"Go forth and set the world on fire." — St. Ignatius of Loyola
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"He loved her so exceedingly, with a love like what the heavenly spirits feel for each other, and would have readily given his heart's blood for her: and as yet he knew not her incomparable dignity! Yes, he loved her exceedingly, and we may hold for certain that Joseph, as he was the first, so was he the most devoted servant of Mary." — Edward Healy Thompson, p. 149 AN EXCERPT FROM The Life & Glories of Saint Joseph, p149
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Blessed Oscar Arnulfo Romero
The night before he was murdered while celebrating Mass, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador said on the radio: "I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police, and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says 'Do not kill!' should prevail.
"No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is the time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin. . . . Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: 'Cease the repression!'"
Simultaneously, Romero had eloquently upheld the Gospel and effectively signed his own death warrant.
When he was appointed archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, Bishop Oscar Romero was considered a very "safe" choice. He had served as auxiliary bishop there for four years before his three years as bishop of Santiago de Maria.
Oscar's father wanted him to be a carpenter—a trade for which he demonstrated some talent. Seminary classes in El Salvador preceded his studies at Rome's Gregorian University and his ordination in 1942. After earning a doctorate in ascetical theology, he returned home and became a parish priest and later rector of an interdiocesan seminary.
Three weeks after his appointment as archbishop, Romero was shaken by the murder of his good friend Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, a vigorous defender of the rights of the poor. Five more priests were assassinated in the Archdiocese of San Salvador during Romero's years as its shepherd.
When a military junta seized control of the national government in 1979, Archbishop Romero publicly criticized the U.S. government for backing the junta. His weekly radio sermons, broadcast throughout the country, were regarded by many as the most trustworthy source of news available.
Romero's funeral was celebrated in the plaza outside the cathedral and drew an estimated 250,000 mourners.
His tomb in the cathedral crypt soon drew thousands of visitors each year. On February 3, 2015, Pope Francis authorized a decree recognizing Oscar Romero as a martyr for the faith. His beatification took place in San Salvador on May 23, 2015.
Archbishop Oscar Romero and many other Latin American martyrs for the faith were falsely accused of advocating a Marxist-inspired "theology of liberation." Following Jesus always requires choices. Romero's fiercest critics conveniently dismissed his choices as politically inspired. An incarnational faith must be expressed publicly.
In concluding his homily during the Mass where he was gunned down, Archbishop Romero said: "May this body immolated and this blood sacrificed for [humanity] nourish us also, so that we may give our body and our blood to suffering and to pain—like Christ, not for self, but to bring about justice and peace for our people."
It is always nice to be in the presence of friends. When I come into your presence, O Lord, I know I am in the presence of my Creator. You created me out of Love. You even know the amount of hairs on my head. Your presence, O Lord, is the greatest of all.
"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.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Pt 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.
Responsorial Psalm PS 111:1-2, 5-6, 9 and 10c R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart in the company and assembly of the just. Great are the works of the LORD, exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He has given food to those who fear him; he will forever be mindful of his covenant. He has made known to his people the power of his works, giving them the inheritance of the nations.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He has sent deliverance to his people; he has ratified his covenant forever; holy and awesome is his name. His praise endures forever.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia 2 Cor 8:9 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 10:17-27
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." He replied and said to him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the Kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For men it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus does not invite us to mediocrity. He asks everything, but he asks it with great love. The young man has clearly been leading a respectable life, but it is not enough. Imagine being in this man's shoes. How would you react to what Jesus asks? What does this reaction tell you about your spiritual life?
In the closing words of the passage, Jesus makes it clear that own efforts can never put us in possession of eternal life. What we cannot do, Christ has done for us, and does in us. We pray for the grace to reject what stands between us and him and surrender ourselves to him, so that eternal life will enter into us here on earth.
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?
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.
A man ran up and knelt down before him. (Mark 10:17)
Kneeling before another person is a very meaningful gesture. As a sign of respect, Catholics kneel before the Tabernacle. Knights and peasants kneel before the king to show him honor. Losing parties on the battlefield kneel before the victors as a sign of submission. A man kneels in humility when he is proposing marriage to the woman he loves. Even football receivers kneel to their opponent to concede disputed territory rather than get tackled.
The rich man knelt before Jesus, fully intending to embrace his instructions. But it took just one brief discussion for Jesus to get to the heart of the matter. The rich man was not yet willing to walk away from his many possessions and follow Jesus. For all his respect for the "Good teacher," he did not yet see Jesus as someone worth giving up everything for (Mark 10:17).
In contrast, the first reading shows us Peter who, though imperfect, understood how worthy Jesus is. This is the same man who knelt before Jesus at the start of their friendship, then walked away from a miraculous—and lucrative—catch of fish to follow him (Luke 5:8-11).
Of course, Peter's faith had ups and downs. Many were the times when he bumbled his way through challenging or confusing situations. But Jesus saw the love in Peter's heart. Similarly, when we kneel before the Lord, we know there will be times when we will stumble. But we also know that this should not keep us from trying our best to submit to him.
