The point is to forgive quickly and allow God the space to work in you and in your enemy. We may also need that same forgiveness and mercy someday.
-from Mother Angelica: Her Grand Silence
† "He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His. He took it not to overturn it but to fill it." – St. Ambrose
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God. Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example, for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter. In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived in remote caves to escape the esteem of men. The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men, to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul, and evil that causes us to forget our God; it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God, we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others." — St. Alphonsus Liguiori, p. 128-9 AN EXCERPT FROM 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation
Saint Hilary of Poitiers
Saint of the Day for January 13 (c. 315 – c. 368)
Saint Hilary of Poitiers' Story
This staunch defender of the divinity of Christ was a gentle and courteous man, devoted to writing some of the greatest theology on the Trinity, and was like his Master in being labeled a "disturber of the peace." In a very troubled period in the Church, his holiness was lived out in both scholarship and controversy. He was bishop of Poitiers in France.
Raised a pagan, he was converted to Christianity when he met his God of nature in the Scriptures. His wife was still living when he was chosen, against his will, to be the bishop of Poitiers in France. He was soon taken up with battling what became the scourge of the fourth century, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.
The heresy spread rapidly. Saint Jerome said "The world groaned and marveled to find that it was Arian." When Emperor Constantius ordered all the bishops of the West to sign a condemnation of Athanasius, the great defender of the faith in the East, Hilary refused and was banished from France to far off Phrygia. Eventually he was called the "Athanasius of the West."
While writing in exile, he was invited by some semi-Arians (hoping for reconciliation) to a council the emperor called to counteract the Council of Nicea. But Hilary predictably defended the Church, and when he sought public debate with the heretical bishop who had exiled him, the Arians, dreading the meeting and its outcome, pleaded with the emperor to send this troublemaker back home. Hilary was welcomed by his people. Reflection
Christ said his coming would bring not peace but a sword (see Matthew 10:34). The Gospels offer no support for us if we fantasize about a sunlit holiness that knows no problems. Christ did not escape at the last moment, though he did live happily ever after—after a life of controversy, problems, pain and frustration. Hilary, like all saints, simply had more of the same.
I remind myself that, as I sit here now, God is gazing on me with love and holding me in being. I pause for a moment and think of this.
"In these days, God taught me as a schoolteacher teaches a pupil" (Saint Ignatius). I remind myself that there are things God has to teach me yet, and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me.
How wonderful it is to be able to enter into your presence Lord. No matter what time it is. No matter which land I am in. I need only to speak your name.
Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed. For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened. For we who believed enter into that rest, just as he has said:
As I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter into my rest,"
and yet his works were accomplished at the foundation of the world. For he has spoken somewhere about the seventh day in this manner, And God rested on the seventh day from all his works; and again, in the previously mentioned place, They shall not enter into my rest.
Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.
Responsorial Psalm PS 78:3 and 4bc, 6c-7, 8 R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord! What we have heard and know, and what our fathers have declared to us, we will declare to the generation to come The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength. R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! That they too may rise and declare to their sons that they should put their hope in God, And not forget the deeds of God but keep his commands. R. Do not forget the works of the Lord! And not be like their fathers, a generation wayward and rebellious, A generation that kept not its heart steadfast nor its spirit faithful toward God. R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Alleluia Lk 7:16 R. Alleluia, alleluia. A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 2:1-12
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, "Child, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, "Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth" –he said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home." He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ One of the most life-giving things Jesus is doing in Gospel texts like today's is forgiving our sins. In doing this he is encouraging us not just to forgive others but first of all to forgive ourselves. If we do, so we learn to live at peace with the reality that we are limited human beings and make mistakes, or are sometimes neglectful in the way we relate.
▪ Bring to Jesus some failure from the past that you find it hard to forgive yourself for. In the light of today's scripture reading listen to Jesus' desire to forgive you and also his desire that you would forgive yourself. If you find this capacity of Jesus to forgive attractive tell him so.
Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one friend to another. Conclusion
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Saint Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)
Let us strive to enter into that rest. (Hebrews 4:11)
Rest. This word is usually paired with relaxation. It makes us think about sitting on the beach or taking a break from our responsibilities. Yet here the word rest is connected to the word strive. It seems odd, doesn't it? How can we strive in order to rest?
