"Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little. Remember that he of whom you are speaking is your brother, and as he is in the way of salvation, God can make him a saint, in spite of his present weakness." — St. Thomas of Villanova
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St. Julie Billiart
Born in Cuvilly, France, into a family of well-to-do farmers, young Marie Rose Julie Billiart showed an early interest in religion and in helping the sick and poor. Though the first years of her life were relatively peaceful and uncomplicated, Julie had to take up manual work as a young teen when her family lost its money. However, she spent her spare time teaching catechism to young people and to the farm laborers.
A mysterious illness overtook her when she was about 30. Witnessing an attempt to wound or even kill her father, Julie was paralyzed and became a complete invalid. For the next two decades she continued to teach catechism lessons from her bed, offered spiritual advice and attracted visitors who had heard of her holiness.
When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, revolutionary forces became aware of her allegiance to fugitive priests. With the help of friends she was smuggled out of Cuvilly in a haycart; she spent several years hiding in Compiegne, being moved from house to house despite her growing physical pain. She even lost the power of speech for a time.
But this period also proved to be a fruitful spiritual time for Julie. It was at this time she had a vision in which she saw Calvary surrounded by women in religious habits and heard a voice saying, "Behold these spiritual daughters whom I give you in an Institute marked by the cross." As time passed and Julie continued her mobile life, she made the acquaintance of an aristocratic woman, Françoise Blin de Bourdon, who shared Julie's interest in teaching the faith. In 1803 the two women began the Institute of Notre Dame, which was dedicated to the education of the poor as well as young Christian girls and the training of catechists. The following year the first Sisters of Notre Dame made their vows. That was the same year that Julie recovered from the illness: She was able to walk for the first time in 22 years.
Though Julie had always been attentive to the special needs of the poor and that always remained her priority, she also became aware that other classes in society needed Christian instruction. From the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame until her death, Julie was on the road, opening a variety of schools in France and Belgium that served the poor and the wealthy, vocational groups, teachers. Ultimately, Julie and Françoise moved the motherhouse to Namur, Belgium.
Julie died there in 1816. She was canonized in 1969.
Julie's immobility in no way impeded her activities. In spite of her suffering, she managed to co-found a teaching order that tended to the needs of both the poor and the well-to-do. Each of us has limitations, but the worst malady any of us can suffer is the spiritual paralysis that keeps us from doing God's work on earth.
The more we call on God the more we can feel God's presence. Day by day we are drawn closer to the loving heart of God.
"In these days, God taught me as a schoolteacher teaches a pupil" (Saint Ignatius). I remind myself that there are things God has to teach me yet, and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God
Friday of the Second Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 5:34-42
A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time, and said to the Sanhedrin, "Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God." They were persuaded by him. After recalling the Apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.
Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 4, 13-14
R. (see 4abc) One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or: R. Alleluia. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or: R. Alleluia. One thing I ask of the LORD this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or: R. Alleluia. I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord.
or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Mt 4:4b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 6:1-15
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world." Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ This scene provides a revelation of the sort of person God is! Our resources are never enough, but God has limitless resources, enough for us to do what God wants done.
▪ Jesus reveals the God of abundance, but notice that the focus is on the poor and the needy, not on making rich people richer. Jesus needs my help in caring for those at the bottom of the human pyramid. This is the theme of Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si.
Dear Lord, stay by my side always. Gain for me a trusting heart. Thank you for loving me.
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.
They left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. (Acts 5:41)
It's easy to imagine superheroes winning battles using their superhuman strength and speed, but can you imagine beating your opponents with superhuman joy?
This is the situation in today's readings. Members of the Sanhedrin were frustrated by how unstoppable the apostles seemed. They had them thrown in jail, but an angel released them, and they went right back to preaching at the Temple. When they were brought once more before the council, the elders were wringing their hands: how do you stop a group of people who seem genuinely happy, no matter what happens to them? Not even a flogging could defeat their spirits!
The apostles rejoiced that they could suffer in imitation of their Master, and then they continued preaching—even in the Temple. Again!
