In the Gospels, Jesus introduces us to God the Father and invites us into his heavenly realm right here on earth, the kingdom of God. He opens our eyes to see that there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of this world, which we can touch, taste, see, hear, and smell (our physical world), and God's kingdom, which is unseen but just as real—in fact, even more so.
By getting to know Jesus Christ and learning how to connect with him spiritually, we can become "kingdom-of-God dwellers." But because we have been given the gift of free will, each of us must decide, every minute of each day, in which kingdom we will choose to place our hope and trust.
–from the book Born to Soar: Unleashing God's Word in Your Life
✞ JUNE 30, 2017 "Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church; let it become a consuming fire, that it may burn the hay and stubble, and consume whatever is worldly; there is heavy lead of iniquity in many; let it be molten by divine fire; let the gold and silver vessels be made better, in order that understanding and speech, refined by the heat of suffering, may begin to be more precious." — St. Ambrose
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Joseph's virtue was sublime and exceptional; therefore it was subjected to a great and singular trial. But, as he heroically surmounted this trial, so God was pleased, not only to console him, but to exalt him to a dignity of extraordinary glory." — Edward Healy Thompson, p. 197 AN EXCERPT FROM The Life & Glories of St. Joseph
TODAY'S FEAST DAY
†FIRST MARTYRS OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH A great number of Christians perished at the hands of the Roman Emperor Nero during the terrible persecution that lasted from 64-68 A.D. This was the first of many major persecutions of the newly founded Church at Rome. The holy men and women who first died for the Gospel of Jesus Christ are also called the "Protomartyrs of Rome." Some were burned as living torches in the Emperor's gardens; some were crucified; others were fed to wild animals. Many died even before Sts. Peter and Paul, and therefore it is said of them that they are the "Disciples of the Apostles ... whom the Holy Roman Church sent to their Lord before the Apostles' death." God used the sacrifice of these holy men and women, who suffered like their savior Jesus Christ, to lay the indestructible foundation of His Church. Their bold witness for the Christian faith as they endured a brutal death won many converts and caused the Church to grow and spread throughout the world. The feast day of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church is June 30th.
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Matthew 7:21
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First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
Saint of the Day for June 30
First Martyrs of the Church of Rome's Story
There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in 57-58 A.D.
There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in 49-50 A.D. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city "caused by the certain Chrestus" [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius' death in 54 A.D. Paul's letter was addressed to a Church with members from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.
In July of 64 A.D., more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, many Christians were put to death because of their "hatred of the human race." Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.
Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. at the age of 31.
Wherever the Good News of Jesus was preached, it met the same opposition as Jesus did, and many of those who began to follow him shared his suffering and death. But no human force could stop the power of the Spirit unleashed upon the world. The blood of martyrs has always been, and will always be, the seed of Christians.
Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said: "I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless."
God also said to Abraham: "On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you that you must keep: every male among you shall be circumcised."
God further said to Abraham: "As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai; her name shall be Sarah. I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. Him also will I bless; he shall give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples shall issue from him." Abraham prostrated himself and laughed as he said to himself, "Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?" Then Abraham said to God, "Let but Ishmael live on by your favor!" God replied: "Nevertheless, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact, to be his God and the God of his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I am heeding you: I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation. But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you by this time next year." When he had finished speaking with him, God departed from Abraham.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 R. (4) See how the Lord blesses those who fear him. Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored. R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table. R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him. Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion: may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Alleluia Mt 8:17 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 8:1-4
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I will do it. Be made clean." His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."
Meditation: Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22
The First Martyrs of Holy Roman Church (Optional Memorial)
As for Ishmael . . . I hereby bless him. (Genesis 17:20)
The story of Abraham and his son Ishmael is as messy as any mixed marriage or custody battle today. According to Mesopotamian law, a childless woman could offer a slave to her husband as a substitute child bearer. That's how Ishmael was born; Abraham's barren wife, Sarah, offered her slave Hagar to Abraham to bear a child for her.
Like a modern surrogacy story, relationships got complicated after Ishmael was born. Abraham loved his son Ishmael, but Sarah and the "surrogate mother" held one another in disdain. Sarah wanted to throw Hagar out. Imagine the household tension that little Ishmael must have felt. By the time God told Abraham that Sarah would conceive a child of her own, his response was a little bit cynical: "Just let Ishmael live through this!" (Genesis 17:18).
Isn't it comforting to think about how faithful God was to Abraham and Ishmael despite all this family strife? The way God responded to Abraham's frustration is the way he responds to us today. He says, "I will bless you and maintain my covenant with you." God's love can't be dragged down by our problems!
Our families don't have to be perfect for God to remain faithful and merciful. We don't have to make all the right decisions in order for God's will to happen. Even Abraham struggled to believe this in his heart though. As God was promising blessing, Abraham was caught up in his family troubles. Does this sound familiar? Whether family or some other worry weighs you down, take a moment to suspend thinking about that and concentrate on God's love.
As God's eternal faithfulness was present to Abraham, it is also present to you. Sometimes it's helpful to be concrete by recalling one or two specific examples of God's faithfulness. Try to remember a time that God bailed you out of a tough situation. Thank God for that. Or thank him for a blessing from the past week! Finally, strengthened by these memories, offer up your biggest worry—your Ishmael—to the faithful goodness of the Lord. God is always at work in our lives; we just have to rise out of our worries to perceive it.
"Jesus, I take comfort in your constant, faithful love."
Psalm 128:1-5 Matthew 8:1-4
my2cents: These words were recorded from God from thousands of years ago: "Walk in my presence and be blameless." He said this to a man that was about 100 years old, Abram, named Abraham by our Lord in Heaven. The father of nations. Called to be blameless and the message goes to your very eyes... holiness.
We prayed today " See how the Lord blesses those who fear him. Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways!" But imagine, if you don't feel blessed. Imagine that you can't walk in His ways. Imagine yourself cast out. This message is for you. God is there, always been there. He is ready to bless, to bless those who fear, that means love, that means is amazed by GOD!
In comes the AMAZING ONE, right before us as a leper begs on his knees ""Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." For some strange reason, I was getting these thoughts this morning as I pondered the Lord as I got ready for work, "what if the only way we could see the Lord is on our knees". Yesterday's Psalm said "Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad." Proverb 29:23 says "A man's pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor." The leper represents all the lost, and found. Because a lost one comes on his knees like the Prodigal Son, and realizing the great honor, of what all he left, he remains on his knees in gratefulness, appreciation, lowliness, in the same role as our Blessed Mother in Heaven, giving honor to God.
And for this, be ready for a world that is not ready. This is why we honor today's saints, and they are not "fallen heroes" but heroes alive in Heaven. They took their cross, they followed ChrisT to the T. We are called to follow that example. And it starts with little things. Turn off the raunchy stuff. Turn off darkness. Turn on the lights, and the lights are obvious like when a martyr is burned at stake like a torch for the world to see. Confident, and unafraid, with only fear of the Lord to ever fail Him. Too much is at stake. And the stake awaits. God awaits. We are privileged to serve and honor Him with our whole heart, mind, body, and soul! Love you God. Thank God for Friday, a good Friday, a Friday You Died for us on. No longer is it about me, but You O Lord, Thank you. I DO WISH TO BE MADE CLEAN