Monday, June 16, 2014

Turn Your Back

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Minute Meditations

Aim Higher

It's easy to feel good about yourself when you compare your behavior and life to those more sinful than yourself.  Aim higher.
— from Tweet Inspiration

St. John Francis Regis

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Born into a family of some wealth, John Francis was so impressed by his Jesuit educators that he himself wished to enter the Society of Jesus. He did so at age 18. Despite his rigorous academic schedule he spent many hours in chapel, often to the dismay of fellow seminarians who were concerned about his health. Following his ordination to the priesthood, he undertook missionary work in various French towns. While the formal sermons of the day tended toward the poetic, his discourses were plain. But they revealed the fervor within him and attracted people of all classes. Father Regis especially made himself available to the poor. Many mornings were spent in the confessional or at the altar celebrating Mass; afternoons were reserved for visits to prisons and hospitals.
The Bishop of Viviers, observing the success of Father Regis in communicating with people, sought to draw on his many gifts, especially needed during the prolonged civil and religious strife then rampant throughout France. With many prelates absent and priests negligent, the people had been deprived of the sacraments for 20 years or more. Various forms of Protestantism were thriving in some cases while a general indifference toward religion was evident in other instances. For three years Father Regis traveled throughout the diocese, conducting missions in advance of a visit by the bishop. He succeeded in converting many people and in bringing many others back to religious observances.

Though Father Regis longed to work as a missionary among the North American Indians in Canada, he was to live out his days working for the Lord in the wildest and most desolate part of his native France. There he encountered rigorous winters, snowdrifts and other deprivations. Meanwhile, he continued preaching missions and earned a reputation as a saint. One man, entering the town of Saint-Andé, came upon a large crowd in front of a church and was told that people were waiting for "the saint" who was coming to preach a mission.

The last four years of his life were spent preaching and in organizing social services, especially for prisoners, the sick and the poor. In the autumn of 1640, Father Regis sensed that his days were coming to a conclusion. He settled some of his affairs and prepared for the end by continuing to do what he did so well: speaking to the people about the God who loved them. On December 31, he spent most of the day with his eyes on the crucifix. That evening, he died. His final words were: "Into thy hands I commend my spirit."

He was canonized in 1737.


John longed to travel to the New World and become a missionary to the Native Americans, but he was called instead to work among his own compatriots. Unlike many famous preachers, he isn't remembered for golden-tongued oratory. What people who listened to him heard was his own fervent faith, and it had a powerful effect on them. We can recall homilists who impressed us for the same reason. More importantly for us, we can also remember ordinary people, neighbors and friends, whose faith and goodness touched us and brought us to deeper faith. That is the calling most of us must follow.

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


As I sit here, the beating of my heart,
the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind
are all signs of God's ongoing creation of me.
I pause for a moment, and become aware
of this presence of God within me. 


"In these days, God taught me
as a schoolteacher teaches a pupil" (Saint Ignatius).
I remind myself that there are things God has to teach me yet,
and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me.


I ask how I am within myself today? Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off-form?
If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word of God

Reading 1 1 kgs 21:1-16

Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel
next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria.
Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden,
since it is close by, next to my house.
I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or,
if you prefer, I will give you its value in money."
Naboth answered him, "The LORD forbid
that I should give you my ancestral heritage."
Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer
Naboth the Jezreelite had made to him:
"I will not give you my ancestral heritage."
Lying down on his bed, he turned away from food and would not eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him,
"Why are you so angry that you will not eat?"
He answered her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite
and said to him, 'Sell me your vineyard, or,
if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.'
But he refused to let me have his vineyard."
His wife Jezebel said to him,
"A fine ruler over Israel you are indeed!
Get up.
Eat and be cheerful.
I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you."

So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and,
having sealed them with his seal,
sent them to the elders and to the nobles
who lived in the same city with Naboth.
This is what she wrote in the letters:
"Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.
Next, get two scoundrels to face him
and accuse him of having cursed God and king.
Then take him out and stone him to death."
His fellow citizens—the elders and nobles who dwelt in his city—
did as Jezebel had ordered them in writing,
through the letters she had sent them.
They proclaimed a fast and placed Naboth at the head of the people.
Two scoundrels came in and confronted him with the accusation,
"Naboth has cursed God and king."
And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death.
Then they sent the information to Jezebel
that Naboth had been stoned to death.

When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death,
she said to Ahab,
"Go on, take possession of the vineyard
of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you,
because Naboth is not alive, but dead."
On hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way
down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite,
to take possession of it.

