Friday, July 4, 2014

Not Sacrifice

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 Minute Meditations

Give Yourself

If you want someone to love you, you must be the first to love; and if you have nothing to give, give yourself. -Blessed Rosalie Rendu
— from Sisterhood of Saints

St. Elizabeth of Portugal

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Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus fortunately prepared, she was able to meet the challenge when, at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God's love, not merely through her exercises of piety, including daily Mass, but also through her exercise of charity, by which she was able to befriend and help pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor—in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom.

He, too, was the object of many of her peace endeavors. She long sought peace for him with God, and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son, Alfonso, who thought that he was passed over to favor the king's illegitimate children. She acted as peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown. And finally from Coimbra, where she had retired as a Franciscan tertiary to the monastery of the Poor Clares after the death of her husband, she set out and was able to bring about a lasting peace between her son Alfonso, now king of Portugal, and his son-in-law, the king of Castile.


Elizabeth was not well enough to undertake her final peacemaking journey, made all the more difficult by the oppressive heat of the season. She would not, however, permit herself to be dissuaded from it. She answered that there was no better way to give of her life and her health than by averting the miseries and destruction of war. By the time she had successfully brought about peace, she was so sick that death was imminent. After her death in 1336, her body was returned to the monastery at Coimbra for burial.


The work of promoting peace is anything but a calm and quiet endeavor. It takes a clear mind, a steady spirit and a brave soul to intervene between people whose emotions are so aroused that they are ready to destroy one another. This is all the more true of a woman in the early 14th century. But Elizabeth had a deep and sincere love and sympathy for humankind, almost a total lack of concern for herself and an abiding confidence in God. These were the tools of her success.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.


God is with me, but more, God is within me.
Let me dwell for a moment on God's life-giving presence in my body, in my mind, in my heart,as I sit here, right now.


Lord, may I never take the gift of freedom for granted. You gave me the great blessing of freedom of spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and Your joy.


In the presence of my loving Creator, I look honestly at my feelings over the last day, the highs, the lows and the level ground.
Can I see where the Lord has been present?

The Word of God

Reading 1 am 8:4-6, 9-12

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
"When will the new moon be over," you ask,
"that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?"
We will diminish the containers for measuring,
add to the weights,
and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly man for silver,
and the poor man for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"

On that day, says the Lord GOD,
I will make the sun set at midday
and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight.
I will turn your feasts into mourning
and all your songs into lamentations.
I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth
and make every head bald.
I will make them mourn as for an only son,
and bring their day to a bitter end.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD,
when I will send famine upon the land:
Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water,
but for hearing the word of the LORD.
Then shall they wander from sea to sea
and rove from the north to the east
In search of the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.

Responsorial Psalm ps 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

R.    (Matthew 4:4) One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your ordinances at all times.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your justice give me life.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.
R. One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Gospel mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
He heard this and said,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

Remembering that I am still in God's presence, I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting beside me, and say whatever is on my mind, whatever is in my heart, speaking as one 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: Matthew 9:9-13

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Independence Day (USA)

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. (Matthew 9:12)

Jesus could just as easily have been saying those who think they are well do not need a physician. Look at the difference between Matthew and the Pharisees who were hounding Jesus! Matthew must have known that Jesus was offering him something he needed because he immediately left everything behind to become a disciple. But it seems that the Pharisees remained closed to the life Jesus was offering them.

What a loss for them! Think of all the mercy, restoration, and power that Jesus was poised to shower on these men who had devoted themselves to God's law. And not just the Pharisees, but to us! But to the degree that we think we don't need it, or we need to prove ourselves worthy of it, we're missing the joy and freedom that come from Christ.

So when you struggle, or when you sin, take courage. Rejoice! These things can serve as "speed bumps" to get your attention, so that you can slow down and hear Jesus calling your name. Just as he did for Matthew, he is waiting to share a meal with you—a blessing that he has been storing up just for you. St. Paul rejoiced in his weakness because he knew that it was then that God could show his strength through him (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). You too can rejoice as you see your need because it will move you to open yourself to more of God's blessings!

Imagine how much untapped blessing we can close ourselves off from just because we are afraid to admit our needs. Or because we're too self-conscious to let other people, like our confessor, see our weakness. Or because we don't feel we're worthy of God's lavish love. Don't let this happen!

Jesus is waiting. He's looking at you with love and he wants to pour his mercy on you. He wants to bring you into his freedom. Imagine how the Pharisees' response must have saddened him. And imagine his joy when any one of us follows Matthew's example and welcomes him with open arms!

"Jesus, I run to you! I am not afraid to say that I am sick and in need of a physician. I need your mercy and forgiveness. Fill me with your life!"


