"Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." — St. Augustine
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"The invitation to lift up our hearts at the most important part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an invitation by Jesus through the voice of the priest to give our hearts to the Father, as He gave His life for us. We prepare to make our hearts and lives a total self-gift to the Father as Jesus made Himself a total gift to the Father for us on the Cross." — Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila AN EXCERPT FROM Meditations Before Mass
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Blessed Claudio Granzotta
Born in Santa Lucia del Piave near Venice, Claudio was the youngest of nine children and was accustomed to hard work in the fields. At the age of nine he lost his father. Six years later he was drafted into the Italian army, where he served more than three years.
His artistic abilities, especially in sculpture, led to studies at Venice's Academy of Fine Arts, which in 1929, awarded him a diploma with the highest marks. Even then he was especially interested in religious art. When Claudio entered the Friars Minor four years later, his parish priest wrote, "The order is receiving not only an artist but a saint." Prayer, charity to the poor and artistic work characterized his life, which was cut short by a brain tumor. He died on the feast of the Assumption, and was beatified in 1994.
Claudio developed into such an excellent sculptor that his work still turns people toward God. No stranger to adversity, he met every obstacle courageously, reflecting the generosity, faith and joy that he learned from Francis of Assisi.
In the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II said that Claudio made his sculpture "the privileged instrument" of his apostolate and evangelization. "His holiness was especially radiant in his acceptance of suffering and death in union with Christ's Cross. Thus by consecrating himself totally to the Lord's love, he became a model for religious, for artists in their search for God's beauty and for the sick in his loving devotion to the Crucified" (L'Osservatore Romano, Vol. 47, No. 1, 1994).
Dear Lord help me to be open to you for this time as I put aside the cares of this world. Fill my thoughts with your peace, your love.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart the desire to know and love you more. May I respond to your will for my life.
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.
Brothers and sisters: How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones? Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you unqualified for the lowest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? Then why not everyday matters? If, therefore, you have courts for everyday matters, do you seat as judges people of no standing in the Church? I say this to shame you. Can it be that there is not one among you wise enough to be able to settle a case between brothers? But rather brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers?
Now indeed then it is, in any case, a failure on your part that you have lawsuits against one another. Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers. Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b R. (see 4) The Lord takes delight in his people. Sing to the LORD a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people. Let them praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people. Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy upon their couches; Let the high praises of God be in their throats. This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people. Alleluia See Jn 15:16 R. Alleluia, alleluia. I chose you from the world, that you may go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 6:12-19
Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Today I pray in wonder and gratefulness for this small group of men, the Apostles. With all their shortcomings and mistakes, it is through them and their total trust in Jesus and in his Spirit that the Gospel has spread to the whole world, including to my own heart. I ask for their spirit as I hear Jesus call me by name to be an apostle in my own small world.
▪ They were also the disciples of Jesus, those who were witnesses of his power and also of his great compassion when faced with human suffering. At the end of his life he told them they could also consider themselves his friends. I pray to be worthy of this great honour, and for the ability to consider Jesus as one of my friends.
What is stirring in me as I pray? Am I consoled, troubled, left cold? I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting at my side and share my feelings with him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Brother goes to court against brother? (1 Corinthians 6:6)
In his book Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful, South African novelist Alan Paton tells a story about reconciliation that hits very close to home for his readers. In the story, a black pastor named Isaiah Buti comes to a white man, Chief Justice Olivier, to ask for help.
Because of recent acts of discrimination and exclusion, Buti's church members have grown furious at white people. Would the well-respected judge come to their Holy Thursday service and wash the feet of Martha Fortuin, a woman who had spent thirty years working as his servant? A kind man, Judge Olivier agrees.
On the appointed night, Olivier came forward and knelt at Martha's feet with a towel and washbasin. Then he "took both her feet in his hands with gentleness, for they were no doubt tired from much serving, and he kissed them both. Then Martha Fortuin, and many others . . . fell a-weeping in that holy place." Everyone was touched by his gesture, so much so that the tense, angry atmosphere in the church dissipated, and the people were moved to forgiveness and reconciliation.
