Jesus' invitation to "lay down my life for others" has always meant more to me than physical martyrdom. I have always heard these words as an invitation to make my own life struggles, my doubt, my hopes, my fear and my joys, my pains and my moments of ecstasy available to others as source of consolation and healing. To witness for Christ means to me to witness for Him what I have seen with my own eyes, heard with my own ears and touched with my own hands.
-from Love, Henri
† "I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of his body. He belongs to you as the head belongs to the body. All that is his is yours: breath, heart, body, soul and all his faculties. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that in serving him you may give him praise, love and glory." — St. John Eudes
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"Since Jesus has gone to Heaven now, I can only follow the traces He has left behind. But how bright these traces are! How fragrant and divine! I have only to glance at the Gospels; at once this fragrance from the life of Jesus reaches me, and I know which way to run: to the lowest, not the highest place!" — St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 153-4 AN EXCERPT FROM Story of a Soul
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Saint of the Day for November 21
The Story of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary's presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.
As with Mary's birth, we read of Mary's presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.
Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary's presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond. Reflection
It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God's saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her
Dear Jesus, as I call on you today I realise that I often come asking for favours. Today I'd like just to be in your presence. Let my heart respond to Your Love.
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.
How do I find myself today? Where am I with God? With others? Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary readings audio
Reading 1 Rv 14:1-3, 4b-5
I, John, looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. They were singing what seemed to be a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6 R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face. The LORD's are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it. For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face. Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? or who may stand in his holy place? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD, a reward from God his savior. Such is the race that seeks for him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face. Alleluia Mt 24:42a, 44 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Stay awake! For you do not know when the Son of Man will come. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 21:1-4
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus often shows himself to be an acute observer of what is going on around him. He also has the ability to present his teaching through commenting on what he sees. This is what is happening here as he sits in the temple.
▪ Jesus is surprisingly non-judgmental. He does not condemn the temple authorities for avarice, or the rich who give alms out of their surplus wealth. He simply points out that the poor widow gives more than anyone else because she gives her last penny. She has left herself nothing to live on.
▪ Jesus allows us to draw our own conclusions and discover what meaning the event has for us. What are my conclusions? Can I share them with him in prayer?
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
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.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Luke 21:1-4
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial)
He noticed a poor widow. (Luke 21:2)
Imagine today's Gospel scene as a painting. The main action in this scene is absorbing: a grand Temple with well-dressed donors and the reassuring sound of coins falling into the treasury chests. The whole scene is welcoming and familiar to the pilgrims and tourists in the Temple courts.
But as in many a good painting, there is more going on than just what is in the foreground. Unnoticed, a poor widow walks up to the treasury box and puts in two of the smallest coins in circulation. Maybe she hesitated just a bit before putting in the second coin; it was her best chance for a bit of bread that day. Then, in a moment of complete trust, she throws in the second coin as well. Jesus sees her. Though the coins hardly make a sound, they ring joyfully in his ears.
We can picture our lives the same way. Each of us can identify the bustling actions in the foreground as well as the more telling, quiet choices in the background. Today, let your quiet choices show Jesus how much you love him and trust him. Think of how he marvels at the completeness of the widow's gift, in part because it mirrors the completeness of his own generosity to us. "Finally, a kindred spirit!" he may have thought.
There may have been situations in the past when you were like the widow in today's Gospel. You may have found the courage to take a step of faith that brought you blessing and peace. It may have been a moment when you shared your faith with someone. Or maybe it was when you decided to devote yourself completely to your vocation, whether it be marriage, the single life, or the priesthood or religious life.
These are big, life-defining events that naturally call for a leap of faith. But what about the small situations you will find yourself in today? Is there something you will find hard to let go of, like the widow's second coin? It may be forgiving a slight. It may be giving up some free time to spend it with the kids. It may be finally deciding to spend some time pondering Scripture.
So what will complete your gift to God today?
"Take my life, Jesus. I trust that you will meet my deepest needs."
The Word of the Lord said today in the first Holy Scripture: "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes." The Lamb of God is Jesus, and Jesus is the Holy Spirit. So if this statement is true, then, we could read like this: These are the ones who follow the Holy Spirit wherever He goes. And where He goes is up the mountain. And what does that mean too? It means up and away, to depart to Heaven, and it begins right now. Your baggage, your luggage, not necessary. This is why the poor widow we read about does what she believes is most important, leaving it all...for the LORD!
We prayed today "Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face." and "Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? or who may stand in his holy place? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain." If you read protestant beliefs (those who have turned away from the Catholic faith) you will often hear how Jesus forgives all and basically all go to Heaven when they die, not matter what they done in life. Not so. This is not the Heaven God creates, where unclean souls just pounce right in, all those with filthy minds and filthy hearts, and filthy hands, and lips. Only those who are sinless, those who have ascended the mountain of the Lord, those who have taken up their cross and followed Him, those who went up to Calvary, the mount of the skull (death) and proclaimed victory for the life of the Lord...that is...to have died for the love of God above all!
In comes the Lord of our lives and His love letter today says to us ""I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest". If we are talking percentage-wise, the rich people were probably giving anywhere between 1% to 20% and ringing bells and trumpets as they dropped in their large sums of money, albeit, those bells and trumpets where in their own minds (tootin' their horn). But this widow, a widow who has no man to take care of her, knew this God would. This widow gave percentage-wise 100%: "..she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood." It's like as if I asked you to put in your last paycheck, not a part of it, but all of it, again; not part, but ALL! This is the same story of faith of our first pope Saint Peter, stepping out onto the water, but MORE. Peter was still a little doubtful and scared, but not this widow. She put all her chips in and betted on the Lord. This is a risk that very few will take in life, and so you find very few atop the mountain (having ascended the mountain of the Lord). Because she gave her whole life by giving her whole livelihood. I've been visiting this older homeless couple every night for the last few nights. As I visit with them, trying to see how I can help, but it seems I am learning more...about living on a limb, on faith. I give them a ride sometimes, with all their bags to McDonald's until they got kicked out yesterday. Yesterday the man says they did Ok, when I asked how their day went. It had started with me giving them a ride on Sunday morning, and I invited them to go to Mass (because they said they were Catholic). The man said "nah we gotta get to McDonald's." They'd never gotten kicked out until yesterday afternoon. But it is a two-fold story. Because most often, the Lord is taking care of them. When they see me coming around the corner, the man waves his hands in the air, he looks like an amish guy with only his white beard grown and no mustache, all smiles waving me down, and he yells at his wife "here comes Saint Benny!" because of my St. Benedict logo on my little older SUV I drive. If these people can live ok, without a home, without a job, and still smile, then how do we flip out with every little thing that goes wrong in our life of luxury, with running water, with food, with work? It boils down to your faith and how far you see. We must focus with the lens of God. I'm asking you to live with the smile of God on your face, because today He says "I LOVE YOU SO". And this because I told you so! I am very happy to announce that I have seen the love of God and His Holy Spirit at work, and it happened when life got zoomed out with time. It is only after all the years of noticing Him at work, that you realize, this God is amazing. He sees the heart of the widow, the heart of Zacchaeus, and the heart of every soul He encounters, like the woman at the well, where He says " ...whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." I challenge you to drink of this cup of salvation. It is the cup of glory. When I take Holy Communion, the Holy Eucharist, I know what is going on...I'm offering myself...and to what percentage?