St. Gregory Nazianzen
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil's invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory's father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see. His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as "the Theologian."
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil's invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory's father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.
His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as "the Theologian."
It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain. In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.
"God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God's greatness."
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
The more we call on the Lord
"I am free."
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day,
14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil,15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.16For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham.17Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.18For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.
Psalms 105:1-4, 6-9
1O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! 2Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! 3Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 4Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually! 6O offspring of Abraham his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! 7He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. 8He is mindful of his covenant for ever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac,
29And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. 31And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them. 32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered together about the door. 34And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 35And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, 37and they found him and said to him, "Every one is searching for you." 38And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out." 39And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
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,
Meditation: Mark 1:29-39
The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases. (Mark 1:33-34)
Can you imagine everyone in your town arriving at your doorstep? It would take a monumental event or person to bring such a crowd. This is exactly what happened to Jesus—and probably quite often. People came to him with all of their problems and needs, begging him for help. And as today's Gospel reading tells us, he cured many, many people.
On one level, it's true that all these people were healed because they sought the Lord on their own. It makes sense: word spread about him, and crowds began gathering around him. But it's just as important to recognize that none of these blessings would have taken place if Jesus hadn't come to earth in the first place. If he had not left his heavenly home and taken on our human flesh, there would be no one to run after!
Every now and then, it's a good idea to step back from our pursuit of the Lord to get a big picture. Instead of thinking about what God wants of us, instead of questioning whether we are being faithful enough, instead of wondering if we're missing out on something we should be doing—instead of all of these, let's think about how relentlessly Jesus is pursuing us.
For instance, it wasn't enough for him to remain in heaven and hope that we would turn back to him. It wasn't enough for him to send us his word through the prophets. It wasn't even enough for him to take on human flesh so that he could show us the way back to his Father. No, he pursued us to the very gates of hell. He rescued us from the clutches of the enemy—and it cost him his life!
This is your Savior. His love for you knows no bounds. He has already done so much in order to come to you. All he's asking is that you take the final steps toward him. So don't hesitate. Run to him, and you'll find every grace and blessing you could ever need.
"Lord, thank you for loving me before I even knew you! Thank you for running after me with so much love. I turn to you now with a heart ready to receive your mercy and grace."
He is able to help those who are tempted. He is MORE THAN able to do what we think is impossible. This is what we heard in today's 1st Holy Scripture. The Psalms proclaim "...make known His deeds among the peoples!" It ends with an exclamation point, for it is proper to exclaim. The Gospel brings our Lord to us, for healing, words that we ought to follow and keep hallow (holy). Such a strange world, not just our times, but it has always been, that people think they are good, basically living a lie. I say this because at work, I observe so many workers, all in their minds they think they are top-notch, cream of the crop, good as can be, above average at least. If they only knew of all the times they have failed and cost so much money in repairs, or missing work, or faulty work. But they don't, until the truth is revealed and reality sets in...or does it? Because I told one guy last Friday that seemed bummed out about his truck was taken by a new worker"...you should be grateful to even have work, you miss work and cost us all this money in lost work and cancelled uniforms that were never returned after not showing up for days or weeks, just do your best from here on out, take care of whatever truck you get and don't miss, that new truck you had, had a burnt clutch, then you'll have your truck and be good". He didn't believe most of the things I said, and this week, well, he hasn't shown up to work. And so what I thought would be encouragement turned for not, fell on deaf ears? So what is it about us that we fool ourselves into thinking we are top notch? That we are so good? So good as a matter of fact, that we don't have to go to church like all them other hypocrites. So good that we don't have to follow God's commandments. So good that the rules apply to everyone else except me. I can get away with anything, and in the end? The boss is God. We are His servants called to do what He did and more! Yikes!
So this becomes a worry for many of us. We begin to worry about this and that, spinning our wheels in anxiety, stress, and discomfort. Some that are trying to be faithful may start to think "well what can I do? I work all the time or am at home all the time, I can't be out there evangelizing like I wish". Don't be fooled. Don't live the lie. Jesus healed one woman today, and the rest came flocking in. The most important people to evangelize are those right in front of you, even that crazy person in the mirror that don't seem to listen! LOL. A worker came in this morning saying something that we are ahead by arising to see another day, to which I added "yes! another day, another opportunity to come closer to God". Well the guy just walked out and shut the door behind him, fell on deaf ears? The message is this. It is here. It is here and now. The opportunity to seize. This one chance in a lifetime to go out, like Jesus came out as it said in the Holy Gospel. He prayed so much, to take a break, He would break away to be with the Father, hours before sunrise, already praying for all those He would encounter...the whole world.
So this new year, it holds alot of promise, because we read today about a covenant, and this is God's promise of over 1,000 generations. Will the earth live that long? Will God's people live that many generations? Well, I'm not going to be here, none of us will be, but the next generation is now, in front of you, the world. The Spirit of God wants to reach everyone and through you and me. God gives commands and co-missions. The only reason you haven't been called out to evangelize somewhere else is because you have to take care of what has been given you, like that worker and his truck he thought he was taking care of business with. The truth is, deep down, we are good, because God made everything Good. Only we have to bring out the good, the holiness, let it come out and begin the transformation in your neck of the woods. This has been the whole purpose of writing to you, so that you may listen and not shut the door after listening.
So long as God will have me to serve it is an honor. I want you to be honored with His presence and His Love. This is a most important part of the mission, being the body of Christ....