"The most deadly poison of our time is indifference. And this happens although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise him to the greatest extent of our powers." — St. Maximilian Kolbe
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Jesus is nailed to the cross . . . Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at time of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart or to join others in mocking him." — Pope Benedict XVI, pp. 104-05 AN EXCERPT FROM Way of the Cross
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Born into an aristocratic family in Barcelona, Spain, Joachima was 12 when she expressed a desire to become a Carmelite nun. But her life took an altogether different turn at 16 with her marriage to a young lawyer, Theodore de Mas. Both deeply devout, they became secular Franciscans. During their 17 years of married life they raised eight children.
The normalcy of their family life was interrupted when Napoleon invaded Spain. Joachima had to flee with the children; Theodore, remaining behind, died. Though Joachima reexperienced a desire to enter a religious community, she attended to her duties as a mother. At the same time, the young widow led a life of austerity and chose to wear the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis as her ordinary dress. She spent much time in prayer and visiting the sick.
Four years later, with some of her children now married and younger ones under their care, Joachima confessed her desire to a priest to join a religious order. With his encouragement she established the Carmelite Sisters of Charity. In the midst of the fratricidal wars occurring at the time, Joachima was briefly imprisoned and, later, exiled to France for several years.
Sickness ultimately compelled her to resign as superior of her order. Over the next four years she slowly succumbed to paralysis, which caused her to die by inches. At her death in 1854 at the age of 71, Joachima was known and admired for her high degree of prayer, deep trust in God and selfless charity.
Joachima understands loss. She lost the home where her children grew up, her husband and, finally, her health. As the power to move and care for her own needs slowly ebbed away, this woman who had all her life cared for others became wholly dependent; she required help with life's simplest tasks. When our own lives go spinning out of control, when illness and bereavement and financial hardship strike, all we can do is cling to the belief that sustained Joachima: God watches over us always.
God is with me, but more, God is within me, giving me existence. Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence in my body, my mind, my heart and in the whole of my life.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instil in my heart a desire To know and love you more each day.
I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?
The Word of God
Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD— but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake— but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire— but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, why are you here?" He replied, "I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. But the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life." The LORD said to him, "Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus. When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram. Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 27:7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14 R. (8b) I long to see your face, O Lord. Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me. Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord. Your presence, O LORD, I seek. Hide not your face from me; do not in anger repel your servant. You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I long to see your face, O Lord. 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. I long to see your face, O Lord.
Alleluia Phil 2:15d, 16a R. Alleluia, alleluia. Shine like lights on the world, as you hold on to the word of life. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 5:27-32
Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.
"It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ This is not an easy text to deal with, especially in our times where relationships are so fragile and divorce so widespread. Experts differ in their interpretation: was Jesus expressing a precept or an ideal as he does in the other paragraphs? What is the meaning of 'except on the ground of unchastity'? It is certainly not within the scope of these notes to arrive at conclusions on this obscure point. But it must be obvious to even the casual reader that Jesus upholds the ideal of marriage as indissoluble.
▪ The Sermon on the Mount looks at our heart, from which our actions proceed as the fruits from a tree. In this perspective, personal integrity always comes first, even at very high personal cost. Lord, help me to be your disciple, whatever the cost.
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord. (1 Kings 19:11)
Elijah's life was in danger. After defeating the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he fled from Jezebel's wrath, which thundered on the horizon like a threatening storm. Weary and discouraged, yet poised at a new chapter in his prophetic ministry, Elijah needed to hear God's voice—and God's messenger promised that he would.
But it was only after Elijah had passed through the storm that he was able to hear God's voice in a "tiny whispering sound" (1 Kings 19:12).
Elijah's story offers some encouraging insight into how we can hear God speak to us. In our natural desire to avoid stressful or challenging situations, we may think that the only way to hear God's voice is in picturesque, quiet moments, when we are secluded and free to spend time with him in prayer or meditate on his word. Of course, those times are essential, but they are not the only way God speaks. And neither are they always the most effective way.
In fact, God often uses the storms of life to help us find his presence and his wisdom. Life is not picture-perfect. We know what it's like to feel buffeted by forces beyond our control and by situations that affect our work or health or our children and their future. Our foundation gets shaken by problems we can't fix, and that can unnerve us.
But there's always a hidden blessing in these tough situations: they can bring us to our knees. It's when we find ourselves nearing the end of our strength, as Elijah did, that we are more likely to listen for Jesus' still small voice. We sense that we need him in the midst of whatever storm is swirling around us.
The surprising thing about making it through storms is that we can look back and realize Jesus has been with us all along. He promised, "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age," and he is true to his word (Matthew 28:20). So whenever you are facing a storm, try your best to cling to Jesus. Believe that even in the midst of the turmoil, you can still hear his voice and know his presence.
"Jesus, help me to cling to you through the storms so that I can learn to hear you."