Let's consider what kind of rest we're talking about. The Scriptures say that on the seventh day, God rested from all his works (Genesis 2:2). But that doesn't mean he took time off and went on a vacation. No, he rested by taking pleasure in his work and revealing himself as Father to his creation. Imagine that on that seventh day, God's rest consisted of showing Adam and Eve his plans for them. Imagine him walking with them, telling them about the desires of his heart and answering their many questions. Imagine how restful and refreshed they must have felt hearing him speak to them too. This is the kind of rest that God is offering you.
So how do we tap into this rest? Ironically, by striving. By making the effort to guard and protect our time of daily prayer. Do you have a specific time set aside to pray every day? If not, try to do this. The more determined you are about it, the more likely it will happen. It also helps to choose a specific place in your home for prayer. Maybe in a comfortable chair in your living room or at your kitchen table after breakfast. Find a spot that is quiet and free from distractions. You may even want to set this space apart by placing a candle or a crucifix in it. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you are able to turn to the Lord.
What happens once you turn to him? He pours his divine life into you. He inspires you to praise him when you don't feel like it. He encourages you to pray for a friend or forgive a family member. He gives you clarity in a particular decision you have to make. He reminds you that you are his beloved child.
Jesus wants to give us his rest; let's all strive to enter it!
"Jesus, I choose to turn to you. Show me what it means to rest in your presence."
The Word of the Lord said today "But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened." Keep these words in mind for when we hear the Lord heal a paralyzed man. Keep these words and take them to heart and share them. What words? The word of the Lord, the Good News. "For in fact we have received the Good News just as our ancestors did." They were picking on me at an office lunch "well don't you keep up with the news? Haven't you heard what this guy said? Haven't you heard what's going on?" To me, the news of the world is not the good news, I told them "I'm not into the drama and propaganda the world has to offer". It's all doom and gloom. So keep picking on the guy that lives under a rock, a hermit, the ignorant of the world and is not keeping up with the world. Keep picking on the guy that is only hung up on the Lord. Keep picking away and poking with sticks and hitting him on the head. It is Christ.
And there is Christ at the center, with a paralyzed man, getting picked on, not for what He did, but for what He said. The miracle was Ok, sort of, but what He said was so bad that they wanted to kill Him, and what had He said? ""Child, your sins are forgiven." Those words that soothe the soul in the confessional. Those words that heal inside and outside. So many cures are brought about by priests and the sincere penitent, the sincere person approaching God in faith, so many are healed of things that were about to brew and torture them, had they not confessed. So many unknown healings, so many times to be grateful for.
I remember a group of men (cursillistas) went to see a fellow cursillista in our nursing home who had been basically paralyzed suddenly from an aneurysm, a man in his late forties perhaps. I saw them there in his room and we chatted, and we prayed for the man in bed and in conversation, the man said "I have no help, I can not afford a therapist, I have no way to get up" and the men said "let's help him get up" and we put him on his feet to help him get up, but his legs were like jelly and his feet becoming disfigured from being in bed so long. He couldn't stand alone. Eventually everyone left. This was many years ago, those men in that room all became deacons, and I have pledged to become one if the Lord sees to it. But the man, Michael, still suffers alone in that room, now in some other city, his wife left him, his children grew up and live their lives, and he lately goes through dialysis. I went to see him and caught him in a city dialysis place I think last year, and I remember only one thing from our conversation when I asked "Let me know if you need anything" and he said "a kidney". And I left. I left him again, perplexed. "How in the world?" This man prays in bed for his brother cursillistas. He had a life and death experience and saw his dad and someone else. Now, he lives in agony and for the most part alone. Hopeless case, right? Yep. Sure is. It sure is to this doom and gloom world. But God sees different. He says "But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth" –he said to the paralytic, "I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home." And the man gets up and walks away. This is to prove one thing and one thing alone: What He says is Truth. He had truly forgiven the man. He had truly instilled in His soul a unification that the first scripture describes for a "rest", a being united with Him. The story of Michael is a story of sanctity. It is a story of God using a man locked up and alone to give light to the world like a freely walking human won't typically do. He is reaching ends of the earth even when He don't know it. I am a voice for him. I am also a voice for the unborn children. Someone has to speak up for the tortured and abandoned children of God. The Good News is hardly heard, much less lived. It is often repeated and talked about, but not lived and shared. Christ enters this world in ways you would never even want to believe. This is why He caused trouble...because He did what no one else could or would.