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St. Gregory Nazianzen
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil's invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory's father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.
When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend's home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.
His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as "the Theologian."
It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain. In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.
"God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God's greatness."
Daily Prayer - 2016-01-14
I remind myself that, as I sit here now,
Lord grant me the grace
In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground. Can I see where the Lord has been present?
The Word of God
Reading 1 1 Sm 4:1-11
The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel.
Responsorial Psalm PS 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25
R. (27b) Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Alleluia See Mt 4:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 1:40-45
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Dear Jesus, I can open up my heart to you.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
1st Week in Ordinary Time
He said to him, "See that you tell no one anything." ... The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. (Mark 1:44, 45)
In the early eighth century, St. Bede, an English monk, proposed a unique angle on today's Gospel. Updated to contemporary style, Bede's insight still feels fresh.
"Why did Jesus order this miraculous healing to be concealed? For we see that the man couldn't contain himself, not even for an hour! The reason why Jesus ordered his action to be kept secret ... was actually for us, today. It's so that we could learn from his example: like Jesus, we too should yearn to remain concealed in the great things that we do. Yet, even though we're reluctant, we should be brought to light for the good of other people."
You can imagine the tension between two desires at work here. First is the desire to remain anonymous. Second is the desire to share an amazing spiritual accomplishment for the inspiration of the people around us. Both desires are holy, of course. But in today's Gospel, the second one wins out.
What does that mean for us? For one, it means that we should try to imitate Jesus. He wasn't searching for recognition. On the contrary, he actually hoped no one would find out about the miracle he had just performed. His motive was simply love, not the limelight.
On the other hand, when God's work in our lives is brought to light, it can bring about tremendous good for other people. We might be hesitant to speak about specific ways that God is helping us to grow or how he's moving through us. But testifying to his grace is often the holiest response we can make—especially if it goes against our personality!
One caution: as you share your story, make sure to emphasize God's role in it. What you say may inspire someone to turn to the Lord. That's how the people who heard about the leper's healing responded. They went streaming out of their towns to find Jesus in the wilderness.
Yes, talking about yourself is a little risky. But sometimes, you should take the chance because the reward can be very sweet for the people around you.
"Lord, I am in need of healing. Reach out and give me your servant's heart."
1 Samuel 4:1-11
If You Wish
Please allow me translate today's 5minutos:
"The extraordinary "power" of Jesus is manifested and extends to all who ask, that's to say, to all who feels like a "sinner", in need of His love and forgiveness. The Christians, in the Church, we are a multitude of sinners that repent. Repentance that is not to lament of one's own misery, but to be conscious of what is sin: separation from God, spearation from the rest, interior division, separation of deep roots in our being. Sinners that repent, are those who have taken consciousness of that situation, they have understood that no human effort can find its remedy and, so, have directed themselves to God. Let us do it with faith and giving the first steps in love. Lord, Jesus, we come to you, like lepers among so many lepers, like needy among so many in need, above all, recuperate the desire to be healed, the desire to re-discover the goodness of life, even though it is marked with pains and fatigues. We suffer, in fact, but perhaps we do not feel true desires to be healed; we are alone, excluded, separated from the rest, we lament it, but we do not desire deep within to return to the responsibility of fraternal coexistence, to the duties of who are healed, of who know how to serve the rest. Lord Jesus, all of us, prostrated, like a multitude of lepers in spirit and flesh, we beseech you supply Yourself with Your firm will of salvation (help) our cronic indecision. If You want, You can clean us. Yes, despite ourselves, touch us with Your hand and announce Your Word: "I WILL, be made clean!". And stir in our heart and all our being the gratitude and joy, the song of new life, the song of total salvation".
The Philistines were beating the people of Israel, the Hebrews. The Hebrews in desperation and haughtiness said "fetch that Ark of the Lord", as if to say Lord get over here and fight my battle and win it. Without even consenting, without any deep prayer, without even consulting, without any care. This is a grave lesson for us in faith. The Lord listens but we can not drag Him to do as we please! The devil tried, dragging Him up the mountain and crucified Him, the ark, Mother Mary was with Him, and He resisted doing the devil's desire. How many times do we pray and say in haughtiness and "claim" things? I remember we were helping my sister in law find a home, and one said "that's house is going to be mine" and insinutated it was the Lord had led him to believe that, and the house never came to be, they found another one. One time years ago, even decades, a man came to my dad and said "The Lord told me you would sell me your tractor" and it did not come to be. It's as if using the Lord's name in vain, isn't it? Because then you make Him out to be less...even...a liar. How do we drag the Lord around in our lives? They show people in clubs getting drunk and dancing with a rosary around their neck. Is that how we drag and treat the Lord? No? You're not out and about in the night? How about in your home or work? How do you drag Him around? Do you curse? Then you curse the Lord, because He is good and created all things good. Our Lord did not curse but bless.
The Psalms pray on "R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy. Why do you hide your face, forgetting our woe and our oppression?". I always tell people that it is not the Lord that has turned away, but us. Let's say you've never done "anything wrong" and something devastating happens to you. Who would you blame? Many blame the Lord. Many do not live mercy. Many do not believe in mercy, and I'm speaking about the Lord. For if you believe in Mercy, you will even be merciful to the Lord, once and always, forever. And relentless is His mercy. I saw a man walking to his car to go home, yesterday. I called him, "come to our bible study" and the answer came 3 times, "No". No and no, "you're trying to take the devil out of me" he even joked. Perhaps, but it will not be taken by force. The Lord doesn't work that way.
In comes the Lord into our lives today and one of the only lines He is quoted as saying was again, pure mercy, grace and love ""I do will it. Be made clean." Notice the stark difference from the first scripture. Israel was claiming victory by carrying around the covenant, and their hearts were all in the wrong place, taking the wrong stance, the wrong understanding of how our Lord works with us...when we work with Him. This leper said something peculiar ""If you wish, you can make me clean." He put it all in God's hands, he wasn't claiming victory, he was leaving it in God's hands "I know you can do it, so please if you wish Lord!!". And what happens is for the greater glory, whether granted or not. This should serve as a severe lesson for those out there preaching "name it, claim it". "Claim it in the name of Jesus!" they shout. Here, we are asking for the Lord to do HIS will. This is how the Lord prayed on His knees in the garden the night before He was to be tortured and killed. "Not my will Lord, but yours". You see the stark difference? Humility, being susceptible, a true servant of God. Too much pride leads to too much deception, and pain, and loss. There are people I invite to come for healings, to be healed from cancer, and they do not show up. I invite people to come be with the Lord and they do not. Shoot, I even had a cousin calling me this weekend "I'm ready for a change, I see you active in the church, I want to be there". I said "come meet me here" and he never came. What little will. I texted him when he failed "hechale mas ganas bro" (give it more effort bro) and he said ok, when is your bible study? And he didn't show. Various said "i have to go with my wife", one said "I have to take my wife for medicine" and I texted back during bible study "God is more important". I know what I just said doesn't rub people well, but it is TRUTH. Truth HURTS. I texted him "you are distracted". Faithless is the true term of being distracted. Faithless means not fearing God. The leper came in humble supplication, like a shaking kitten in the cold in need of warmth. That is how we are to approach the Lord. Not boasting and claiming and dragging Him around parading Him, but doing HIS WILL. Being ONE with HIM. Asking HIM before doing anything worthwhile, sitting down and discerning HIS WILL...not ours.