Compassion is pure action issuing from purity of heart. It is carried along toward others by a force of generosity that is too complete, and too fulfilling for it to worry about what it is going to get in return. — from Sensing God
We go far back in history today to learn a bit about a saint whose name is not familiar to most of us in the West but who is celebrated by the Greek and other Eastern churches.
Born near Greece in the mid-4th century, Porphry is most known for his generosity to the poor and for his ascetic lifestyle. Deserts and caves were his home for a time. At age 40, living in Jerusalem, Porphyry was ordained a priest.
If the accounts we have are correct, he was elected bishop of Gaza—without his knowledge and against his will. He was, in effect, kidnapped (with the help of a neighboring bishop, by the way) and forcibly consecrated bishop by the members of the small Christian community there. No sooner had Porphyry been consecrated bishop than he was accused by the local pagans of causing a drought. When rains came shortly afterward, the pagans gave credit to Porphyry and the Christian population and tensions subsided for a time.
For the next 13 years, Porphyry worked tirelessly for his people, instructed them and made many converts, though pagan opposition continued throughout his life. He died in the year 421.
As I begin this prayer, God is present, breathing life into me and into everything around me. For a few moments, I remain silent, and become aware of God's loving presence.
Many countries are at this moment suffering the agonies of war. I bow my head in thanksgiving for my freedom. I pray for all prisoners and captives.
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
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Reading 1 Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons, for he was the child of his old age; and he had made him a long tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him best of all his sons, they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.
One day, when his brothers had gone to pasture their father's flocks at Shechem, Israel said to Joseph, "Your brothers, you know, are tending our flocks at Shechem. Get ready; I will send you to them."
So Joseph went after his brothers and caught up with them in Dothan. They noticed him from a distance, and before he came up to them, they plotted to kill him. They said to one another: "Here comes that master dreamer! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams."
When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from their hands, saying, "We must not take his life. Instead of shedding blood," he continued, "just throw him into that cistern there in the desert; but do not kill him outright." His purpose was to rescue him from their hands and return him to his father. So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry.
They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: "What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh." His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.
Responsorial Psalm PS 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
R. (5a) Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
When the LORD called down a famine on the land and ruined the crop that sustained them, He sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
They had weighed him down with fetters, and he was bound with chains, Till his prediction came to pass and the word of the LORD proved him true.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
The king sent and released him, the ruler of the peoples set him free. He made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
Verse Before the Gospel Jn 3:16
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son; so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
Gospel Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: "Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.' They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?" They answered him, "He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times." Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Lord, this parable is about the Jews, but also about me. I am the tenant of your vineyard. For me you have planted and protected a crop, and from me you expect some harvest. The fruit is for you, not for me. I may feel annoyed when you ask, but you are right to expect something of me.
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
He sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave. (Psalm 105:17)
It's not hard to see that God's viewpoint doesn't always match our own. The sons of Israel saw their brother Joseph, their father's favorite, as a threat to their status. So rather than try to work out their differences, they tried to get rid of him. But God had a different perspective: he saw Joseph as one sent ahead of his brothers to save them from famine.
Now God had even more in mind than the survival of these twelve brothers and their families. He used Joseph to save the whole region from destruction. Along the way, he also put an end to his siblings' competitiveness, to bring them to repentance for their murderous jealousy, and to bring about a true reconciliation.
The story of Joseph and his brothers aptly illustrates how narrow our vision of God can be. We petition him and thank him for supplying for our material needs, but we don't ask him to help us grow in compassion and holiness. This, we presume, is all up to us. Or we get to the point at which we are able to give up resentment and try to forget how someone has hurt us, but we don't ask God to help us make the next step toward actual reconciliation. Or we faithfully pray for the needs of our families and friends, but we think our prayers won't make any difference when it comes to world events like famine or war or injustice.
Don't let this happen! Remember who you are—a beloved child of God. You are important to him! He wants to do good things for you—and through you. He hears all of your prayers, even your "impossible" ones, and he answers them in his time and according to his wisdom.
God is constantly at work, not only saving individuals, but also restoring his whole creation to the beauty, peace, and fruitfulness he has intended for it. So take a step back today, and try to look at life from his perspective. Let this God-focused vision move you to pray the bigger prayers he delights in answering.
"Father, I know you love me, and I know you love your world. Help me see this world through your eyes of love so that I can pray more effectively."
