"Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men, lashed as it were by God, do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient, Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips." — St. Peter Damian
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "God will forgive you if you forgive others. Forgiving those who cause offense or injury is often exceedingly difficult. And yet, forgiveness is one of the most beautiful and important teachings of Jesus Christ. It is central to the gospel because, without it, you can't go to heaven." — Patrick Madrid, p.21 AN EXCERPT FROM A Year with the Bible, p21
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Blessed Peter Gonzalez
St. Paul had a conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Many years later, the same proved true for Peter Gonzalez, who triumphantly rode his horse into the Spanish city of Astorga in the 13th century to take up an important post at the cathedral. The animal stumbled and fell, leaving Peter in the mud and onlookers amused.
Humbled, Peter reevaluated his motivations (his bishop-uncle had secured the cathedral post for him) and started down a new path. He became a Dominican priest and proved to be a most effective preacher. He spent much of his time as court chaplain, and attempted to exert positive influence on the behavior of members of the court. After King Ferdinand III and his troops defeated the Moors at Cordoba, Peter was successful in restraining the soldiers from pillaging and persuaded the king to treat the defeated Moors with compassion.
After retiring from the court, Peter devoted the remainder of his life to preaching in northwest Spain. He developed a special mission to Spanish and Portuguese seamen. He is the patron of sailors.
Peter Gonzalez died in 1246 and was beatified in 1741.
Dear Lord, help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world. Fill my mind with your peace, Your Love.
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
Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 8:26-40
The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, "Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route." So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, "Go and join up with that chariot." Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?" He replied, "How can I, unless someone instructs me?" So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the Scripture passage he was reading:
Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.
Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, "I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?" Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?" Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing. Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Responsorial Psalm PS 66:8-9, 16-17, 20 R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia. Bless our God, you peoples, loudly sound his praise; He has given life to our souls, and has not let our feet slip.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia. Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. When I appealed to him in words, praise was on the tip of my tongue.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia. Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 6:51 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 6:44-51
Jesus said to the crowds: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
The Father is drawing me always towards his Son: that is why I am now at prayer! I watch flower bulbs growing: they are drawn by the warmth of the sun. I watch children learning: they are drawn by the love of knowledge and truth. I watch people who have fallen in love: each is being drawn by the goodness of the other. I can also grow in sensitivity to the drawing of God in the depths of my heart. God is out ahead of me, drawing me forward into ever fuller development and deeper dimensions of loving.
Lord, I know that when I turn to you there is no need for words. You can see into my heart. You know my desires and you know my needs. I place myself into your hands.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Hearing about Philip's immediate response to the Spirit, some of us will think, "Yes! Philip has the secret—just do it!" Others may squirm uncomfortably, thinking, "I'm not one to take leaps of faith."
That's no surprise—God made us all different! You might have childhood memories of hesitating nervously at the edge of a swimming pool, or you might have been one of the kids dive-bombing in! And so you may experience different responses to Pope Francis' encouragement to be an evangelist: excitement, trepidation, or a mix of the two. At the root of our call, however, there are some things worth remembering.
First, God wants everyone. In New Testament times, Ethiopians were the embodiment of different. Not just their skin color, but their culture and their distance from Jerusalem led Jews to view them with suspicion. But the Holy Spirit turned that thinking on its head by calling an Ethiopian to the Church right from the beginning.
Second, God wants the good news to spread. The Spirit directed Philip to a fellow heading home to Ethiopia not only so that this man would experience the love of his Father but also so that he could go on to become an evangelist and bring the gospel to his home country. The news about Jesus needs to keep spreading today, whether it's across oceans or across the street.
Third, God's timing is impeccable. This isn't always as clear to us as it is in today's story, but God sends us where we need to be, at the time we need to be there, for the purposes of his kingdom. Philip saw an opportunity, and he ran with it (if you'll pardon the pun).
This third truth is vital. Without it, the first two can lead to either overzealous evangelization or extreme guilt for not measuring up. Are you struggling to muster the courage to strike up a conversation about faith with someone? Relax! God will open the door at just the right moment. In the meantime, just keep praying and keep guarding your peace. God will give you the opportunity in his good time.
"Lord, thank you for the example of your servants in the Bible. Help me to rely on your grace as I try to share your good news."
my2cents: They say there is a new revolution beginning, and it is the counter to the "sexual revolution" that was supposedly launched back in the late 1960's. They say that men are beginning to realize the truth about the atrocities of filth in their lives, and how horrible it has turned women into objects and so forth. And so let us persevere in the fight for purity, because then, castrated (stripped of the sexual idealism), we will be found like the eunuch, open to the Word of God, not open to the various gods the world offers. And he was asked ""Do you understand what you are reading?", and in humility he said "how can I unless someone explains". And so, St. Philip is considered a priest of the Holy Church. Remember your priests, tend to them, and be open to what they say. I've heard one man say about a priest's Homily "I disagree with what he said"...yet the Lord speaks. Pray for your priests though, because many of us are open to the Lord, and the sheep need to be fed the truth of the Lord and the truth will burn our hearts, and the burning is to purity, away from the ways of the world and into HIS world, HIS Life.
We pray today "Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. Bless our God, you peoples, loudly sound his praise" You know LOL stands for laughing out loud, but in this case it is LIVE Out Loud, proclaim the faith, and if you have none, then the solution is simple...ASK HIM FOR IT. "He has given life to our souls, and has not let our feet slip." Life doesn't stop just because you stop. Life goes on. Life is awaiting. And Jesus is the LIFE.
In comes the Lord of our lives ""No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day." You think you sought God? You think you yourself brought you to read this today? Nay. It was the Lord who drew you to Him. And guess what? He is working His part and has done HIS part to raise you up on the last day. Life is waiting, and Jesus is the Life. "They shall all be taught by God." It wasn't St. Philip, it isn't the Priest teaching, it isn't me doing the teaching, it is the LORD! Be ecstatic! We have the world's greatest teacher, CHRIST! "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world." When the Lord said this, many turned away, they were turned off, because they understood they had to eat His body and blood. Everything He had said, all the signs He had performed they enjoyed and believed, but when He said "this is my Flesh", they said "this is too much". We then limit God when we do not believe. People believe scientists, just mortals, they believe smart people in the world, but will not trust what the Lord says. People believe there is a chance of life out in the Universe, but they believe there is no chance of a living God and Him living among us and calling us and loving us and calling us. How remote have you set Him? Because if anything He has never moved. He is calling upon a movement. A revolution. A metanoia (change of heart mind and soul). Life is turned upside down and shakes us up to wake up. God is doing this and why? Because He loves us. There is no other god in the world that Loves to death and beyond and forever and still living among us. What awaits is a world in anticipation of our lives, as if they are waiting "what will he/she do next?" and all in hopes for a movement towards the Lord. This revolution is on for purity of heart, mind, and soul. Dedicated and Consecrated, a life all for HIM and FOREVER!