God of community and love, there are many times when we are too quick to abandon Christ on the cross. Like those disciples who feared for their lives, things great and small cause us to fear for ours. Help us to see the two sides of your Son's passion, the love and suffering that Jesus reveals to us, models for us, calls us to live. Open our eyes to the truest meaning of bearing the name Christ, so that we too may strive to love as you love, while embracing the suffering that such true love entails. We offer our gratitude for the community formed that day beside the cross: formed out of great love, formed amid great suffering. We make this prayer in your name. Amen.
—from The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering by Daniel P. Horan, OFM
clickable: The Following is from MorningOffering
†Saint Quote "Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men, lashed as it were by God, do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips." — St. Peter Damian
† MEDITATION OF THE DAY "Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man? Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of being afraid of man. What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries? He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be. See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words. And if at present thou seem to be overcome, and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved, do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience." — Thomas á Kempis, p.148 AN EXCERPT FROM Imitation of Christ
† VERSE OF THE DAY "Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God." 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
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(d. 376 A.D.) was a wealthy and noble citizen of Bethlapeta in Persia. Desiring to give himself completely to God, he gave away his wealth and founded a monastery where he led a life of prayer and austerity. His sanctity was known to all, and he trained his monks to progress in devotion, virtue, and love of God. One day he and seven of his monks were abducted during the Christian persecution by King Sapor of Persia. He was chained in a dungeon for four months and whipped daily for his faith. He suffered his tortures for Christ and triumphed over them with patience and joy. One day a Christian prince named Nersan was also put into the dungeon, and, seeing the torments he would endure, apostatized from the faith in order to be released. To prove his conversion, the king ordered Nersan to slay St. Bademus on the spot. Bademus, after declaring his willingness to die for Christ, also warned Nersan of the account he would have to give to God for his actions. Nersan, timid and fearful, then killed Bademus with several awkward and misplaced blows. The pagans who were present admired the abbot's holy and resigned death, while abhorring the king's cruelty. St. Bademus' feast day is April 10th.
Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Reading 1 Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
King Nebuchadnezzar said: "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."
King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?" "Assuredly, O king," they answered. "But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God." Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."
Responsorial Psalm Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages." R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever." R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim; praiseworthy and exalted above all forever." R. Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever." R. Glory and praise for ever!
Verse Before the Gospel See Lk 8:15
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.
Gospel Jn 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence; then do what you have heard from the Father."
They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!" So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me."
Meditation: (Psalm) Daniel 3:52-56
5th Week of Lent
Blessed are you, O Lord . . . , praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. (Daniel 3:52)
It makes sense to cry out to God for help when we're struggling. But the Scriptures also show us people praising God when they're in dire straits. In today's first reading, for instance, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have been thrown into a white-hot furnace because they refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar's gods. But instead of panicking and crying out in fear, they walk about in the flames, "singing to God and blessing the Lord" (Daniel 3:24).
Two things happen as the three men in the fiery furnace praise God. First, they are supernaturally protected—the flames don't harm them. Second, they realize that they are not alone: there is a fourth man in the furnace with them, who "looks like a son of God" (Daniel 3:92).
We all face challenges in life; we all feel at times that we are in a white-hot furnace of our own. Our first reaction is usually to cry out to God to save us. There's nothing wrong with that—God wants us to call on him in our need. But what if we decided to take a deep breath and offer him praise as well?
Like the "fourth man" appearing in the furnace, the act of praising God in some mysterious way makes him more present to us. We know that he might not always protect us from harm in miraculous ways as he did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We know that he might not take away the challenges we face. But we become more aware that he is with us, and we become more confident that he will never leave us or forsake us.
Something else happens as we step out in faith and decide to praise God: we go from focusing on our problems to focusing on him. That stirs up our hope and confidence in God. We understand in a deeper way that we have a great and mighty God who will love us, not just in our present troubles, but into eternity.
What's the number one challenge you are facing right now? Today, visualize placing it on an altar and lifting your arms and hands in worship. Then use today's responsorial psalm to praise the Lord. Even if your situation doesn't change, your heart will.
"Thank you, Lord, for your saving power! I want to praise you always!"
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 John 8:31-42
Let us not settle for spirituality-lite, where we seek 'feel good' spirituality that kills the life of God within us. When this happens, we will use the labyrinth instead of the Stations of the Cross, astrology instead of the Rosary, and tarot cards instead of Eucharistic Adoration. It is the Blood of the Lamb that redeems us! —Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers from Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality
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2cents: The martyrs said "If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up." What an amazing story. Reminds us of many saints and martyrs right? Are there any modern day martyrs? Yes. Are you one of them? I certainly hope so. When your faith is tested- When you are asked what you believe- Will you cower? Most on this reading list will not. I'd hope. But what if I told you that the world makes most cower? What if I said there aren't that many living saints? What would that do to your faith? Would it inspire you? What kind of faith do we have in the world? There are thoughts and ideals and philosophies to contend with in the worldly ways. Ultimately it is a pitting of other gods versus the one True God.
