Carry the gospel with you
Gospel reading of the day:
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
“Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”
Reflection on the gospel reading: The scribes and pharisees come to Jesus to ask him for a sign. Of course, Jesus has been giving signs since the start of his ministry, and the people who followed him have understood something new and amazing was here. When they asked him to heal them, they approached him with faith, not asking for a proof but an intervention. These scribes and pharisees approach him in doubt, demanding evidence and not asking for regeneration. Jesus responds to them saying they will receive no sign but the sign of Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of a whale. Jesus uses Jonah’s experience as an allegory of his own burial in the tomb and his resurrection on the third day. In other words, the sign that these pharisees and scribes will receive is Jesus’ resurrection. But as Jesus says in his parable about Lazarus, they will not believe even if someone were to return from the dead.
Saint of the day: Born in 1324 at Fossano in Piedmont, Blessed Oddino Barrotti returned to his native city after his ordination to the priesthood, and for a time served as pastor of the Church of St John the Baptist. From the beginning he devoted himself completely to the care of his flock, hardly taking any rest, fasting rigorously at the same time, and giving to the poor almost every penny that he received. The bishop of Turin, to which diocese Father Barrotti belonged, found it necessary to warn him against overdoing it. “Keep at least enough of your income,” the bishop counseled him, “so you can have a decent living.”
A few years later the young priest was chosen provost of the collegiate church in Fossano, but in his humility, he resigned this office to become the chaplain of a confraternity. It was at this time that he became a member of the Third Order of St Francis. He then converted his own house into a shelter for the homeless. He was made director of the Guild of the Cross, an association whose members cared for the sick and for pilgrims. In this capacity he succeeded in having a hospital built at Fossano for the sick, as well as a hospice for pilgrims. Father Barrotti himself made many pilgrimages, especially to the churches of Rome and the shrine of Our lady of Loreto.
Four years before his death, he yielded to the urgent request of the canons and once more accepted the post of provost or director of the collegiate chapter in Fossano, and with it the duties of a pastor. And when the city was visited by a plague in 1400, the holy pastor cared for the sick with such indefatigable zeal that he too was stricken by the disease and died a martyr of charity at the age of seventy-six. He was beatified in 1808.
Spiritual reading: The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detour, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between. (Dine Ackerman)