Through the sacrifice of the Mass, we have the opportunity to join our sufferings to Christ's sufferings, to fill up that which is lacking in his afflictions for the sake of the Church. If we can attach meaning to our suffering, if there is some value in what we are experiencing, we can endure anything. Think about it: Nothing in life has meaning unless we attach meaning to it.
-from When You Suffer
† "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." — St. Angela Merici
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "We have difficulty understanding this, just as a blind man has difficulty understanding color, but our difficulty doesn't alter this fact: God's omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom. In the core of our being we remain free to accept or reject God's action in our lives—and to accept or reject it more or less intensely. God wants us to accept him with all our 'heart, soul, mind, and strength'—in other words, as intensely as possible. But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil, so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace. … Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort, every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act of kindness to someone in need, we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord by putting our faith in his will." — Fr. John Bartunek, p. 591 AN EXCERPT FROM The Better Part
Saint Berard and Companions (d. January 16, 1220)
Saint Berard and Companions' Story
Preaching the gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving one's homeland and adjusting to new cultures, governments and languages is difficult enough; but martyrdom caps all the other sacrifices.
In 1219, with the blessing of Saint Francis, Berard left Italy with Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to preach in Morocco. En route in Spain, Vitalis became sick and commanded the other friars to continue their mission without him.
They tried preaching in Seville, then in Muslim hands, but made no converts. They went on to Morocco where they preached in the marketplace. The friars were immediately apprehended and ordered to leave the country; they refused. When they began preaching again, an exasperated sultan ordered them executed. After enduring severe beatings and declining various bribes to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, the friars were beheaded by the sultan himself on January 16, 1220.
These were the first Franciscan martyrs. When Francis heard of their deaths, he exclaimed, "Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" Their relics were brought to Portugal where they prompted a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the next year. That young man was Anthony of Padua. These five martyrs were canonized in 1481. Reflection
The deaths of Berard and his companions sparked a missionary vocation in Anthony of Padua and others. There have been many, many Franciscans who have responded to Francis' challenge. Proclaiming the gospel can be fatal, but that has not stopped the Franciscan men and women who even today risk their lives in many countries throughout the world.
What is present to me is what has a hold on my becoming. I reflect on the Presence of God always there in love, amidst the many things that have a hold on me. I pause and pray that I may let God affect my becoming in this precise moment.
If God were trying to tell me something, would I know? If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice? I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations and open to what God may be saying to me.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time audio link
Reading 1 Heb5:1-10
Brothers and sisters: Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: You are my Son: this day I have begotten you; just as he says in another place, You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. In the days when he was in the Flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 110:1, 2, 3, 4 R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. The LORD said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion: "Rule in the midst of your enemies." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. "Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek. The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent: "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
Alleluia Heb 4:12 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 2:18-22
The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, "Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ In today's Gospel story Jesus portrays your life with him as like a wedding celebration. During the first millennium of Christianity this became the context in which Christians saw their lives.
▪ In a few moments of reflective prayer, see can you be with Jesus as one he loves with a passion or as his beloved disciple. When you have dwelt for some time with this reality, tell Jesus what you like about this way of viewing your relationship with him and tell him too how you resist it.
Lord, I know that when I turn to you there is no need for words. You can see into my heart. You know my desires and you know my needs. I place myself into your hands.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Mark 2:18-22
2nd Week in Ordinary Time
Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? (Mark 2:19)
Imagine attending a friend's wedding. Just as the ceremony is about to begin, everyone quiets down and takes their seats. The music starts. The bride is poised to walk down the aisle. But where's the groom? No one notices that he is sitting with the rest of the congregation. He doesn't stand out at all.
Like these wedding guests, the Pharisees in today's Gospel are having a hard time recognizing Jesus. All they see is a zealous rabbi from a small village. So when they ask why his disciples don't fast, Jesus answers by referring to himself as a "bridegroom" (Mark 2:19). He tells them he is more than just another teacher; he is the Messiah.
Jesus wasn't the kind of Messiah most people had expected. He came as a bridegroom, not just a morality teacher. He came as a friend, not a soldier. He came to love his people into new life, not just lead them. He came as a humble, poor rabbi, not a fiery political activist. And so he remained unrecognized.
It wasn't just these Pharisees either. Throughout his ministry, Jesus' detractors couldn't see that his teaching revealed God's grace and mercy in a new way. They couldn't see that he had come to lay down his life for his people, as any honorable husband would do for his wife. And they couldn't see that he had come to teach forgiveness rather than revenge—something that he embodied even as he hung dying on the cross, when he prayed, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34).
Of course we know that Jesus is the Messiah. But we can still fall into a similar trap. We picture him up in heaven, removed from our circumstances. Or we focus only on his moral teachings and forget about his power to change lives.
But Jesus isn't removed; he's close to us all the time. And he isn't just a teacher; he is almighty God. He stands by our side all day, ready to lift us up with his love. Even when we sin, he is with us, offering his healing and calling us back to himself in love. He truly is our Bridegroom!
"Jesus, reveal yourself to me today! Let me see the hope I have in you."
The Word of the Lord said today "Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." One of the greatest tools given from Heaven...is humility. So many times the saints teach us this. But humility takes an un-human-like strength. This is why it is extraordinary to be what we are already inside...saints. That child of God is there, that holy creation is there, for we are made in His image. And so, for those striving for sainthood, the message is here and it is for you right now, learn obedience through suffering, and this is the meaning of patience, a holy endurance. I see suffering souls and I see God's love. The Word of the Lord prays with us "You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek." and ""Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you." Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the father loves [also] the one begotten by him. 1Jn5:1. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,b 4for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. 1Jn3:4. Priests with bread and wine pronounce Victory (Christ) upon the sacrifice, and we are baptized in the Holy Catholic Church as priest, prophet, and king. We offer in collect, in communion, a sacrifice that is holy, offering what is inside, our everything, strengths and weaknesses, because that is all we have...our heart.
The Lord enters "...no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins". The 5 minutos ended today with "Not even God can do in you what you do not permit Him to do! Let Him enter your life!" Another reflection was a Claretine Missionary, Rosa Ruiz Aragoneses, that chatted with a person ordering new barrels for the new crop. She brought up today's scripture "No one pours new wine into old wineskins" and the man said "you know, just within the last 30 to 40 years we started using new barrels. In the old days people used old barrels to save money. Actually still today, in many wineries, old barrels are used, but rather to reduce costs, because by the wear of the wineskin, the wine becomes "dirty", it takes notes of flavor that are not its own." It becomes a question of true wine. It becomes a question of not being stained. It becomes an answer of Christ. If the soul is in question, it is the new wine skin in question. It is the same as being reborn. It is then, an ineffable answer, that is too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. Yet, it is such to fulfill His Word "See how I make all things new" from Isaiah to Revelation, God is speaking. The new you is there. I want the new you to shine. This whole reading serves as one purpose for you, to outshine me. To show me the way. I am writing to see you. I am writing to raise you up. I am reaching to you to hold you. I have never let go. It is God's love that will not let go. If He won't let go...why should I?