Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 4, 2014

48c298df23197342536c61fad2fe60d6_w600Gospel reading of the day:

John 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” which translated means Teacher, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.

Reflection on the gospel: This raw and intimate account shows the power that Jesus exercised over the imaginations of the people he encountered. It has the small details, like Jesus turning and seeing two men coming after him and the hour of the day that the event occurred, which give it a kind of immediacy that we don’t find in much of the writing of the four gospels, so the account has the feeling of the authenticity of an account of personal transformation. Even with the intimacy of the account, the passage has a certain dreamlike quality because it tells of a special moment where everything that was before is transformed into everything that comes afterward. It is the story of a radical alignment with a new way of life. People who had families and friends, and histories with their own logic and trajectory, suddenly picked up and left everything, so they could experience life with this man. As I begin the new year, I recall that an authentic encounter with Jesus is transformative, and I pray for such encounters for you and me throughout 2014.

Saint of the day: Born in 1284, Saint Angela of Foligno is a model for people who want to simplify their lifestyle. As a young adult she reveled in luxury and sensuality. She married a rich man of Foligno, Italy, and used his wealth to indulge herself in possessions. And her impetuous temperament nudged her into sinful behavior. However in 1285, Angela made a surprising about-face. One day she wept bitterly and confessed a serious sin to a friar, who absolved her. Then she embarked on a life of prayer and penance. Over the next six years, angela da folignostep-by-step she divested herself of her attachments to people and things. In 1288 her mother, husband, and sons died of a plague. As a widow, Angela was free to concentrate on her pursuit of holiness. She modeled herself on St. Francis of Assisi and joined the Franciscan Third Order in 1291. Like Francis, Angela expected to meet Christ in the poor. For instance, on Holy Thursday, 1292, she and a companion went to care for lepers at the hospital in Foligno. After they had washed a man who was badly decomposed, they drank some of the bathwater. The experience so moved Angela that she says all the way home she felt “as if we had received Holy Communion.”

Angela of Foligno was a visionary who, like St. Catherine of Siena, at the drop of a hat might fall into a trance. From 1292 to 1296 she dictated her revelations to Brother Arnold, her confessor. Angela recorded 30 steps of her tortured spiritual journey, which always seemed to blend awareness and absence of God, certitude and doubt, and joy and agony. A small band of disciples gathered around the saint. She led them wisely, instructing them in basic Christian living. At Christmas, 1308, Angela told her companions she would die shortly. A few days later Christ appeared to her, promising to come personally to take her to heaven. She died in her sleep on January 4, 1309. Pope Francis, without requiring a confirmed miracle, canonized her in October 2013.

Spiritual reading: No one can be saved without divine light. Divine light causes us to begin and to make progress, and it leads us to the summit of perfection. Therefore if you want to begin and to receive this divine light, pray. If you have begun to make progress, pray. And if you have reached the summit of perfection, and want to be super-illumined so as to remain in that state, pray. If you want faith, pray. If you want hope, pray. If you want charity, pray. If you want poverty, pray. If you want obedience, pray. If you want chastity, pray. If you want humility, pray. If you want meekness, pray. If you want fortitude, pray. If you want any virtue, pray. And pray in this fashion: always reading the Book of Life, that is, the life of the God-man, Jesus Christ, whose life consisted of poverty, pain, contempt and true obedience. (Angela of Foligno)


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