Amos 8:4-6, 9-12; Psalm 119:2, 10, 20, 30, 40, 131

Today's spanish 5minutos brought up the prayer/poem:

"I asked God to take away my pride...
And God said "No."
He said it was not for him to take away,
but for me to give up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
And God said "No."
He said "Her spirit is whole, her body is only temporary."

I asked God to grant me patience.
And God said "No."
He said "Patience is a by-product of tribulations.
It isn't granted, it is earned."

I asked God to give me happiness.
And God said "No."
He said he gives me blessings, happiness is up to me.

I asked God to spare me pain.
And God said "No."
He said "Suffering draws you apart from worldly
cares and brings you closer to Me."

I asked God to make my spirit grow
And God said "No."
He said I must grow on my own.
But he would prune me to make me fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
And God said "No."
He said "I will give you life, that you may enjoy all things."

I asked God to help me LOVE others,
as much as he loves me.
And God said, "Ah, finally you have the idea."

Today's Holy Scriptures speak volumes of God's Heart, and we have to read volumes to begin to try and understand who God is and what He is asking of us.  You know, there have been times when I have met friends or family that I know are on my mailing list for these reflections and my2cents, and when I meet them it's like they don't know anything about me and what has been happening in my life, "oh I didn't know you had a baby!?"  And in my mind one time said "well, I have been writing about it quite a bit lately".  Or another time someone had mis-read my2cents and then wished me a happy birthday when it was not  even my birthday.  If this is the case for a lowly dummy like me, then how much more misinterpretations and not knowing of God is there? 
Well, we live in freedom.  This day, many thank the brave soldiers in the military for our freedom which is fine, but how many of us thank God?  As if by our own hands we have been given freedom, or even happiness?  He gives blessings and its what we do with them that count.  But who is counting?  Things count automatically.  Today, the first Holy Scripture began with "Hear this" and then said for "all those who trample on the needy and destroy the poor".  God has a loud and clear message for those proud that take advantage of others for their own convenience, He did not create our freedom for that.  He created freedom to love man, no matter where they are from or where they come from, culture or country, background or place.  Because often, tax collectors took advantage of others, they were looked down upon.  But we have to be careful on who we look down upon.  More often we will look down upon Jesus.  I am most often tormented by what fascinates me.  Most often my fascinations detract me from being one with God, and this is sin.  We are speeking now of a freedom like no other.  One where we are free to choose to follow God, or free to go anywhere else.  Free to sacrifice to whatever and whoever.  Or free to have mercy on whoever.  Funny thing about mercy and forgiveness, we have much to learn about it.  As often as someone makes you mad or hurt, is as often as you can forgive and have mercy. 
When the first Holy scripture references trading the lowly, poor for some silver, the prophet is already speaking of Jesus who would be traded for some silver, handed over to death.
When the first Holy Scripture says the land will starve and see the Sun set at midday, it was prophetizing the death of Jesus when the sun set, and the Son of God set into darkness, and from there on the land would seek "truth" and not have it until it found Jesus.
And so the Psalm from centuries before Christ said "one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God".   He speaks, it happens.  Yet so often we speak and things happen.  What do we speak?  Curses or blessings? For so often we speak curses on others as soon as we spread gossip or bring up how bad they are.  The poor and lowly don't even have a shot of hope with this kind of people.  And so the land starves and kills.  Yet the truth is there for the taking.  Yet if you are guilty of that, Jesus comes to eat with you.  And beyond.  He comes to feed you.  And beyond that.  He comes to feed Himself, His own body, blood, soul, and divinity for the sinners of the world.  
LOL.  I'm often amazed at the ones who listen to me when I speak of God and invite to the Lord.  The ones that need it, actually take it.  The ones I thought needed it, don't take it. Often it's the faithless, the stubborn, the ones that don't seem to pay attention that are now the most faithful.  My feelings have nothing on God, He continues to amaze this poor man, yours truly.  That is why we can not rely on our earthly feelings when it comes to trusting in God.  Every night of this week I have spent in different ministries.  Monday, community rosary prayers and reunion group, Tuesday, Lectors practice of the Divine Word, Wednesday, a Pastoral meeting, and Thursday, visit a nearby ultreya with my family.  On Wednesday I usually have co-worker bible study, but there was an emergency pastoral meeting.  I told the co-workers to have the meeting without me.  One said he had something else to do, a side job.  Another said OK but was really a no.  Another said "i'm willing, we'll see what the others say".  A new guy walked in and asked "what's up with tonight, are we meeting?". I said "the other guy is willing if you are".  Turns out they met without me, thanks be to God, but it was the one who I thought would say no that lead the whole thing.  Sinners are who God came to save.  It's the poor and lowly that turn to who is just that matter to Him.  God is just.  He is the Just Truth.  Our true freedom is living in Him and His Way.  Why do I say that?  Because with Him and through Him we are free from Sin and Death.  Something He did with His freedom was to give His life to the Father.  We can give our lives to so many things, but for God?