Servant of God Brother Juniper
"Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers," said Francis of this holy friar.
We don't know much about Juniper before he joined the friars in 1210. Francis sent him to establish "places" for the friars in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When St. Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity.
Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig's feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper's superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars!
Another time Juniper had been commanded to quit giving part of his clothing to the half-naked people he met on the road. Desiring to obey his superior, Juniper once told a man in need that he couldn't give the man his tunic, but he wouldn't prevent the man from taking it either. In time, the friars learned not to leave anything lying around, for Juniper would probably give it away.
He died in 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.
What can we make of Juniper? He certainly seems to be the first of many Franciscan "characters." No doubt some of the stories about him have improved considerably in the retelling. Although the stories about Juniper may seem a little quaint, his virtues were not. He was humble because he knew the truth about God, himself and others. He was patient because he was willing to suffer ("patience" comes from patior meaning "to suffer") in his following of Jesus.
It is said that St. Francis once described the perfect friar by citing "the patience of Brother Juniper, who attained the state of perfect patience because he kept the truth of his low estate constantly in mind, whose supreme desire was to follow Christ on the way of the cross" (Mirror of Perfection, #85).
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"I stand at the door and knock," says the Lord.
Lord, you created me to live in freedom.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I can afford to be honest about how I am. How has the last day been, and how do I feel now?
The Word of God
Reading 12 SM 7:4-17
That night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
"Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?
I have not dwelt in a house
from the day on which I led the children of Israel
out of Egypt to the present,
but I have been going about in a tent under cloth.
In all my wanderings everywhere among the children of Israel,
did I ever utter a word to any one of the judges
whom I charged to tend my people Israel, to ask:
Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'
"Now then, speak thus to my servant David,
'The LORD of hosts has this to say:
It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
It is he who shall build a house for my name.
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
And if he does wrong,
I will correct him with the rod of men
and with human chastisements;
but I will not withdraw my favor from him
as I withdrew it from your predecessor Saul,
whom I removed from my presence.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'"
Nathan reported all these words and this entire vision to David.
Responsorial Psalm PS 89:4-5, 27-28, 29-30
R. (29a) For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
"I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will make your dynasty stand forever
and establish your throne through all ages."
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
"He shall cry to me, 'You are my father,
my God, the Rock that brings me victory!'
I myself make him firstborn,
Most High over the kings of the earth."
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
"Forever I will maintain my love for him;
my covenant with him stands firm.
I will establish his dynasty forever,
his throne as the days of the heavens."
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
Gospel MK 4:1-20
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction he said to them,
"Hear this! A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."
And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
"The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that
they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven."
Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,
when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."
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.
Meditation: 2 Samuel 7:4-17
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3rd Week in Ordinary Time
He will establish a house for you. (2 Samuel 7:11)
"What have you done for me lately?" This question has a way of creeping into our relationships, even though we know it shouldn't. There is a part of us that wants to tie love and affection to merit or getting what we deserve. And it goes both ways: we can demand something from someone else in exchange for our love, but we can also feel that we are worthy of another's love only if we earn it.
David showed some of this kind of thinking in today's first reading. He had just finished building his palace in Jerusalem when he realized that he hadn't built a suitable "palace" for the Lord. Perhaps he worried that God might be jealous of David's new palace or that God might forget about his promises if David didn't do great things for him.
God was quick to set David straight. He told him that he had never complained about the tent-like structure that housed the ark of the covenant. Then he reminded David that his favor wasn't based on David's actions. "It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock" (2 Samuel 7:8). God would always be with David; he didn't need to earn God's favor through lavish building projects.
In fact, God didn't stop with reaffirming past promises. Rather than having David build God a house, Nathan told David, "He will establish a house for you" (2 Samuel 7:11). God wanted to establish a dynasty through David and a kingdom that would spread God's light to all the nations.
This story shows that God's plans aren't just gracious and loving; they're also much greater and more life-giving than we often imagine!
Do you, like David, worry about what you have done for God lately? Are you afraid that he might forget about you if you don't get his attention? Put away your doubts and fear. God's love for you is constant and unchanging; it always has been and always will be. And what's more, he has things in store for you that you can't even imagine. Rest in his love, and take joy in sharing it with others.
"Lord, thank you that you care about my life. Use me in any way you want to bring glory to your name."
Psalm 89:4-5, 27-30; Mark 4:1-20
Our Lord chastises, it is just and right. I read this at a funeral vigil last night, and it is true. Our Lord speaks through others. How we listen sets up the chastisement. What we do affects those around us, as if they take on your sins or blessings passed on from generation to generation. This is how our Lord in Heaven established the Kingdom. No palace needed, just you. No great feats of architectural design and engineering, just the divine design. And I'm speaking about you. This morning, I kicked off the safety meeting with a prayer and later I said, "...I love everyone here, if I didn't, then I would have not prayed with you". This reminds me of a quote I read this morning ""God is love, and to live in God is to live in love." Fr. Richard McAlear, OMI Forgiveness, a quote I read before starting the meeting. And another quote from Edgar Cayce the "sleeping prophet" that ended with "For until ye become as a savior, as a help to some soul that has lost hope, lost its way, ye do not fully comprehend the God within, the God without." And the Spanish reflection ended today with: "...Because we forget that the Word of God (seed), has the power to transform the ground, can break the rocks of indifference, grudges, envies, bitterness, enmity, and and open ways to the profoundness of the person. The seed does not resign to the conditions it encounters. The word is creative. Enough to let it work. It is the word that can transform the "heart of rock" into "heart of flesh". The seed is ruined, really, only when it stays in the closed hands of a "reasonable" sower, that thinks much on sowing, to do something for the needy person. Let God sow His Word in you, so that transformed, you may help your brethren to let themselves be transformed by Jesus." It all falls together, and it is falling on you and I. When God told David through the prophet, that he need not worry himself about building a fancy ark, a house of cedar, He says basically "I have given you what you got, and what is to come is even more". We can not out give to the one who gives more. That is the beauty of living alive, and to be alive means to realize the Kingdom of God, because Jesus explains the parables to the chosen for the Kingdom, and funny thing is, He didn't just explain it to them, He explained it to all of us because we get to hear what He said to them in private! We are blessed. It is an honor to be able to divulge into the Word of God, the seed today and every day we open it up. Some may see it and it does not soak, or grow, or it grows the faith but then it wilts away with the stress and depression and anxieties brought about where we live. Some may hear the word, and get excited, live the Way for a while, and the weeds choke the life out of them...their future. Some hear and see and are moved, a metanoia takes place, a profound impact occurs that forever transforms the world they live in, giving fruit that multiplies over and over. And it is not for us to see the fruit, because our eyes can not see, but God does. This is giving as He does, being Christ in the world, a place where He resides more precious than silver, or gold. He designed you and there is no dispute, the design is mesmerizing. Look into the eyes, the windows of the soul, you may be looking into the eyes of the Lord. Let this be the Word that impacts you forever...an eternity indeed awaits