A hero is cultivated by countless—often unnoticed—actions. They are ordinary humans—you and me—who direct their decisions and actions to be strengthened by goodness, compassion, integrity, and righteousness.
-from Deep Adventure
† "As the pilot of a vessel is tried in the storm; as the wrestler is tried in the ring, the soldier in the battle, and the hero in adversity: so is the Christian tried in temptation." — St. Basil the Great
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"Inasmuch as we have one Father in heaven, God, we are all brothers of Christ, and it matters not from which city or country we are gathered here or whether our parentage be noble or lowly. The one God created all of us, governs us, and cares for us; He has called us by His external word, and daily by interior contrition He calls us to the one beatitude, our final end. This one God has promised to give Himself to us as our future reward in the presence of the angels and amid the universal happiness of the citizens of heaven. Therefore, since we are called by this one God, redeemed by one price, and imbued by the one Spirit, let us endeavor to love and serve one another. If we wish to be pleasing to Christ, then let us bear one another's burdens and in charity pray for one another, for God is in each of us, and each of us is in God." — Thomas à Kempis, p.64-5 AN EXCERPT FROM Bountiful Goodness
Saint Gregory of Nyssa
Saint of the Day for January 10 (c. 335 – 395)
Saint Gregory of Nyssa's Story
The son of two saints, Basil and Emmilia, young Gregory was raised by his older brother, Saint Basil the Great, and his sister, Macrina, in modern-day Turkey. Gregory's success in his studies suggested great things were ahead for him. After becoming a professor of rhetoric, he was persuaded to devote his learning and efforts to the Church. By then married, Gregory went on to study for the priesthood and become ordained (this at a time when celibacy was not a matter of law for priests).
He was elected Bishop of Nyssa in 372, a period of great tension over the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Briefly arrested after being falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory was restored to his see in 378, an act met with great joy by his people.
It was after the death of his beloved brother, Basil, that Gregory really came into his own. He wrote with great effectiveness against Arianism and other questionable doctrines, gaining a reputation as a defender of orthodoxy. He was sent on missions to counter other heresies and held a position of prominence at the Council of Constantinople. His fine reputation stayed with him for the remainder of his life, but over the centuries it gradually declined as the authorship of his writings became less and less certain. But, thanks to the work of scholars in the 20th century, his stature is once again appreciated. Indeed, Saint Gregory of Nyssa is seen not simply as a pillar of orthodoxy but as one of the great contributors to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality and to monasticism itself. Reflection
Orthodoxy is a word that can raise red flags in our minds. To some people it may connote rigid attitudes that make no room for honest differences of opinion. But it might just as well suggest something else: faith that has settled deep in one's bones. Gregory's faith was like that. So deeply embedded was his faith in Jesus that he knew the divinity that Arianism denied. When we resist something offered as truth without knowing exactly why, it may be because our faith has settled in our bones.
It was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. Instead, someone has testified somewhere:
What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet.
In "subjecting" all things to him, he left nothing not "subject to him." Yet at present we do not see "all things subject to him," but we do see Jesus "crowned with glory and honor" because he suffered death, he who "for a little while" was made "lower than the angels," that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering. He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them "brothers" saying:
I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you.
Responsorial Psalm PS 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9 R. (see 7) You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. O LORD, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands. All sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea, and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
Alleluia 1 Thes 2:13 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Jesus not only preached the Good News in what he said but more so by what he did. Today's Gospel story shows us a person who spoke with a courage and a wisdom that struck the ordinary people with its ring of authority.
▪ For a few moments of prayer let yourself notice and admire what the people were so impressed with about Jesus.
Dear Lord, help me each day to seek your presence more and more. Fill my heart with love for you.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands. (Psalm 8:7)
Dominion. Rule. Authority. We can all be a little uneasy with these ideas today. The idea of someone having authority over us can seem negative. We love our freedom, and there are too many examples of the way leaders have abused their power. Our uneasiness can extend to how we feel about God, the ultimate authority figure.
But God doesn't dominate or manipulate. That's not how he exercises authority. He rules in love. Yes, he is all-powerful and has the final say over right and wrong, over life and death. But he wants nothing more than for us to be with him forever. His laws are there to lead us on the path toward him, not trap us or condemn us. Authority properly exercised looks more like a loving parent training his child or a caretaker tending to a garden.
Today's psalm tells us that God has given us authority as well. So how are we supposed to exercise it?