The rich man was looking for a guarantee of salvation based on his accomplishments. But Jesus was looking for the kind of submission that is based on trusting in him and the power of his grace to keep us safe. He was looking for a submission similar to Peter's: "Lord, I am just a sinful man; I don't know that I could ever measure up, but I want to try."
"Jesus, I want to follow you with all my heart. Nothing compares to your love, your mercy, and your goodness. Please come and make up what is lacking in my efforts. Lord, I trust in you!"
What most powerful words come from Saint Peter, the rock. And why is he called the rock? Petra was Greek for rock, and our Lord called Simon "Petra" which we know as Peter. And we heard from the rock on which the Lord founded His Holy Church "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you" This inheritance you DID NOTHING to deserve. Because later we will read a rich man ask the Lord "What Must I DO to inherit eternal life?" and that is the question we face this day. Because every day we should be thinking about our salvation and the salvation of every soul around us, and not just thinking but acting on it, as if tomorrow were not guaranteed, and it is not. Today, we will have a vigil for a parishioner, I ask for your prayers because he was not that old, and his son is about to graduate in a few days. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, this is what makes life precious. And so we must trust and trust is faith and faith is a gift from God.
We prayed today "The Lord will remember his covenant for ever", and this is of utmost importance. Because if the rich man had realized what he was being asked for, he would not have walked away sad. If you would realize for yourself what is being asked of you today, you should not walk away the same as you came in. This is the case for any encounter with the Lord, in Holy Mass, in reunions for the Lord, even a small prayer gathering. All we have right now then, is the promise of God. Right? Is that ALL we have? On Sunday we celebrated the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all being one. Is it so hard to believe that God can be all three? As Monsignor Bridges recalled a story and in it said: "I can explain it...but you wouldn't understand!" LOL.
In comes the Lord of our lives, "No one is good but God alone." Isn't that a big deal? Isn't this God talking? Sounds to me it was a direct question to a Jewish Rabbi. Perhaps this is how they directed themselves to the Rabbis, but Jesus was not just any "teacher". Jesus was pointing higher, he wanted the rich man to strive deeper. Already was the rich man being corrected with loving care, and the truth struck him down. Jesus offered Heaven, just as the man asked for, and the man walked away...it costs too much.
It costs too much...all you invested in all your life. It costs too much...all your inheritance given by your mother and father. It costs too much...who would you depend on from then on? And we don't have to speak merely of temporal things, superficial things, to have many things, but your attachment to them. For some, it is impossible to give up your loves to follow God. It is impossible to miss that game, that fishing trip, that family outting, that job you have to take. It is impossible to get up in the morning on Sunday. It is impossible to believe we have to live a life of gratitude, and it is true, because living a life of grace is gratitude in and of itself. You shouldn't be asked to be thankful, it should come from your heart. Now we are speaking to the heart, aren't we? Now the truth is starting to set, isn't it? Who said "Stop defrauding" today? It was your God...wasn't it? Who said "sell all you have and give to the poor?" It was the truth speaking, the Spirit of God. All in hopes for a ray of salvation to strike the fertile soil of your heart, and from there sprout life...eternal. God doesn't want your house. He has no need of it. But your family member wandering the streets may need a room. You got room in your home? Jesus doesn't need your car, he has no need for that junk, He travels the universe in a blink of an eye, but your neighbor may need a ride. God doesn't ask for your children. He has no need for angels, for He has myriads upon myriads of angels to serve Him and love Him. It then becomes an offering of humility. Ahh, now we are getting to the heart...aren't we? God doesn't need you to be in Heaven....yikes! Rich man, rich woMan, can you hear me now?
Doesn't that strike at the heart? "OH Adrian you shouldn't say that!". Will you turn away from Jesus with a long face? The long face is the face of hell. "Adrian you should be more mushy". No! The world needs the truth! The world needs to see Jesus in action. Because the rich man wanted to know "what to DO", and Jesus told him what TO DO, and the rich man couldn't do it. How hard is your faith now? Hard hearts take note. If I am going to serve the Lord, let it be with my whole heart. Because the rich man wanted to see what he had to do to get to Heaven, and Jesus asked for his heart. I have been left alone to sing at a prison cursillo retreat coming up this Father's day weekend. People have abandoned me. When Jesus said "this is my flesh" in the Eucharist, people turned away and left him...eternity left behind. I have led cursillos where men turned their backs on me and left me alone.
I have led other ministries where most often I am abandoned. Many a times I wonder what am I doing wrong. I have this thing where I believe I have been too rich. I hate it. I now seek to exalt Jesus. Jesus in my brothers and sisters. Jesus in the needy. And we all need Jesus. Because His Spirit is well and is alive. And so Jesus says do things. Do this in rememberance of Him...be thankful. Receive the gift of faith. Receive it with open hands and an open heart. Life is rushing by and there is a place where time stops...it is with Him. And new things start from there on....