Thursday, August 13, 2015

What you owe

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Minute Meditations

Knowing Christ

If you know Christ, it does not matter if you know nothing else; but if you know not Christ, it is as nothing to know everything else. --Fulton Sheen
— from The Enduring Faith and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen

St. Hippolytus (Pontian and Hippolytus)
(d. 235)
Two men died for the faith after harsh treatment and exhaustion in the mines of Sardinia. One had been pope for five years, the other an antipope for 18. They died reconciled.

Pontian. Pontian was a Roman who served as pope from 230 to 235. During his reign he held a synod which confirmed the excommunication of the great theologian Origen in Alexandria. Pontian was banished to exile by the Roman emperor in 235, and resigned so that a successor could be elected in Rome. He was sent to the "unhealthy" island of Sardinia, where he died of harsh treatment in 235. With him was Hippolytus (see below) with whom he was reconciled. The bodies of both men were brought back to Rome and buried with solemn rites as martyrs.

Hippolytus. As a presbyter in Rome, Hippolytus (the name means "a horse turned loose") was at first "holier than the Church." He censured the pope for not coming down hard enough on a certain heresy—calling him a tool in the hands of one Callistus, a deacon—and coming close to advocating the opposite heresy himself. When Callistus (October 14) was elected pope, Hippolytus accused him of being too lenient with penitents, and had himself elected antipope by a group of followers. He felt that the Church must be composed of pure souls uncompromisingly separated from the world, and evidently thought that his group fitted the description. He remained in schism through the reigns of three popes. In 235 he was also banished to the island of Sardinia. Shortly before or after this event, he was reconciled to the Church, and died with Pope Pontian in exile.

Hippolytus was a rigorist, a vehement and intransigent man for whom even orthodox doctrine and practice were not purified enough. He is, nevertheless, the most important theologian and prolific religious writer before the age of Constantine. His writings are the fullest source of our knowledge of the Roman liturgy and the structure of the Church in the second and third centuries. His works include many Scripture commentaries, polemics against heresies and a history of the world. A marble statue, dating from the third century, representing the saint sitting in a chair, was found in 1551. On one side is inscribed his table for computing the date of Easter, on the other a list of how the system works out until the year 224. Pope John XXIII installed the statue in the Vatican library.



Hippolytus was a strong defender of orthodoxy, and admitted his excesses by his humble reconciliation. He was not a formal heretic, but an overzealous disciplinarian. What he could not learn in his prime as a reformer and purist, he learned in the pain and desolation of imprisonment. It was a fitting symbolic event that Pope Pontian shared his martyrdom.


"Christ, like a skillful physician, understands the weakness of men. He loves to teach the ignorant and the erring he turns again to his own true way. He is easily found by those who live by faith; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who desire to knock at the door, he opens immediately. He does not disdain the barbarian, nor does he set the eunuch aside as no man. He does not hate the female on account of the woman's act of disobedience in the beginning, nor does he reject the male on account of the man's transgression. But he seeks all, and desires to save all, wishing to make all the children of God, and calling all the saints unto one perfect man" (Hippolytus, Treatise on Christ and Antichrist).

Daily Prayer - 2015-08-13


"I stand at the door and knock," says the Lord.
What a wonderful privilege
that the Lord of all creation desires to come to me.
I welcome His presence.


There are very few people
who realise what God would make of them
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace. (Saint Ignatius)
I ask for the grace to trust myself totally to God's love.


I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God.
I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment.
I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.

The Word of God


Reading 1 Jos 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17

The LORD said to Joshua,
"Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters."

So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
"Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank."

The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
disappeared entirely.
Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.

Responsorial Psalm PS 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. Alleluia!
When Israel came forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue,
Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his domain.
R. Alleluia!
The sea beheld and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like the lambs of the flock.
R. Alleluia!
Why is it, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
You mountains, that you skip like rams?
You hills, like the lambs of the flock?
R. Alleluia!

Alleluia PS 119:135

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 18:21--19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.


Some thoughts on today's scripture

  • Forgiveness can be very hard. C.S. Lewis wrote "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until there is something to forgive". When we fail to forgive, we are shackled to the evil which has been done to us. We cannot move forward.
  • If I must be prepared to forgive seventy-seven times, then I must also be ready to ask for forgiveness -- and believe I am forgiven -- seventy-seven times.


Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read.
What part of it strikes a chord in you?
Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently -
will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness.
If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?


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.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Matthew 18:21--19:1

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Saints Pontian, Pope, and Hippolytus, Priest, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)

Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you? (Matthew 18:33).

Science has suggested that humans use only 10 percent of their brains. Moving from this idea, some people have suggested that if we could access the other 90 percent, we would be able to solve so many problems like poverty and world hunger. There may be some merit in this speculation, but we should also acknowledge that much of the problem lies in our hearts and not just in our brains.

Imagine what could happen if we were able to access more of our hearts! What would this world look like if we could love more, forgive more, have more empathy, and look at ourselves and each other the way God does.

Today's Gospel tells the story of a man who was given the opportunity to do just that but who refused. Having received the pardon of an immense debt from his master, he turned around and acted out of a stingy heart instead. Somehow, even though he had been given a huge gift, he remained as hard-hearted and ungenerous as before. And so it was not the master's decree but the servant's own ingratitude that landed him in prison. He excluded himself from the forgiveness his master had offered him.