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28 Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
my2cents: The first Holy Scripture remembers the story of a man of God, and they name Him Joseph, and as his brothers called him "the dreamer", he was despised. Joseph said many crazy things, and one day said he had a vision or dream that would make him ruler of all of them. This only added fuel to the fire. So they took him when he was sent to them. They took him to kill him and one said, don't kill him now like this, and still they took him down, into a hole in the earth. He was sold for some pieces of silver. His life was taken and sold, kind of like nowadays when babies are killed for some money and body parts sold for some money with the abortion industry. Joseph was unknowingly saved and became the savior of the whole of God's people. Joseph throughout all the suffering had remained faithful, praying while being locked up, still with the gift of the dream of God. Joseph would find his brothers come up to him later, and Joseph was not recognized. And Joseph would have mercy on their souls. Joseph now, is Jesus. Jesus is the truth. And just as Joseph was taken, sold for silver, had been put in the ground, an emptiness, and hell, and just as Joseph had mercy, so did Jesus, for the love of the Father, and the Father is God almighty. Keep this supposed "story" in mind as we travel in life. For if hindsight is 20/20, then today should be clear of the moral of the scripture. "Remember the marvels the Lord has done" we pray today. Funny, I heard this verse earlier on audio while taking the kids to school and thought they said "remember the models". And I was thinking of the model set before us, and the model is the life of Christ. Yes He does marvels but how soon we forget. One of the most perplexing issues I have with people and the Lord is that I seen Him work miracles and marvels in their lives and they do not see! And today God asks "remember!" Remember His wrath? No, remember His mercy! That which endures. His wrath has never lasted more than His mercy. So remember. Remember and care. For the moral of the story is the lack of compassion of the people of God, yet, the one chosen by God has compassion. Suffers a passion. And is passionately in love. You see a crazed killer on the loose that needs to be put down, and God sees a soul in need of a savior. You see? In comes our Lord of our lives: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?" See? See how God works? He works through compassion and obedience. In the world you will hear of wretchedness and evil. But how much do you pay attention to compassion and obedience? These two lead to mercy. "Therefore, I say to you,the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." Right before Mass last Sunday, a choir member that had been helping for a very long time, an "elder" said "you all are pushing me out" and went and sat down crying. Us in the choir looked at each other in disbelief. Nobody had said anything wrong or done anything wrong. She took things all as personal insult I guess, and sat out, while all the bad guys were left singing. Do you know how hard that was for me to watch as I had to try to lead and see her pouting and crying throughout the Mass? Do you realize how much of a battle these things are? Nobody knows. And the funny thing is, I can't reach her because her phone don't work. My daughter, as she got off my truck at school this morning, stumbled and fell to the ground and a lady helped her up. At the instant on the ground I looked into her eyes, and all I could do was watch her fall away and on the ground as someone else helped her. This is how I pray for that elder choir member to be helped, to get back on her feet, and keep being a beautiful child of God in unison and unity and harmony with the rest of us. We believe she left because we asked her to let little children sit in her spot at the front of the choir section, perhaps she felt pushed away. This whole story is so that you will realize one thing in your life...humility. This is the hardest thing of faith. The reason the brothers hated Joseph is because they couldn't accept him, and the fact that this was the beloved child of the father. The elders in the "church" hated Jesus to the point they wanted Him dead. They wanted the truth dead. How possessed are you when you don't want the truth, Jesus, in your life? And then, we fall away, pointing the finger, crying, as if you are the innocent one?
I say all of this in hopes that the truth is kind of getting under your skin. You know that person in your life that keeps nagging you about Jesus? Maybe it's time to actually listen to Jesus and stop preaching about Him. Maybe it's time this time, that the message applies to you and not "them". This is the case for every single person you ever put down. This is the case for every single time you shut down an opportunity to be with Christ. This is the case for every single time you are confronted with a decision to go with the flow, or simply follow the will of the Lord our Father. Because for hundreds of years people shot down the prophets. Killed the prophets, and no other place more than the Holy City of Jerusalem. They say that the Pope, Francis, has made many in the Church in Rome uneasy. Now they have to make room for the poor. Now places of authority are being challenged and questioned. Now they have to go out of their comfort zone. At the Renew workshop, the nun said that we have to be more welcoming (compassionate). For instance, we need more sliders in Church. Many sit at the end of the pews like book ends and do not let ourselves be opened up, won't let others have your spot, and so they have to awkwardly move around you to be able to get a seat in the Church. You see, we can be book ends ourselves. Sure we're there at church. Sure we say this and that. But we aren't sliders. We won't let others in. We aren't compassionate. Forget what happened to Joseph and the Lord thousands of years ago, for it is happening right here and right now. Will you let Jesus have your precious spot and treasure? Will you let that unnerving truth take a place in your life and let it grow? The moral of the story is one thing, a complete change of mind, heart, and soul. A transformation is being asked so that you will not remain stagnant but give fruit of life, and life here means eternity. God wants fruit for you and for all. Who will tend and serve and lay down their life for it to be so?
your brother in Christ our Lord and Savior, adrian