Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on December 17, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 1:1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king.

823a84e80e32e84d869185e7dfa8ec23_w600David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.

Reflection on the gospel of the day: From today until Christmas, the Church reflects on the events that led to the birth of Jesus as it presents to us readings from the infancy narrative in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels. The gospels of both Matthew and Luke include genealogies, but they differ both in whom they propose as Jesus’ ancestors and in where they start. For this reason, we ought not to consider them genealogies in the sense that modern-day practitioners of the art, schooled in the empirical tradition, would seek to render them. Instead, they are stories that have a point. When Luke starts his genealogy, he begins with Adam, and thus he seeks, writing for a Greek audience, to connect Jesus to all of humanity, Jew and Gentile alike. When Matthew starts his list, which we read here today, he starts with Abraham, and thus he seeks, writing for a Jewish Christian audience, to tie Jesus to the history of God in Israel’s history of salvation. Both accounts are careful to include David among the Lord’s ancestors to fulfill the prophecy that God would make of David’s progeny an everlasting throne.

But we can look still deeper than this and find something entirely luminous. When Jesus entered human history, he entered it with all its ambiguities. The list of Jesus’ ancestors as Matthew presents it suggests that Jesus’ ancestors include not just holy men and women but also people who had committed sins as serious as murder and acted out of weaknesses as great as adultery. This list tells us that when God entered human history, God used both what is best and worst about us to do that. And that is the breathtakingly elegant and poetic commencement of God’s redemption of humanity.

kaszap3Saint of the day: Venerable István (Steven) Kaszap was born the third of five children, on March 25, 1916 in Szekesfehervar, once the Roman town of Alba Regia, southwest of Budapest, Hungary. His father was chief supervisor at the local post office. Steven was sent to a Lycee, a school run by Cistercian monks. Until his graduation from the Lycee, Steven was an active member of the Boy Scouts. At the Lycee, Steven had an excellent gym instructor and excelled in gymnastics becoming a champion. As was customary in his high school, a Jesuit priest led one of the student retreats. A classmate of Steve’s arranged for Jesuit Fr. Kovacs to see them; the meeting took place; and then on June 21, Steven visited the Jesuit Novitiate, Manresa and was subsequently admitted to the Society of Jesus.

When Steven entered the novitiate, he appeared to be in excellent health but the medical check-up at the time detected fever. On the warm summer afternoon of July 30, 1934, he entered Manresa, the Jesuit novitiate. As a Jesuit novice, Steven reflected an inner maturity, coming across as a warm, calm, reserved individual who was, at the same time, informal and friendly. After recurrent illness and a surgery, the Jesuits had to send him home in his second year because he could not fulfill the requirements of the novitiate; even so, the Jesuits invited him to return as soon as his health permitted.

kaszap_istvanOn December 16, 1935, the doctor diagnosed a tumor in Steven’s throat and admitted him to the hospital. At five o’clock in the morning on the day after he was admitted, the night nurse was relieved. The patient wrote: “I have great difficulty breathing,” then, “I would like to be washed. The nurse brought him water and washed his sweat-soaked face and hands. Steven wrote again: “I cannot make my confession, but I request absolution for I am repentant. I cannot take communion either because I cannot swallow. I would like the last rites.” He underlined the last sentence. The nurse nodded that she understood. She arranged his bed. Steve was grateful, “The fresh water feels good on my hands,” he wrote in appreciation. The nurse went to fetch the priest. What happened after the nurse left him will remain a secret forever. By the time she came back with the priest, Steven Kaszap was no longer conscious, but his last message lay beside him! “God be with you! We will meet in Heaven! Do not weep, this is my birthday in Heaven. God bless you all!” Steven Kaszap’s eyes were still open, fixed on the crucifix and the Marian medal in his hands, but he no longer saw the nurse nor priest. The priest gave him absolution, anointed him with the sacrament of the sick, and gave him the papal blessing. In less than half an hour, at ten minutes past six on December 17, 1935, he stopped breathing. The townspeople came to believe he was a saint. An investigation into his virtues commenced in 1994, and in 2006, he was declared venerable.

Spiritual reading: O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence. (O Antiphon for December 17)

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