What is God showing you that you are to do with your life? However small or great that is, it must be yours and not someone else's. What a stripping, for example, is sickness or aging, or the loss of loved ones, or ultimately the stripping that is the embrace of Sister Death.
The important thing is to give humbly and honestly of what God asks you to give. In the end you are the gift God wants; in the meantime each person struggles to know what God wants and whether or not one is really giving the gift of one's self to God.
–from the book Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality
✞ "If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would be wanting to content the heart of man." — St. John Vianney
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Jesus Christ could have appeared among us, radiant with joy and encompassed by divine splendor, amidst the glitter and pomp of His sovereign majesty. He deemed it more worthy of His glory and more profitable to the salvation of men, to show Himself to them girt with a diadem of thorns, clothed in purple and stained with blood, His face bruised, the gaping grimace of death on His lips, bearing the bloody unction of the nails imprinted on His hands and feet. In uniting Himself closely with suffering, Jesus Christ assuredly did not smooth all its severity and all its pangs; but He removed part of its bitterness, corrected and destroyed its poison. He made the chalice of His Blood fruitful. Like the brazen serpent set up by Moses in the desert, He implanted Himself in the center of the world as an inexhaustible instrument of mercy, life, and health. Owing to this transformation, His divine wounds, like fountains ever gushing, remain eternally open to all straying and fallen souls who are eager to escape from their coarse, sensual aspirations, wanting to immerse themselves anew in the joys of sacrifice and the honor of purity." — Fr. Charles Arminjon, p. 276-77 AN EXCERPT FROM The End of the Present World
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." John 20:29
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ST. JOHN VIANNEY (CURE OF ARS)
St. John Vianney (1786–1859) was born in France to a farming family, one of six children of devout Catholic parents. He was baptized on the day of his birth. When he was four years old the French Revolution erupted, and priests were forced into hiding. Every day they risked their lives to give the sacraments, and John looked up to them as heroes. His First Holy Communion and Confirmation were made in secrecy. After the Church in France was reestablished, John studied for the priesthood. He had difficulty in his studies due to his lack of formal education during the turmoil of the revolution, but his great desire carried him through. After his ordination he became a parish priest assigned to the small country town of Ars. There he ministered to the carnage the revolution had left in the souls of the French people. Many were indifferent to, and ignorant of, the Faith. John performed great penances for the people and received many graces for their conversion. He had the gifts of miracle-working, prophecy, hidden knowledge, and discernment of spirits. He was soon known internationally, and people came from afar to see him. Year after year he spent 11-12 hours a day in the confessional, and up to 16 hours in the summer. By 1855 there were 20,000 pilgrims travelling annually to Ars. Because of this St. John Vianney was tormented by evil spirits throughout his life, especially when he attempted to get his two to three hours of sleep a night. He died at the age of 73 after serving 40 years as a parish priest. Over 300 priests and 6,000 people attended his funeral. St. John Vianney is the patron saint of confessors and priests. His feast day is August 4th.
Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest
Reading 1 Lv 23:1, 4-11, 15-16, 27, 34b-37
The LORD said to Moses, "These are the festivals of the LORD which you shall celebrate at their proper time with a sacred assembly. The Passover of the LORD falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight. The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD's feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first of these days you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work. On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD. Then on the seventh day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and do no sort of work."
The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the children of Israel and tell them: When you come into the land which I am giving you, and reap your harvest, you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, who shall wave the sheaf before the LORD that it may be acceptable for you. On the day after the sabbath the priest shall do this.
"Beginning with the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the wave-offering sheaf, you shall count seven full weeks, and then on the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day, you shall present the new cereal offering to the LORD.
"The tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement, when you shall hold a sacred assembly and mortify yourselves and offer an oblation to the LORD.
"The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD's feast of Booths, which shall continue for seven days. On the first day there shall be a sacred assembly, and you shall do no sort of work. For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD, and on the eighth day you shall again hold a sacred assembly and offer an oblation to the LORD. On that solemn closing you shall do no sort of work.
