St. Sharbel Makhluf
Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely. Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly. He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.
Although this saint never traveled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely.
Following the example of the fifth-century St. Maron, Sharbel lived as a hermit from 1875 until his death. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. When his superiors occasionally asked him to administer the sacraments to nearby villages, Sharbel did so gladly.
He died in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures. Pope Paul VI beatified him in 1965 and canonized him 12 years later.
Blessed John Paul II often said that the Church has two lungs (East and West) and it must learn to breathe using both of them. Remembering saints like Sharbel helps the Church to appreciate both the diversity and unity present in the Catholic Church. Like all the saints, Sharbel points us to God and invites us to cooperate generously with God's grace, no matter what our situation in life may be. As our prayer life becomes deeper and more honest, we become more ready to make that generous response.
When Sharbel was canonized in 1977, Bishop Francis Zayek, head the U.S. Diocese of St. Maron, wrote a pamphlet entitled "A New Star of the East." Bishop Zayek wrote: "St. Sharbel is called the second St. Anthony of the Desert, the Perfume of Lebanon, the first Confessor of the East to be raised to the Altars according to the actual procedure of the Catholic Church, the honor of our Aramaic Antiochian Church, and the model of spiritual values and renewal. Sharbel is like a Cedar of Lebanon standing in eternal prayer, on top of a mountain."
The bishop noted that Sharbel's canonization plus other beatification cases prove "that the Aramaic Maronite Antiochian Church is indeed a living branch of the Catholic Church and is intimately connected with the trunk, who is Christ, our Savior, the beginning and the end of all things."
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
At any time of the day or night we can call on Jesus.
Everything has the potential to draw forth from me a fuller love and life.
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.
Reading 1 jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
This word of the LORD came to me:
Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!
I remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the LORD was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should any presume to partake of them,
evil would befall them, says the LORD.
When I brought you into the garden land
to eat its goodly fruits,
You entered and defiled my land,
you made my heritage loathsome.
The priests asked not,
"Where is the LORD?"
Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after useless idols.
Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.
Responsorial Psalm ps 36:6-7ab, 8-9, 10-11
R. (10a) With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
O LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven;
your faithfulness, to the clouds.
Your justice is like the mountains of God;
your judgments, like the mighty deep.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
How precious is your mercy, O God!
The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They have their fill of the prime gifts of your house;
from your delightful stream you give them to drink.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
For with you is the fountain of life,
and in your light we see light.
Keep up your mercy toward your friends,
your just defense of the upright of heart.
R. With you is the fountain of life, O Lord.
Gospel mt 13:10-17
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?"
He said to them in reply,
"Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted
and I heal them.
"But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."
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.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Meditation: Matthew 13:10-17
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Saint Sharbel Makhlūf, Priest
Why do you speak to the crowd in parables? (Matthew 13:10)
Comedian Buddy Hackett used to quip, "My mother's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it." Today's Gospel reading presents the same alternatives, but about something infinitely more important than food preferences. Will we take Jesus and his teaching or leave it?
By this point in Matthew's Gospel, those who have been listening to Jesus are making choices. The "leavers" refuse to repent; some are even plotting his death (Matthew 11:20-24; 12:14). The "takers" are opening their hearts to Jesus and his message. Yet these disciples are confused about his teaching style. Why not speak more directly? Why use parables?
Jesus' answer—"because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand" (Matthew 13:13)—highlights the deliberate rejection of the "leavers"; they have already blocked their ears and are now experiencing the consequences of this choice. Commenting on Jesus' approach, St. John Chrysostom explains: "We ourselves do this all the time. When we see someone listening inattentively and can't persuade him to listen at all, then all that remains is to be silent. If we continue, even his inattentiveness is aggravated. But for someone who tries to learn, we continue on and offer much."
