Many people think that going to Mass each week is all they need to remain close to the Lord. But in order to have a close, personal relationship with Jesus, we must spend time with him every day. And that time is never wasted!
Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God's instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ. Details of his life are uncertain. Current research places his dates of birth and death a little later than earlier accounts. Patrick may have been born in Dunbarton, Scotland, Cumberland, England, or in northern Wales. He called himself both a Roman and a Briton. At 16, he and a large number of his father's slaves and vassals were captured by Irish raiders and sold as slaves in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold.
After six years, Patrick escaped, probably to France, and later returned to Britain at the age of 22. His captivity had meant spiritual conversion. He may have studied at Lerins, off the French coast; he spent years at Auxerre, France, and was consecrated bishop at the age of 43. His great desire was to proclaim the Good News to the Irish.
In a dream vision it seemed "all the children of Ireland from their mothers' wombs were stretching out their hands" to him. He understood the vision to be a call to do mission work in pagan Ireland. Despite opposition from those who felt his education had been defective, he was sent to carry out the task. He went to the west and north, where the faith had never been preached, obtained the protection of local kings and made numerous converts.
Because of the island's pagan background, Patrick was emphatic in encouraging widows to remain chaste and young women to consecrate their virginity to Christ. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils, founded several monasteries and continually urged his people to greater holiness in Christ.
He suffered much opposition from pagan druids and was criticized in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission.
In a relatively short time, the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe.
Patrick was a man of action, with little inclination toward learning. He had a rocklike belief in his vocation, in the cause he had espoused.
One of the few certainly authentic writings is his Confessio, above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.
There is hope rather than irony in the fact that his burial place is said to be in County Down in Northern Ireland, long the scene of strife and violence.
What distinguishes Patrick is the durability of his efforts. When one considers the state of Ireland when he began his mission work, the vast extent of his labors (all of Ireland) and how the seeds he planted continued to grow and flourish, one can only admire the kind of man Patrick must have been. The holiness of a person is known only by the fruits of his or her work.
"Christ shield me this day: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me" (from "The Breastplate of St. Patrick").
Lord, help me to be fully alive to your Holy presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.
Thank you for the gift of freedom, Lord. Grant that I may always choose to follow You. Keep me ever mindful of your ways. Of your love and concern for all people.
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 GN 17:3-9
When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him: "My covenant with you is this: you are to become the father of a host of nations. No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings shall stem from you. I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God."
God also said to Abraham: "On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages."
Responsorial Psalm PS 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations – Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
Verse Before The Gospel PS 95:8
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Gospel JN 8:51-59
Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." So the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
"Who do you claim to be?" The discussion about the identity of Jesus continues. This relentless questioning shows how important the issue is – then and now. But instead of leading to a meeting of minds, Jesus' arguments provoke his enemies even further. "They picked up stones to throw at him". His life is now in danger. Can you understand this hostility to Jesus? Note yet another "I am" statement: "Before Abraham was, I am". Jesus claims both pre-existence and to be one with God.
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.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day. (John 8:56)
Saint Patrick, Bishop (Optional Memorial)
There is a scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy's dog, Toto, pulls back a curtain to show that the terrifying wizard really is a pleasant, rosy-cheeked old man. Mounting tension goes away after his identity—and his goodness—is revealed.
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the Jews gathered in the Temple that their forefather Abraham had a special gift for seeing "beyond the curtain." Where everyone else thought God was punishing and fearsome, Abraham discovered how loving and trustworthy he was.
This close relationship between God and Abraham came about as God revealed himself to him and walked with him on the journey to the Promised Land. He blessed Abraham with a long-desired child, and he made a covenant, promising Abraham many descendants. And so, Jesus says, Abraham rejoiced, literally, he "exulted with joy," that he might see the day of the Lord.
Because of all the other promises God had fulfilled, Abraham expected to see God's promise of salvation come about. As Jesus describes it, Abraham's faith was equivalent to sight: "Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day" (John 8:56). In other words, he experienced the joy of Jesus' coming before it took place in time.
