God does not wait for us to become perfect or even to repent, but calls us constantly, even while we're struggling with our faults or refusing to acknowledge them altogether. God takes what is at hand and finds the good in it. He takes what is humble and elevates it to a higher purpose.
-from A Mary Christmas
†"To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement." — St. Augustine of Hippo
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "They who are bent on sensible sweetness, labor also under another very great imperfection: excessive weakness and remissness on the rugged road of the cross; for the soul that is given to sweetness naturally sets its face against all the pain of self-denial. They labor under many other imperfections, which have their origin here, of which our Lord will heal them in due time, through temptations, aridities and trials, elements of the dark night." — St. John of the Cross, p. 28 AN EXCERPT FROM Dark Night of the Soul
Saint of the Day for December 5 (439 – December 5, 532)
Saint Sabas' Story
Born in Cappadocia, Sabas is one of the most highly regarded patriarchs among the monks of Palestine, and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.
After an unhappy childhood in which he was abused and ran away several times, Sabas finally sought refuge in a monastery. While family members tried to persuade him to return home, the young boy felt drawn to monastic life. Although the youngest monk in the house, he excelled in virtue.
At age 18 he traveled to Jerusalem, seeking to learn more about living in solitude. Soon he asked to be accepted as a disciple of a well-known local solitary, though initially he was regarded as too young to live completely as a hermit. Initially, Sabas lived in a monastery, where he worked during the day and spent much of the night in prayer. At the age of 30 he was given permission to spend five days each week in a nearby remote cave, engaging in prayer and manual labor in the form of weaving baskets. Following the death of his mentor, Saint Euthymius, Sabas moved farther into the desert near Jericho. There he lived for several years in a cave near the brook Cedron. A rope was his means of access. Wild herbs among the rocks were his food. Occasionally men brought him other food and items, while he had to go a distance for his water.
Some of these men came to him desiring to join him in his solitude. At first he refused. But not long after relenting, his followers swelled to more than 150, all of them living in individual huts grouped around a church, called a laura.
The bishop persuaded a reluctant Sabas, then in his early 50s, to prepare for the priesthood so that he could better serve his monastic community in leadership. While functioning as abbot among a large community of monks, he felt ever called to live the life of a hermit. Throughout each year—consistently in Lent—he left his monks for long periods of time, often to their distress. A group of 60 men left the monastery, settling at a nearby ruined facility. When Sabas learned of the difficulties they were facing, he generously gave them supplies and assisted in the repair of their church.
Over the years Sabas traveled throughout Palestine, preaching the true faith and successfully bringing back many to the Church. At the age of 91, in response to a plea from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sabas undertook a journey to Constantinople in conjunction with the Samaritan revolt and its violent repression. He fell ill and soon after his return, died at the monastery at Mar Saba. Today the monastery is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Saint Sabas is regarded as one of the most noteworthy figures of early monasticism. Reflection
Few of us share Sabas' yearning for a cave in the desert, but most of us sometimes resent the demands others place on our time. Sabas understands that. When at last he gained the solitude for which he yearned, a community immediately began to gather around him and he was forced into a leadership role. He stands as a model of patient generosity for anyone whose time and energy are required by others—that is, for all of us.
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; The abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus. A highway will be there, called the holy way; No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14 R. (Isaiah 35:4f) Our God will come to save us! I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people. Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land.
R. Our God will come to save us! Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Our God will come to save us! The LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Our God will come to save us!
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth, and he himself will lift the yoke of our captivity. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 5:17-26
One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven."
Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, "What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"– he said to the one who was paralyzed, "I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."
He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus is the newly arrived kingdom, personified in his very self. Not only has he power to cure the paralysed man, he also lays claim to forgive the man's sins - and this requires nothing less than God's own power.
▪ "We have seen strange things today", say the onlookers. Nothing had prepared them for this.
▪ But this precisely is what our Advent Season is about - we are commemorating the first coming of a Saviour Lord, and we are also preparing a welcome for this Saviour Lord in our own hearts, and in the world of today.
▪ The lame will leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb will sing for joy, prophesied Isaiah. Nature itself too will be renewed, with water gushing in the desert. No less will the people be joyful of heart…the whole world is poised for a make-over.
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.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed. (Luke 5:18)
From now until Christmas, many people will be rushing around—and you will likely be one of them. There's the shopping, the gift wrapping, the special dinners, and the planning. The list goes on and on.
But right now, just for a few minutes, try to set all that aside. Take a deep breath, and place yourself in today's Gospel reading. You're trying to push your way into a house filled with people so that you can hear Jesus. From behind, you hear voices and see some men carrying a man on a stretcher. Then they disappear.
