The very people the Lord came to save are those who live in constant fear and who have nothing to live on but hope. The fact that they live in dire poverty is not by their own choice, but the choice they make to live in voluntary poverty is the absolute realization of their gift from God. This dynamic and vibrant faith comes from a place where those of us who live with a decent roof over our heads and who take the basic necessities of life for granted can never experience or even imagine.
—from the book Ignite: Read the Bible Like Never Before
✞ "Announcing the Gospel is the first and greatest act of charity." — St. Arnold Janssen ✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "We have to accustom ourselves to pray in all places and at all times. The real place to pray in is the soul, for God dwells there. If we wish to obey our Lord's counsel, when we pray we should enter the chamber of our soul, close the door, and speak to the Father, whose loving eyes seek ever our own. This inner chamber of our soul is the true temple, the sacred sanctuary, and we carry it with us and can at any time either remain there or quickly return to it, should we have been obliged to leave it." — Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 111 AN EXCERPT FROM The Prayer of the Presence of God
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done." Matthew: 16:26-27
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Saint Sharbel Makhluf
(May 8, 1828 – December 24, 1898 )
Saint Sharbel Makhluf's Story
Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra where he was born, his influence has spread widely.
Joseph Zaroun Makluf was raised by an uncle because his father, a mule driver, died when Joseph was only three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of St. Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name Sharbel in honor of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853, and was ordained six years later.
Following the example of the fifth-century Saint Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875, until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.
He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified Sharbel in 1965, and canonized him 12 years later.
John Paul II often said that the Church has two lungs–East and West–and it must learn to breathe using both of them. Remembering saints like Sharbel helps the Church to appreciate both the diversity and unity present in the Catholic Church. Like all the saints, Sharbel points us to God and invites us to cooperate generously with God's grace, no matter what our situation in life may be. As our prayer life becomes deeper and more honest, we become more ready to make that generous response.
Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Ex 14:5-18
When it was reported to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about them. They exclaimed, "What have we done! Why, we have released Israel from our service!" So Pharaoh made his chariots ready and mustered his soldiers six hundred first-class chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt, with warriors on them all. So obstinate had the LORD made Pharaoh that he pursued the children of Israel even while they were marching away in triumph. The Egyptians, then, pursued them; Pharaoh's whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers, caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea, at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them. In great fright they cried out to the LORD. And they complained to Moses, "Were there no burial places in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert? Why did you do this to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said, 'Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians'? Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert." But Moses answered the people, "Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two, that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land. But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate that they will go in after them. Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots and charioteers. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I receive glory through Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers."
Responsorial Psalm Ex 15:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6 R. (1b) Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory. I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. He is my God, I praise him; the God of my father, I extol him. R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory. The LORD is a warrior, LORD is his name! Pharaoh's chariots and army he hurled into the sea; the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea. R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory. The flood waters covered them, they sank into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power, your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy. R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
Alleluia Ps 95:8 R. Alleluia, alleluia. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 12:38-42
Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." He said to them in reply, "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here."
Meditation: (Psalm) Exodus 15:1-6
Makhlūf, Priest (Optional Memorial)
I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant. (Exodus 15:1)
Wait. Before you read another sentence, stop and think back to one of your most favorite memories—maybe your wedding day or your graduation day or the birth of your first child. Sit with that memory for a moment. Doesn't it feel like you're back there again? Doesn't it make your heart feel a little bit lighter?
Today's first reading describes a moment in Israel's history that was so powerful that the Jewish people still celebrate it today: the day when God parted the Red Sea and rescued them from the Egyptians. This story was proof that God had chosen them to be his special people. It reminded them that there was no other people on earth who had received so much blessing and grace from the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:7). It gave them courage during trials, inspired them to remain obedient to God, and encouraged them to turn back to the Lord when they had fallen into sin.
What are the "Exodus" moments in your history with the Lord? Just as the parting of the sea was a foundational event for the Israelites, so Jesus' death and resurrection are foundational for all of us. It was through the cross that Jesus rescued us from slavery to sin and opened the gates of heaven. But there are also individual, personal Exodus moments that each of us can point to. Perhaps you felt that God was very close to you during a special time of prayer. Or maybe you finally found the grace to forgive someone who has hurt you. Or maybe it was a particularly moving homily at Mass that helped you feel God's love in a new way.
It's easy to lose sight of these blessings. But following the Israelites' example of recounting his wonders can help. Recalling the ways God has shown his love for us can soften our hearts. It can fill us with gratitude and remind us that he has a perfect plan for our lives—even in the midst of our challenges.
So thank God for the gift of your memory. And use it! Take a few minutes today to recall two or three of God's greatest blessings. Imagine yourself back in those scenes. Remember how you felt, what you thought, and what God did. Then "sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant" (Exodus 15:1)!