Responsorial Psalm ps 5:2-3ab, 4b-6a, 6b-7

R. (2b) Lord, listen to my groaning.
Hearken to my words, O LORD,
attend to my sighing.
Heed my call for help,
my king and my God!
R. Lord, listen to my groaning.
At dawn I bring my plea expectantly before you.
For you, O God, delight not in wickedness;
no evil man remains with you;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
R. Lord, listen to my groaning.
You hate all evildoers.
You destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
the LORD abhors.
R. Lord, listen to my groaning.

Gospel mt 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow."


Jesus, You always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that You will never abandon me.


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 Kings 21:1-16

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11th Week in Ordinary Time

Ahab went home disturbed and angry. (1 Kings 21:4)

Limits are a part of life. Games work only if everyone follows the rules. Chaos reigns in a society without laws. But how do you view limits in your life? It's tempting to consider them as inconvenient impositions—as limits to our freedom that keep us from doing what we want. But today's reading shows what can happen if there were no limits.

Ahab, king of Israel, wanted a vineyard that one of his subjects, Naboth, owned. But the Law of Moses decreed that God had given the land to the people of Israel, and it was not to be sold out of the family. This was so that no family could be shut out of the covenant by losing their ancestral inheritance. This was, after all, the land that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants forever. It was a very physical sign of their covenant with him, proof positive that they were his chosen, beloved people. But Ahab didn't see it that way. All he could see was the convenience of having a vineyard located right next to his vegetable garden.

Since Naboth wasn't free to sell the land, Ahab went away in a sulk. Queen Jezebel reminded Ahab that he was king; he could do whatever he wanted. Then, to prove her point, she took matters into her own hands and had Naboth murdered.

Two points stand out in today's reading: First, how easy it can be to respond to limits the same way Ahab and Jezebel did! If we can't get what we want, we sulk. If we can somehow disregard the limits, we go for it. Second, how challenging it can be to respond as Naboth did! He could have made a lot of money out of Ahab's offer. He might have even suspected that his refusal to sell would have angered the queen. But he knew what God had commanded, and he stayed true.

Naboth respected the limits God placed on his people, and it cost him his life. We will probably not face martyrdom for our faith, but every day brings us the opportunity to "die" to ourselves so that Christ can live in us. Let's trust him. Let's embrace his limits as the life-giving protections that they are!

"Lord, I trust you. Draw me closer to you through the limits in my life."


Psalm 5:2-7; Matthew 5:38-42

The temptation is there, it's what we do with it that matters.  Think of a moment that you were tempted.  Take a simple example of the time someone practically slapped you in the face, whether physically or emotionally.  I've had both.  So how can one "defend" oneself?  First of all, the Holy Scripture we read today about Ahab wanting (coveting) his neighbor's goods gives us a clue as to what the human heart does when it does not put God first.  It's not about me, it's about Him.  We can sit and pout all we want, but it isn't good.  We are to be grateful.  The True Christian is truely grateful.  As Catholics, we partake of gratefulness, the Eucharist means thanksgiving.  The blessings that come from a grateful soul are over abundant.  Suddenly you realize who truly blessed you truly are, and the blessings keep on coming.  A few months ago a neigbor claimed that his neighbor shot his dog.  I said to let it go and he said no, the bible says "a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye" and I said "yeah, but that's the old Testament, the new says to love thy neighbor as thy self".  What's more Jesus says to offer no resistance.  So what about the person who slapped me when I was younger?  What about the one who slapped me when I was older?  I remember one slap came after I had come to the defense of the one they were putting down (or so I thought).  What did I do?  Nothing.  Held resentment? Nope.  Did it sting? Yeah.  Did I forgive?  Of course, there was nothing to hold against them.  The other day a young prolife man was punched in the face by a man who had just taken his wife to get an abortion.  The young man was taken to the hospital to treat the broken nose.  They asked the 17 yr. old if he needed anything after filing a police report.  The young man said no, and that he just wanted prolifers across the nation to pray for that man and his wife.  Jesus did the same.  He took quite a beating, the beating of a lifetime.  For me?  Yes.  But isn't He supposed to save?  Yes, why yes He did.  But He offered no resistence, hardly let out a yell of pain.  Probably because it was a labor of love.  He prayed for those who beat Him.  Ahhaab, where are you now?  It takes a really tough person to do what the most powerful person in the world did...JESUS.  It takes alot of courage to do the right thing, the obedience of God, and the love of God above all.  But it is impossible, for those that do not have God first in life.  But with Him in our life first, all things are possible because He gives strength we think we don't have.  Suddenly, offering no resistence begins to make sense, and more than that, becomes to give power to a formidable force that conquers the world...Love In Action.  You can't hurt me if I love you. 
God Loves you more than you will EVER know.

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