You might think it was easy for Abraham to have faith because he had experienced prosperity on earth. But remember that his wife, Sarah, was infertile for many decades before they had a child. And although Abraham was promised many descendants, he didn't live to meet most of them. He could have despaired, but his faith changed his outlook.
Not all of your prayers have been answered yet either. But God's salvation has come to you through Jesus. You can live with an outlook of faith just like Abraham, knowing that God will be victorious. This is not a happy delusion or a coping mechanism. It is meant to be the foundation for your whole life. Today, think about specific ways that God has loved you. Let this awareness enkindle a greater desire in you to see God's kingdom come. Your expectant faith will help you see beyond even the most difficult challenges, just as it helped Abraham.
"Lord, give me eyes to see your glory breaking through."
Abram heard God speaking...and he believed. The Lord told him "I will render you exceedingly fertile". Today the world is engulfed in followers and descendants of Abram now named Abraham, the host of nations. All the 3 major religions stem from him, maybe about 3 billion. Are you one of them? Are you a descendant of the Lord? Because Abraham in his and his wife's elderly years only had one child, how did this happen? My brothers and sisters, Jesus descended from Abraham too, the lineage of blood is now the blood of Christ from which we descend as His Holy Spirit descends. "On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages." Keep God's promise alive and you will live...forever. We pray the Psalms "The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly." God never forgets...His promise. Be strong in Him and with Him. Seek to serve, and this means not only leadership, but actually serving, opening doors, cooking, washing, tending, nurturing, serving, bathing, looking for Him and being with Him. Not once in while, but all the time, every day, every moment. This is being a promise keeper, to show the Lord's mercy, to be it as you partake of it, the promise of His Kingdom is good. In comes our Lord today "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." The same God that spoke to Abraham was speaking to the Jews and now is speaking to us "...whoever keeps my word will never see death." Keep His Word. In the book of John, it begins by saying that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was made flesh. Keep My Word. It's as if the Lord our God is saying "Keep My Son" in you hearts, mind, and soul. Keep My Word. They say in the bible that His Word is alive and active. They say that Love is ongoing, and it is a deep theological concept, that Love (Our God) is continuous action in Heaven, therefore, on earth for every bad action you see, you forget to see the billions of good actions of the Lord keeping His promise. G.K. Chesterton said it in peculiar way "The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." Later he would say"'If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments'. This is all to say that only one thing is necessary, and the Lord told Martha that Mary had chosen the better part...being with Him. For it is one thing to serve and another to be with Him. This then is how to keep His Covenant, which is meant to unite you and me to Him. We are His people and this means His flock. If today you hear His voice, don't ignore it, and don't live as you didn't hear it, but act on it, which means Love Him and keep His Word. That is why I tell people to always say yes to the Lord. This thought afflicted me this week. Scheduled to take the family on spring break, duty called, my gigs, funerals, one sudden death for a parish member's mom, and another death, a young man was shot dead in a jealous rage, and they have his body in our church for the funeral home had too many bodies. I was asked to sing at their funerals, and my answer is always yes, yet I had already said yes to my family. So, I did what I always do. I pray with my connection to God. And He leads the way. Yesterday was the first funeral, we practiced for two days for it, and I helped them learn the songs and then a spanish singer offered to help (and she knew all the songs). The Lord provides and makes clear the paths. I say this because your YES should always be a yes. Never say I "can't" because you are expressing your will. For the young man shot dead, I said "call this other choir guy and if not call me and I'll get someone else". I never said no, I would never leave my people alone, and God sings this to us "I will never abandon you or forsake you, even though your mother forgets you, I will never forget you" and that is His promise so long as we live. Now me and now you. Will you forget? Will you forget to be a living action of Love who is God? Will I forget to sin and remember to live in worship and adoration? Because the promise has endured thousands of years, and my few decades? What will they proclaim to the Almighty?