"Thank you, Father, for all you have done for me!"
Exodus 14:5-18 Matthew 12:38-42
And the people of Israel exclaimed to Moses who had convinced them to go to the desert (unbeknownst for a cleansing), they cried out for fear of their lives "'Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said,Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians'? Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert." Slavery is like that, you'd rather just keep living your way, comfortable, than out in the desert with the Lord. We were on vacation, and on Sunday on our way back, a nephew that was there texted an invitation "at this state park they are offering free hamburgers and hot dogs", I replied from a Catholic Church I found on masstimes.org for Holy Mass schedules in a little bitty town, "We are at Holy Mass, you should have come to eat what the Lord offers and not the world". I had already been on his case about a movie he was watching on a tablet during the weekend, young people in bed, no clothes it seemed, just more of what the world offers, pleasure for all the senses and the body. I said at that moment I caught him "you need not watch that stuff that sticks to your soul....you got something to confess now". He said "oh its just an old 80's movie, its not as bad, trying to brush it off. That's what the devil says "its not bad" living in sin and slavery to sin is not "bad" are the lies. Like this young person said last week about living in sin "I have a good reputation in church, that should count for something". My thoughts: "who cares about what the world thinks about you, its about what God thinks about you!". But, really...who cares? Who cares more? Of course it is our Lord, otherwise He wouldn't have drug us out into the desert to be purified.
We prayed today "Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory. The LORD is a warrior, LORD is his name!" That was the title of my CD last year, a compilation of songs I've written for the Lord. Yet, the Warrior here is so powerful, so wise, so gracious, that all that is hurled at Him does not phase Him, and that my family, that is amazing. The only pain then is...our pains we put ourselves through, and He sees what we can not.
In comes the Lord of our lives "An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights..." We should be the ones giving a sign, not Him jumping through hoops to show us He loves us. You know, I can't go further writing without letting you know what I've read earlier, so I'll share it: It is the story of a saint of the day today (another one): ST. CHRISTINA THE ASTONISHING St. Christina of Bolsena (1150-1224) was born to a peasant family in Belgium. She was orphaned as a child and raised by her two older sisters. When she was 21 she had what was believed to be a severe seizure, and was pronounced dead. At her funeral she suddenly revived and levitated before the bewildered congregation. She said that during her coma she had been to heaven, hell, and purgatory and had been given the option to either die and enter heaven, or return to earth to suffer and pray for the holy souls in purgatory. Christina chose the greater act of charity. From then on she lived in extreme poverty: wearing rags, sleeping on rocks, and begging for her food. She is called "Astonishing" because she did the most bizarre things and suffered the pains of inhuman feats without being physically harmed by them. She would roll in fire and hide in hot ovens; she would stand in freezing water for hours in the dead of winter; she allowed herself to be dragged under water by a mill wheel; she spent much time in graveyards. She would also climb trees to escape the strong odor of sin in those she met. Many thought her to be possessed by demons or insane, but many devout people recognized and vouched for her sincerity, obedience, and sanctity. They believed that she was a living witness to the pains that souls experience in purgatory, willingly suffering with them and for them. Christina the Astonishing is the patron of those with mental illness and disorders, mental health workers, psychiatrists, and therapists. Her feast day is July 24th.
What was astonishing about Christina again? All the nutty things she did? Or the fact that she died and came back and said what she saw? She became a fool for Christ. I remember a talk by a dear friend locally, "Deacon Fred", and during the talk, he made us stand up, (asked us to stand). We did. "Ok now, do this" and he started making monkey noises and walking like a crazy ape. It took a while for it to sink in, and I was more like a cement statue than a follower of what was asked. "Is this guy for reals? Does he really want me to act the fool?" Yes. The world needs to see living saints. It needs more Crazy Christinas. It needs more Jonahs. It needs more of JESUS. It needs a Moses to lead us out to be purified. I am astonished at the world that thinks it is so right in everything they think and do, sin is justified, and it is a lie. God justifies in the desert. I once had a dream I can not forget. I was somehow in Egypt, and I had walked into a maze of tunnels in what looked like a pyramid. Suddenly, I seen these figures trying to catch me. I fled and found the doors back out and found myself jumping across high cliffs. Curiosity almost had me snared. That was a couple years ago. But it is such a frightening thing, sin. It is scary how good it seems. There are lies out there like "if you are on vacation, you no longer have to go to Mass". The best part of my weekend vacation out of town was actually going to Mass. It was the most memorable thing to me, my kids enjoyed it, and for good reason, Heaven meets the Earth and were were there to be a part of it. A part of Christ, and this part of Christ leaves ready to meet the world where it is at....in dire need of HIM