Jesus said to St. Paul: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" not "Why do you persecute the Christians?" This clarifies that we serve Christ in the poorest of the poor: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me."
-from Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations
FEBRUARY 24, 2017 "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞
"It almost always happens that interior sentiments of pride precede the commission of grievous sins. Peter was not aware of his own weakness. He preferred himself before others; he trusted in himself as though he were incapable of sinning, boasting that no temptation would separate him from Jesus. He would not even believe the assurance of his Divine Master, that he would deny him thrice. Deceived by this vain confidence in his own strength, he neglects to pray, and to have recourse to God; and God, in His justice, permits him to fall, in punishment of his pride. There is nothing more dangerous than to confide in our own strength, and trust to feelings of fervor. We are full of malice, and capable of committing the most enormous crimes, unless God supports us." — Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus, p. 85-6 AN EXCERPT FROM The School of Jesus Crucified
An Excerpt From
Way of the Cross
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Blessed Luke Belludi
Saint of the Day for February 24
(1200 – c. 1285)
In 1220, Saint Anthony was preaching conversion to the inhabitants of Padua when a young nobleman, Luke Belludi, came up to him and humbly asked to receive the habit of the followers of Saint Francis. Anthony liked the talented, well-educated Luke and personally recommended him to Francis, who then received him into the Franciscan Order.
Luke, then only 20, was to be Anthony's companion in his travels and in his preaching, tending to him in his last days and taking Anthony's place upon his death. He was appointed guardian of the Friars Minor in the city of Padua. In 1239, the city fell into the hands of its enemies. Nobles were put to death, the mayor and council were banished, the great university of Padua gradually closed and the church dedicated to Saint Anthony was left unfinished. Luke himself was expelled from the city but secretly returned. At night he and the new guardian would visit the tomb of Saint Anthony in the unfinished shrine to pray for his help. One night a voice came from the tomb assuring them that the city would soon be delivered from its evil tyrant.
After the fulfillment of the prophetic message, Luke was elected provincial minister and furthered the completion of the great basilica in honor of Anthony, his teacher. He founded many convents of the order and had, as Anthony, the gift of miracles. Upon his death he was laid to rest in the basilica that he had helped finish and has had a continual veneration up to the present time.
The epistles refer several times to a man named Luke as Paul's trusted companion on his missionary journeys. Perhaps every great preacher needs a Luke; Anthony surely did. Luke Belludi not only accompanied Anthony on his travels, he also cared for the great saint in his final illness and carried on Anthony's mission after the saint's death. Yes, every preacher needs a Luke, someone to offer support and reassurance—including those who minister to us. We don't even have to change our names!
A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings. Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him. For one sort is a friend when it suits him, but he will not be with you in time of distress. Another is a friend who becomes an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your shame. Another is a friend, a boon companion, who will not be with you when sorrow comes. When things go well, he is your other self, and lords it over your servants; But if you are brought low, he turns against you and avoids meeting you. Keep away from your enemies; be on your guard with your friends. A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds; For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:12, 16, 18, 27, 34, 35 R. (35a) Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes. R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. In your statutes I will delight; I will not forget your words. R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Open my eyes, that I may consider the wonders of your law. R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds. R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart. R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Lead me in the path of your commands, for in it I delight. R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Alleluia Jn 17:17b, 17a R. Alleluia, alleluia. Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 10:1-12
Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them. The Pharisees approached him and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him. He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her." But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate." In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
What God has joined together, no human being must separate. (Mark 10:9)
If you've been through a divorce, or know someone who has, you might have a hard time accepting these words. You might find yourself thinking, "Doesn't Jesus understand why marriages break down? Why can't he show a little more compassion?" If you know anything of the guilt, anger, and sadness that can come with divorce, it might seem as if Jesus is being a legalist here or that he enjoys "arresting" us on the charge of a broken marriage.
But remember who Jesus was talking to—some very legalistic Pharisees. They were looking for loopholes, trying to trap Jesus by getting him to spell out just when it is acceptable to leave your spouse. In response, Jesus told the truth, as he always does. Yes, marriage is sacred to him, and it is a blessing for us. It's a union between two people that is sealed by the Holy Spirit, and the last thing he wants for us is to go through the agony of having that union torn apart.
Notice, however, that while Jesus said that divorce should not happen, he never said a condemning word about people whose marriages do end up failing. He knows that we are human beings who make mistakes; that's why he came to earth! Look, for instance, at how he treated someone who was caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Some other Pharisees were there, quoting the Law that says that the woman should be stoned. But Jesus confronted them with their own sinfulness, and they walked away. Then, he told the woman, "Neither do I condemn you" (8:11).
If you are going through the pain of divorce, Jesus has the same words for you. He's not asking whose fault it was, and he is not holding your sin—or someone else's—in front of you. That's what Satan does, and we should never listen to his voice! Instead, Jesus wants to heal you and set you free. He wants to take whatever feels wounded or broken in your life and make it entirely new. Let this be the day that you accept his mercy and healing!
"Lord Jesus, send your Spirit out on all those families wounded by divorce. Let them know that your grace can break the chains of hatred, mistrust, and unforgiveness. Shine your light into their darkness!"
Sirach 6:5-17 Psalm 119:12, 16, 18, 27, 34-35
We heard the Word of the Lord today "A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure." These words should bring us to the reality of the truth; it's not about who can be my friend alone, but who we can be that shelter to as well, just as in a Holy Marriage, and my friend...it is all about God. If you've never really had a good friend that you can trust...why not God our Father? If you have never had the opportunity to be that friend, that loving and trusting friend to someone...why not God our Father?
This past Saturday, I sat in a confessional, and it's as if the conversation picked up without a formal confession process...my friend was there, it is the Lord, my shield in whom I trust, who tells me things, and I have to trust, for good or for worse.
We pray today "Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands. Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart." Keep it with ALL my heart, treasure it, finding that treasure is giving up everything for that one most valued and sought after, coveted covenant, a promise of eternity, a promise that you will never die, a promise that is forever, a love then...that is forever!
And so our Lord speaks about this covenant relationship when He is quizzed on it...Matrimony. "...what God has joined together, no human being must separate." Let us recall the Holy Scripture from Romans 8:38 "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." What God has joined, no one must separate. Now, let's take this to heart and not lightly. God has joined us to Him in Holy Baptism and is reaffirmed through one another in the other Sacraments, which are a covenant, a seal of grace. Shall I then, be a stumbling block and an agent of separation? How? How does this happen? How can I separate one from the love of God? Easy...when you separate yourself from His love...through sin. You see, our relationships on earth, reflect our relationship with Him. I think it was yesterday, I was for some reason recalling the faithful that are walking up the isle to receive Holy Communion as has been through Christ's disciples since Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist. They remind me of a bride going to meet her groom. This is how it is with God. A continuous renewal and re-living the wedding feast. I question my faithfulness. How true am I as I am going to meet the groom on the altar? Am I that confidant, that friend He believes I am? Or am I hiding things? Am I secretly keeping things from Him who keeps nothing from me?
Today is the present. What a gift! Are you glad to be alive? If you feel you are suffering, unite with the Lord, our friend, and lover on the altar. He gained all our love when He showed us how much He loved you and me, once and for all. "I would die for you" He whispers. Would you die for Me?