"These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD on which you shall proclaim a sacred assembly, and offer as an oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 81:3-4, 5-6, 10-11ab R. (2a) Sing with joy to God our help. Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel, the pleasant harp and the lyre. Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast. R. Sing with joy to God our help. For it is a statute in Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob, Who made it a decree for Joseph when he came forth from the land of Egypt. R. Sing with joy to God our help. There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship any alien god. I, the LORD, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt. R. Sing with joy to God our help.
Alleluia 1 Pt 1:25 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The word of the Lord remains forever; this is the word that has been proclaimed to you. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 13:54-58
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, "Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?" And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house." And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.
When you come into the land . . . (Leviticus 23:10)
Try though we may, we simply can't control everything that happens in our lives. From political intrigues to sudden thunderstorms, some things just happen no matter what we do. Only God can make accurate predictions about what will and won't happen. He does exactly this in today's first reading, when he tells the people, "When you come into the land which I am giving you . . . bring a sheaf" (Leviticus 23:10). Notice that he says when you come into the land, not if.
Ever faithful to his promises, God knew that the Israelites would enter the Promised Land. All he asked for in return was their trust, demonstrated by an offering of a "sheaf," a bundle of harvested grain, during the major Jewish festivals. This sheaf was to come from "the first fruits" of their harvest—the very first ripening of grain (Leviticus 23:10). They weren't to wait until they had gathered all of the harvest; they were to show their trust that God would bless the rest of the crop.
But what about during years of drought or hardship, when the Israelites were struggling to see God's blessings? Undoubtedly, it was hard to trust God then. But that's what made the offering even more valuable.
We can find it hard too when our loved ones continue to struggle despite our prayers or when we can't see a way out of a painful situation. Like the Israelites, we might wonder if God will be faithful. So how can we "bring a sheaf," or continue to trust in God? By recalling how faithful he has been in the past. Use your personal history as a starting point, and then proclaim with the psalmist, "I believe I shall see the Lord's goodness" (Psalm 27:13).
Maybe your faith has faltered at other times, but in this moment, decide to bring God a sheaf of trust. Imagine him responding, "When I answer your prayer . . ." God knows what he is doing. He is already past the "if" stage and onto the "when." He is providing for you in ways you don't yet perceive. Trust this, and thank the Lord for what you believe, even if you can't see it. You may not know all the details of God's plan, but God does. He won't abandon you.
"Lord, I entrust my deepest concerns to you in faith."
Psalm 81:3-6, 10-11 Matthew 13:54-58
In today's first Holy Scripture we heard the Word of the Lord say "...you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, who shall wave the sheaf before the LORD that it may be acceptable for you. On the day after the sabbath the priest shall do this." This has become the truth of today, the day after the Sabbath is Sunday, this is the day we celebrate the Lord and bring what He asks us to offer, and the priest waves his hands over the offering, the bread, and in a communal effort, we atone for our sins, and we partake and share of the offering, which is now CHRIST to the world.
We prayed today "Sing with joy to God our help. There shall be no strange god among you nor shall you worship any alien god." The protestants changed the 10 commandments so that the 2nd would say you shall not have any false gods of any graven image, but Catholics, the first Christians, have had this as the first, to love God above all and have no false gods. But, lets consider this, what or who are false gods? We are unaware of false gods, and still worship them. Simply, tell me, who or what do you spend all your time, talent, and treasure (money) on? Even if you say "family", I dare say you have identified a false God, made of earthly things. Because in the first Holy Scripture, God asks for the first fruits. Jesus was the first fruit. Jesus was offered up as the only son. Would you offer up your first child to God to be slaughtered on the altar for people's sins? For their hatred of the child? God did from Heaven, and Mary did from earth. It would take an extreme amount of faith...but quite simply said...an extreme amount of love to accomplish this.
