"Never will we understand the value of time better than when our last hour is at hand." — St. Arnold Janssen
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Oh, dearest daughter, open well the eye of thy intellect and gaze into the abyss of My love, for there is no rational creature whose heart would not melt for love in contemplating and considering, among the other benefits she receives from Me, the special gift that she receives in the [Blessed] Sacrament." — St. Catherine of Siena, p. 42 AN EXCERPT FROM The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena
click to go there
Saint Junipero Serra
In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard.
Born on Spain's island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis' childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero's desire was to convert native peoples in the New World.
Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero's left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there.
Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two conquistadors—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph's day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived.
Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra's death.
Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous "Regulation" protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a "Bill of Rights" for Native Americans.
Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of "injustice" from some moderns.
Junipero's missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.
The word that best describes Junipero is zeal. It was a spirit that came from his deep prayer and dauntless will. "Always forward, never back" was his motto. His work bore fruit for 50 years after his death as the rest of the missions were founded in a kind of Christian communal living by the Indians. When both Mexican and American greed caused the secularization of the missions, the Chumash people went back to what they had been—God again writing straight with crooked lines.
During his homily at Serra's beatification, Saint John Paul II said: "Relying on the divine power of the message he proclaimed, Father Serra led the native peoples to Christ. He was well aware of their heroic virtues—as exemplified in the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha [July 14]—and he sought to further their authentic human development on the basis of their new-found faith as persons created and redeemed by God. He also had to admonish the powerful, in the spirit of our second reading from James, not to abuse and exploit the poor and the weak."
What is present to me is what has a hold on my becoming. I reflect on the Presence of God always there in love, amidst the many things that have a hold on me. I pause and pray that I may let God affect my becoming in this precise moment.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. Mostly I take this gift for granted. Inspire me to live in the freedom you intended, with a heart untroubled and with complete trust in You.
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
The Word of God
Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Am 8:4-6, 9-12
Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! "When will the new moon be over," you ask, "that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?" We will diminish the containers for measuring, add to the weights, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"
On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations. I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald. I will make them mourn as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end.
Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east In search of the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131
R. (Matthew 4:4) One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. My soul is consumed with longing for your ordinances at all times.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. The way of truth I have chosen; I have set your ordinances before me.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Behold, I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Alleluia Mt 11:28 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 9:9-13
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' I ask myself, 'Do I hold resentment towards people living on the margins of society, or instead towards anybody who seems to be doing better in life than myself?' I am mindful of how resentments can block the sunlight from my soul. My destructive feelings of anger and hurt affect not only my happiness but also the peace and contentment of those around me.
▪ Jesus calls me to a better place. He calls me to be merciful to those living on the margins of society, to show them compassion and love. Anger is a luxury I cannot afford. Lord, help me to let go of my resentments and instead to choose the light of God's wonderful mercy and grace.
Dear Jesus, I can open up my heart to you. I can tell you everything that troubles me. I know you care about all the concerns in my life. Teach me to live in the knowledge that you who care for me today, will care for me tomorrow and all the days of my life.
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.
Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? (Matthew 9:11)
We may grumble about all the taxes that are taken out of our paychecks, but it would be a mistake to think this was why tax collectors were hated in Jesus' time. Perhaps some recent history can help explain.
When Nazi-occupied cities were liberated during World War II, many civilians turned on any neighbor who was suspected to have collaborated with the enemy. Women who had dated occupying soldiers had their heads shaved, and men were brutally beaten, imprisoned, or killed.
Bitter anger marks any community hurt by betrayal, and ancient Israel was no different. Tax collectors were traitors who enjoyed the benefits of Roman oppression. The taxes they collected went toward funding this oppression and the desecration of God's holy nation. What's more, tax collectors often used their military backing to cheat and extort their neighbors for personal gain. No wonder they were hated!
Yet these are the people Jesus chose to spend time with.
It wasn't by accident. It's not as if he accepted them reluctantly and at a socially acceptable distance. No, he strategically went after Matthew, knowing that building a relationship with one tax collector would open the door to many more.
Jesus recognized the true outcasts, the ones beyond pity. Not only did he love them, but he made them part of his team. He didn't look for perfection; he looked for comrades. He didn't wait until they had changed their lives to eat with them; he sat down with them while they were still doing damage.
