Friday, January 17, 2014

Came In A Body

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Common Strands Minute Meditations
Prayer is a one-to-one relationship with God, a loving Father, as we experience him. It is, in effect, all about my life with him. At the same time, however personal it may be, true Christian prayer has certain basic common strands because it involves a community from which no one is excluded.
— from Catholic Update Guide to Prayer 

St. Anthony of Egypt

The life of Anthony will remind many people of St. Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, "Go, sell what you have, and give to poor" (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony's life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares, and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again like Francis, he had great fear of "stately buildings and well-laden tables."

At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. "The mule kicking over the altar" denied the divinity of Christ.

Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil—the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for "the book of nature" over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at 105.


Lest we be misled by the awesomeness of Anthony's asceticism, we have a statement from his biographer (St. Athanasius, May 2)) that emphasizes the meaning and result of all Christian life. "Strangers knew him from among his disciples by the joy on his face."

Even the great Emperor Constantine wrote to him, asking for his prayers. Anthony told his friends, "Don't be surprised that the emperor writes to me—he's just another man, as I am. But be astounded that God should have written to us, and that he has spoken to us by his Son."


In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a "rat race," one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony's hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God's good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. 


I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God's dwelling-place.


It is so easy to get caught up 
with the trappings of wealth in this life.
Grant, O Lord, that I may be free 
from greed and selfishness.
Remind me that the best things in life are free. 
Love, laughter, caring and sharing.


How do I find myself today? Where am I with God? With others? Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.

The Word of God

Reading 11 SM 8:4-7, 10-22A

All the elders of Israel came in a body to Samuel at Ramah
and said to him, "Now that you are old,
and your sons do not follow your example,
appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us."

Samuel was displeased when they asked for a king to judge them.
He prayed to the LORD, however, who said in answer:
"Grant the people's every request.
It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king."

Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full
to those who were asking him for a king.
He told them:
"The rights of the king who will rule you will be as follows:
He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses,
and they will run before his chariot.
He will also appoint from among them his commanders of groups
of a thousand and of a hundred soldiers.
He will set them to do his plowing and his harvesting,
and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 
He will use your daughters as ointment makers, as cooks, and as bakers.
He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves,
and give them to his officials.
He will tithe your crops and your vineyards,
and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves.
He will take your male and female servants,
as well as your best oxen and your asses,
and use them to do his work.
He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves.
When this takes place,
you will complain against the king whom you have chosen,
but on that day the LORD will not answer you."

The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel's warning and said,
"Not so! There must be a king over us.
We too must be like other nations,
with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare
and fight our battles." 
When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say,
he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him,
"Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them."

Responsorial Psalm PS 89:16-17, 18-19

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
For you are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and to the Holy One of Israel, our King.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel MK 2:1-12

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
"Child, your sins are forgiven."
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
"Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what 
they were thinking to themselves, 
so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"
--he said to the paralytic,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
He rose, picked up his mat at once, 
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."


Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Mark 2:1-12

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Saint Anthony, Abbot

When Jesus saw their faith  . . . (Mark 2:5)

Try to imagine you are one of the people carrying this paralyzed man. What is your relationship to him? Maybe you've known him for years and have seen him struggle through life. You feel very sorry about his paralysis, and you would give anything to see him walk. Then you hear about Jesus. You are determined to bring your friend to him. Even the large crowd at Capernaum doesn't discourage you. You see that there is a way to Jesus—over their heads! With your friends, you break through the roof and lower him down. Then Jesus says something completely unexpected: it's your faith that has healed your friend!

 Imagine how surprised this man was. He thought it was all up to Jesus. And in one sense, he was right. Jesus did the healing, and he certainly could have done it without the man's friends being present. But it was their love and their determination that touched Jesus' heart and paved the way for the miracle.

 Perhaps the most important miracle that we see in this reading is the unselfish devotion that this group of friends demonstrated. They understood, as Pope Francis has said, that "faith is a gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but it is to be shared." They did what God wants all of us to do: they bonded together in a community of sorts. They committed themselves to helping each other come to the Lord, knowing that they couldn't do it alone. They discovered the truth that none of us gets to heaven by ourselves. We carry other people with us, and sometimes they carry us.

