John Fisher is usually associated with Erasmus, Thomas More and other Renaissance humanists. His life, therefore, did not have the external simplicity found in the lives of some saints. Rather, he was a man of learning, associated with the intellectuals and political leaders of his day. He was interested in the contemporary culture and eventually became chancellor at Cambridge. He had been made a bishop at 35, and one of his interests was raising the standard of preaching in England. Fisher himself was an accomplished preacher and writer. His sermons on the penitential psalms were reprinted seven times before his death. With the coming of Lutheranism, he was drawn into controversy. His eight books against heresy gave him a leading position among European theologians.
In 1521 he was asked to study the question of Henry VIII's marriage. He incurred Henry's anger by defending the validity of the king's marriage with Catherine of Aragon and later by rejecting Henry's claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England.
In an attempt to be rid of him, Henry first had him accused of not reporting all the "revelations" of the nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton. John was summoned, in feeble health, to take the oath to the new Act of Succession. He and Thomas More refused because the Act presumed the legality of Henry's divorce and his claim to be head of the English Church. They were sent to the Tower of London, where Fisher remained 14 months without trial. They were finally sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of goods.
When the two were called to further interrogations, they remained silent. Fisher was tricked, on the supposition he was speaking privately as a priest, and declared again that the king was not supreme head. The king, further angered that the pope had made John Fisher a cardinal, had him brought to trial on the charge of high treason. He was condemned and executed, his body left to lie all day on the scaffold and his head hung on London Bridge. More was executed two weeks later.
Today many questions are raised about Christians' and priests' active involvement in social issues. John Fisher remained faithful to his calling as a bishop. He strongly upheld the teachings of the Church; the very cause of his martyrdom was his loyalty to Rome. He was involved in the cultural enrichment circles as well as in the political struggles of his time. This involvement caused him to question the moral conduct of the leadership of his country. "The Church has the right, indeed the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of man and his very salvation demand it" (Justice in the World, 1971 Synod of Bishops).
Erasmus said of John Fisher: "He is the one man at this time who is incomparable for uprightness of life, for learning and for greatness of soul."
As I begin this prayer, God is present, breathing life into me and into everything around me. For a few moments, I remain silent, and become aware of God's loving presence.
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit Lord, so that I may have inner freedom. Let your Spirit instil in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.
The Word of God
2 Kgs 24:8-17
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, just as his forebears had done.
At that time the officials of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, himself arrived at the city while his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who, in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive. And he carried off all the treasures of the temple of the LORD and those of the palace, and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel, had provided in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had foretold. He deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None were left among the people of the land except the poor. He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon, and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon the king's mother and wives, his functionaries, and the chief men of the land. The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon all seven thousand men of the army, and a thousand craftsmen and smiths, all of them trained soldiers. In place of Jehoiachin, the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:1b-2, 3-5, 8, 9
R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the corpses of your servants as food to the birds of heaven, the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. They have poured out their blood like water round about Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury them. We have become the reproach of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us. O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. Remember not against us the iniquities of the past; may your compassion quickly come to us, for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name's sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. Alleluia Jn 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'
"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ This is the grand finale of the Sermon on the Mount, a strong reminder that what counts is our interior life, our heart, and not our words. Jesus once more makes huge claims for himself: if I build my life on his word I can withstand the fiercest of problems and storms. Is there a word or words of Jesus that I consider the foundation of my life? I thank him for it, and ask him for his help.
▪ The people were astounded at his teaching, because he taught them with authority, not like the scribes. The same with us: we are moved by the words of persons of real integrity, rather than by beautiful rhetoric that is not backed by deeds. I pray for the grace of discernment and of purity of heart.
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?
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 7:21-29
Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
Do you know someone who has a collection of T-shirts in their closet? Maybe they are souvenirs from various events: races sponsored by local charities, music festivals, retreats, or volunteer activities.