Olivier knew that a judge's gavel, while capable of bringing justice, rarely brings healing. His court could do only so much to resolve the divisions and conflicts that had been building. Only personal acts of humility and encounter could do that. In a similar way, St. Paul told the Corinthian believers that before resorting to the city's court system, they should first try to work out their conflicts as brothers and sisters.
God wants all of us to try to settle our disputes personally and with the same humility that Judge Olivier showed. It's not always easy. We can be quick to condemn someone who has hurt us; we can nurse our wounds and become mired in bitterness; we can retaliate and continue the cycle of pain and division. Or we can upend everything by a simple act of humility.
Like Judge Olivier, try starting on your knees. Whether literally, in prayer, or figuratively, by offering an apology, take the position of humility and love. Even if it's just one small step, make it. Sometimes, that's all it takes.
"Jesus, teach me to choose peace rather than conflict."
"How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones?". Yesterday, I had invited brothers in Christ to have a retreat day in the sand hills, and off we went in side by side off-road vehicles into the desert to find an Oasis with huge desert willow trees in the middle of the dunes to reflect on the Word of the Lord. One of them showed up at the same time there at the parking lot and joined us. At one point in the retreat, I brought up the time the Lord that said in Matthew 5:23 "Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.…". Settle up with the Lord rather than settling up in the laws of the land. The laws of the Lord will be of giving, while laws of the land will be about taking. We prayed today "The Lord takes delight in His people". Who are His people? Certainly all can be His. But let's read Psalm 149:4 "For the LORD takes delight in his people, honors the poor with victory. Let the faithful rejoice in their glory, cry out for joy on their couches "(the people reclined to banquet.) And the greatest banquet in the world is offered to the entire world willing to accept the chalice of the Divine Blood and Body of our Lord Jesus Christ! In comes the Lord and chooses 12 men after praying much about it. I can identify with the Lord, I prayed much for these men to attend the day retreat, and it was a challenge, because most, if not all, seemed to have been challenged, and were almost going to bow out and not make the retreat. All the more prayer was going to be needed. And so they were chosen to participate and the whole of the key was the response, as I told a man not into the faith yet "It's all going to be in the heart" as another brother told him it's not all about what you know. It is the heartfelt response that the Lord cares about, and this offering of self is what the Lord accepts. I shared with them, what I have shared with you before, that vision of a blinded visit to the Divine Banquet with the Lord as my prayers and myself were carried to the Lord by our Mother. That what we offer is being presented to the Lord. Those little sacrifices matter, those that no one sees but the Lord sees what you bring to the banquet of offerings where He offers Himself and we offer ourselves. A brother said "I can't get the concept of the Lord being my lover". I had used the banquet vision to explain how our Lord is our lover, accepting our love and us accepting His love and I also tried to explain that the Lord is that lover that loves us so much and tries to get our attention all the time but we don't want Him, we don't need Him, and we often ignore Him. To which a brother came back after one of our silent reflections, walked back in tears, suffering a divorce, he had brought back two mushrooms (weird find in the desert hills) and said "these are my two kids, with really no roots...I have to get them rooted (in the Lord)". Us men were of different walks of faith, in different levels of faith...with one common factor "The Lord Calls Us and Chooses us". To go out and proclaim the Word of the Lord. At night before going to bed, I put some of the words we had reflected on in an exercise from Isaiah 55:11 about the Word:
"...it will not return to Me without accomplishing what I desire"-GOD.
And "It" is you. You shall not return to the Lord empty handed, because just as He loves and is merciful, so shall you be. We shall be love and mercy, the very body of Christ, the very light and Christ the world desires to see. I am a man of God because of you. I am a child of God because of Him. I am chosen because the Word has reached my ears, my eyes, my mind, and finally...down into my heart. I shared my answer to another reflection about comparing my heart to His. I said "Mine is small, and in a cage...His is huge and all encompassing and out...I want mine to be like His" And so, the spirit is willing and flesh we are busting out of. The Scripture has been written so that we know where to go from here. As I told the men these words, I leave with you "The next step will be another yes to the Lord".