Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Picking The Heads

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Prayer for Grace Minute Meditations
Lord, please give me more grace, strengthen my faith, and increase my knowledge of you and your Church, so that I will be full of faith and full of joy in my proclamation and witness of Jesus Christ to those around me. Amen.
— from The New Evangelization and You 

St. Agnes
(d. 258?)

Almost nothing is known of this saint except that she was very young—12 or 13—when she was martyred in the last half of the third century. Various modes of death have been suggested—beheading, burning, strangling.

Legend has it that Agnes was a beautiful girl whom many young men wanted to marry. Among those she refused, one reported her to the authorities for being a Christian. She was arrested and confined to a house of prostitution. The legend continues that a man who looked upon her lustfully lost his sight and had it restored by her prayer. Agnes was condemned, executed and buried near Rome in a catacomb that eventually was named after her. The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her honor.


Like that of modern Maria Goretti (July 6), the martyrdom of a virginal young girl made a deep impression on a society enslaved to a materialistic outlook. Like Agatha, who died in similar circumstances, Agnes is a symbol that holiness does not depend on length of years, experience or human effort. It is a gift God offers to all.


"This is a virgin's birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr's birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married women with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, receives the name of Agnes [Greek: pure] not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be" (from Saint Ambrose's discourse on virginity).

Patron Saint of:


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


I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord.
I will take refuge in your loving heart.
You are my strength in times of weakness.
You are my comforter in times of sorrow.


"I am free." 
When I look at these words in writing 
They seem to create in me a feeling of awe.
Yes, a wonderful feeling of freedom. 
Thank You, God.


At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to You.  I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations.  I will take rest and refreshment in your presence Lord.

The Word of God

Reading 11 SM 16:1-13

The LORD said to Samuel:
"How long will you grieve for Saul,
whom I have rejected as king of Israel?
Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons."
But Samuel replied:
"How can I go?
Saul will hear of it and kill me."
To this the LORD answered:
"Take a heifer along and say,
'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.'
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do;
you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you."

Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him.
When he entered Bethlehem,
the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired,
"Is your visit peaceful, O seer?"
He replied:
"Yes! I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.
So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet."
He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves
and invited them to the sacrifice.
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought,
"Surely the LORD's anointed is here before him."
But the LORD said to Samuel: 
"Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because he sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart."
Then Jesse called Abinadab and presented him before Samuel,
who said, "The LORD has not chosen him."
Next Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said,
"The LORD has not chosen this one either."
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
"The LORD has not chosen any one of these."
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
"Are these all the sons you have?"
Jesse replied,
"There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep."
Samuel said to Jesse,
"Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here." 
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
"There--anoint him, for this is he!" 
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. 
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.

Responsorial Psalm PS 89:20, 21-22, 27-28

R. (21a) I have found David, my servant.
Once you spoke in a vision,
and to your faithful ones you said:
"On a champion I have placed a crown;
over the people I have set a youth."
R. I have found David, my servant.
"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."
R. I have found David, my servant.
"He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.'
And I will make him the first-born,
highest of the kings of the earth."
R. I have found David, my servant.

Gospel MK 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them,
"Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,
"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."


What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.


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: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

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Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Do not judge from his appearance. (1 Samuel 16:7)

You can't judge a book by its cover. We've probably all heard this timeworn adage from childhood. But when Samuel was sent to Jesse's household to anoint the next king of Israel, it was hard not to look at "the cover." Jesse's sons sure looked impressive! Eliab, for instance, was the oldest; he was tall and handsome—a likely candidate for king! Saul, after all, had been tall and handsome.

But God needed to remind Samuel that he looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. So when Jesse's youngest son, David, entered, another ruddy and handsome young man who made "a splendid appearance," Samuel wasn't too quick to get out his flask of oil. He waited for God to tell him this was the one. Samuel had learned to listen for the Lord's voice instead of relying on his human wit or instinct.

The Pharisees who opposed Jesus weren't so different from Samuel in his initial reaction. They judged by outward appearances as they watched the disciples picking grain on the Sabbath. They didn't think about the inner motivations. That's why Jesus told them he is Lord of the Sabbath: because the Sabbath rules were made for God's people, not the other way around. The external frameworks were meant to set boundaries and help form our hearts so that we would love and choose what is right without having to rely only on laws.

So when you deal with your kids or grandkids, or when you are put off by a new family down the street, slow down; try not to judge by appearances only. Instead, do what Samuel did. Turn and pray. Keep in mind that there is usually more going on than meets the eye. Be patient and generous with your assessments, as Samuel learned to be.

