"Whatever you do, think not of yourself, but of God." — St. Vincent Ferrer
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"And so, in the redemptive economy of grace, brought about through the action of the Holy Spirit, there is a unique correspondence between the moment of the Incarnation of the Word and the moment of the birth of the Church. The person who links these two moments in Mary: Mary at Nazareth and Mary in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. In both cases her discreet yet essential presence indicates the path of 'birth from the Holy Spirit'. Thus she who is present in the mystery of Christ as Mother becomes—by the will of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit—present in the mystery of the Church. In the Church too she continues to be a maternal presence, as is shown by the words spoken from the Cross: 'Woman, behold your son!'; 'Behold your mother.'"
— Pope St. John Paul II, p. 94 AN EXCERPT FROM Mary: God's Yes to Man, p94
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The Church is fortunate that Irenaeus was involved in many of its controversies in the second century. He was a student, well trained, no doubt, with great patience in investigating, tremendously protective of apostolic teaching, but prompted more by a desire to win over his opponents than to prove them in error.
As bishop of Lyons he was especially concerned with the Gnostics, who took their name from the Greek word for "knowledge." Claiming access to secret knowledge imparted by Jesus to only a few disciples, their teaching was attracting and confusing many Christians. After thoroughly investigating the various Gnostic sects and their "secret," Irenaeus showed to what logical conclusions their tenets led. These he contrasted with the teaching of the apostles and the text of Holy Scripture, giving us, in five books, a system of theology of great importance to subsequent times. Moreover, his work, widely used and translated into Latin and Armenian, gradually ended the influence of the Gnostics.
The circumstances and details about his death, like those of his birth and early life in Asia Minor, are not at all clear.
A group of Christians in Asia Minor had been excommunicated by Pope Victor I because of their refusal to accept the Western church's date for celebrating Easter. Irenaeus, the "lover of peace" as his name indicates, interceded with the pope to lift the ban, indicating that this was not an essential matter and that these people were merely following an old tradition, one that men such as Saint Polycarp (February 23) and Pope Anicetus had not seen as divisive. The pope responded favorably and the rift was healed. Some one hundred years later, the Western practice was voluntarily adopted.
A deep and genuine concern for other people will remind us that the discovery of truth is not to be a victory for some and a defeat for others. Unless all can claim a share in that victory, truth itself will continue to be rejected by the losers, because it will be regarded as inseparable from the yoke of defeat. And so, confrontation, controversy and the like might yield to a genuine united search for God's truth and how it can best be served.
A group of Christians in Asia Minor had been excommunicated by Pope Victor I because of their refusal to accept the Western church's date for celebrating Easter. Irenaeus, the "lover of peace" as his name indicates, interceded with the pope to lift the ban. Irenaeus indicated that this was not an essential matter and that these people were merely following an old tradition, one that men such as Saint Polycarp (February 23) and Pope Anicetus had not seen as divisive. The pope responded favorably and the rift was healed. Some 100 years later, the Western practice was voluntarily adopted.
I pause for a moment and reflect on God's life-giving presence in every part of my body, in everything around me, in the whole of my life.
Everything has the potential to draw forth from me a fuller love and life. Yet my desires are often fixed, caught, on illusions of fulfillment. I ask that God, through my freedom may orchestrate my desires in a vibrant loving melody rich in harmony.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings. Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
Reading 1 Am 3:1-8; 4:11-12
Hear this word, O children of Israel, that the LORD pronounces over you, over the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt:
You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from its den unless it has seized something? Is a bird brought to earth by a snare when there is no lure for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground without catching anything? If the trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If evil befalls a city, has not the LORD caused it? Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants, the prophets.
The lion roars— who will not be afraid! The Lord GOD speaks— who will not prophesy!
I brought upon you such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: you were like a brand plucked from the fire; Yet you returned not to me, says the LORD.
So now I will deal with you in my own way, O Israel! and since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 5:4b-6a, 6b-7, 8 R. (9a) Lead me in your justice, Lord. At dawn I bring my plea expectantly before you. For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you; the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord. You hate all evildoers; you destroy all who speak falsehood; The bloodthirsty and the deceitful the LORD abhors.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord. But I, because of your abundant mercy, will enter your house; I will worship at your holy temple in fear of you, O LORD.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
Alleluia Ps 130:5 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I trust in the LORD; my soul trusts in his word. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 8:23-27
As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?"
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ 'Lord save us, we are perishing!' We are feeling swamped by the waves, while God apparently sleeps, not really interested or aware of our lot. I let my look rest on the desperate situations in my present life, or that of the world, and let this cry well up from the depths of my heart.
▪ 'Why are you afraid, you of little faith?' As that other man we meet in the Gospels, I beseech Jesus, 'Help my little faith, so weak yet so trusting'. This is a prayer that will never go unanswered and which echoes through my heart, touching my deepest desires.
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.
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.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 8:23-27
Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr (Memorial)
Lord, save us! (Matthew 8:25)
Do you know someone who can sleep through anything? Napoleon slept while battles raged around him. One young boy slept through the sinking of the Titanic. Another man slept through a plane crash, waking up to find himself battered but alive in the woods. In today's Gospel reading, we have the most famous example of all: Jesus sleeps while a storm crashes into his boat and his apostles cry out in fear. We know that Jesus' days were very long, so he was probably extremely tired. But there's certainly more to it than that.