As far as Jesus is concerned, anyone who has been forgiven much should be so touched by this forgiveness that he or she is moved to love much. But that will happen only as we allow our hearts to be melted by the mercy given to us. Again, it's a heart issue as well as a brain issue.

Jesus gave all he possibly could when he died on the cross. Don't take this gift lightly. There's no way you could possibly repay him for what he has done for you. The only real response—the response of the heart—is to embrace his love and let it make you into a more merciful person. It's only if we close our hearts to God's mercy that our love shrinks, allowing criticism and harshness to creep in. So stay mindful of all that you have been given, and you'll find your capacity to love expanding day by day!

"Thank you, Father, for treating me with so much love! May that love overflow in me, touching every person I encounter today."


Joshua 3:7-10, 11, 13-17
Psalm 114:1-6


The Lord made way for the people to get through, and it is a plea that He may work through you.  He made way through the sea with Moses, and made way through the river with Joshua.  An act of mercy was made.  After all that whining and disobeying, the Lord still opened up ways of salvation.  What doesn't phase us many times should after its persistence.  Sure evil tries to wear on you, but the Lord's message of love and mercy should be wearing on you all the more.  Where sin runs deep, His grace is more.  That's why I truly believe some of the best conversions have been from the worst of sinners.  So there is still hope.  Question is, who will be interceding for this conversion to take place?  Who will be praying all the while and beyond?  Because God in the ark of the covenant stood by as the people crossed to the promised land, only through Him, with Him, and in Him do we have salvation.  So He is the way to Life.
The Psalms pray "When Israel came forth from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his domain."  This is where God resides and this is where He resides, God's people...God's children.  What an honor that God would choose to dwell among us.  Yet how soon we forget He dwells among us.  How soon we forget to be grateful.  Something is only valued when you work for it.  If I give my son a new car just because he wanted it, he probably won't take care of it as well as if he had to work many years for it and then finally receive.  I remember when I was 14 years old, I wanted my own car already and I worked hoeing weeds in fields in other states and a few here in our desert plains in many hot summer days.  A drink of cold water just tasted soooo good, versus a drink of water sitting in front of the air conditioner all day.  When I finally got enough money and my learner's permit and hardship permit to drive, it was a glorious day to drive my first used car, which I took care of very well.  What's the point?  If you don't realize by now, it is coming.
Jesus comes into our lives today and says "  "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." we must forgive.  This is interesting.  Because as another reflection I just read said that "we want to put a limit".  We want to limit our giving.  We want to put a ceiling on God's glory.  We want to limit our souls.  We want to limit our sharing.  That's why we want to know how much is it going to cost.  That's why we want to know, and Jesus gives us a number that will blow you away.  As if to say there is an exact number to forgive?  What if He means 7 to the 70th power?  What if He said forgive once?  What if this meant "forgive for reals" and you need no more?  Because every time after it would already be forgiven?  WOW, wouldn't it be cool if it were like that?  Well, news flash, IT IS.  Because once Jesus was nailed to that cross, your sins, all of them can now be forgiven, time, and time again.  Now the real kicker is, how much you appreciate this.  This is the hard part.  I want to say, if you are a grateful soul, you will be a holy soul.  I really don't like to hear how much people appreciate me as to really see them living it out.  Don't say "thanks" and then never come around to offer yourself.  Don't say "I appreciate it" and then come back mad at me for something!  I'm just trying to help!  So two things are real hard for people to do nowadays as always: 1.) Forgiving  and 2.) Being grateful.  When that man was forgiven a huge debt, then turned around to choke someone who owed him a little, it means he was only interested in his own life.  He didn't care about your life, he just cared about your money, your vote, your whatever you can offer.  And this is our problem in the world, we treat one another in all the wrong terms, and term some people as "expendible" as if you can just use them and when they are of no use no more, get rid of them.  Those people nowadays are unborn and elderly.  There is a severe act of injustice in our day.  And it's not the ones doing the killing that are all the problem, it's this way of life we choose that devalues life, being ungrateful, choosing who deserves mercy and who does not in your life.  Now, when we are talking about mercy, and how everyone needs mercy, there are some that need to be held, punished until they repay their debt.  But when it comes to your heart, how are you?  How are you forgiving? Are you forgiving?  My life has changed so much by being forgiven and my life has changed even more when I do the forgiving.   I got tons of examples to share, but just trust me, life is not the same when you are grateful for forgiveness.  My heart has softened, I'm touched by God's love.  It happened once with the police, and they gave a single chance when I was young, and once released from jail.  And it happened so many times in the confessional, where I just started crying and here I am today, mesmerized by God's love, so afraid to do wrong, so afraid of God, such a holy fear that is still growing, a true love that is growing and you are coming with me.  We are going to cross that river where life will never be the same...from death  to life.  I asked the guys in our co-worker bible study last night "what does it mean in Sunday's readings when it says ""Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." what does it mean you won't have life?  It means life eternal.  Is it fair that we get eternal life in turn for turning in our sins and simply being grateful?  God thinks it is.  And this is so awesome!  This is why God gave us His prayer "forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us".  Mother Angelica says it's those people that fail you, trespass against you that will avail you an opportunity to forgive, an opportunity to get into Heaven.  Suddenly life is not what it is full of opportunities to be closer to the Lord...and forever!