There has always been a diverse group of personalities at table with the Lord. At this time in history, you and I now are present. We, like the apostles, are unreliable and weak and afraid. We are inconstant in our devotion to our Lord. We deny him, we betray him.
But Jesus is I Am. He is constant.
The One who sits with arms outstretched in the Da Vinci depiction, who sat in the center of the table in that Upper Room, sits now in the center of our hearts with arms outstretched. He died on the cross out of love for us. He is continually with us, welcoming us, and looking at us with his loving, tender gaze, just as he looked at Peter. What he did at table, he continues to do with all our varied and challenged humanity, a variety of personalities that is forever and continually represented in every church, in every upper room, throughout our entire world, where "two or three are gathered together in his name" (Matthew 18:20).
—from the book Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life
✞ "You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds . . . What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can." — St. Thomas More
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "We must be present with and to the Lord, in silence as Mary practiced silence. We begin with silence of the will, that is, willing nothing but the will of God. Begin here and the rest will come. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will experience silence. Guard and protect it with love and you will become a garden enclosed. Silence is the soil for the seed of the word." — Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, p. 50 AN EXCERPT FROM Thirsting for God
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:11-14
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Saint of the Day for July 20
(d. c. 79)
Saint Apollinaris' Story
According to tradition, Saint Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.
Following Jesus involves risks—sometimes the supreme risk of life itself. Martyrs are people who would rather accept the risk of death than deny the cornerstone of their whole life: faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone will die eventually—the persecutors and those persecuted. The question is what kind of a conscience people will bring before the Lord for judgment. Remembering the witness of past and present martyrs can help us make the often small sacrifices that following Jesus today may require.
Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Ex 3:13-20
Moses, hearing the voice of the LORD from the burning bush, said to him, "When I go to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?" God replied, "I am who am." Then he added, "This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: I AM sent me to you."
God spoke further to Moses, "Thus shall you say to the children of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.
"This is my name forever; this my title for all generations.
"Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and tell them: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt; so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.
"Thus they will heed your message. Then you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him: "The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word. Permit us, then, to go a three-days' journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God.
"Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go unless he is forced. I will stretch out my hand, therefore, and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there. After that he will send you away."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:1 and 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27 R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the nations his deeds. Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought, his portents, and the judgments he has uttered. R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations— Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac. R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He greatly increased his people and made them stronger than their foes, Whose hearts he changed, so that they hated his people, and dealt deceitfully with his servants. R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia. He sent Moses his servant; Aaron, whom he had chosen. They wrought his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham. R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Mt 11:28 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 11:28-30
Jesus said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Meditation: Matthew 11:28-30
Saint Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
Take my yoke upon you. (Matthew 11:29)
Have you ever talked to a newly engaged woman? Beaming with excitement, she eagerly shows you her ring and can't stop talking about her dreams for the future. She has agreed to join someone on a lifelong journey, and the prospect fills her with joy and eager anticipation.
In today's Gospel reading, Jesus is not giving us an engagement ring, but he is inviting us to be yoked with him. He is inviting us to join him on an exciting lifelong journey.
Now, the word "yoke" probably doesn't conjure up feelings of joy and excitement, and for good reason. A yoke is a heavy piece of equipment used to harness a team of animals for difficult labor. Even in Scripture, it tends to have a negative connotation. For example, God describes Israel's captivity in Egypt as a "yoke" (Leviticus 26:13), and St. Paul talks about the "yoke" of the Law (Galatians 5:1). But that all changed with Jesus. His yoke is altogether different. Instead of laying a heavy burden on us, he offers us grace and freedom: freedom from the power of sin and grace to become more like him.
Being yoked to Jesus means putting ourselves under his direction: he sets the course, and we follow. And as we do, we find him walking beside us at every step. He helps us to hold our tongues or choose encouraging words. He moves us to be more charitable toward the people around us. He gives us the peace we need to endure trying situations. When we are yoked to Jesus, he helps us bear every burden.