Let us pray: "Glory and praise for ever! "Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages." King Nebuchadnezzar saw for himself "the son of God" with the martyrs being burned alive. Jesus is among us, the faithful. My faith has been tested quite a bit this Lent. Tested through fire? Spiritually. Not physically. To me, a hellish situation is to be the reason someone suffered or dies spiritually. I don't want that for anyone. It hurts me tremendously. I don't want to lose a soul, even though it seems we can't win them all. This morning I walked into work, the group of men gather at work at a meeting spot, as I shook each hand I wondered which one would come with me on a retreat...a spiritual journey. None seemed to click or fit the ideal. If none of these non-church goers fit, then who? The church operates with sinners. It operates on sinners. That's what the church does...works and works, and saints appear in the white hot light.
In the Holy Gospel today, our Lord said to everyone, and you and me "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Every single word our Lord said could write books. He begins today "If". That contingent word on a decision to make. Lent has been about decisions. Hasn't it? "If you remain". That is a true call to faithfulness and perseverance, isn't it? Jesus is calling. "If you remain in My Word". If we are true to His calling, His life, His way. And what is the word? The word is living flesh, Jesus. If we remain then what happens? He said "you will be truly my disciples". WOW! Remain in Him. Then He says "you will know the truth". Remain in Him and you will know Him better. But you must remain true! And the fruit? The truth will set you free.
So let's talk about freedom in our world. In the "free world", the United States, for instance, there is much talk about freedom and liberation. It's to the point that day in and day out we want more and more freedom from laws (morality) and so to do so, you make more laws. There are thousands and thousands of laws in the country. Every day they are trying to make new ones. Some new ones aim to ban bible (scripture) so you can't use it as an excuse against sexualism (homosexuality etc). But let's narrow it down closer to home: what liberation do you like? Some like to be free from trouble. So you wiggle out of uncomfortable things, like daily family rosary, or daily Mass, or even talking about God daily with your family. Eek. Am I getting too close now? That's how I am, and it gets me into a heap of trouble many times. I made a deal with a fellow worker yesterday to buy my car in payments. I wrote a bill of sale with terms. After he signed it, I told him in front of a bunch of others "oh, and it says on there you must use the vehicle to go to Mass". I thought I'd hit a string there, but he said "that's not a problem, I already go". Music to my ears, then let the blessings pour forth. I am praying that I am not so direct. Is there a better way to present the Lord? Soft? Humble? Never stepping on any toes? Comfortable? But the Pharisees were always offended. Jesus said " If you remain in My word ...I will set you free". They believed they were free. They didn't need no Jesus. But they were slaves. It reminds me of the story of a family that was detained, the city was heavily guarded with men on watchtowers walking fences with machine guns every day. One day, they were set free, but the boy said "I thought we were already free". He didn't know what freedom was. He was accustomed to the prison. I see prisoners like that. One guy was there looking at 25 years. To me this was a frail young man. I heard his story, in testimony, he was raised in foster homes, and always seemed to be in trouble no matter what he did. I tell him what's going on in the world and he seems afraid now of the world. I tell him of how attacks are coming against the church. Of how politics work against the faith. Of how abortion is now infanticide, and he says "I'm going to pray more now" and says "is there a monastery out there I could join when I get out?" He wants to live a life of a monk already in his prison cell. He showed me a picture of his loved ones. You'd think it was his mom, or girlfriend, or something, but all he seems to have is 2 nephews and a brother out there, and he worries because now they aren't going to church either. But now, He has Jesus. What else could he want? Some said in group sharing "here we are more free than some out there in their own prisons".
They find a glimmer of hope. They want you to know that they are people. And they are praying. And they need prayer.
The church suffering knows no boundaries or walls or even time. We need more people to say no to the world and yes to God who is not of this world. I am very harsh, but I come across that way to an unwilling spirit. Unwilling spirits desire not to move, and not to grow, that is, not to come to Jesus, the light. I desire heaven for you. I prayed for you this morning. We are fast approaching Holy Week. The people on Sunday will usher in Jesus with praise and worship with palms exalting Him....and then, they will all disappear in His passion, in the fire. Except, a few women and one beloved disciple, faithful to the end. True love knows no boundaries....in comes JESUS
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Random Bible Verse1 Hebrews 13:5 (Listen)
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Thank You Jesus
For questions or comments contact Adrian@going4th.com. For more go to www.Going4th.com