An illness which throws life into a skid where all control is lost becomes a revelation and a blessing. A handicapped child seen as an inconvenience, a punishment or a shame can be rejected in various ways; then the family's eyes are opened and they see the child as a gift of God that floods them with wonder and gratitude. The rejected stone becomes the foundation stone. — from Sensing God
Sebastian's roads and bridges connected many distant places. His final bridge-building was to help men and women recognize their God-given dignity and destiny.
Sebastian's parents were Spanish peasants. At the age of 31 he sailed to Mexico, where he began working in the fields. Eventually he built roads to facilitate agricultural trading and other commerce. His 466-mile road from Mexico City to Zacatecas took 10 years to build and required careful negotiations with the indigenous peoples along the way.
In time Sebastian was a wealthy farmer and rancher. At the age of 60 he entered a virginal marriage. His wife's motivation may have been a large inheritance; his was to provide a respectable life for a girl without even a modest marriage dowry. When his first wife died, he entered another virginal marriage for the same reason; his second wife also died young.
At the age of 72 Sebastian distributed his goods among the poor and entered the Franciscans as a brother. Assigned to the large (100-member) friary at Puebla de los Angeles south of Mexico City, Sebastian went out collecting alms for the friars for the next 25 years. His charity to all earned him the nickname "Angel of Mexico."
Sebastian was beatified in 1787 and is known as a patron of travelers.
According to the Rule of St. Francis, the friars were to work for their daily bread. Sometimes, however, their work would not provide for their needs; for example, working with people suffering from leprosy brought little or no pay. In cases such as these, the friars were allowed to beg, always keeping in mind the admonition of Francis to let their good example commend them to the people. The life of the prayerful Sebastian, still hard at work in his 90's, certainly drew many closer to God.
St. Francis once told his followers: "There is a contract between the world and the friars. The friars must give the world a good example; the world must provide for their needs. When they break faith and withdraw their good example, the world will withdraw its hand in a just censure" (2 Celano, #70).
I reflect for a moment on God's presence around me and in me. Creator of the universe, the sun and the moon, the earth, every molecule, every atom, everything that is: God is in every beat of my heart. God is with me, now.
Thank you God for my freedom May I use this gift to do what I can for those who are oppressed or burdened.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Jer 17:5-10
Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.
Responsorial Psalm PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree planted near running water, That yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so, the wicked, not so; they are like chaff which the wind drives away. For the LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Verse Before the Gospel See Lk 8:15
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Gospel Lk 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: "There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.' He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"
Some thoughts on today's scripture
This is a parable of startling contrasts, but its central message is simple: be alert to the needs under your nose. It is not concerned with patterns of good living on the part of Lazarus, nor of evil-doing on the part of the rich man. But the latter closed his eyes to the needy at his gate. And without an eye for the needy around us, our life becomes self-centred and callous. Jesus is asking his listeners to open their eyes to what is around them, and to open their ears to the simple commands of the Gospel: love your neighbour.
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels. May I respond to your call today. Teach me to recognise your hand at work in my daily living.
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.
We all know what it's like to have our daily routines disrupted by the nexpected—coffee spilled on our shirt just as we're walking into the office, coming down with the flu and having to stay home, a refrigerator that breaks down. In the end, things work out, but you could have done without the lost time and the added frustration!
Today's readings hit on a similar point. They tell us how we can best prepare for the unexpected: by staying close to the Lord and meditating on his ways.
In the first reading, Jeremiah cautions against finding our strength in flesh (Jeremiah 17:5). It's the one who trusts "in the Lord" who is blessed, not necessarily the person with a million Plan Bs (17:7). Then the responsorial psalm tells us that the person who "delights in the law of the Lord" receives a special blessing (Psalm 1:2). Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus tells a story about the rich man and Lazarus. Of all the people in the parables that Jesus tells, Lazarus is the only one to whom he gives a name—a name that means "God is my help." Lazarus, while materially poor, was spiritually rich because as his name suggests, he trusted that God would help him. And God did!
So are you blessed or cursed? You are blessed! The simple fact that you are reading this meditation right now shows that you are prayerful, that you want to ponder the Scriptures, and that you are seeking the Lord. At the same time, however, each of us has an element of the other type of person still at work in us. Trusting in God isn't a onetime deccision; it's a choice that we need to renew daily so that we can keep enjoying his blessing.