What in the world is happening? They're climbing onto the roof and removing some of the tiles. To your amazement, they lower the stretcher down through the opening, right in front of Jesus. These men didn't let anything keep them back. As a reward for their faith, Jesus pronounces forgiveness over their friend and heals him (Luke 5:18, 20).
Over the next few weeks, you'll more likely grapple with a crowd of shoppers than a crowd of disciples. But perhaps a different kind of crowd has been subtly gathering in your mind and heart. This crowd could include anxious thoughts or items on your to-do list. Or perhaps a complex relationship crowds your mind and saps your energy. Or maybe you're just exhausted. Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone came along and carried you to Jesus?
There is someone. In fact, there are many—the Holy Spirit, the saints and angels, and your family and friends. We like to go it alone, but the simple truth is, we need each other! Whether our struggles are large or small, we need our spiritual family to pick us up and help us out.
The next time you catch yourself in a fretful moment, pray, "Come, Holy Spirit." When a difficult relationship causes some hardship, let a friend know in a text message. Some people carry a rosary in their pocket as a reminder that Mary is always near. Small gestures like these remind us that help is available to us every day. We don't have to wait until we're stretched out on our backs to receive it.
"Jesus, thank you for my family and friends. Show me how to ask for—and offer—help today."
The Word of our Lord says to us today "Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!" My grandma passed away this year, the only one I ever knew, and she always told everyone "Do Not Be Afraid". When she passed away, I took a photo of her, she looked different, and when I stand by the side of the church on Sundays, there is a statue of Jesus, and my grandma looked like him. This means that we are to be like Him, and the more, the better, because we are responsible and being called for reading this, to make firm the knees that are weak, bringing to Jesus those who are far away, and poor...in spirit. Because you are being enriched with the WORD!
We prayed today "Our God will come to save us!" These are the hopeful promise words of the Bible before Jesus entered as a human, our God made human. And already God had saved His people, but now, it would be an internal salvation. Because in every case, the Lord heals the soul, and the soul many times heals the body. This is the beauty of confession. As I see a loved one suffer, knowing they "used to be Catholic", I often wish deep in my heart that they would simply go to Holy Confession, and be healed. Yet...do I dare take them there?
The Gospel continues "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven." This caused a scandal. I signed up for ANOTHER reflection, LOL, this one is from redeemedonline.com and on one of the days they said "Jesus is scandalous". And it is true. Because He simply said the truth in a confused world, in the dark, and the light caused a riot, people didn't know what to do with themselves...ourselves. Because if you talk about "the people" you are a person too, don't be quick to point the finger. And so we are called to cause a scandal. Jesus said "your sins are forgiven". He forgave, with Authority, with only God can do. You see, in those days, forgiveness was not normal, and today, perhaps it is not either. Very few Catholics go to Mass, and fewer still go to confession. People didn't believe in it then, and people (we LOL) don't really care for it today. And so, we live merciless, relentless in the way we talk about one another behind each others' backs, brutal, unforgiving, yet oh so nice when we see each other. Brutal savages that we are, and still God wants to come into our lives, our...souls! We are truly in the dark my brothers and sisters. We live in world that would love to see God kicked out of schools, government, workplaces, the public and especially in CHURCH. It is a true proving ground of growth in seeds. Each soul is important. And so we have to realize that you are Church, I am Church and TOGETHER we are the Church. The paralyzed man did not heal himself. These were the parties involved: The men (The Church), the paralyzed (The Sinner) and Jesus (GOD). Sometimes I am the sinner, and sometimes I am part of the "men". But not very many "men" do what these men did in the Gospel. It is a real BATTLE to do what they did, more than a fish swimming against the current, they'd go through hell and high water to get this man SAVED! Hauling someone on a stretcher is not easy, and it is not easy to hoist them up a roof, and open a roof, and lower them down through the roof. These rescuers were not trying to pull men out of a house on fire, they were trying to put him INSIDE a house on fire...the HOly SPIRIT was inside.
I say this to challenge you couch potatoes (beginning with myself). How much effort do I really put in saving someones LIFE? I dare you to join a pro-life ministry that prays at death camps, or I dare you to simply get on your knees with your family at home and pray a rosary for it...I dare you to go to that paralyzed sinner and welcome them in God's love to love God above all. I dare you to speak to your co-worker, or fellow student, or stranger, or family member about God and being reunited with God. Because these "men" dared to do what no one else would....getting them and others into the house of the Lord for healing, for encouragement, to amaze God and to be amazed by God!!!!