"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."
— St. Francis of Assisi
"The subtle persecution of Jesus can easily be reflected in our own experiences of those who judge us unjustly. What a badge of honor for Christ's followers to be rashly judged because of our faith in love, life, and peace." — Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy, p. 19 AN EXCERPT FROM Inspirational Thoughts for Everyday
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St. Maria Goretti
One of the largest crowds ever assembled for a canonization—250,000—symbolized the reaction of millions touched by the simple story of Maria Goretti.
She was the daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer, had no chance to go to school, never learned to read or write. When she made her First Communion not long before her death at age 12, she was one of the larger and somewhat backward members of the class.
On a hot afternoon in July, Maria was sitting at the top of the stairs of her house, mending a shirt. She was not quite 12 years old, but physically mature. A cart stopped outside, and a neighbor, Alessandro, 18 years old, ran up the stairs. He seized her and pulled her into a bedroom. She struggled and tried to call for help. "No, God does not wish it," she cried out. "It is a sin. You would go to hell for it." Alessandro began striking at her blindly with a long dagger.
She was taken to a hospital. Her last hours were marked by the usual simple compassion of the good—concern about where her mother would sleep, forgiveness of her murderer (she had been in fear of him, but did not say anything lest she cause trouble to his family) and her devout welcoming of Viaticum, her last Holy Communion. She died about 24 hours after the attack.
Her murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison. For a long time he was unrepentant and surly. One night he had a dream or vision of Maria, gathering flowers and offering them to him. His life changed. When he was released after 27 years, his first act was to go to beg the forgiveness of Maria's mother.
Devotion to the young martyr grew, miracles were worked, and in less than half a century she was canonized. At her beatification in 1947, her mother (then 82), two sisters and a brother appeared with Pope Pius XII on the balcony of St. Peter's. Three years later, at her canonization, a 66-year-old Alessandro Serenelli knelt among the quarter-million people and cried tears of joy.
Maria may have had trouble with catechism, but she had no trouble with faith. God's will was holiness, decency, respect for one's body, absolute obedience, total trust. In a complex world, her faith was simple: It is a privilege to be loved by God, and to love him—at any cost.
"Even if she had not been a martyr, she would still have been a saint, so holy was her everyday life" (Cardinal Salotti).
"Be still and know that I am God". Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek Your Loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.
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.
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
Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Hos 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth. The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; The more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up. Their heart is false, now they pay for their guilt; God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars. If they would say, "We have no king"— Since they do not fear the LORD, what can the king do for them?
The king of Samaria shall disappear, like foam upon the waters. The high places of Aven shall be destroyed, the sin of Israel; thorns and thistles shall overgrow their altars. Then they shall cry out to the mountains, "Cover us!" and to the hills, "Fall upon us!"
"Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7 R. (4b) Seek always the face of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds. Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. Seek always the face of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. Seek always the face of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Seek always the face of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Mk 1:15 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The Kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 10:1-7
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus did not just call the twelve; He also gave them power to do what He had called them to do as he sent them out. So today, when God calls us, he supplies us with the means to undertake the task at hand. We are never alone, he is always with us.
▪ No matter where I am in my life, acting as God's messenger, I will always try and live the prayer of St Francis:- 'Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.'
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
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.
Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
Break up for yourselves a new field. (Hosea 10:12)
Ask any farmer, and he'll tell you how important it is to till a field before you plant your seeds. Tilling softens the earth, reduces weeds, mixes nutrients in the soil, and exposes pests so that they can be removed. Naturally, a farmer is willing to go through the hard work of tilling his fields; he wants the harvest to be as fruitful as possible.
Well, God is like that farmer as he tends the "field" of our hearts. He wants to see a bountiful harvest, but he first needs to break up the ground and turn over the soil. Unlike a farmer, however, he won't do it without our cooperation. That's how we break up for ourselves a new field, as Hosea put it—by inviting the Lord to come in and giving him the freedom to work in us.
The idea of letting God break up the soil of our hearts can be scary. But it's not too intimidating if you think like a farmer and focus on the crop to come—the character of Christ! Don't be afraid to ask him to work the soil. Ask him to break up any hardness in your heart and root out any apathy. Tell him that you want to bear fruit for him.
