Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on February 21, 2014

fae23a3c5161470ea882bdd7ef727c86_w600Gospel Reading of the Day:

Mark 8:34-9:1

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In an earlier time, Christians had a great reverence for suffering and undertook acts, such as wearing sack garments and undergoing flagellation, that in our time and through our cultural prism seem hard to understand or appreciate. In the last several decades, a revulsion has taken root among many modern Christians at any notion of suffering as an element in our spirituality precisely, I think, as a reaction against such unhealthy excesses. But it is hard to imagine a spirituality that is authentically Christian which has absolutely no room for suffering. One full quarter of the gospels treats the passion and death of Jesus, and the Master himself advises that anyone who wishes to come after him must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him. Jesus does not say we have to go out and look for crosses like perhaps earlier penitents did. Suffering is not an end in itself, but it the unavoidable outcome of true discipleship. The acceptance of suffering in Christian life always exists in the context of self-sacrificing love. Jesus says whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. In saying this, he is issuing a challenge that anyone who wants to follow him must be ready to give their lives in love for others, and this often entails putting our own needs second. Those who fail to love–those who make every effort to avoid suffering by preserving their lives and hanging on to what they have–will ultimately lose everything.

Saint of the day: The Servant of God Francis Xavier Ford as born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Austin Brendan Ford and Elizabeth Rellihan Ford. He attended Cathedral College in Elmhurst, Queens. While studying there, he felt a call to respond to the vision of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. Upon completion of his high school studies, he was accepted by the Society. When Ford reported to the Maryknoll seminary in Ossining, New York, on September 14, 1912, he became the first student of the fledgling Maryknoll Society. He was the first person to matriculate in this institution. He was ordained on December 5, 1917, and became one of the first four American Catholic priests to arrive in China in 1918.

Bishop_Francis_X_Ford_1951In 1918 Ford began to serve in the Province of Canton (Guangdong), in southern China, and in 1921 opened the first Maryknoll mission in China. He was consecrated a bishop on September 21, 1935. During 20 years of serving in Kaying, Ford increased his flock from 9,000 to 20,000, and built schools, hostels, and churches. When World War II started, Kaying was surrounded by Japanese troops. Nevertheless, the bishop remained at his post, relieving war refugees in distress. The victory of Chinese Communist Party in October 1949 marked a major shift in the fate of the Catholic missions in China. In December 1950 the Communists placed Bishop Ford under house arrest and charged them with espionage. Though never tried, Ford was taken from his home four months later and publicly paraded, beaten and degraded in some of the cities in which he had done mission work since 1918. In one town, a Communist-orchestrated mob beating was so intense that even Ford’s Communist guards fled. Though knocked to the ground repeatedly, Ford continued to walk calmly through the crowd until his guards returned. In another town, his neck was bound with a wet rope which almost choked him as it dried and shrank. Another rope was made to trail from under his gown like a tail.

Ford died in a prison in Guangzhou on February 21, 1952. Bishop Ford is the cousin of another Roman Catholic Maryknoll martyr, Sister Ita Ford, M.M., who was tortured, raped and murdered in El Salvador by members of a military death squad along with fellow Catholic missionaries Maura Clarke, M.M., laywoman Jean Donovan, and Sister Dorothy Kazel, O.S.U., on December 2, 1980. She had previously worked with the poor and war refugees as a Maryknoll Sister missionary in Bolivia and Chile.

Saint of the day: Prayer begins at the edge of emptiness. (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)


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