Friday, February 13, 2015

Be Opened!

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Minute Meditations
My Joy! Minute Meditations

Joy is in my heart. This joy is not ephemeral. I possess it forever. Like the springtime rose, it smiles at me every day. My joy is to love suffering. My joy is the Holy Will of Jesus, my only love, so I live without any fear. --St. Thérèse of Lisieux
— from Accidental Theologians

St. Giles Mary of St. Joseph
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In the same year that a power-hungry Napoleon Bonaparte led his army into Russia, Giles Mary of St. Joseph ended a life of humble service to his Franciscan community and to the citizens of Naples. Francesco was born in Taranto to very poor parents. His father's death left the 18-year-old Francesco to care for the family. Having secured their future, he entered the Friars Minor at Galatone in 1754. For 53 years he served at St. Paschal's Hospice in Naples in various roles, such as cook, porter or most often as official beggar for that community.
"Love God, love God" was his characteristic phrase as he gathered food for the friars and shared some of his bounty with the poor—all the while consoling the troubled and urging everyone to repent. The charity which he reflected on the streets of Naples was born in prayer and nurtured in the common life of the friars. The people whom Giles met on his begging rounds nicknamed him the "Consoler of Naples." He was canonized in 1996.


People often become arrogant and power hungry when they try to live a lie, for example, when they forget their own sinfulness and ignore the gifts God has given to other people. Giles had a healthy sense of his own sinfulness—not paralyzing but not superficial either. He invited men and women to recognize their own gifts and to live out their dignity as people made in God's divine image. Knowing someone like Giles can help us on our own spiritual journey.

In his homily at the canonization of Giles, Pope John Paul II said that the spiritual journey of Giles reflected "the humility of the Incarnation and the gratuitousness of the Eucharist" (L'Osservatore Romano 1996, volume 23, number 1).

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

My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
When I turn my thoughts to You,
I find peace and contentment.
If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?
If God were reassuring me or challenging me, would I notice?
I ask for the grace to be free of my own preoccupations
and open to what God may be saying to me.
How do I find myself today? Where am I with God? With others? Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God

Reading 1 Gn 3:1-8

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
"Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?"
The woman answered the serpent:
"We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
'You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'"
But the serpent said to the woman:
"You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil."
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden
at the breezy time of the day,
the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God
among the trees of the garden.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (1a) Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD,"
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.

Alleluia See Acts 16:14b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man's ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
"Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!")
And immediately the man's ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
"He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

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    Watch a video reflection
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say "Thank You Lord" for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord, when it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.
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: Mark 7:31-37

5th Week in Ordinary Time
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. (Mark 7:37)
Have you ever watched a baby learning to talk? She looks intently at her parent's mouth that forms words. She attempts to repeat sounds. Before long, she is forming words that name people and things important in her world.
But sometimes this process seems to drag. The baby doesn't babble but may just groan. She doesn't look in the direction of a startling sound. Lullabies don't seem to calm her.
When parents notice such difficulties, they try to find out if the baby has a hearing problem. Quite often, a medical intervention like cochlear implants or hearing aids, coupled with speech therapy, can dramatically improve the child's ability to speak. It makes sense, doesn't it? The more you can hear, the better you can speak.
Isn't this what happened to the man in today's Gospel reading? He was deaf, and that deafness led to a speech impediment. So as soon as Jesus opened the man's ears, the speech impediment vanished, and the man was able to speak clearly.
Perhaps you've been concerned about a "speech impediment" of your own. Maybe a friend is expressing prejudices against the Church that you know to be untrue, but you're afraid to speak up. Or maybe you have strong political or moral convictions but can't articulate them in a convincing way.
Instead of getting frustrated trying to figure out what to say, take a step back, and work on your listening skills. Before launching into your convictions or defense of the Church, first listen to what the other person is trying to say. Listen, also, for what may be behind that person's objections. Is he or she voicing a heartfelt concern about a serious problem? Maybe it's an issue that you care about as well, but you disagree on the best way to solve it.
If you can listen and find common ground, you may find yourself growing in understanding, even as you suggest alternatives. "What might happen if ... .That reminds me of a time when I ..." Comments like these tend to promote dialogue rather than close it down. It may require more patience, but the more we listen prayerfully, the better we will be able to speak. The better we will be able to love.
"Jesus, open my ears so that I can speak with your love."