On a practical level, this would mean starting each morning by asking the Holy Spirit to be a part of your day. Then, as the day progresses, pay attention to situations that challenge you. It could be dealing with a child's temper tantrums or a co-worker's gossip. It could be caring for an aging relative or comforting a friend in distress. Whatever it is, see it as an opportunity to let the Spirit soften your heart a little bit more.
The change doesn't have to be grandiose. Just make a little adjustment each day, and the fruit will start growing. You'll become more convinced of Jesus' love. You'll become more forgiving and patient. You'll become more alert to the needs of the people around you.
God, the perfect farmer, is ready and waiting. Let his kingdom take deeper root in your heart!
"Lord, come and break up any hardness in my heart so that I can receive the seeds you want to plant. Thank you for your love and faithfulness."
my2cents: We heard the prophet Hosea, ""Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety" and we won't know justice until we know holiness. "...break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you." It is time to seek the Lord, because He is the one who comes and rains down justice...holiness. If walls could talk, the truth would be spilled about you and them. Yet, we have the Lord speaking, the truth is speaking, and He is inviting us to the farming of truth in holiness. Such is the case and its rarity, that a quarter of a million people sought to be with the dead body and celebrate holiness of a pre-teen girl, today's saint. Such rarity and staunch faith that they would rather die than to give into sin, that is the heroism needed today, and this heroism is called sainthood. And sainthood means being the light of Christ. Sow justice, reap piety.
Today we prayed "Seek always the face of the Lord." If I ever saw the face of the Lord, it was a myriad of lights that streamed and coursed through Him as our blood courses through ours. "Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly." This is our life blood, Him. He is the donor. He gave us the DNA. He chose us. And that's our calling, by the simple fact you are reading this, it is clear evidence of your calling...to Him.
The Lord enters our lives and He calls each one by name. Have you ever heard our Lord summon your name? Today I will sing "The Summons" song at a funeral. Last night we had a vigil for a parishioner. The funeral guy welcomed me and said "we should have you your own parking space with your name here" and I smiled and made my way in. I asked people to give a few words of the man that passed away. I learned he was a business man, a good man, funny, but what I didn't hear were the things that I secretly knew that I didn't tell them...this man was suffering, and this man bore his cross. He suffered infirmities, and with it, he still made others smile, and tried to visit others. At this point, I summoned the people gathered, "everyone hear is a teacher, ...and we know time is running out, passing fast...it is time to focus on Jesus". You see, we are called, whether we acknowledge it or not. We are called to expulse evil out of our lives, with the Authority of Christ, by order of Christ our Lord, look at that evil in your life square in the eye, and demand it to leave, that what has control over your life that makes you only focus on it, instead of our Lord. Then, healing begins, and this is how it began. For if evil entered the world, it must exit, and we are speaking of your world, a gift from God, this field, this heart, this home. The other side, not doing so, simply means sin is retained, and Jesus did not come to let sins be retained, for He also gave power to forgive, and that is why we have Reconciliation, a Sacrament of confession, and healing begins. And when you heal, like the time I broke my wrist being crazy on 4 wheelers, the doctor told me to leave the cast on for 6 weeks, I didn't like it, didn't like the looks, didn't like how it felt, I felt fine after a 2 or 3 weeks, it began to itch, and it was hot, and I wound up hacking at it until I took it off. My wrist began to hurt later, and my healing was not complete. My cross was my cast, and I rejected it, disobeyed, and I suffered, because healing and obedience go hand in hand. I say this because today we are summoned. Our Lord wants us to proclaim the Kingdom of God by saying "repent". Keep saying it until you actually repent of your evilness. Justice will begin to rain, because Jesus will begin to reign as Lord, your King, your Master, your Father, your Savior, your everything at every single moment of your life. And this was justice, Maria Gorreti died, and only then did the world come together in the name of Holiness. Jesus died and only then did the world come together in the name of Love, because God is love and He reconciles us with Him. We are summoned then to mercy, to be fed, to be one with Him, and do the same for the world we live in...