Like the two criminals on either side of Jesus, our choice is between what we want and what is needed, between the will of our own desires and the will of God. To follow Christ means a willingness to surrender all, even to the point of losing one's life for God's sake. — from The Last Words of Jesus
Louise, born near Meux, France, lost her mother when she was still a child, her beloved father when she was but 15. Her desire to become a nun was discouraged by her confessor, and a marriage was arranged. One son was born of this union. But she soon found herself nursing her beloved husband through a long illness that finally led to his death.
Louise was fortunate to have a wise and sympathetic counselor, St. Francis de Sales, and then his friend, the Bishop of Belley, France. Both of these men were available to her only periodically. But from an interior illumination she understood that she was to undertake a great work under the guidance of another person she had not yet met. This was the holy priest M. Vincent, later to be known as St. Vincent de Paul.
At first he was reluctant to be her confessor, busy as he was with his "Confraternities of Charity." Members were aristocratic ladies of charity who were helping him nurse the poor and look after neglected children, a real need of the day. But the ladies were busy with many of their own concerns and duties. His work needed many more helpers, especially ones who were peasants themselves and therefore close to the poor and could win their hearts. He also needed someone who could teach them and organize them.
Only over a long period of time, as Vincent de Paul became more acquainted with Louise, did he come to realize that she was the answer to his prayers. She was intelligent, self-effacing and had physical strength and endurance that belied her continuing feeble health. The missions he sent her on eventually led to four simple young women joining her. Her rented home in Paris became the training center for those accepted for the service of the sick and poor. Growth was rapid and soon there was need of a so-called rule of life, which Louise herself, under the guidance of Vincent, drew up for the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul (though he preferred "Daughters" of Charity).
He had always been slow and prudent in his dealings with Louise and the new group. He said that he had never had any idea of starting a new community, that it was God who did everything. "Your convent," he said, "will be the house of the sick; your cell, a hired room; your chapel, the parish church; your cloister, the streets of the city or the wards of the hospital." Their dress was to be that of the peasant women. It was not until years later that Vincent de Paul would finally permit four of the women to take annual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It was still more years before the company would be formally approved by Rome and placed under the direction of Vincent's own congregation of priests.
Many of the young women were illiterate and it was with reluctance that the new community undertook the care of neglected children. Louise was busy helping wherever needed despite her poor health. She traveled throughout France, establishing her community members in hospitals, orphanages and other institutions. At her death on March 15, 1660, the congregation had more than 40 houses in France. Six months later St. Vincent de Paul followed her in death.
Louise de Marillac was canonized in 1934 and declared patroness of social workers in 1960.
In Louise's day, serving the needs of the poor was usually a luxury only fine ladies could afford. Her mentor, St. Vincent de Paul, wisely realized that women of peasant stock could reach poor people more effectively, and the Sisters of Charity were born under her leadership. Today that Order continues to nurse the sick and aging and provide refuge for orphans. Many of its members are social workers toiling under Louise's patronage. The rest of us must share her concern for the disadvantaged.
"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.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart the desire to know and love you more. May I respond to your will for my life.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings. Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Nm 21:4-9
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road, to bypass the land of Edom. But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, "Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us." So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, "Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live." Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Responsorial Psalm PS 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
R. (2) O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD, and all the kings of the earth your glory, When the LORD has rebuilt Zion and appeared in his glory; When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Let this be written for the generation to come, and let his future creatures praise the LORD: "The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die."
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Verse Before the Gospel
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live for ever.
Gospel Jn 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come." So the Jews said, "He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, 'Where I am going you cannot come'?" He said to them, "You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." So they said to him, "Who are you?" Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world." They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him." Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The discussion is quite heated. "You will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he". Again there is the reference to God's reply to Moses. This is even clearer in the Greek original which reads, "unless you believe that I am". Similarly further down: "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I am". Jesus hanging on the cross is the ultimate answer to the question "Who are you?"
▪ The readings of these days may need to be simplified when brought to prayer. You might take a single verse, or even a single phrase. For example, "The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone". Or sit quietly with the overall mystery of who Jesus is!
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another.
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.
If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.. (John 8:24)
"You can't handle the truth!" That's what Colonel Jessup tells a young lawyer during a tense moment in the movie A Few Good Men.
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus tells some of his enemies the truth, and they can't handle it: "If you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). His opponents have been testing him, calculating how they can best catch him off guard, but Jesus doesn't react in kind. Rather, he tells them plainly that they need him because he is the Messiah. Such a radical claim might have been too much to swallow, but that didn't stop Jesus. They had to know the truth, even if it filled them with rage.
Thank God this doesn't have to be our response! Rather, Jesus' words, even his uncomfortable ones, can fill our hearts with hope. Why the different response? Faith. It is the gift of faith that makes Jesus' words a blessing for us. Believing that he is "I am," the Savior and Redeemer, puts us on a new path. It changes the way we look at everything—our loved ones, our enemies, our challenges, ourselves—everything.