Genesis 3:1-8
Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7

The 1st Holy Scripture today unravels a theology and a message from our Heavenly Creator, Our Lord.  Yes, we failed Him and there's much more than meets the eye.  Because sin is tempting, and the liar, the ruler of the world makes millions of people fall for the lies.  And how is it?  We touched upon this in our cursillista ultreya last night, in which I blurted out "the devil takes a seemingly little truth and twists it all up".  Makes you think something bad is actually probably a little good.  Take for instance, the lie of abortion.  The seemingly little truth is "the health and well being of the REALLY wouldn't want her to go to an alley to kill her baby would you?  Much better in a clinic".  So a law was passed to provide for an "affordable and safe" method to kill millions of unborn children per day.  Every day a woman falls into temptation and men are no less to blame as we will read later in Genesis.  And this is a simple example of the fall of man in the Kingdom of God.  But I said, there's more to the message.  We discussed in our conference with Dr. Brant Pitre and Michael Barber at our conference, that touchy subject of purgatory.  As far as sin goes, there are things we have to pay for...even though we are forgiven. 
  Now the message of our Lord is being revealed, and it is of good and justice as He has designed.  But before we go on; let's remember what happens with sin.  First you fall, and then you veer off the path, detract and hide from God.  Last night, a brother that had lapsed into alcoholism said in ultreya that he knew he was falling away until he wound up in the emergency room, and later on would say that this would be his closest moment to Christ.  This my friend, this is what Christ is about, repairing what has been broken.  But so I can explain, we have to understand the theology of Genesis: God's noise was in the garden, in the breeze, the wind that created the earth was Him, and is relevant even in the New Testament, for example John 3:8 The wind* blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."f  and in Acts2:2 "And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,* and it filled the entire house in which they were.b ".   Again that "noise" and that what caused it filled the room where they were, and it is God.  It is the noise in the ultreya last night.  The noise in the Church, and the noise that is constanly on+ so long as there is the light of hope.
The Psalms are the message of hope, and they are said to have been the life of our Lord.  "Blessed are those, whose sins are forgiven".  Guess what?  Guess who's sins are forgiven?  Everybody and there mommas!  IF, that's IF they seek forgiveness, which means seeking Jesus.  And it is no more evident as it is in the Gospel.  Today, Jesus sets Himself apart with the deaf and mute.  This man's deformity is the malady of our sin.  That same malady caused by the fall from the beginning of time.  When we sin, don't we shy away from God?  YES, yes we all do, unless you just don't care!  Sin will do bad things in our lives, things that you will have to pay for somehow, although you are forgiven.  But take heart, Jesus comes in the picture...forgiveness.  Let's notice every move He makes from the Gospel and does with us.  He sets you out and apart, takes the time of the world to be with just you who are seeking healing (reconciliation).  He holds your head, your face in His hands, eye to eye, this very Lord that will be spit on, spits away from the man, He takes on your disease and does good.  He puts his finger in the ear so you will listen to nothing else but Him working in you.  He touched your tongue so you could experience the Holy Spirit (that wind again) and have tongues of fire over your head (see the book of Acts), and finally He does what is most needed for all healing, He cracks open the heart of the soul with the words "BE OPENED!", notice He "GROANED" the words.  This is God here asking us, groaning, "be opened!", I will heal you.  I will set you apart.  I learned from a study with Dr. Brant Pitre years before in a study (The Bible and the Mass), that to be "set apart" means to be Holy.  God sets Himself apart and brings you with Him to be made Holy.
Whatever it takes right?  Loss of a loved one?  An infirmity?  A cancer?  Even a wretched sin that sets you apart now with Him in prison, or the walls of your own home.  There, alone, there in the wind is Him., calling for you.  Where He goes exactly, nobody knows, but He does, and He goes to the afflicted.  This is the example we are to follow in our lives.  Being afflicted, go to the afflicted.  If you were healed from a malady, go now and heal others.  First though, the healing.  And moreover, the healing in the world that is needed+ is the healing of the souls, because it has been engulfed with lies.  And so the answer is truth.  To heal the lies we need truth.  We need Jesus in our lives.  Then we will not hide.  Then we will be healed.   The rest of the message of this part in Genesis is to notice this:  Even though we goofed (Adam and Eve), God was still present.  He could've abandoned them, but no...He would be with them through their sufferings that were to come, up to death.  And then Jesus would heal all of this and unite us once again with Him, made whole and Holy, wholy His...
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