Spend some time in prayer contemplating that. As the Year of Mercy continues, let the depth of God's mercy surprise and delight you. Believe that the love Jesus showed to those tax collectors—a love that always overpowers hatred—is the same love he has for you.
"Lord, I am in awe of your mercy! Thank you for seeking me out and inviting me to your table."
my2cents: We hear today "Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!". Does this make you think of others who trample on the needy? Does this make you think of those who destroy the poor of the land? Let me ask...does this make you think of yourself? How can I possibly be a destroyer of the needy? If I am so faithful, how can I be such a destroyer? Very simple. Take the instance of a priest in a conversation with a poor sinner, let's say, an active homosexual, and he says to him or her that it is ok to be a homosexual, which can be taken in many ways, and misunderstood very badly, and then the destroyer ensues thereafter. I'm saying this because we can be so soft and vague in our language that it is hard to understand the true meaning. The very english language is so simplified that it does not do justice to the truth of the Word. And so, the homosexual leaves the priest and continues their active sexual styles and living in sin (adultery and fornication, sodomy, etc.) and not only that, now they seek more, to perpetuate and flourish with the priest's "blessing", all because they weren't warned about the sin, the grave and mortal sin, which means death to the soul. You see, very easily we can become the blessing that becomes the destroyer. And this is a reality in my own family, how else do you think I came up with this? Even this last week on a trip, someone took their "friend" on the trip, and he slept in the same hotel room where all the family member's kids were too. It was the most awkward thing to see a stranger playing in the swimming pool with my nieces and nephews instead of their real father who is nowhere to be seen, but still...did I say anything? It ate at me, and finally I did jokingly bring it up during a lunch couple days ago, "yeah...you should've got that dude his own room, like I did my mother in law!" But I repeated it over and over, and I think they got the point across. Silence of the lambs brings about trouble, that is why many pro abortion women turned pro life now raise up signs that say "Silent no more". Be silent no more about your sins, and your loved one's sins...suddenly caring is reaching within... and beyond.
We prayed "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" and the Word of God is salvation. And the Word made flesh is amazing, it's so tremendous, that it is hard to believe without the faith of a child. Like just knowing He is right there in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Holy Eucharist, all so amazing, yet all so forgettable the instant my eyes turn away from Him. Sometimes it feels like an elderly relative that no one wants to take care of when it comes to time to asking people to come see Him and be with Him, take care of Him, show Him some love...and the lines to the confessionals are empty, and the rooms in adoration are empty, and the Blessed Sacrament alone in the dark at midday just like we heard the Prophet Amos say.
In comes the Lord of our lives and what does He do upon so much rejection? He goes to the house of sinners, to their homes, and that's where He is found. Because you have no time for Him He goes to those that will accept Him. Because you are to busy for Him, He goes where He can be welcomed. Because you have no realization of your sinfulness, He goes to those who do care to realize. Because you make no effort to change, He goes to those who will, the Will of the Father. Because you simply do not care unconsciously, He goes to those who are conscious of Him, and act on it. Because it is one thing to say you wish, but another to act. Those are His brothers, and sisters, mothers and fathers...and friend. I have the most wonderful friend in the entire world, and many times I am a backstabber to Him. He is always there for me when I need, and when it's the other way around? It wears and tears on me, and so much is the mercy I need that I build upon the mercy I receive from that friend. And that friend is our Lord. Building my relationship with Him is a building up of trust, and it's built on His mercy. Often, too often, we hear people say they can't believe the bunch of hypocrites at church, all those sinners, yet many a testimony I hear say that they were the hypocrites pointing the finger. This is what happens with the Jews, they pointed the finger at Jesus "how can he be with them sinners?" How can he be with the outcasts?
Simple. They accepted Him. The finger pointer did not. The finger pointed that killed the Lord out of their lives. Nobody likes a bully right? But nobody prays for them, just condemns them. The tax collectors were bullies, took advantage of the weak and took their lunch money. And Jesus, the friend of the poor goes to the bullies and eats with them, what do you think now? Does this open your eyes in your own life? Who are the bullies in your life? Would you not think that the Lord would not go to them? And you with your pointy finger of pain and betrayal, what have you to say now? Because those that will afford you an opportunity for heaven...are your enemies, the forgotten, the hated.
If the Word of God is truth, should it not be perpetuated through you? Or should you remain silent, while the heart is hardened...
The Time Has Come Because the Kingdom Has Come And His Will Shall Be Done