And when you find that you have made a rash judgment, don't let yourself get weighed down with guilt. We all make mistakes! Move on, ask the Lord to give you guidance, and try again. Let the Lord of the Sabbath use the situation to further form your heart.

"Lord, I want to see things as you do. Thank you for going beyond the surface and looking at my heart!"

Psalm 89:20-22, 27-28; Mark 2:23-28

A nickname for "Jesus" is Jesse.  I say this thinking of my brother in Christ who went with me to my Cursillo and died a couple years ago.  We were the only friendship group for a while, shared our faith, and now the descendants have followed.  The descendant of David, King David, was another "Jesse" from Bethlehem which means "House of Bread" in some reported findings of biblical scholars.  From the house of bread, came Jesus years later.  He left Himself to His descendants in the form of bread, which He calls His body...the Holy Eucharist.  Even this fools the eye nowadays, especially to the nonbelievers "oh, look at those Catholics idolizing the bread!".  Looks are deceiving, very, and most often.  The Spanish 5minutos ended today with: 
  "On an occasion there was an old man and a young boy were walking with a donkey towards town.  The first day, the little boy walked and the old man was mounted on the donkey.  Upon seeing them, the people would say: poor child, he is walking while the old man is all comfortable on the donkey!  The next day, the child was riding the donkey and the old man walking.  The people would say: "poor old man, the little boy with much strength and the poor old man walking!"  The next day they were both mounted on the donkey, and the people would say: "poor donkey, what are they thinking? both are mounted on that poor donkey...!!"   The next day, they were both walking, pulling the donkey with the rope and the people would say: "How dumb! Why don't they ride the donkey!?" 
  LOL, and it just goes to show there is no end to it.  Someone asked me why did I say something about someone, and deep inside I found no answer either, because there is no end to the "talk of the town".  As a matter of fact, I don't care what people say anymore, my PRIDE is not what it used to be.  If I mentioned someone in faith sharing, it is all about the faith and not about who is who because here, it is all about Jesus.  I don't mention names, and people take personal offense.  My oh my, the Pharisees still exist!  I didn't even know they read my 2 cents! LOL.  I'm really laughing, especially because one time I imagined reading this Holy Gospel, as the disciples followed Jesus through the wheat field like lambs, the shepherd which Jesus was the new David, son of David, a shepherd that was "tending the sheep", and as they all walked and plucked the wheat heads, out pop the heads of these Pharisees from the grass out of nohwhere "ah ha! Ahhmm! your not supposed to do that!"  What am I not supposed to do?  Starve?  The Sabbath was made for man, it is a day to make Holy!  It is not about the Sabbath!  It is about JESUS! JESUS!  JESUS!!!  Everything I do is for the Lord.  So, when I hear gossip, I hear little kids, not mature in the faith.  When I hear bickering and fighting, I see little kids quarreling, not mature Christians in the faith.  Jesus is our Lord, He is the reason for every season, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary, Lent, Easter, and this is the Catholic liturgical Calendar, all centered on JESUS.  If there is any true Jesus freak it is a true Catholic.  If people meet you, they should see a light glowing, like my god-son, that supervisor I was mentioning yesterday, he is one I see glow with the light of God when He consumes the bread of Christ, the body of Christ.  As a matter of fact, those I tend to in the faith, the sheep, the lost sheep, I rope, I heard back, I bring up the truth because I love their soul, because we are connected.  One day I felt this unusual urge to call an uncle.  So I did, and as I talked with an unusual joy I said "well, something told me to call you, is everything ok?"  And I could almost hear a tear in his voice..."a little", something unusual for a strong man like him.  I don't remember exactly what I said but they were words of encouragement and I mentioned it must've been our Lord that told me to call him.  And he said "thank you".  Last week, a brother in Christ, a co-worker that has been in our worker faith sharing group said he felt an unusual urge and was asking for prayer.  I said "pray for strangers, sometimes they need prayer".  He said later that night he walked into the field in the dark night under the moon and knelt down on the dirt road and did something he'd never done before, he "cried out to the Lord" and the tears rolled.  Something strange happens to our hearts when we are focused on God.  We get connected.   There is much more to this world than we care to try and really see.  Our Lord is out there and not far from under our nose...our heart.  The Pharisees worry about what others are picking in the world, instead of they themselves picking Jesus above all...