"Mary was the most perfect among the saints only because she was always perfectly united to the will of God." — St. Alphonsus Liguori
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Walking by faith, let us do good works. In these let there be a free love of God for His own sake and an active love for our neighbor. For there is nothing we can do for God. But because we have something we can do for our neighbor, we shall by our good offices to the needy gain the favor of Him Who is the source of all abundance. Let us then do what we can for others; let us freely bestow upon the needy out of our abundance." — St. Augustine, p. 144 AN EXCERPT FROM Augustine Day by Day
Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.
Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.
During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Kolkata, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.
In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as "a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them." She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to "follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor."
After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Kolkata, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.
The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Kolkata gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people.
For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.
Mother Teresa's beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Pope John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer and for the poor a model for all to emulate.
Speaking in a strained, weary voice at the 2003 beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed, prompting waves of applause before the 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. In his homily, read by an aide for the aging pope, the Holy Father called Mother Teresa "one of the most relevant personalities of our age" and "an icon of the Good Samaritan." Her life, he said, was "a bold proclamation of the gospel."
Brothers and sisters: It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans– a man living with his father's wife. And you are inflated with pride. Should you not rather have been sorrowful? The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst. I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed, in the name of our Lord Jesus: when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not appropriate. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 5:5-6, 7, 12 R. (9) Lead me in your justice, Lord. For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you; the arrogant may not stand in your sight. You hate all evildoers.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord. You destroy all who speak falsehood; The bloodthirsty and the deceitful the LORD abhors.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord. But let all who take refuge in you be glad and exult forever. Protect them, that you may be the joy of those who love your name.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord. Alleluia Jn 10:27 R. Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 6:6-11
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us." And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your hand." He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus rebukes the scribes and the Pharisees for their narrow-mindedness and conviction to the rule of the Law. Their practice of religion lacked compassion and love, key principles of the Gospel message.
▪ What lesson do I draw from this incident? Ask the Lord to enlighten me about the Pharisees. What were their bad points? What good was in them?
Lord, I know that when I turn to you there is no need for words. You can see into my heart. You know my desires and you know my needs. I place myself into your hands.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
. . . with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)
Paul was certainly coming down hard on the Corinthian church! Rebuking them for tolerating immorality, calling out their pride, and ordering them to expel the immoral person from their midst—is this the same person who would write a moving meditation on love just a few pages later (1 Corinthians 13)?
Yes, it is. In fact, it's significant that Paul's forceful rebuke comes in the same letter as his hymn to love—as well as his inspiring explanation of the eternal life Jesus has granted us (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). Paul always placed his arguments within the context of the entire gospel message of a merciful God offering his people redemption and salvation.
Paul's aim in correcting the Corinthians' actions was bigger than behavior modification. He wanted to open their eyes to the beauty, the glory, and the demands of the new life they had received. That life focuses on actions, but even more on attitudes and motives of the heart. It calls for kindness and forgiveness instead of resentment and revenge, for love and patience instead of frustration and anger. So he urged them to change their ways so that they could continue enjoying their relationship with God.
You may know someone who, like Paul, has a talent for speaking uncomfortable truths with compassion and love. Their words draw you beyond simply reconsidering your actions; they offer you a vision of what your "corrected" life can look like. It could be a church leader who shapes the focus of a parish, or it could be someone who speaks on a smaller scale, like a good friend or a sibling. You may not always like to hear what they say, but you know they're right. Their sincerity in speaking the truth wins you over.
Pope Francis is a master at balancing sincerity and truth. He has no problem calling out hypocrisy or greed and has done it often. But he is also very compassionate to people who are lost, suffering, or questioning.
Isn't it a blessing to have people in your life who love you enough to speak difficult truths to you, and to do it with kindness?
"Holy Spirit, thank you for the people you have put in my life to help me live out my faith."
Today's 1st Holy Scripture ended with "Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." Unleavened, meaning, without bacteria to make it bloat and gloat, all that pride, an evil root in the soul. This is why we participate in the Holy Eucharist with unleavened bread that becomes the Body of Christ. And partaking it says this "I believe FULLY in the HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH". Otherwise...being sinful and unfaithful is a lie to the Eucharist...that what is...the entire...Body of CHRIST.