And so, our Lord enters our lives today "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house." Because there, where He grew up, "they knew who he was". How many of us "just know" this person and that person, who they are, where they came from and probably where they are headed? How many of us "just know"? The atrocity of this mentality is the lack of faith, the lack of love, the lack of humility. Many people "just know" who God is. And so, very little is accomplished in their lives. They make up things like "I don't have to go to church on Sundays, because I know...". It is the heresy of moral relativism that says "whatever I choose to believe is the truth". Or how about this one I've heard "you don't have to give money on Sunday's for tithing if you "give in other ways". Well, then, the first fruits goes out the door. The blessings go out the door as well, most often these people suffer financially. If you are one who struggles to offer time to God, then realize this...you struggle to offer love to God. Someone said "Don't say you don't have time for the Lord, say instead "I have no love for the Lord...because we do what we love".
First fruits of time:
what comes first in your life? How do you plan your week? This is how I plan my schedule; I look at the church schedule, the events for every day for church that day, then, I base my life's decisions around it. First comes God. First fruits of talent: How are you applying your talents for the Lord, that talent which means a gift, like being able to walk or talk or listen. I remember one person once said "it would be nice to have a ministry of reaching out to those who have lost a loved one" and these are nice "thoughts" but can we really apply our ability to walk to these people, and talk to these people? A lady in a meeting this week in church said she got the chills when I said this: "A new lady at the nursing home has been asking for help, and is afraid, because someone that works there told her "you do what I say or I will kill you". I can walk, and I can talk, but will I walk over there and voice my concern? Like I used to do at abortion clinics and at other situations of injustice on innocent lives? Most shy away from this, and it is a shame. There is no effort because there is no love, only love of self. Talents my friend, they are gifts of the Holy Spirit and we all have them, if we'd only use them. First fruits of treasure:
Treasures are what we hold near and dear, most try to hide it, many don't want to share it, and some have a hard time finding it, and it is a vicious circle. You don't give cuz u don't got, and you don't give because you just can't find a reason to give, "well the church wastes the money". Lies, point the finger, who is truly "wasting" the money on themselves? I know people that leave the church because of money. I know people who come to church and never give a dime. I know the finances of the parish and have been astounded on how far one has to stretch a dollar and then have to hear people complain about how stingy the church is. And they point the faithless finger. You can't give what you don't got, and you don't got because you don't give.
And so, the Lord is criticized. Even to the point to saying He is unjust and unmerciful. Yet, we point the finger. And the humble give and give. How did mother Teresa give to thousand of poor people without ever having a dime? She gave love, and from there, she was able to give more than a dime, the ten percent. The sad reality is that we want to have God figured out, when we don't even got ourselves figured out. What's sorry about trying to have God figured out is so we can be more than God. As if to say I know I can do better. And so Lucifer, Satan is cast from Heaven. You'll get burned when you play with fire, and we are speaking about the truth, the light, the fire of God. You don't play around with Him. He isn't into games. This is for real. I challenge you to give what you don't got. Faith. People did not have faith in Jesus and so Jesus could not perform any miracles WITH Them in this communal effort. This faith is demanded, asked for so He can do His part. No faith, nothing happens. With faith, the unexplainable happens. Like the only son of God and son of Man that dies for having done God's will on earth. I wrote a song this week as the sun was fading, I was playing on the keyboard with my baby son playing on my second keyboard. And a song started hitting me about the Son going away, the light fading and we are left in the dark. And the Son says "I'll be back", and all we got to live on is faith. And I always equate the word faith with the word love. Since I can not see God physically right now with my eyes, I see you. I love you because I love God and God chooses to dwell among us. Therefore I serve you, I give my time, talent, and treasure to serve you. This is God's desire Holy Communion, an everlasting covenant, a spiritual bond that nothing in the world will ever be able to break, and the holier, the more love, the stronger our bond....
if you want to listen to the song I wrote this week email me. God Bless you on this First Friday of the month to ADORE CHRIST