Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 3, 2013

the-beheading-of-john-the-baptist-1640.jpg!BlogGospel reading of the day:

Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The narrative of the death of John at the hands of Herod is a cautionary tale about the banality of evil, the capacity of small sins, such as vanity, to precipitate great evil, such as a murder. The gospel warns us that our even our ordinary vices can cause us to cravenly collapse before our better instincts, that the small expediencies of the moment can lead to moral disasters.

Saint of the day: Brother Andreas, or Jan van den Boer, was born into a simple farmer’s family in Udenhout in the Dutch province of Brabant, on 24 November 1841, the youngest of seven children. As a farmer’s son he learned to work hard and was to distinguish himself throughout his life by his inexhaustible zest for work. His pious family also endowed him with a warm and deep faith, which was never to leave him. He was a clever boy and loved to read and study, and because of that was soon the odd one out in the village. As a result, it did not really surprise anyone when he went to the new teacher training college of the brothers in Tilburg in 1855 and chose a future as brother and teacher at the age of seventeen. In 1863 he took his vows in the Congregation of Brothers of Our Lady Mother of Mercy, also called the Brothers of Tilburg after the place where they started.

THR_9_p_171_fr_Andreas_van_den_BoerBrother Andreas trained as a teacher and was appointed at Huize Ruwenberg, a new and large boarding school in Sint-Michielsgestel, in 1861. He was to work at this prestigious institute for over fifty years and taught many children from influential Catholic families. He was a man of great composure who did not shy away from the more rigorous aspects of religious life. That is how, for many brothers, he became a model of religious obedience and a living example of how to abide by the rules. But he was much more than that. He was also a very social man, eager to help his fellow brothers and loyal to his superiors. Despite being a little too virtuous and slow, he was also happy, friendly and uncomplicated in his manner. He never complained and did not back out of any duties. Thus he became a highly esteemed fellow brother. But that was not all. He was also a very popular teacher, which was curious, because he was not very successful nor gifted at teaching.

When Brother Andreas was seventy and in failing health, he was transferred to a brother house in Tilburg. Despite having lived at Ruwenberg for fifty years and having become one with the building and h-JESUS-348x516the community, he accepted the transfer in 1912 in good spirits and without complaint. Perhaps it was better for him, now that he was getting old and infirm, to live in a smaller community. He had a tubercular infection on his right shoulder, which was getting worse. He suffered a lot of pain and lost almost all control over his right hand. It is typical of the brother’s character and perseverance that he taught himself to write with his left hand, with a skill that would do credit to a handwriting teacher. His comment on that was: ‘The Good Lord always gives us a second chance. I can no longer write with my right hand, but I can still write with my left. I can no longer write with a pen, but I can write with a pencil.’ After a quiet old age Brother Andreas died quite suddenly in the summer of 1917. He was seventy-five years old. He was declared venerable in 2008.

Spiritual reading: We are God’s chosen ones, even when the world does not choose us. (Henri Nouwen)


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