What if someone went around wearing a shirt representing something he or she had never taken part in? It would be kind of awkward if someone walked up and said, "You were at that event? Tell me about it!" That wouldn't be very authentic, would it?
Jesus spoke about authenticity here at the close of his Sermon on the Mount. He told his listeners that simply "wearing the shirt" wasn't enough; their lives had to change as well. That still holds true today. Being a member of our local parish and attending Mass regularly are good things, of course. Hearing good teaching is also very important. But if the grace we receive from these things doesn't change our hearts, we are building on sand (Matthew 7:26).
That sounds awfully discouraging, doesn't it? But Jesus isn't trying to bring us down. Neither does he want us to obey him out of fear. No, he wants us to see that his commands offer us the most uplifting, exciting, and fulfilling way to live. He wants us to build our spiritual house on the solid rock of a life lived in his presence, a life guided by the power of his Spirit, a life in which good triumphs over evil and mercy triumphs over judgment. It's the devil who tries to convince us that following Jesus is a burden and a threat to our freedom.
"Wearing the shirt" of faith is not a burden; it's a privilege. It's what gives you a chance to do great things for the Lord. Every day can be a new opportunity to exercise that faith, to put his grace into motion. Today, you may feel called to pray for someone in desperate need. Or you may feel led to fast for an important intention. Or you may feel inspired to share your faith with someone who is lonely. The possibilities are endless, and each of them offers you a fresh experience of Jesus' joy and his love.
"Thank you, Jesus, for inviting me to love you and to be filled with your love and your grace."
my2cents: It was said that the young king was sinful, just like his previous kings. And it asks us today, who is your king, and who have been your kings? Because, in a tradition, you like to carry what was brought, all the festivals, all the lifestyles, the thoughts, and so forth. It is what makes you, but ...has it been built on sand? Soon, the Babylonians took over, ran out the young king and his family, and his offspring were made servants of the new kings. Your false peace will be asked for, and you will pay to the one who is providing false peace...the ways of the world, and the worldly prince of darkness.
We prayed today "For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us." Help us, O God our savior, because of the glory of your name; Deliver us and pardon our sins for your name's sake." Over and over it keeps asking in "his Name". I took a prisoner aside that had stabbed another and he bled to death, and I told him "you were an animal in the free world, a savage, and we are not called to be animals but human...when you go back out, when you get into a fit of rage, how will you combat the evil spirit? Will you even be able to pray?" I asked "what is the shortest and most powerful prayer if said with faith?" He didn't know. And he kept looking around, and another assaulting prisoner seemingly faithful Catholic now barged in and I asked him the same question. They couldn't answer. I said, it is the most Holy name of "JESUS". If you could only utter the word upon the moment of a worsening temptation that you can't even muster the strength to pray...pray it, do it and watch the power of His name. Notice...faith matters.
Today our Lord says words that confirm that very few will make it into His Kingdom ""Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven" and they ask "Didn't we do this and that, in your name?" and He responds "'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'. Ahh. There's a catch. I just explained the power of His name and taught it to prisoners and you, if you didn't know. But see that we can do powerful things with His name, but it wasn't us that did anything...it was His will and grace...we are nothing without His grace and mercy. Therefore, we must be graceful, full of grace and mercy. "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock." And I keep asking, what does "listen" mean? It means to do, it means to hear and act upon, and it means to take it to heart, not just read these words and move on, not to hear them and forget them, but to ACT on them, He actually said "Acts on them". Faith alone won't get you there. Action will, and actions without Him, impossible. Actions alone won't get you there. Piety is great, but without Action it is a loner. Study is great, but without Piety you could become an atheistic theologian. And a Pious study is good for nothing if not shared. Therefore, the Lord is asking for more. Often my prayers are "Lord, (I know you did this), please don't forget your servant". Because I merely act as a servant of the Lord when I provide the Lord to you. And I simply ask to be looked upon as His. This fear then is necessary. It is necessary because I am nothing without Him. And I hope every minute of your life knows this fact...He is everything and I have everything when I have Him...as everything.