We prayed today "For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you; the arrogant may not stand in your sight. You hate all evildoers." And the Lord says to those trying to enter Heaven "I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.'" I do not know you! If you are a public figure, many people think they know you, but the public figure only knows a few very well, and those are the ones most intimate with him or her. People will come to the public figure "hey! it's me! remember me??" And most often...not remembered or known, for all one knows...it could be an imposter. This is a concept of reality with the Lord. Either be with Him intimately in the Holy Communion, or do not be intimate and be susceptible to the greatest danger in our lives...living the unknown and alone.
In comes the Lord, on a Holy Day, and tends to the rejected, the ailing, the suffering and comforts that poor person and heals that person, and the Pharisees, lovers of the Mosaic (Jewish) Laws and not the people once again pull out the whips to whip people with their tongues for supposedly lashing against the Lord's will. Yet, the Lord's will was made known, to save a life rather than lose it, to Love God above all means to risk it all for Him. And so it becomes an act of defiance against our little traditions, our little trained thoughts, against our "way" of living and believing. Jesus says ""Stretch out your hand." and the man was raised from the dead. The miracle was nothing to those present, but was everything to the poor person that was healed. It completely changed his heart and soul, to have been raised by God, to have been saved by God, to have been shown mercy and love of God, for everyone else had said it was his fault he was down and out, for he was told that it must've been because of all his sins or past family sins that he was paying. But the mercy of God says otherwise. Mother Teresa once took a starving boy to a bakery to ask for a piece of bread with no money. The baker spat in her face, feeling insulted for being asked for a free handout and blurted something like "I'm not a charity, I'm a business!". She wiped her face and said "thank you, that was for me, now please...something for the boy.". Eventually the man repents and gives them bread. What is your daily bread? Are you sharing it? If it is Christ, are you sharing Him? Because, the story of Jesus and Mother Teresa being insulted and being chased by tormentors means much. How? Well, in a typical day, listen to how your talk becomes a place of torture with your tongue, lashing out what is in the heart. "Business first!" or "Family first!" and that really gets people when I say this. Didn't you hear yesterday in Mass, the Lord saying we must hate everyone and love Him? What's up with that? Do you think the Man of Love wants hatred among us? He is talking about denial. To deny yourself and pick up your cross. Mother Teresa found the cross on the side of the road, hidden under a pile of trash. She was very keen, and went towards it, dusted it off and found there a homeless person dying of hunger. What is your cross? And how much will it cost to lift it, carry it, and live like this forever? She gave up her way of living in her convent, and lived in the streets daily. What are you willing to give up? Who are you willing to give up? My wife read the bulletin I took home yesterday and saw there was a retreat next weekend for women called "seeking joy". She asked if she could go, I looked on my phone calendar "Oh, we got a wedding to go to". She looked at me as if to say "and?" LOL, How could I stop her? Even if I say no, the Lord comes first. As it stands, I will be going alone to the wedding with our 7 kids. This is a slap in the face to a common life. Common marriages, common ways of living, of the devil's teachings of it's ok to live this "way" and be proud of it. NO. Very few know the Lord intimately, because very few, quite simply, are not intimate with Him. Spending the most intimate moment with Him is the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Sacraments and in utmost contemplative prayer. I often find myself being told "That's not right Adrian", when I declare loving God more than even family. I was in a heated debate on this just the weekend prior to hearing it in Holy Mass with family. And at work, we lost a co-worker a while back when we read this scripture and he said "how can I hate my wife?" and didn't understand and never came back. And in reunion we have Jesus. He never came back to Jesus, just when he was about to be known intimately. I remember once telling my wife a while back "If you really want to love me, you will love God more!" As it stands, this is the truth. If I really am going to love anybody, even myself...I have to love God more than anyone or anything in this world. Because as St. Paul says in 2Cor4:18 "we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."