How did Elijah hear the voice of God? Strange because, already he knew what God wanted, he went everywhere God said all his life. He seemed to just know, so how is it that he was told to go to a mountain and wait for His voice? Truth is, we didn't read this part, Elijah was fleeing for his life, because they told him Jezebel was looking to have him killed. And we've only to see this all as a foreshadowing of the life of Christ and the prophets encompassed into Him. Herodias had St. John the Baptist killed, and now this Jezebel was looking to kill this man of God. Her husband, a jewish King was attracted to this woman that worshipped Baal. He was captivated by her attractiveness. And this is a sign for all of us that are led by feelings and captivated by our eyes and temporal means of discernment.
So Elijah had not heard the voice until he was told by the Word of the Lord ""Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." This then was a guidance by the Holy Spirit. And it is evident that standing on the mountain, we can see as Moses saw, and Abraham, and Jacob...God's marvelous deeds at work, first the winds, winds that blew in Genesis, were God's presence, and at times the winds of the earth are to prove what will remain. I remember in a little bitty town Saragosa, there suddenly a Tornado crashed the town, and the community building where many took refuge was destroyed and many were killed. They say a statue of the Virgin Mary remained standing, and a new church was built and that statue is still there. You see, what remains is the faith, the Truth. Everything else is passing, transitory, and temporal. Standing on the mountain with the Lord, the earth shook while He was on the cross, and the fires came, and His fire set the world on fire, Rome burned down and a new Rome arose. Purification then means everything, and that is why we believe in Purgatory. If I can not repent, God will purify...do it for us. That's how much He loves you. We prayed today " I long to see your face, O Lord." This is true for me and I hope for you. Don't you just yearn to see God? And you wait, through all these tests, and you wait, and you look, and nothing. We long to see Him right? And the faithful will, and this is a promise. The just will see, and the just are Holy. "Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me. Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks." What is your prayer then? For self, or for God? Because to wait for a whisper means so much, it means God will set you to move, get off the mountain and conquer. All this because He says to you today "Shine like lights on the world, as you hold on to the word of life." The Lord, the Son, the light of the world, He speaks today "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna." Everyone loves their body, most do anyway, and don't want to get any part of it hurt. That's why we wear shoes, and take care of the body, with nutrition, with bathing, with comfort. Yet, the Lord speaks about hurting the body? Tearing off limbs and organs that cause you to sin? What's that all about? It's the truth. Do we love the truth more than our bodies? Ahhh! That is the question. Most of the time in confession, the Lord in the priest, the Father says "remove yourself from the place of temptation". Rip it out! Get it out of your life! Get it out of your body! Get it out of...your soul! Remove the cause of sin, and if need be, mutilate your body! What extremes must the Lord go to for us to realize this truth? He goes to the extreme of having Himself mutilated for you. He gets His hands mutilated, torn through, He gets His feet torn through, and they tear through His chest and heart with a lance, but before, His skin was mutilated inch by inch. The cause? Our sin. The goal? To defeat the ultimate goal of sin...death. We are called to follow His footsteps in life. This life then, it is an opportunity to a life with Him and for Him...not me for me. And how hard is it to remove things from yourself that you are attached to? Very. You have to remove yourself, like Elijah, run from death, seek the Lord, get courage, and then go and defeat death. This means living a life of grace. The ultimate goal our Lord seeks in the Holy Gospel, it is to remain one with Him in totality and not partiality. Why should I be partial to Him in Spirit and full in body? It would be better to be partial in this body and full in His Spirit with my spirit. Because this life is passing, and His is everlasting. So long as the Son shines, life lasts. And so we are being called to a life of holiness. Last night I was asked last minute to give a testimony in our Ultreya gathering of cursillistas, those having lived a cursillo. I had nothing prepared so the Holy Spirit had to flow. I remember saying "there are two ways to look at the cross we carry...one is to focus on how heavy it is, our burden, our worries, our anxieties, our focus on the weight...or we can see it as our Lord did, love it, and love is what got Him up the hill to be crucified on that cross". They say love is stronger and gives strength. They said they did a test on newborn infants, one had food and the other did not, but the one without food had the loving touch of his mother, and the other did not. Which one started showing signs of deterioration? The one without the loving touch. Love propels and is stronger than the temporal. Therefore, love of the cross is much more and suddenly it becomes light. And the truth is light. I told a young man I had just met in daily Mass yesterday, "come to the ultreya". We went from feeding the Spirit, to feeding the body. Not really knowing his name I had already invited him to a cursillo. He went, and as we ate I said "I know you don't have family here in town, but look at this long table we are eating at, this is your family" and I laughed saying that my kids think these people are their relatives, even more than many of our real relatives. But the family of God is perennial, forever. We are united to Him in a supernatural way, and thus through Him, those that have gone to be with Him. Elijah eventually goes to be with him, mind, body, and soul. But that's only because already in this life he had given his mind, body and soul...A foreshadowing of Christ, a foreshadowing of Mary, a foreshadowing for you and for me, if we so much as believe, which means to do, which means to live this life of Christ........