"Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation, no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order, or in a worldly profession." — St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man's attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God. Two kinds of study are called for here. We must first learn how the Scriptures are to be understood, and then see how to expound them with profit and in a manner worthy of them . . . No one can understand holy Scripture without constant reading . . . The more you devote yourself to the study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest." — St. Isidore of Seville, p. 201
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St. Joan of the Cross
An encounter with a shabby old woman many dismissed as insane prompted St. Joan to dedicate her life to the poor. For Joan, who had a reputation as a businesswoman intent on monetary success, this was a significant conversion.
Born in 1666 in Anjou, France, Joan worked in the family business—a small shop near a religious shrine—from an early age. After her parents' death she took over the shop herself. She quickly became known for her greediness and insensitivity to the beggars who often came seeking help.
That was until she was touched by the strange woman who claimed she was on intimate terms with the deity. Joan, who had always been devout, even scrupulous, became a new person. She began caring for needy children. Then the poor, elderly and sick came to her. Over time she closed the family business so she could devote herself fully to good works and penance.
She went on to found what came to be known as the Congregation of St. Anne of Providence. It was then she took the religious name of Joan of the Cross. By the time of her death in 1736 she had founded 12 religious houses, hospices and schools. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1982.
The downtown areas of most major cities hold a population of "street people." Well-dressed folks usually avoid making eye contact, probably for fear of being asked for a handout. That was Joan's attitude until the day one of them touched her heart. Most people thought the old woman was crazy, but she put Joan on the road to sainthood. Who knows what the next beggar we meet might do for us?
The word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; my sheep were scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them.
Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, says the Lord GOD, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; because my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep; because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD: I swear I am coming against these shepherds. I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths.
For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side With your rod and your staff that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Only goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Alleluia Heb 4:12 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 20:1-16
Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.' So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o'clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o'clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They answered, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into my vineyard.' When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.' When those who had started about five o'clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day's burden and the heat.' He said to one of them in reply, 'My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Scripture scholar Nicholas King SJ puts it: "God is utterly generous (generosity is the quality that defines God), and we do not lose out because God has been equally generous to those undeserving people next door".
▪ Tolerance and generosity would seem to be the qualities most recognisable in those closest to Jesus. Does it surprise you that this may not always be the case?
Dear Lord, stay by my side always. Gain for me a trusting heart. Thank you for loving me. . Conclusion
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.
I myself will look after and tend my sheep. (Ezekiel 34:11)
What does a good shepherd look like? While we could say many things, perhaps the best place to look is Jesus' parable in today's Gospel. When a vineyard owner goes out into the marketplace in search of workers both in the middle and at the end of the day, he doesn't waste time blaming the people who are standing around idle. Instead, he gives them the benefit of the doubt: they intended to work, but no one had hired them. So he hires them and sends them into his vineyard. Then at the end of the day, he pays everyone—even the late hires—enough to take care of their families for the day.
This is what a good shepherd looks like. The vineyard owner takes seriously his responsibility for the people entrusted to him, and he goes out of his way to care for them. He shows generosity, kindness, and compassion. He goes beyond doing only the minimum that is required and instead lives out in a very practical way Jesus' command to love one another.
Of course, we are not always good shepherds. Like the rulers of Israel whom Ezekiel addresses in the first reading, we may lord it over people by being critical or heavy-handed or by putting our own interests ahead of their needs (Ezekiel 34:4). But don't worry; Jesus knows this about us, and he isn't surprised. He doesn't reject us or condemn us. Neither does he remain aloof. He gives us the opportunity to repent and do better. He himself comes and helps us care for the sheep. He doesn't just tell us what to do; he does the work right alongside us and gives us the grace to become more loving and patient.
Each of us is called to strengthen the weak, to heal the sick, and to seek the lost, just as the vineyard owner did. We are all called to treat everyone in our lives with the same dignity, compassion, and love that Jesus has for us. Thank God that the perfect Good Shepherd is always with us to teach and lead us in this role!
"Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. Teach me how to care for the people you have entrusted to me."
The first Holy Scripture says today "So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered" God's sheep were scattered. Why? Because of bad leadership, selfish leadership. And do not think of others, but your own leadership. Think of the shepherding you are doing by the way you live. This is not merely a call to bishops or pastors, but you yourself. This deflecting of stories is not what the Lord aims at when He writes a letter to you.
We prayed today "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul." As I read this today, Matt Maher's song "Rest" played in my head. It is a wonderful lamb song, because it should make you feel like a lamb in His hands. The lamb that knows to trust its life in the Good Shepherd.
In comes the Lord of our lives "The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard." and ends with "Are you envious because I am generous?' Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last." Envy? This spitefulness, this almost hatred, this feeling of injustice, it is something humans have to overcome...pride. When the Catholics were faced back about 40 years ago with the Second Vatican Council, all the normal traditions were changed up, latin Mass no more, priests with their back to the people during Mass, no more, and normal people could go up to the altar now and help serve the Holy Mass. This was an insult, and spitefulness exists to this day. "It's not right" they say, and so they leave grumbling. There is no sense of humility and obedience. We had a powerhouse of a priest for a while even on EWTN (Catholic TV and Radio network), his name, well now I forget, but he faced some charges and was suspended from his duties, and he quit what he was doing and opened a publishing business and called himself "the black sheep dog". It is an appropriate name, because he was now...not a shepherd of the flock as a Holy Priest. You see how spitefulness works? When I've read of saints before, they obey the Holy Church even when ousted, even when relieved of their duties, they obey...and now are saints, because the truth sets you free.
Suddenly, this whole shepherding thing reveals...it's not about me. Suddenly, it's all about the flock.
Think for a moment right now; what aggravates you in your world? What or who aggravates you? Take a slight moment to think. Those are the lost sheep. Because Jesus came to write His law in every human's soul, it is in the DNA, and the Spirit of God. Now, what is cumbersome about the Lord..if He is generous and opens the doors of mercy, why would you not lead the flock to these gates? Why let them resume to be lost? I told the Knights in our meeting last night about Pro Life. I said each one of us has to vote pro life, just like Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said. And right now, the Democratic Platform can not lead us to a Pro LIfe world, If they have their way, they will repeal the Hyde Amendment that will allow babies to be killed until the day before they are born, torn out of bodies, heads chopped off. What kind of shepherds are we? Would we allow this atrocity of innocent human beings to occur any longer? Pray for the black dogs. They deserve mercy. And who knows who we will see waiting in Heaven after we had to pay for our sins..perhaps it will be that wretched person you thought of...and they are smiling with wide open arms waiting for you to join them with the Lord. This is a revelation. In the prison retreat, we were given this random parable, of the vineyard workers. My guys acted it out in front of the other prisoners. In the end, a summary was said by one "It is never too late". So long as we breathe, it is never too late for the Lord. His Mercy extends as He extends Himself on the cross. I'm waiting for you..................