"Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances." — St. Vincent de Paul
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "The Church, which has spread everywhere, even to the ends of the earth, received the faith from the apostles and their disciples . . . Having one soul and one heart, the Church holds this faith, preaches and teaches it consistently as though by a single voice. For though there are different languages, there is but one tradition." — St. Ignatius of Antioch, p. 194 AN EXCERPT FROM Witness of the Saints
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St. Lawrence of Brindisi
At first glance perhaps the most remarkable quality of Lawrence of Brindisi is his outstanding gift of languages. In addition to a thorough knowledge of his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French.
He was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.
When he was just 16 he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.
With his facility for languages he was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.
In 1956 the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.
Lawrence's sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.
Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619.
His constant devotion to Scripture, coupled with great sensitivity to the needs of people, present a lifestyle which appeals to Christians today. Lawrence had a balance in his life that blended self-discipline with a keen appreciation for the needs of those whom he was called to serve.
"God is love, and all his operations proceed from love. Once he wills to manifest that goodness by sharing his love outside himself, then the Incarnation becomes the supreme manifestation of his goodness and love and glory. So, Christ was intended before all other creatures and for his own sake. For him all things were created and to him all things must be subject, and God loves all creatures in and because of Christ. Christ is the first-born of every creature, and the whole of humanity as well as the created world finds its foundation and meaning in him. Moreover, this would have been the case even if Adam had not sinned" (St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Universal Church, Capuchin Educational Conference, Washington, D.C.).
This word of the LORD came to me: Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!
I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the desert, in a land unsown. Sacred to the LORD was Israel, the first fruits of his harvest; Should any presume to partake of them, evil would befall them, says the LORD.
When I brought you into the garden land to eat its goodly fruits, You entered and defiled my land, you made my heritage loathsome. The priests asked not, "Where is the LORD?" Those who dealt with the law knew me not: the shepherds rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after useless idols.
Be amazed at this, O heavens, and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD. Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 36:6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11 R. (10a) With you is the fountain of life, O Lord. O LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven; your faithfulness, to the clouds. Your justice is like the mountains of God; your judgments, like the mighty deep.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord. How precious is your mercy, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house; from your delightful stream you give them to drink.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord. For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. Keep up your mercy toward your friends, your just defense of the upright of heart.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
Alleluia See Mt 11:25 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 13:10-17
The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?" He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them.
"But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ What are the secrets of the Kingdom of God? To know the Lord Jesus personally, to understand his work of salvation on the cross, and to realise that we are infinitely loved. What a privilege it is to know these things!
▪ How blessed I am to have the Holy Scriptures. But as Jesus speaks to me right now, am I listening to him? Am I open to his Word or do I sit with fingers in my ears?
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.
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)
Lest they . . . understand with their hearts. (Matthew 13:15)
Have you ever found yourself struggling to cut vegetables with a dull knife? Even if you have the best knife on the market, it's not very helpful unless it's sharp!
In today's Gospel, Jesus offers one explanation of how we can stay spiritually sharp: by keeping our hearts open to him. The disciples ask Jesus why he speaks in parables, and this turns into a discussion about those who can "see" and "hear" Jesus and those who can't. Of course, Jesus isn't talking about literal seeing and hearing, but understanding. He's talking about the ability to sense his presence and to discern his voice. So Jesus tells his listeners that unless they seek to "understand with their hearts," they will find it much harder to know his love (Matthew 13:15).
Now, we have all opened our hearts to Jesus, but keeping our hearts open and alert to him is a lifelong task. It involves the obvious practices of prayer, reading Scripture, and receiving the sacraments. But it also involves a willingness to be wrong, an openness to the Spirit's gentle course corrections and conscience pricks. After all, an open heart is a humble heart.
Take Peter as a prime example of an open heart. Time after time, he got it wrong—when he tried to walk on water; when he offered to build a shrine on the mount of transfiguration; when he tried to keep Jesus from the cross; and, most memorably, when he denied three times that he even knew the Lord. But he never let these missteps keep him away from Jesus. Instead, he kept learning. He kept following. He kept listening. And as he did, he grew sharper and sharper, until he was finally ready to take up his call to become the Rock of the Church.
So stay sharp today. Follow Peter's example, and keep on trying to please the Lord. You can be sure that even if you get it wrong, Jesus is still smiling at you. He's still working to teach you and form you. He's still blessing your eyes, your ears, and your heart!
"Jesus, wake up my senses—not just my eyes and ears, but my heart, too. May I be attentive to all the ways you will show me your love today."
We heard in the first Holy Scripture: "Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns that hold no water." They forgot God, what He wanted, His will, they abandoned Him (this is sin) and they went seeking other waters, other fountains, other springs, for nothing.
We prayed the Psalms today " With you is the fountain of life, O Lord. How precious is your mercy, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house; from your delightful stream you give them to drink. For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. Keep up your mercy toward your friends, your just defense of the upright of heart." Holy hearts. And this is where our Lord is leading.
In comes the Lord of our lives " ...blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear." And how do we know we see Him and hear Him? The question sounds more like a doubt. Do you doubt the Lord is speaking to you? Then you have not opened the door of your heart. Do you doubt you have seen the Lord? Then you have decided to not see with your eyes. Because, this parable is about faith. Faith in the unseen. Faith in His word. Faith in the seed and faith is the seed. We were driving to see a job site yesterday, and I told my godson/coworker, if we could pray the rosary on the road, but before so, I mentioned that on Tuesday evening about sunset time, I was praying while walking outside, the rosary, and the sorrowful mysteries of the Lord. I said that I had reflected on how little we appreciate what He did for us. "It sounds nice, what this Lord did for us, but it doesn't seem to move us". There is a disconnect isn't there? I said that during my prayers, for the first time, I had felt a little bit of appreciation. But how can this appreciation be for anyone if we are not intimately in love with the Lord? As if He were your real Father, your real friend, your real brother that suffered this ordeal for you. You didn't see it happen, but it did. You heard it happened, but what are your ears letting you hear? It is then, all about faith, and I've said faith equals love. If God wants you to turn away from sin, it's so that you will stop seeking other waters, other satisfactions, other ways of living that are emptiness, and running dry.
This place here, this place where you are reading, the fountain of water of mercy is pouring. His mercy desires you to read this. His mercy actually gives life. In the Holy Sacraments, it is very evident. I am nothing without His mercy. What is "Gross" as the Lord says is the gross negligence, the forgetfulness of how good God is, thus how merciful God is. And then to be so lost as to say that He is not merciful or good, or to say I don't deserve goodness or mercy. That is the mark of a lost soul. Good news is, you have been found. Because the Holy Church is the "Lost and Found" department where two can be united, us, and the Lord, the bride, and the groom. And what unites is a great love.
Find the Love of God in your soul, forget not how Good and wonderful, and beautiful, and merciful He is. And rejoice. And be Glad. This is the Kingdom of God at hand.