 This may be a good day to reflect on your relationship with your parish or faith community. Are there people in your life who are helping you come to the Lord? And are there people you are helping? It doesn't have to be anything dramatic. Just your witness, your kind words, or your little acts of love may be enough. Whatever you are or are not doing, remember this: one person can do a lot, but when two or more gather in Jesus' name, miracles can happen.

"Lord, I can't live this Christian life on my own. Please lead me to people who love you and serve you. Help me to find where I fit in your body."

1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22; Psalm 89:16-19

Today's spanish reflection from Sonora Mexico 5minutos said in parts:  
  "Jesus did not offer remedies to resolve an organic problem.  He came close to the sick seeking to heal them from the root.  Jesus does not just heal infirmities.  He heals the sick life.  He heals the sick from loneliness and distrust making contagious his absolute faith in God.  At the same time, he saves them from resignation and passiveness, waking in them the desire for a new life...He offers freely forgiveness, peace, and blessing from God.  The sick find something  that they do not find in popular healers: a new relationship with God that will help them to live with more dignity and confidence....Jesus says to the paralyzed with the softness of a mother: "Son, your sins are forgiven", Stop tormenting yourself. Trust in God.  Receive his forgiveness and peace.  Dare to raise up from your errors and sin.  How many people need to be healed inside.  Who will help them come into contact with a healing Jesus?"
  In today's 1st Holy Scripture, we read the line "the elders...came in a body".  They were one, and as one, they wanted a different king and thus, a new god.  They got what they wanted.  You see, we are free to choose who to worship.  They got what they wanted.  I remember faintly someone saying after being asked how can there be atheist billionaires and the answer was "because God gives them what they want most when He sees He can no longer be what they want".  The same is true in our lives, with matters of sin taking over the goodness of our Lord in our lives.  We prayed today in the Psalms "Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord".  And who knows if this is the very Psalm the paralyzed man that was healed sang forever.  Who knows what book he wrote with his life after being healed.  Who knows if he was forever indebted to his friends and to Jesus.  A grateful soul always is.  This is why we are living the "thanks" in Holy Mass.  The body of men that brought the paralyzed man, brought healing.  We, my brothers and sisters, we are the body, the body of Christ, especially after consuming the thanks, the Holy Eucharist.  I ran into somebody in town, a student of faith formation for high school students from a while back.  It was by chance and they said I was influential in their faith.  After reading today's Holy Gospel, I feel like one of the 4 men that carried the stretcher, and led the person to faith, because to come into contact with Jesus is to come into contact with faith.  That is our duty as faithful servants of our Lord.  What we must always remember too, is to watch how our Lord works in our lives.  The scribes were just "thinking" to themselves, "wait, this guy is doing something wrong" they were good at finding wrong and not right.  Because "right" was right in front of their faces.  Jesus is right.  Jesus is truth.  Jesus is everything!  He read their thoughts. Oooh, isn't that scary or awesome?  He can read your thoughts!  So then, why do we pray out loud?  Because we need to hear it and the devil needs to hear it, the whole world needs to hear you pray and speak about God and everyone praying together.  And never think that we are against the world, because the world is against us.  We are FOR the world.  We are in the vineyard to give back what is rightly His.  If there is anybody that cares, it is the body of Christ.  The Catholics have formed the basis for the world's church, universities, hospitals, orhpanages and more.  We have been the body of Christ since He made it contagious.  We must continue to fight evil the way He did, with purity, and authority, a total self surrender to our Father.  I was thinking last night, "it's as if I live the Holy Spirit".  And this is the best possession we have...Jesus.  Because He heals, this possession leads others to healing, and salvation...Jesus.  I pray that by you reading this today, you are infused by the power of the Most High.  So that we in arms can bring those around us closer and closer to our Lord until they are touched by Him.  This is done through much prayer and effort, never letting up until they get up and do the same...
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