St. Gregory of Nyssa
The son of two saints, Basil and Emmilia, young Gregory was raised by his older brother, St. Basil the Great, and his sister, Macrina, in modern-day Turkey. Gregory's success in his studies suggested great things were ahead for him. After becoming a professor of rhetoric, he was persuaded to devote his learning and efforts to the Church. By then married, Gregory went on to study for the priesthood and become ordained (this at a time when celibacy was not a matter of law for priests).
He was elected Bishop of Nyssa (in Lower Armenia) in 372, a period of great tension over the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Briefly arrested after being falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory was restored to his see in 378, an act met with great joy by his people.
It was after the death of his beloved brother, Basil, that Gregory really came into his own. He wrote with great effectiveness against Arianism and other questionable doctrines, gaining a reputation as a defender of orthodoxy. He was sent on missions to counter other heresies and held a position of prominence at the Council of Constantinople. His fine reputation stayed with him for the remainder of his life, but over the centuries it gradually declined as the authorship of his writings became less and less certain. But, thanks to the work of scholars in the 20th century, his stature is once again appreciated. Indeed, St. Gregory of Nyssa is seen not simply as a pillar of orthodoxy but as one of the great contributors to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality and to monasticism itself.
Orthodoxy is a word that can raise red flags in our minds. To some people it may connote rigid attitudes that make no room for honest differences of opinion. But it might just as well suggest something else: faith that has settled deep in one's bones. Gregory's faith was like that. So deeply imbedded was his faith in Jesus that he knew the divinity that Arianism denied. When we resist something offered as truth without knowing exactly why, it may be because our faith has settled in our bones.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form?
The Word of God
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean. (Luke 5:12)
To be an outcast, banished from society, must be a disastrous experience. Can you even imagine what it would be like to be told, "You don't belong here anymore"? Yet this was the lot of those afflicted with skin diseases like leprosy in the time of Jesus. Having to live outside of town, these people were deprived of friends, family, and even religious observance. And this was on top of the physical suffering and decay of their diseases.
We can see one result of this devastating experience in today's Gospel reading. The leprous man had no doubt heard talk of this young rabbi, of his ability and disposition to heal, of his kindness to those cast out by society. So when he had the chance to meet Jesus, he knew just what to do. He prostrated himself and proclaimed that he knew Jesus was able to heal him. He knew what he needed, he knew Jesus could help him, and he wasn't about to miss his chance.
Praise God, his hope was not disappointed! While the people around Jesus may have cringed or turned away, Jesus didn't hesitate. No, he reached out and touched the man, even though he was "full of leprosy" (Luke 5:12). He seems to be saying, "Of course I want to heal you. That's why I'm here!" In that moment, Jesus gave back to the man all that he had lost: his health, his home, his family, and his right to worship at the Temple. It didn't take convincing, bargaining, pleading, or perseverance. With one simple cry to Jesus, he was healed!
How about us? We all have the disease of sin, and it threatens to isolate us just as much as that skin disease isolated the man in today's Gospel passage. But remember Jesus' response to him: "I do will it. Be made clean" (Luke 5:13). This is how he sees us when we come to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. "Of course I'll forgive you!" He is always willing to touch us, to heal us, and to bring us back to our Father. So no matter how "leprous" your sin may make you feel, throw yourself at Jesus' feet. You won't be disappointed.
"Lord, teach me my need for you. Help me to put myself fully in your hands."
Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20; 1 John 5:5-13
It's almost as if the Holy Scriptures are too much to comprehend in their fullness. Too much every day. So we get little by little, what we allow the faith to receive. So, before you read them every day, take a deep breath, and calm yourself, let the Spirit in. Today we read, "The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. . .Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son. . .Whoever possesses the Son has life". And we are speaking of nothing more than an eternity, and of souls. Today's spanish 5minutos ends with:
"Jesus is moved to see at his feet that disfigured human by the sickness and the abandonment of all. That man represents the loneliness and desperation of so many "marked ones". Jesus <<extends His hand>> seeking for contact with his skin, <He touches him> and says: "<<I want to, be made clean>>. Every time we discriminate from our supposed "holiness" to the rest, we are seriously pulling away from Jesus."
I read a quote from Franciscan University of Steubenville the other day and it was a quote from St. Maximilian Kolbe which said "Love without penance, without sacrifice, is not love. There are souls who would like to possess the love of God, but they avoid and fear to do penance. Without the spirit of penance and self-abnegation, there can be no love." Today we read about a penance given. Jesus tells the healed man to go and offer a prescription. This happens when we practice the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation. We show ourselves to the priests, and they prescribe something. Last night at ultreya, I heard of a prescription in a testimony, "go and change your daily prayers". We can get caught up in our own little religion within a religion (a set of beliefs) that we may fail to truly grasp what is being offered. In the extreme case of us all, it is about an eternity, offered through the blood of Christ. Because as I read the most Holy Gospel with you today, something was going on through my being, as every word of interaction between the leper and our Lord came to be and was read, it's as if at the same time, I envisioned Jesus taking on what the leper was...a symbol of infirmity, a sign of sinful mankind, disfigured and unlovable, unreachable. His hand was stretched on to the cross and nailed into place. Jesus must've known He would be led to this. Yet He says "I do will it". He says "I do" as a true groom married to the Holy Church...all of us. He loves as we should love. St. John Vianney said "Love is the distinctive mark of those who belong to God". And those who belong to God set themselves apart for Him. The crowds followed Jesus and He would leave them to go pray. Not that He wouldn't heal them, but to teach them the importance of prayer, our connection with God. Leading to the fountain. This is the beauty of being alive, we have at our disposal communication...with all...and with God and through Him. This is the beauty of a Holy Mass, and this is the beauty of the faithful. If there is anything to learn, and if this is all too much to take in, remember above all, He is stretching out His Hand to you. "Do you want me to be yours?" asks our Lord. One of the songs I wrote says something similar, and the answer came from a doubtful person, "do you love me (Lord)?" And He stretches out on the cross "I Do Love You, This Much". Sacrifice. Offerings. It all leads to a true love. When I get thrown lemons, pains, hurtful words, or actions, through the power of Christ, they can be turned to good, once we learn to accept them with true humility, obedience, acceptance of what He is offering. There is so much more I have realized this week that has happened in the faith, but this is for now what our Lord, has given...
LOL This is what it must've felt like when the crowds were left there waiting while Jesus went off to go pray. In the meanwhile, we too will pray. We too will do as He does. Because He wills an eternity for us with Him, and now it is on us, our heart, our will, our being like Him in every facet of our lives...
PRAISE BE TO GOD FOREVER