Where did this joy come from? And even more to the point, how can we get some of it? Here is a three-step process that may help.
First of all, try your best to be as courageous as the apostles were. As you do, you'll find the Holy Spirit giving you a new energy and excitement. That's the beginning of joy.
Second, keep your mission in the forefront of your mind. Even when you're washing dishes at home or building a spreadsheet at work, remember that you are here to witness to Jesus. The more you keep this perspective, the more you'll rise above minor distractions and road bumps.
Finally, don't let hardship get you down. Keep moving forward, remembering that Christ is in you, no matter what happens. Even if fulfilling your mission causes you some suffering, he is still there to give you all that you need to put one foot ahead of the other.
Superhuman joy may seem unattainable, but remember the apostles' story. You can be just as joyful if you work toward the goal. Flex your "joy muscles" a little more every day so that you can grow stronger and stronger. Before you know it, you'll be smiling even in the midst of the greatest of challenges!
"Lord, help me find the path to joy. Help me stay focused on you so that I can learn to rejoice in all things."
my2cents: Let's hear some of the words of the Lord from the first Holy Scripture: "So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.". When you encounter the Lord and you live the life of grace, this is exactly what happpens, suffering for Him are a way of life, it is like super cool to live a life like this, the life of Christ, and it stems from something out of body, something out of this world, something that is in the world, but not of the world, and funny thing is, it is Him who created the world! Nothing can keep you from the Love of God, and what we learn soon is that we must realize obstacles to a life of grace the keeps you from this super joy, super life, a life of a saint that can be realized in each one of us. We prayed today the Psalms, the life of Christ " One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord." Ahh, yes, from yesterday's revelation, the Holy Scriptures bring it out. It seeks to help you program your life to what is to come...the dwelling of the Lord, the dwelling in the Lord, for this, THis is Heaven...to dwell in Him! "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid?" Just tell the Lord what you are afraid of. What do you have to lose in believing in Him? WHAT? What is there? Because your doubts are killing you. Because that's the only thing evil gots on you, doubt and despair, a life of obstacles to a life of Grace! In comes the Lord, the sweetness and joy of our lives! ""Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" And the song goes "Oh, How He loves us OH!" Another scripture mentions at this time that He looked at them with pity, with mercy. He knew they were hungry. He knew they were starving. He knew they needed to be filled, and for those that followed Him on the journey, He had them recline, sit down, and then, He began the feeding through His shepherds, the priests. Life begins with new energy when He is feeding us. He feeds thousands of people. It's not an easy task nowadays, it must've been a daunting task back then. And the task is given, the mission. And He disappears. The hidden clues are given in the Gospel. And not so hidden if you just take the time to digest the Word. He asks "Where can we buy enough food" and they look into their pockets. NOOO. Don't look into your pocketbooks. Mother Angelica didn't do that, and today's saint didn't do that to begin a task, a mission, an assignment from the Lord, for they had nothing. Listen to the question, it wasn't "how much money we got?" as if there were local vendors following them to cater to everyone, the thousands and thousands flocking at a moment's notice. No, the question was "WHERE can we get food?" Don't look at your pocketbook. WHERE Then? Only look to HIM. That is where.
Sit down now. The Lord is about to conquer the world in the Passover and the meal, the sacrifice of the lamb, and the people to eat. The Lord will provide. He provided the lamb. The perfect, unblemished and Most Holy. That would be where to find salvation. And Jesus gives thanks. That's the second and perhaps most important clue. Giving thanks. This is a life of holiness. Eucharist means thanksgiving, to give thanks. It's an appreciation, a true gratefulness, a true laying down of one's life for Him. When they recline, they lay down. They lay down their lives and He lays His. Thank you. This is Heaven. This is when Heaven and glimpses of eternity happen. A thankful person is a giving person. They live a life of blessings, and this means giving and receiving from giving. There is much given when you teach and preach the Gospel. There is much given when you feed the hungry. There is much given when you stand up for the unborn. There is much given when you visit and love the forgotten. There is much given when you give your life.
One thing I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord. Ahh, YESS