Jesus died and rose again to give us eternal life. This is the central truth of our faith. And this truth, unlike other facts like 2+2=4, isn't static. Like the current of a river, this truth runs swift and sure into the ocean of God's love. When we let ourselves get caught up in it, places in our lives where we once may have been discouraged or fearful are washed away. We sense God's presence. We know he has a plan for our lives, and we trust him more and more.
The truth that Jesus is your Savior can impact you every day. It can help you turn to him for help in all kinds of challenges. It can move you to seek his guidance and wisdom. And it can spur you on to share the great good news with everyone you know. May the truth of Jesus become the one truth that everyone can handle!
"Jesus, thank you for saving me. Thank you for the gift of faith. Help me to dive into the river of your living water today."
"We are disgusted with this wretched food!" they complained to Moses. Today's 5minutos keeps day after day on the story of the Prodigal son, and today's said towards the end: "However deeper into the labyrinth of my complaints, more and more I get lost, until in the end I feel like the most misunderstood person, most rejected and most despised person in the world. Of one thing I am sure: complaining is counterproductive. Every time I lament something with the hope of inspiring sorrow and receiving satisfaction I desire, the result is the contrary of the intent I desire. It is very hard to live with a person that is always complaining, and very few people know how to give response to complaints of a person that rejects themselves. What's worse than all is that generally, the complaint, once expressed, drives to what it was trying to avoid: more rejection." And in the case of the people of Moses, the people of God, the complaints aimed toward (unconsciously) a rejection of God. This my beloved, this is sin. To forget the gratefulness, to forget the deeds of mercy, then to remember mercy. The Psalms pray on and we pray "O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.""The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die." This day and the last two speak about looking upwards. Sunday: Philipians 3 "Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus." Monday: DT 13: "In the midst of the people the two elders rose up and laid their hands on her head. Through tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly." Today: NM21: "Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. AND the Gospel: ""When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM" When the Lord places his finger under your chin, He wants you to do two things: 1st, look up. 2nd, be fed. Look at what you are about to receive...salvation. Into the body, and into the soul. Looking upwards to the goal, looking upwards to salvation, that is what we look up to at the Cross, where this Man made by God and is God Himself says, "This is the way to love to Heaven!" Today, the Lord speaks to us, the Christ ""I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come." I remember recording this song (Going Away click to hear), the heart was wanting to cry, because, as I read this Gospel, I would reflect on the Lord ascending into Heaven. "Where I am going you can not come", it's like your daddy the one you love so much is going away, and all you can do is cry. The Lord says something we ought to realize "I belong to what is above." ... "You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world." This child, you, this child wants to be with its father. I want to be with our Father. My cries, my daily writings is so that we will engulf the world with the message, "let us go and die with Him"Jn.11:16, as St. Thomas once said when he realized the Lord Jesus was going to Jerusalem. Lent is all about this. It is a call to die. Die now and be ready. Last night I died a little more to the world, I went to the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation, (confession) and did penance for my sins. This is where you get to meet Jesus intimately. I sat in a chair in front of the church and confessed my sins to the whole world, my community and the Lord, and the Lord? Well, he made me cry again, but in a good way! LOL, I mean, the words rolling out of his tongue were like soothing balms that I would try to catch word for word because each was loaded with healing. I felt like the prodigal son or the adulterous woman, not for their same sins exactly but for straying from His way, from...looking upwards. As I sat in a prison retreat meeting Saturday, I had to leave to make another church meeting, but before leaving, I had to take a photo of a cross on the wall, hanging on a corner...the whole morning I had been glancing at it, because what calls my attention is a bronze statue of salvation...and it was the Lord having made Himself into our sinful selves without sinning but taking the abuse of sin and transforming it. This is what happened in my encounter last night. Because I, like you perhaps, have this abusive mentality. Am I verbally abusive? I like to think not, but am I a complainer? Am I abusive phsyically, do I hurt myself or others? I like to think not, but we do. We beat ourselves up emotionally, and that is why we live stressed out. The Lord soothed me. Should I be divulging the things that happen when I encounter the Lord Himself? Maybe I shouldn't, and why? So you'll want a taste of this. For the Lord was providing manna, bread from Heaven, and the people got tired of the same old, some ole, which is the complaint of those that fall away from the Catholic faith. They want to be progressive, they want something more. Well, for me, Jesus is enough, and the manna still here, as the priest (is the person of Christ) raises up on the altar the salvation, my eyes focus on what is happening within, within that bread, and within my heart. "I AM" is going away, and I am going to follow...then I swallow
here is the photo I took a pic on my phone Saturday.