Heroes are the ones who are willing to venture out of the safe harbor of what is comfortable and venture into the wild, untamable sea of God's calling. In other words, the hero's journey is one of deep virtue.
-from Deep Adventure
†"One should not say that it is impossible to reach a virtuous life; but one should say that it is not easy. Nor do those who have reached it find it easy to maintain." — St. Anthony of the Desert
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"Whoever expresses profound gratitude to God, even for the least benefits received, praises God wondrously, for He, who has granted these benefits, is supremely great. Hence, you ought not to look upon what the Most High has freely and lovingly granted you as something trifling or of little worth. God neither seeks nor asks anything more of us than that we willingly love Him, avoid all that offends Him, and always and everywhere to give Him thanks. God highly values the man who out of true humility belittles and forgets himself, judges himself unworthy of all gifts and benefits, does not flaunt them when received, and does not seek the praise of others. ... Blessed is he who humbly accepts afflictions from the hand of God as did Job and offers and abandons himself totally to the divine will. Blessed is he who always seeks to follow that will and chooses whatever is more pleasing to God; he who accepts the worst as the best rejoices when he meets with insult and endures temporal afflictions, knowing they are for his soul's benefit." — Thomas à Kempis, p. 98-9 AN EXCERPT FROM Bountiful Goodness
Saint of the Day for January 20 (c. 256 – January 20, 287)
Saint Sebastian's Story
Almost nothing is historically certain about Sebastian except that he was a Roman martyr, was venerated in Milan even in the time of Saint Ambrose and was buried on the Appian Way, probably near the present Basilica of St. Sebastian. Devotion to him spread rapidly, and he is mentioned in several martyrologies as early as 350.
The legend of Saint Sebastian is important in art, and there is a vast iconography. Scholars now agree that a pious fable has Sebastian entering the Roman army because only there could he assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion. Finally he was found out, brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. His body was pierced with arrows, and he was left for dead. But he was found still alive by those who came to bury him. He recovered, but refused to flee.
One day he took up a position near where the emperor was to pass. He accosted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. This time the sentence of death was carried out. Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs. He was buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs that bear his name. Reflection
The fact that many of the early saints made such a tremendous impression on the Church—awakening widespread devotion and great praise from the greatest writers of the Church—is proof of the heroism of their lives. As has been said, legends may not be literally true. Yet they may express the very substance of the faith and courage evident in the lives of these heroes and heroines of Christ. Saint Sebastian is the Patron Saint of:
Dear Lord as I come to you today Fill my heart and my whole being with the wonder of your presence.
Lord, you granted me the great gift of freedom. In these times, O Lord, grant that I may be free From any form of racism or intolerance. Remind me, Lord, that we are all equal in your Loving eyes.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
Brothers and sisters: Now our high priest has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one. But he finds fault with them and says: Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they did not stand by my covenant and I ignored them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his fellow citizen and kin, saying, "Know the Lord," for all shall know me, from least to greatest. For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.
When he speaks of a "new" covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 85:8 and 10, 11-12, 13-14 R. (11a) Kindness and truth shall meet. Show us, O LORD, your mercy, and grant us your salvation. Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land. R. Kindness and truth shall meet. 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. Kindness and truth shall meet. 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. Kindness and truth shall meet.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 3:13-19
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Like the apostles each of us is called by name or called into a profoundly personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. It is when we allow him to look on us in this way that we get a sense of our deepest significance and personal worth.
▪ Spend some moments in prayer or in conversation with Jesus about the profoundly personal relationship he wants with you, dwell with his preference for relating with people one to one in the Gospel stories.
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. 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.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Mark 3:13-19
Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him. (Mark 3:14)
A group of ambassadors has gathered at the United Nations to discuss how their countries can work together to resolve a crisis. One emissary, however, has no idea what the president of his country thinks about the issue. This representative would surely be no help in the negotiations—and neither would he be serving his country well!
"Ambassador." That's one way people in Jesus' time understood the word "apostle"—a representative sent out by one in authority. So when Jesus chose his apostles, he picked people whom he could trust to heal and preach on his behalf, but they first needed to understand the message they were going to proclaim. And so Jesus wanted them to "be with him" (Mark 3:14).
In order for the apostles to be effective, they had to know Jesus well. They had to learn, not only his thoughts and plans, but also his desires and dreams. They had to know what was on his heart. And that could happen only as they spent time with him.
Now, we can't exactly sit around the fire talking with Jesus the way the apostles did. But that doesn't have to keep us from getting to know him better. There are many ways to do this, but let's look at one of the best: spend time every day reading and studying Scripture. You can do this alone or join a Bible study group at church. Or you can pick up a couple of books on Scripture written by trusted authors that can help you understand what you are reading.
Don't stop at reading though. Take what you have learned, and sit before the Lord with it in adoration. Ask Jesus, in light of what you're learning from Scripture, what his "policy" is on some of the issues that you are facing or on the broader issues in your community or the world around you. Let his word guide you as you seek the answers, but also see if anything moves in your heart—anything that you think may come from the Holy Spirit.
Remember, the more you know Jesus and how he thinks and feels, the better ambassador you'll be!
"Jesus, thank you for choosing me as your ambassador. Help me know you more deeply so that I can represent you today!"
"Now our high priest has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises." God's impact on the world is marvelous. When He gave His life on earth, not to be worshiped, but to serve, not exacting an adoration, but adoring His children, and in turn, those that recognized Him adored Him. The better promise, the new covenant is all HIM. And He is the light that shows the way out of darkness. There is a better promise, not to say the old wasn't good, but this one is better because it would not longer come from the outside, but from the inside, at the heart of the matter.
" Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from Heaven." And indeed, God's kindness and truth met in Jesus. Justice, holiness, and peace and joy welcomed with a kiss, a welcoming, a gesture of a relationship. And He sees our gestures, our body language, and this is why there are creatures in Heaven close to Him with eyes everywhere, meaning, He sees every angle and inside. And from the world sprang forth life...Jesus. From the inside...to the out, Jesus came. Just like we are born of a mother, we are born from this world into His. This world belongs to God. It is not mine. It is not mine and that is why I must take care, to take care of what is not mine is a sign of love. All that is mine is the love, and so I pray for more, because it is strength, and it is faith.
In comes the Lord our God, and He summons 12 men up the mountain. Psalm 24:3 "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.…" The Lord calls each one by name. Your name was pronounced in Baptism. You were called by God. Chosen. The 5 minutos said that each man's response to the call was different, like one was a zealot, and another was a traitor in the end. Take care of what is not yours...the call. 12 men for the 12 tribes of Israel, to be united and made anew. A new unity. And when the 12th man killed himself, God did not desire this, a 12th man was chosen to replace him. And this succession continues on to our dearly beloved Catholic bishops. So to be touched by one is to be touched by the Lord's call. And the bishop touches us in the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation. So in many ways, God touches our lives, yet...our response to the call? That is what we live daily, a witness, a martyr or not. Does God matter? Only if you really love Him will He matter in your life. If He matters, the world will remain united. If He does not, you side with the anti-christ. The Gospel writer Matthew says in chapter 5 verse 37: "All you need to say is simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." He said this because the Lord exacts an answer from you right now, and it is the same question as He asked Saint Peter our first Pope, when the Lord says looking into your eyes: "Look at me. Do YOU love ME?"