Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on July 5, 2013

63cce335802c97d5868f1189d01c4998_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus is among all the poor and powerless. He passes through the midst of all the lost and lonely. Jesus invites all the thieves to share his table of fellowship. It is easy to dismiss and belittle individual people who do not meet our expectations of acceptability–thieves and criminals for instance–the homeless, particularly when they’re mentally ill–single mothers and other women, people with disabilities, Muslims in the U.S., the Jews under the Nazis. And we can diminish all the people we find unacceptable while wholly satisfied with all the ways we evaluate ourselves according to the measure of what we believe is acceptable.

But these are not Kingdom attitudes. As Hosea wrote seven centuries before the Lord came, For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. God is not satisfied with the devotions of any of us who operate out of paradigms of self-righteousness. It is mercy to those around us–people of diverse identities, circumstances, religions, cultures, and politics–that God calls us to cultivate and deepen. Without love for each and all, every trip to church, candle lit, knee bowed, and song raised to God misses the mark. Jesus echoes Hosea’s call to critically evaluate our spiritual condition only in the light of our love of others. Prayer with love and acceptance of others makes us holy.

Saint of the day: The servant of God Rafael Cordero was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in October 1790. Known as the father of public rducation in Puerto Rico, he provided free schooling to children regardless of their race or social standing. Born into a poor family, his father was a poor man who worked in the tobacco fields. Cordero, who was of African ancestry, was self-educated. His love of literature and his determination to teach and educate himself helped him to develop the skills and preparation to teach primary school. Cordero, a devout Catholic, received the rite of confirmation at 14-years-old from the first Puerto Rican to be consecrated bishop in San Juan.

CorderoAt the beginning of the 19th century Rafael Cordero established in his house a free school for all children, regardless of race, who were unable to afford an education otherwise. Cordero maintained his educational center for 58 years at Luna Street in San Juan. There he taught reading, calligraphy, mathematics, and the catechism. Cordero’s school produced a number of alumni who went on to have distinguished careers. He proved that racial and economic integration could be possible and accepted.

He was awarded the Premio de Virtud by La Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País, an economic club whose members were friends of Puerto Rico. He was given 100 pesos, which he in turn gave away to those in need. He used half of the money (50 pesos) to buy books and clothes for his students, and he gave the other half to the homeless. He died July 5, 1868. More than 2,000 people attended his funeral in 1868. The investigation into his virtues started in 2004. The Catholic Church plans to search for Cordero’s remains which were buried at the old city’s cemetery, although the exact location is unknown.

087Spiritual reading: Where there is a deep, simple, all-embracing love of humanity, of the created world of living and inanimate things, then there will be respect for life, for freedom, for truth, for justice and there will be humble love of God. But where there is no love of humanity, no love of life, then make all the laws you want, all the edicts and treaties, issue all the anathemas; set up all the safeguards and inspections, fill the air with spying satellites, and hang cameras on the moon. As long as you see your fellow human being essentially to be feared, mistrusted, hated, and destroyed, there cannot be peace on earth. And who knows if fear alone will suffice to prevent a war of total destruction? (Thomas Merton)


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