The inexplicable genius of Christianity is that it is nonsensical and unreasonable and impossible: a gaunt Arab Jew, speaking Aramaic and Hebrew, copper-skinned, short, slight of build, skilled only in carpentry and scholarly analysis of the Torah, often testy and gnomic when he spoke—this unknown obscure unassuming fellow was the incarnation of that which dreamed and spoke everything that is into being? The star child, the chosen one, the distilled Love that set the worlds to whirl in the void, is a stumpy Jewish guy tucking into his broiled fish and honeycomb?
Yes. No wise king nor visionary noble, no epic warrior nor brilliant merchant, no hero at all, no startling muscles, no beautiful visage causing women and men alike to swoon. Just a brown guy beaten by goons, spat upon in the street, hauled in for questioning by the cops, and trundled finally to the killing ground, one among millions forced at knife point to their deaths, shuffling along in chains and despair. A guy. A nobody. One of us. Us.
—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace
✞ "Let us love the cross very much, for it is there that we discover our life, our true love, and our strength in our greatest difficulties." — St. Maria de Mattias
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "To the extent that we abandon our personality to Him, He will take possession of our will and work in us. We are no longer ruled by commands coming from the outside, as from a cruel master, but by almost imperceptible suggestions that rise up from within. We feel as if we had wanted all along to do those things He suggests to us; we are never conscious of being under command. Thus our service to Him becomes the highest form of liberty, for it is always easy to do something for the one we love." — Fulton J. Sheen, p. 182 AN EXCERPT FROM Peace of Soul
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor have this in common." Proverbs 22:1-2
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Saint Augustine of Hippo
(November 13, 354 – August 28, 430)
A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience.
There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures, redirected Augustine's love of life to a life of love.
Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent: politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism.
In his day, Augustine providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. "I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it" (Jeremiah 20:9).
Augustine is still acclaimed and condemned in our day. He is a prophet for today, trumpeting the need to scrap escapisms and stand face-to-face with personal responsibility and dignity.
Saint Augustine is the Patron Saint of:
Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Reading 1 1 Thes 1:1-5, 8b-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace.
We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. In every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people. or: R. Alleluia. Sing to the LORD a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their king. R. The Lord takes delight in his people. or: R. Alleluia. Let them praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp. For the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory. R. The Lord takes delight in his people. or: R. Alleluia. Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy upon their couches; Let the high praises of God be in their throats. This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia! R. The Lord takes delight in his people. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia Jn 10:27 R. Alleluia, alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 23:13-22
Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.' Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.' You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it."
Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8-10
Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
You were chosen. (1 Thessalonians 1:4)
Adoptive parents often celebrate "Gotcha Day," the anniversary of the day when they "chose" a child and welcomed him or her into their family. For God, every day is Gotcha Day. That's because every day, someone is baptized into Christ and becomes an adopted son or daughter. Every day, he gathers new children into his arms and says, "I have chosen you to be my own."
St. Augustine, whose feast we celebrate today, had a very dramatic experience of God adopting him into his family. Augustine spent years resisting God's call, openly pursuing sin and selfishness. But that didn't stop God from choosing him—or his mother from praying for him! When he finally relented and allowed God's love to warm his heart, Augustine cried out, "Late have I loved you!" God had been pursuing Augustine his entire life, and it was only then, when he was thirty-one years old, that he let himself be found by the Lord.
It makes perfect sense to us that God would have chosen Augustine. He was a brilliant philosopher, a gifted speaker, and a dedicated, hard-working man. Of course he would become a Christian. Of course his writings would shape the Church for centuries to come! But what about us? Perhaps we may not consider ourselves worthy of being singled out by God in the same way.
But that's just not true. Before you were even conceived, God knew you and chose you to be his son or daughter. The moment you were born, he rejoiced as he began to unfold his plan of salvation for you. Day after day, he reaffirmed his decision to call you to himself. Step-by-step, he drew you to his side, even as you tried to run away from him. Even when you were too busy to notice or immersed in sin, he never stopped choosing you and reaching out to you. And he never will.
Today spend some time remembering the ways in which you have been chosen and loved by God. He waits for you even now, in the ordinary moments of your day, with gifts of grace and confidence. Open your heart to him, and receive his love and his assurance that you belong to him.
"Thank you, Lord, for loving me and choosing me. I choose you."
Psalm 149:1-6, 9 Matthew 23:13-22
The First Holy Scripture said "...serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven..." yet, how will we serve Him if we already think we are serving Him? What do I mean? We make a false god. The living God is the true God. What does this mean? Day by day, He lives. Make Him a living reality in your daily life. He is a God that responds as to a child, and rightly so, because to them, the Kingdom of God belongs. And how can we know He is true? The truth is in the finding. My greatest concern then...is our lack of concern.
We prayed today "The Lord takes delight in his people. Sing to the LORD a new song of praise in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in their maker, let the children of Zion rejoice in their king." For sure, the Lord can be found in the temple...and He dares now to reside in ours.
In comes the Lord with 2 questions: †. "...which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? Answer: You tell me what your temple makes sacred. And you tell me if the temple is sacred. And your body is a temple.
†. "...which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Answer: One without the other, is nothing because one was made for the other. A priest kisses an altar, and all people should bow to the altar in the temple of a Catholic Church. Why? At this table is offered a sacrifice, yes, and Jesus is the sacrifice, but there's more, a holy relic is there, a part of holy ones, having offered their lives to Christ and Christ having offered His life for theirs. And so, in Holy Communion, it is a communion of those alive, both in this world and out of this world. To many, this is strange, but to God, this is normal. One who swears by the: Altar Temple Heaven
These are all things we have. Mind, Body, and Soul. Swear by one and swear by all in the trinity. Better not to swear then, right? But we must have a swearing in, like Baptism, Confession, and Holy Communion. These are binding to the everlasting. You can swear into goodness. You shall not swear into any other way. God awaits. Jesus came in to clarify and declare, ""Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." Purity, holiness, we can be made clean. Do not defile your mind, body, and soul. God was speaking volumes today in the Holy Gospel. We must get our priorities straight. It's not about the gold, it's not about the gift we give, it's so much more....it's all about Him