When things are going well for you, tell God, "Thank you!" When an unexpected trial comes your way, cry out, "Jesus, I trust you!" With each declaration, your faith will grow, and your heart will become more peaceful. With God at the center of your life, you will remain grounded, rooted, and safe—just like a tree that is "planted near running water" (Psalm 1:3).
"Father, thank you that no matter what happens, I can lean on you for support. Help me to see all the ways I can practice trusting in you today."
The Lord speaks "I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds." Merits, not a very good word in the protestant world. In the Catholic understanding, there are merits to be reckoned with. Merits of deeds. What are merits? A merit is like the reward of doing something good. That's what God speaks about today. And then refers to doing so as being planted by running water, and this often depicts the grace of God in your life. He isn't zoomed in on the negative, the "demerits". He is focused on the good of our lives. Everyone is good, and to what degree...this is the focus. To go above and beyond just being good. And we will learn of good deeds and merits in the Holy Gospel. But first, the Psalms. "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord". Whose hope you put in, there is where your heart is, there is where you'll spend everything you got as in the case of faith, as in the case of your life. "For the LORD watches over the way of the just, but the way of the wicked vanishes". If you are on the Way of Christ, the Lord watches over you, if not, then it simply means we have gone the other way...all on our own, by our own whims and fancies and likings and theologies, a set of beliefs, what we call religion. This comes into play in the Holy Gospel. Let us go to the Lord. In comes the Lord into our lives and brings up the name of Lazarus. Lazarus is a given name and surname. It is derived from the Hebrew אלעזר, Elʿāzār (Eleazar) meaning "God has helped". Indeed, when His friend died, Lazarus, the family came crying to Jesus, and this made Jesus cry. He had spent an extra two days to get to his friend, and now he had died. On the way, Jesus had said to the disciples "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." They believed Jesus was going on a suicide mission, going back to Judea because they were looking to stone Him. "Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, so that we may die with Him." Jesus arrives at about the 4th day to Lazarus. And says to Martha "Your brother will rise again". Nobody understood Jesus. The disciples didn't understand why He was going back and what He was saying. Martha didn't understand it when He said the brother would rise again. And Jesus stands outside the tomb and shouts "Lazarus, come out!". And out comes the dead to life. Why such many words on the "other Lazarus"? Because, Lazarus died in faith and in the love of Christ, for scripture says ""See how He loved him!" when He had wept, the Lord. It's the story of God in love with His friends and family, you and I. The story of the rich man focused on only himself all his life, living in the shade while Lazarus was burning in the sun, the Son was purifying him. This then is a complete and uttermost call to conversion. The story is now about you. Are you not worried about much except for yourself? Your feelings? Your problems? Your stomach? Your mind and not minding anyone else? Are you waiting for Lazarus to knock at your door when he can't? This is how I met an orphanage. The story is simple. I sought. I looked. And I found. Today, years later, we are still in contact. You should look outside. You should open your door. You should be, and how? Seek Jesus. The prisoners will not ask you to see them, it is hard to see them. Jesus is asking for us to turn inside out. Is this a suicide mission? To the faithless it is. The faithful, we would love to not live the way we have any more. Go from night to light. To not stumble and fall into hell. This story is a flashlight of Jesus offering Himself to the people. Because He sent Moses and the prophets. And even sent one to rise from the dead to proclaim the truth....Jesus. God sent Himself to you.
Hey! Look! This is what God wants! Listen! Come to the light of truth and eternal glory. I told a godson to be strong spiritually, and he said "I know, but it's hard". Is it hard? Is it so hard to tune out the world? Turn off the radio and tv and internet, and let God speak love. The superlong text reflections I get said of little kids trying to explain love and one said "Love is what is in the room in Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen". Today is the 25th. A month from now will be the 25th of March, Good Friday. Listen to the one who died for you. He speaks to a silent heart making room for Him, quieting for Him. And Lazarus rises from the dead. That's where God wants us, risen. Risen above what you think is all the world. Rise! That's what we are leading towards. Rising from death, from sin. Easter is all about having risen with Christ after this period of suffering for Him. God loves it when you love Him. What if I said, Lazarus is outside at your door right now? And every day here on after as he was yesterday?