This is His Cross for us to take up daily to be there, passively giving more and more.
Gospel reading of the day:
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: Jesus today invites us to take a long loving look at the real. He calls us to reflect on how we see life and whether our perspectives match the deep down things which are the really true. Jesus in this passage is telling us that our core perspectives about reality will guide the ways we live our lives.
The world believes money can solve any problem, even though the evidence is plain that it cannot–it believed it in Jesus’ time, and it believes it now, despite evidence then and now it simply isn’t true. In the first part of the passage, Jesus asks us to let something other than worldly security shape our inner landscape.
In the second part of the passage, Jesus is saying that what we value will determine how we see things. Our principles, values, and beliefs are the lens through which we see the world. We then find the evidence and examples to prove our point of view. People who cannot see beyond money, status, power, or fame truly exist in darkness, because this vision creates the way they relate to other human beings and material things. It is about looking good at all costs and creating an illusion that they have power over people and events.
The poet Mary Oliver asks a question which is relevant to today’s gospel passage. That question is, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Are we going to spend it trying to look like we have it together, creating the illusion that we’re in control? Or are we going to be like Jesus, who lived on the margins, lived for others, tore down idols, and risked being misunderstood, rejected, and broken to reveal the truth about who he really is–and who you and I really are.
Saint of the day: Born in 1568 in Italy, Aloysius Gonzaga was an Italian noble who grew up in a castle; he was the son of a compulsive gambler and cousin of Blessed Rudolph Acquaviva, a Jesuit martyr who died in India. He trained from age four as a soldier and courtier. He suffered from kidney disease which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. He received First Communion from Saint Charles Borromeo who was his teacher, confessor, and parish priest. At age 18, he signed away his legal claim to his family’s lands and title to his brother and became a Jesuit novice. He was a spiritual student of Saint Robert Bellarmine who was Aloysius’ confessor and who worked for his canonization after he had died. Aloysius tended plague victims in Rome in the outbreak of 1591. He died June 20-21, 1591 at Rome of plague and fever. He is buried under the altar of Saint Ignatius Church, Rome.
Spiritual reading: Have that tender care that expresses itself in the little things that are like a balm for the heart….With our neighbors go into the smallest details, whether it is a question of health, of consolation, of prayerfulness, or of need. Console and ease the pain of others through the tiniest of attentions. Be as tender and attentive towards those whom God puts on our path, as a brother towards brother or as a mother for her child. As much as possible be an element of consolation for those around us, as soothing balm. (Charles de Foucauld)