"Let peace be your quest and aim." — St. Benedict of Nursia
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "From this chance encounter faith was born. The Cyrenian, walking beside Jesus and sharing the burden of the cross, came to see that it was a grace to be able to accompany him to his crucifixion and to help him. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched his heart. Jesus, whose divine love alone can redeem all humanity, wants us to share his cross so that we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering (cf. Col 1:24)." — Pope Benedict XVI, p. 54-5 AN EXCERPT FROM Way of the Cross, p54-55
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Blessed James Oldo
You've heard rags-to-riches stories. Today, we celebrate the reverse.
James of Oldo was born into a well-to-do family near Milan in 1364. He married a woman who, like him, appreciated the comforts that came with wealth. But an outbreak of plague drove James, his wife and their three children out of their home and into the countryside. Despite those precautions, two of his daughters died from the plague, James determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God's realm on earth.
He and his wife became Secular Franciscans. James gave up his old lifestyle and did penance for his sins. He cared for a sick priest, who taught him Latin. Upon the death of his wife, James himself became a priest. His house was transformed into a chapel where small groups of people, many of them fellow Secular Franciscans, came for prayer and support. James focused on caring for the sick and for prisoners of war. He died in 1404 after contracting a disease from one of his patients.
James Oldo was beatified in 1933.
The death of those we love brings a troubling awareness of our own mortality. James had that experience when he gazed into a friend's grave, and it brought him to his senses. He determined to use whatever time he had left to build up treasures in heaven and to build God's realm on earth. Our time is limited, too. We can use it well or foolishly: The choice is ours.
I pause for a moment, aware that God is here. I think of how everything around me, the air I breathe, my whole body, is tingling with the the presence of God.
Lord, grant me the grace to be free from the excesses of this life. Let me not get caught up with the desire for wealth. Keep my heart and mind free to love and serve you.
How wonderful it is to be able to enter into your presence Lord. No matter what time it is. No matter which land I am in. I need only to speak your name.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Acts 11:1-18
The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers confronted him, saying, 'You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them." Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying, "I was at prayer in the city of Joppa when in a trance I had a vision, something resembling a large sheet coming down, lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me. Looking intently into it, I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth, the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky. I also heard a voice say to me, 'Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.' But I said, 'Certainly not, sir, because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time a voice from heaven answered, 'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.' This happened three times, and then everything was drawn up again into the sky. Just then three men appeared at the house where we were, who had been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man's house. He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying, 'Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, who will speak words to you by which you and all your household will be saved.' As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, 'John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?" When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, "God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too."
Responsorial Psalm PS 42:2-3; 43:3, 4 R. (see 3a) Athirst is my soul for the living God. or: R. Alleluia. As the hind longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for you, O God. Athirst is my soul for God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God. or: R. Alleluia. Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on And bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God. or: R. Alleluia. Then will I go in to the altar of God, the God of my gladness and joy; Then will I give you thanks upon the harp, O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 10:14 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 10:1-10
Jesus said: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers." Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ A good way to start my prayer is to settle down and become quiet, and then to listen as Jesus calls me by my name. Jesus is very personal. Think of his meeting with Mary of Magdala near the tomb on the first Easter Sunday and how softly he speaks the word 'Mary!'
▪ He loves me as he loved her, and he speaks my name with overflowing tenderness. My name in fact is written on the palms of his hands. (See Isaiah 49:16). I can imagine myself prising his hands open and discovering that it's true! There I am, in print!
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
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.
Imagine that you are a neurosurgeon in training, and one day when all of the seasoned doctors are absent, an emergency case arrives. You have to make a choice: operate and risk the consequences or wait and risk even more difficult complications.
In today's passage, Peter isn't performing brain surgery, but he does have to make a snap decision that will have lasting ramifications for the Church. Risking the consequences, he went against accepted Jewish practice and decided to include non-Jewish people in the Christian faith. Now he has to defend his actions.
Looking back, it's hard to believe that Gentiles (which most of us are) weren't always part of the picture. But it's true! Centuries of prejudice and distrust had built up toward the Gentiles. They were the "unclean," sinful peoples who had never received the Torah—not to mention, they had invaded, oppressed, and exploited the Jewish people for centuries. It took a dramatic work of the Holy Spirit to convince Peter to change the accepted approach.