So is Jesus giving up on those who reject what he offers, like Mother Hackett telling her kids to "take it or leave it"? Not at all! Jesus wants everyone to receive the good news of the kingdom. This is, in fact, why he speaks in parables. These surprising, often puzzling comparisons are teaching tools that can jolt people and provoke some thinking and changing. A shepherd who abandons the whole flock to search for one stray? A harvest of a hundredfold, when a yield of seven and a half was normal? These surprising stories suggest fresh, new possibilities about what God and his kingdom are like. And they invite everyone to respond accordingly.
So come to Jesus' table with a "take it" attitude, hungry for every word he offers. If you want to be nourished, "more will be given," and you "will grow rich" in understanding (Matthew 13:12).
"Jesus, your word is always new. By your Spirit, help me to be a generous receiver of your grace!"
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13; Psalm 36:6-11
Do you remember being in love with God? It is a perplexing issue. It is a pressing issue at that. If I've an ounce of intelligence, from what I gather, there is a severe disconnect between the bible and man. Who is teaching this stuff? Many times and sadly what is taught is the distorted views of television, the media, or what little friends know. And most often I've learned, it is not what you know, but WHO you know.
In this case, we have a case of coming to know, to love, and to serve the true God. In today's first Holy Scripture, Jeremiah is the prophet to become the liaison for the Covenant. God said "When I brought you into the garden" we "defiled" His land. We do tend to make a mess of things right? We need correction right? What's at stake? My life? Yes, but more importantly, the lives of others. When I sin, and I don't think I'm hurting anybody, I'm being lied to and lying to others. Hypocrite is not the word. Liar? Getting close. Blasphemer? Now things are getting scary.
We live in times close to the times of defilement. This defiling (to make impure) is the ingratitude that darkens what should be light. It is gross. Because I am engrossed. And by what? All things that keep me from the first question I asked you today: "do you remember being in love with God?". Is the answer yes?
If Yes, the call is to return to that love you had, when you were a child in God's grace-full arms and love even more.
If No, the call to you right now is to drop everything you are doing in life to allow God into your soul, nothing is more important.
If unsure where you are in this love relationship, then we have a "complex" that is a simple problem. Choose your love.
For this Jesus comes in the Holy Gospel. But before we prayed the Psalm "For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. Keep up your mercy toward your friends, your just defense of the upright of heart", we hear of mercy in the Psalms today. In comes our Lord and Master of whom we take our DISCIPLine. "Gross is the heart of this people, "they will hardly hear with their ears". A gross heart?
You see, this is where we are at. Sometimes I feel like gathering the parish and stress the importance of WHY we are doing "things" for the Lord. Because if you answer the "why" without a lie, then we could begin to return to the Lord. And for you right now, "why are you reading this?" If your answer is:
Because I am curious- Then beware of the traps set out for you in the world.
Because I need to do something like this daily- Then if you are doing something, do it full-heartedly my child. Half hearts hardly get to Heaven.
Because this nourishes me and makes me feel alive- Then take heart, because yours is the Kingdom to work and thrive in for the Lord. Ultimate sacrifice is being asked of you for Him, dive and delve into the labor of love.
In all the answers, the common denominator is the heart. Jesus spoke of the heart. Gross when I can't and won't listen because that what is detracting is sin.
Now we can begin to see if sin is removed. If grace abounds and mercy is the way, then Jesus is the answer.
"But Adrian, I'm going through so much right now, what can I do?" There is only one thing to do; Surrender your life to Jesus.
He is not a liar like the world. He says His yoke, His way is light. Try that for once! Do not blaspheme by going to the altar with absolutely no intent to change! What a lie we eat, condemnation then brought upon oneself!
You have to have every intent to become a Holy man or woman of God. What we have here nowadays is an identification crisis.
People are insecure, and this causes great turmoil. A powerful Christian is not insecure, but secured by the power of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus came for the return. And His intent is to return with every single soul that walks this earth. In comes you and me
GLORY BE TO OUR LORD FOREVER