Today consider Jesus' invitation to accept his yoke. Think about his offer of grace and his promise to teach you and guide you. When you are ready, say, "Lord, I want to take your yoke and learn from you." Then, every morning consecrate yourself to him anew. Tell him you want to be his disciple and to learn to live as he would. To help remind you about his yoke, put a rosary in your pocket. Every time you touch it during the day, pause and recall that you are yoked with Jesus. Remember that he is walking beside you, carrying your burdens and helping you walk in true freedom. He is with you at every step.
"Lord, I want to take your yoke upon me and learn from you."
Exodus 3:13-20 Psalm 105:1, 5, 8-9, 24-27
The Lord appears to Moses and says to say: "The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you." And He wants us to go to a land flowing with milk and honey. You will get the treat if you obey. If you are willing to break loose from the slavery, your lifestyle. If you want to...
We prayed today "He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations—Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever". Israel, God's people, were by this time, slaves for years and years, perhaps 200 or 300 or more. Was it time for the punishment to end? Punishment for what? Sin. Unfaithfulness.
In comes the Lord, the Savior "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart;" I AM meek. I AM humble. And the great I AM, dies on the cross, like a lamb led to the slaughter, not a whimper, not a sound, just straight love and strict obedience, and why? Love.
Bishop Barren says today "...What everyone wants is rest, but not in the sense of relaxation. Rest here means achievement of joy. The great illusion is that joy will come from filling up the ego with goods. In fact, it will come from emptying out, from turning one's life over to the direction of God.
We also find in today's Gospel those extraordinary words: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." Jesus himself is bearing the yoke that he speaks of since he is yoked to the Father, doing only what he sees the Father doing. Jesus is, in his ownmost nature, the one who listens and obeys.
What he is saying, therefore, is to stand next to him, just as one ox stands next to the other as they pull together. Just as Jesus is yoked to the Father, so we should be yoked to him, obeying him as he obeys the Father."
I had a type of revelation during yesterday's daily Holy Mass, and it went something like this "Heaven is a place of giving...not merely receiving". The Lord asks us to take up His yoke, and the yoke is what binds us. Yesterday after Mass we went to bible study. There, as I shared my 2 cents, I said that Jesus is what binds us to God, where Heaven meets Earth, what unites us is Jesus. Whereas in the Old Testament, failure was eminent, God's people kept falling back into sin. Jesus, God, saw this and as much as His people should see His mercy, He decided He would enter in a new way, a new Covenant, the New Testament.
What He offers is extraordinary, and out of this world. A binding with Him like no other, a Sacrament, a covenant like no other. It goes beyond blood. And it goes beyond death. Jesus says in Galations 4:7 "6And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, you are also an heir through God. 8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.…" So, my brothers and sisters, who are you slaves to? I see slaves to work, I see slaves to family, I see slaves to addictions, I see slaves to recreational activities, that's all they work for, think about, and spend time, talent, and treasure on.
Jesus says hitch up with Him. It is as if a groom asks His lover to marry Him. Together, we will make a transformation like never before. Together we will create children of God. Together, the light will come.
Lately, I've been helping at many funerals, today, another one. I don't hardly hear about births, a couple I know are pregnant. Those creations bring much joy...in Spanish when they are born, they say the mother "gave light" , dio luz. This is what happens when we are together and create for God. What God, Jesus, wants to create is a new heart, and it is created from what is already there, like a piece of wood, and the sculpture is hidden inside. This slave, me and you, we are now called friends, children of God. Our duty is a love work. We are like plants among weeds of the world, ways of the world, as we will hear on Sunday's gospel.
So if God is love, then I am a slave of Love. And this love compels me, moves me, it moves us to bringing Him into the world, His creation. What He wants to create with us is unimaginable, simply because we care not to imagine with Him the endless possibilities, and this because we are afraid of the yoke...the cross.
Cross into the infinite. The infinite majesty. The infinite power. The infinite glory. The infinite mercy. The infinite of all imaginable. Just because our earthly bodies are tempted and die, does not mean this is the end. Because God destroys the end, and I thank God He ends sin and death. And it begins here and now. Inside your heart...your temple