Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 16, 2014

c9251d931796a9600b1f02ebfb014b40_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Reflection on the gospel: A leper approaches Jesus, kneels down, and essentially offers a prayer. He says to the Lord, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus looks at the man and is moved with compassion by the man’s condition and his faith, sincerity, and words. Jesus makes a simple reply, “I do will it. Be made clean.” We know of so many cases where people in terrible conditions sincerely beg God to be made well, only to suffer longer, and then perhaps to die. The temptation is to believe that this case Mark relates is a special event, but Jesus’ words, I wish that you be made clean, are words that he speaks to each of us. The hard thing for us to see is that being made clean–being made whole–may be something different for God than it is for us. There is something too easy about saying to someone who is suffering when prayers seem to have gone unanswered that God desires some greater wholeness than the integrity of the body. But the truth, of course is that we are physical beings who often only secondarily experience ourselves as spiritual ones; for this reason, we can be unwilling or unable to step outside of the limitations of our suffering to see the bigger picture of what God is accomplishing. Even when we are miserable, ungrateful, and resentful that our prayers have gone unanswered in the way we intended God to answer them, God is moved with pity, stretches out his hand, and touches us with God’s offer of understanding and compassion for the smallness of our perspectives.

Saint of the day: Giuseppe Antonio Tovini was born in 1841 into a devout family in far northern Italy, the eldest of seven children. Giuseppe’s childhood was uneventful. He progressed through school to university, where he chose to study the law. toviniBut before he finished his studies, his life took a more difficult turn, as first his father and then his mother died, leaving him to support his younger brothers and sisters.

Giuseppe’s first job was as a teacher and assistant principal at a technical school, where he gained a special interest in education. At around the same time, he began what would be a life-long parallel career of public service, as head of the city government in his hometown, Cividate Camuno. From the beginning, Giuseppe treated his political duties as a form of stewardship, paying off the town’s debts and improving roads and bridges. When his term in the city government was over, Giuseppe moved to nearby Brescia in order to increase his law practice. There he met Emilia Corbolani, the daughter of one of the partners in his firm, with whom he fell in love. Three years later the couple got engaged and they married after a four-year engagement in 1875.

Even though Giuseppe was busy with work and public activities, he and Emilia had a happy domestic life. He made a point of writing letters to her whenever he had to be away from home. Their family steadily grew and they welcomed ten children over the 22 years they were married. tovini1Emilia and Giuseppe ran a strict but loving household. They particularly believed that it was important to teach their children the faith and to pass on a strong work ethic. Although Giuseppe had high expectations of his children, he was known as patient and gentle father.

As his family increased, so did Giuseppe’s public work. He continued to hold public office and became very active in Catholic Action, serving for many years as an organizer for and participant in the Catholic Congresses. Among his many, many other endeavors, he founded two banks in order to provide low-interest funding to charitable organizations. Giuseppe’s open involvement in both civic life and Catholic organizations at that time in Italy’s history took courage. Anti-Catholic sentiment was strong during the period of Italy’s unification. Giuseppe fought to preserve the Church’s role in public life in Italy, despite accusations that he was anti-patriotic for doing so. Giuseppe Tovini died suddenly and peacefully at home on January 16, 1897 at the age of 56. He was beatified in 1998.

Spiritual reading: I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe. (Richard P. Feynman)



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