For many of us, the thorny issue of Jewish-Gentile relationships is a foreign concept. Still, other prejudices can shape the way we treat people who are different from us. Maybe it's the way that a person talks or dresses. Maybe social or racial differences affect us. Perhaps a group of people has a different approach to worship—even within the Church. There is no lack of division among God's people!
Have you ever noticed that when you think about these people, you feel a little nudge to reach out and maybe even befriend them? It may be faint, and it may pass, but it's there. That's the Holy Spirit moving in your heart! He's helping you look past your personal biases to see these other people as brothers and sisters.
If you are finding it hard to accept someone who is different from you, try inviting the Holy Spirit to help you soften your heart. It's okay if you don't "feel" a change right away. Just keep asking the Spirit for his help, and you'll see changes over time. You'll find yourself becoming more patient and forgiving. The issues that once bothered you will slowly lose their sting. Stay close to the Spirit, and he will make a difference!
"Holy Spirit, come soften my heart. Bring unity among all your people."
my2cents: We heard the Word of the Lord today "'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.' This morning, I saw a worker, we shook hands, and his long pinky nail caught my attention, and I looked to another co-worker and said "looks like he gots you beat, look at his nail!" and the co-worker pulled out his long pinky nail. The fact is, I get grossed out by the long nails on men, I get the hibby jibbies. Something disgusting about people probably gets to you too. But look further, look at the Word of the Lord "'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.' God doesn't make trash...we do. We trash each other, and we put limits on people...thus on our Lord. I say this because of many reasons...and many of those keep us from Hearing His calling. And His calling is salvation. This means you are hearing other calls, other voices, leading other ways. Stay the way, the Way of the Lord.
We prayed today " Athirst is my soul for the living God. Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on And bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place." The biggest words here to me are " ...Your Light and Your Fidelity, they shall lead me on and bring me to YOUR Holy mountain". He is the leader. I am the follower. I am an instrument. I am nothing without Him, because without Him, there is no life, and life here means eternity, salvation, a basking in Love with the Father, your Father, our Father.
The Lord speaks, and the Words are of everlasting life: "Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture" This is why we are baptized with water, and then baptized in the Holy Spirit through the Holy Sacrament of Confirmation. And this is where Easter is leading us...to Pentecost. This is where the Cross of Lent is leading us to. And to find pasture means to find what we will graze on, what we will eat of, and He is offering His pasture, His watchfulness, and simply being His, because He said "...the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice." This voice is already speaking in your life. Listen to the Holy Spirit. It burns your heart, and the only way I can explain it is as a supernatural gravitational pull. My daughter asked me this weekend on Sunday "why are you back here again in your studio, why do you have to do this?" I told her that God was telling me to do this, that I was called to do it. It happens by Him showing the way, and I understand, and I follow. You shall not have other gods, you shall not follow other voices in your life. Because there are many ideals out there. In the cursillo, you learn the ideal. In life, our priority must be God above all and above everyone. Without this ideal, my being grossed out by long dirty nails wouldn't be changed within seconds to see the child of God. These people need me, and I need them. This is to need God. Lest I try to show up at the gate alone...and the gate is closed. Because there is righteousness atop the mountain, and this is justice, and this is truth. Because you can say what you wish about the Lord, but know this... HE IS ALMIGHTY. HE IS THE TRUTH. And just as the truth speaks now, realize His mercy awaits with His calling. If God is understanding and compassionate and merciful, why aren't you? If God is righteous and just, why aren't you? His staff and His rod probe us, take us away from the world to be His, this is our comfort. That is to say, let heartaches be the guides to Him. He will convert the aches to burnings inside your chest. Why? How can this vibrant life be? It just is. He is AMAZING. And we can Amaze Him, believe it or not. As if He's got your life all figured out, no, we are here to amaze God. Amaze Him by our fidelity, and the light we get from Him to transform the world around us for Him. Because He wants the world lit up, ablaze, on fire. Here's your torch....