This is the only gospel account we have of Jesus asleep. Surely Matthew is including it to make a point: God isn't worried about the things that worry us. Jesus wasn't bothered by the violent storm; in fact, he might have missed the whole thing had the disciples not woken him up! And his reaction to being awakened is very instructive. He is calm, but he mildly rebukes the apostles because he wants them to understand that they can remain calm as well, even in trying situations, if they put their trust in him.
There may be times in our lives when we cry out to God and ask, "Lord, don't you care what's happening?" What we perceive as his absence isn't that at all, however. He is aware of every situation in our lives—of the daily waves of stress that beat against us and the big breakers as well, those events that seem like they're going to capsize us. He won't necessarily calm all those storms for us as he did for the disciples, but he can calm our troubled, anxious hearts.
What God seems to honor the most is when we pray with trust and faith, letting go of the fear and anxiety in our hearts. We can thank him too, believing that he has the situation in hand and will work it out for our good (Romans 8:28). That little prayer may not seem like much if you are an action-oriented person. But in return, he offers you "the peace . . . that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). Now that's a pretty good trade!
"Lord, I put everything in your hands today. There is nothing that can disturb my peace when I rest in your peace."
Today we heard the Lord say " I will punish you for all your crimes." I am afraid of this. I am afraid of punishment. I am afraid of what will happen. I am afraid of what is GOING to happen. Crimes are paid for in one way or the other. Either you will suffer, or others will suffer for what you have done, what you have said, even what you have whispered to one another. I told the family at the funeral vigil last night "be careful what you see with your eyes men, evil can enter, and for women...perhaps through your ears" because I had just read the scripture about the thief that comes in the night, and catches you unaware, and we are speaking of life in the spirit. So why am I afraid? I am thinking about singing "Be Not Afraid" in a funeral here shortly, and it has everything to do with life. Are you being punished right now? Many see their cross as punishment. If that is the case, then you are not on the side of Catholics. Because the cross is not punishment, but a gift from the Father. Hard to believe, isn't it? Suddenly obedience and humility begin to speak again. If God hands a cross, it is an opportunity to get close to Him in a most unimaginable way. We pray ". Lead me in your justice, Lord." and we hear "You hate all evildoers". I told the families last night that get away from evil, so perhaps the Lord will hear our prayers. When one is caught in darkness, it's not that we can not be heard by God, but that we can not pray. The beauty of life is that we have a prayer, a line to God. Therefore, we are to use the line and become strong, strongly connected to Him, the more the prayer, the more connected, the tighter the grip with Him, and this grip is what we must have, what we call...faith. In comes the Lord, but He has always been there, in the storm, with you. The disciples though, are afraid for their lives, as is most often the case, isn't it? They run or become afraid when their lives are threatened, right? I'm speaking about the many times they are afraid, especially when the Lord is being crucified. Yet, after the resurrection, and when Jesus sends the Holy Spirit, Himself, into the disciples, they become strong, and unafraid. They get locked up, tortured, beaten, and they are not afraid anymore. You too, you must come to grips. This means let your soul become infused with the power of the Holy Spirit, especially in the Holy Eucharist.
The reason I didn't write yesterday is because I was planning on returning from a trip with the family in Colorado, but we didn't make it until yesterday evening. While over there, we went to a restaurant, "Casa Bonita", which means "Beautiful House". There, inside you get to eat, watch little shows, and it's kind of like a paradise, with trees and waterfalls. The kids have a game area, and there in the back are these caves, spooky caves. I took my oldest boy, about 8 years old and a 2 yr. old toddler to walk through the caves and we followed these little girls (nieces) inside. At the first turn a scary face is in a cave and sounds come out and my boy screeches, and becomes paralyzed clutching the walls backing away frantically, and I have to pick up my toddler because he wants to start crying and the little girls look back saying "it's ok....let's go", but the boy is paralyzed with wide eyes and mouth and I have to reach with my free arm to strip him from the walls so the line can keep moving. At one point I had to look down and pause and tapped him on the cheeks "Cristian! Snap Out of it!!" I wanted to wake him up from his frantic fears, and it didn't seem to help, but at least he followed me, his father, from one end of darkness to the other, and when we got out all I could say is "everything in there is fake!" Why are you afraid? He's a nervous wreck, but unfortunately, he's just like me, well reminds me of me in the old ages B.C. (Before Christ). On the way up there to the state, we went through a storm that began to rain down hard and hail began falling and traffic was pulled over on the side of the road. I kept going though, slowly, passing parked cars, gauging the severity of the hail, praying in silence, and when it stopped suddenly I heard my daughters in the back saying they had been praying. I didn't hear my boy praying or saying he had been praying.
What happens today is the disciples wake up the Lord, afraid they are about to die. In the seas, the world is rocking and the world wants to engulf you. This is what the disciples faced, and they wake up the Lord in terror ""Lord, save us! We are perishing!" He rebukes them and the sea. He rebukes evil in its face and commands everyone to settle down. So where are you in the story of life? And the most important question is "where is Jesus?" Sure he's right there with you, as you adore Him in the Holy Eucharist, in the quietness of your life, but where is He in your heart? That's what I told the families last night upon the rosary meditation of the nativity when there was no room for them in the inn, no room for Jesus, and I said "where is Jesus in your heart?" Does He take 1st place? Are you like the Cristian, my boy, who is a nervous wreck? Or are you the child I carried in my arms? Are you the Christian that has to be told over and over to have faith? To trust in the Father? Or are you the one asleep in the boat, in total and complete faith in God? Because the boat now resembles the wood of the cross, doesn't it? Dying with the Lord is taking on a whole new meaning.
So where are you in this story? Where are you in life? And where is the Lord....