First, look within. Your primary zone of authority is over yourself. You can exercise dominion over your eyes by evaluating the things you see according to God's standards: movies, advertising, the people around you, even the created world. You take authority over your ears by taking time to listen respectfully to other people. And you take authority over your thoughts by uprooting the subtle ways you may judge or manipulate another person.
Next, look outward. You have a vocation, a calling in life, that gives you authority in certain relationships. If you're married, you have the mutual submission between spouses. If you have children, you have responsibility for their growth and development. You may be a manager at work or be involved in a ministry in your parish. In all of these roles, God calls you to serve and nurture, not to dominate. Spouses lead each other in holiness. Parents strive patiently and lovingly to form their children in holiness. Coworkers set an example of caring cooperation.
In the end, authority is not about being "above" someone else. It's about serving and laying down our lives—just as Jesus has done for us!
"Father, open my eyes to your loving authority. Help me to imitate you in all of my relationships."
Let us be open to the WORD of the LORD our GOD: "...you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet." This is bringing the whole bible into full circle, from beginning to end, such powerful words. Crowned with glory. Jesus was crowned with glory and honor. The earth and evil crowned him as they saw fit, as best they could, by spitting on His face, and smashing thorns into His Holy Head. The Glory given to Him was guile and disgust. Such was and is the twist of many still roaming the earth...evil. Yet God would allow Himself to come and save the world in this way. It would be the ONLY way. To set the example of what God does and how He loves. And it seems so backwards. So contrary, such a contradictory sign, such that would pierce a sword for the thoughts of many to be revealed, and for the rise and fall of many of Israel...God's people. And you are God's chosen ones. Pay attention. You are so needed and so desired. Do you want to be crowned with honor and glory? Because, Jesus came, and He will reverse the curse of Adam. He becomes the perfect Human from Conception, the Holy onset of life, an unborn child is precious, yet the world sees it as a curse. And He is born, the Adam, the firstfruits of God, Holiness, a thriving soul in the Kingdom that is to be returned to God whole, and Holy.
We prayed today "You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands." And on speaking of man "You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet." God cares so much about you, that He has angels watching over each one of us. Not that we may not get physically hurt, but that they be there to carry messages to Christ of our soul's prayer. Our life is temporal on earth, but eternity is serious, because there is no time in eternity, it is the forever now. Now is the time to worship, the forever now, the Kingdom of Heaven awaits. We are to be Christ, not later in life, not once in the past, but now.
In comes Christ the savior of the world, and already before dying on the cross, He is saving lives...souls, and is found wiping the temples, cleansing them, breaking them hard rocks open to reveal the magma of life, for a new Kingdom, of David, of Abraham, of Adam...of God Himself. Funny, isn't it? To be in the "Holy" temple, and there find Jesus ousting the devil. What's the devil doing inside? EXACTLY. What's the devil doing inside these people. Because, I can see it in today's world. People go to church possessed by many things. Their minds are on football or work or pleasures. Their hearts therefore, are closed. And these are the ones going to church! What about the ones not going at all? The devil has it cinched, claimed victory, for it won't "have to sit there at church, be bored, looking at all them hypocrites, and waste time", and so it takes great pleasure knowing it is safe from The Christ's salvation that is offered in a Holy Mass. That is why it is a COMMANDMENT to attend Holy Mass every Sunday at minimum and Holy Days of Obligation that lead to an observance of holiness brought about as gift through obedience. Here, in Mass, we must be ready to render to God what is His: Our very selves. The devil wants to take over, the nation, the world, and has been pushing Christians into a corner for the last 100 years. I heard somewhere that every 6 minutes a Christian loses its life, perhaps martyred. The devil exclaims to the Lord "what have you to do with US?" in the plural because it is widespread. The Lord says simply a handful of words ""Quiet! Come out of him!" and with those 5 words the devil screeches out of the poor man's body, an exorcism in front of all. But that devil wasn't killed, it was just expulsed. These spirits exist because they are eternally damned. They seek an inn. All you have to do is give the devil a ride, a moment of permission, and it gets in. Never open up, through witchery, through debauchery, through dissidence all things, disobedience to Holiness...God. Because if you do, then you'll wonder if there even is a god. Then you'll wonder why you don't feel Him. Then you'll doubt because you never see Him, albeit, because you never go see HIM!
Today's Gospel speaks volumes about our lives. Go see your priest. Go to confessions often. Go to the temple to be with the Lord and offer yourself to Him and be open to Him to be closed to darkness. Go and participate in this Glory and Honor to God, the true honor and glory...of self sacrifice, a love that knows truth...in giving