Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on October 15, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 11:37-41

After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. 06072013p19phaThe Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Readers of the New Testament are often surprised to hear that the Pharisees were a pretty decent bunch of guys. They sought ways to make religion more accessible to people through the establishment of synagogues in local communities. Their theology had very optimistic qualities, such as their belief in the ultimate redemption of human beings through a physical resurrection of the dead. In many ways, the Pharisees were much like many good Christians in our days. Yet it is no secret that Jesus constantly calls theirs hearts into question–that they were false and their devotion, empty. Today’s gospel message is frequent throughout each of the gospels: It is not our exterior practice that makes us clean; it is our hearts–the way we incline them, how we are open and pliable to God and each other. If we are to be perfect as the Father is perfect, we must love without inhibition.

Saint of the day: Born in 1515, Teresa of Avila lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.

The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.

0507[1]As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man’s world of her time. She was “her own woman,” entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.

Teresa was a woman “for God,” a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God.

Teresa was a woman “for others.” Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life. She died October 15, 1582.

Her writings, especially the Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have helped generations of believers. In 1970, the Church gave her the title doctor of the Church. She, Catherine of Siena, Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegaard of Bingen are the first women the Church has called, “doctors.”

Spiritual reading: It is love alone that gives worth to all things. (Teresa of Ávila)


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