Friday, February 27, 2015

If You Bring

Untitled document
Minute Meditations
Christ Among Us Minute Meditations

Life is not always happy, but our connections to others can create a simple and grace-filled quiet celebration of our own and others' lives. These others are the presence of Christ in our lives.
— from Sacred Silence

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows
(1838-1862 )

Listen to Audio
  Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.
His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.
Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920.


When we think of achieving great holiness by doing little things with love and grace, Therese of Lisieux comes first to mind. Like her, Gabriel died painfully from tuberculosis. Together they urge us to tend to the small details of daily life, to be considerate of others' feelings every day. Our path to sanctity, like theirs, probably lies not in heroic doings but in performing small acts of kindness every day.

Patron Saint of:


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

I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord.
I will take refuge in your loving heart.
You are my strength in times of weakness.
You are my comforter in times of sorrow.
It is so easy to get caught up
with the trappings of wealth in this life.
Grant, O Lord, that I may be free
from greed and selfishness.
Remind me that the best things in life are free.
Love, laughter, caring and sharing.
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God
  Friday of the First Week of Lent

Reading 1 Ez 18:21-28

Thus says the Lord GOD:
If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,
if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him;
he shall live because of the virtue he has practiced.
Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked?
says the Lord GOD.
Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way
that he may live?

And if the virtuous man turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked man does,
can he do this and still live?
None of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because he has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, he shall die.
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed,
does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm PS 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8

R. (3) If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

Verse Before the Gospel Ez 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel?

Gospel Mt 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you,
unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother, Raqa,
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

    Listen to audio of this reading

    Watch a video reflection

Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted 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 5:20-26

Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)
In 1912, George Horine leaped two meters skyward during an Olympic trial. Usually, "two" isn't very spectacular. But in the high jump, elevating yourself two meters is something special—and George set the world record. Over the years, that record would change hands many times, until 1993, when the bar was raised to its current height, a staggering 2.45 meters. If George were around, he might have marveled, "That's impossible!"
In today's Gospel, Jesus dramatically elevated the standards for his disciples to live by. He proclaimed that unless they were more righteous than their religious leaders, they would not enter heaven. He then went on to expand the commandment against murder to include speaking and even thinking violence against others. You can just hear the disciples' exasperated response, "This will be impossible!"
Why such a high standard? Because it's a truer reflection of the Father's heart. If we see God's Law as a gift given first to Moses, then developed by the prophets, and completed in Jesus, we can see God raising his people up, step-by-step, to a greater conformity to his own character. What's more, as the stakes are raised, we become more alert to our need for his grace to reach the standard: it's impossible by ourselves!
Take a few moments to answer these questions: Is Jesus inviting you to "elevate" your journey this Lent beyond last year's mark? Is he asking you to run farther, leap higher, or dive deeper in your friendship with him? This invitation means something unique and specific to each one of us. See it as an opportunity to step up and get the closest that you've ever been to your Savior.
What Jesus is asking you to do may feel impossible. On your own, it will be. But you're not on your own! The Holy Spirit is with you. He can lift you up to heights that you've never reached before. And to get there, you're going to need to rely on him to a greater degree than ever before. Who knows? During your Lenten journey, you just may find yourself doing the impossible!
"Jesus, I hear you calling me. Please help me answer!"

Ezekiel 18:21-28
Psalm 130:1-8

From today's 1st Holy Scripture:  "You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
The Psalms pray with us: "If you, O LORD, mark iniquities, LORD, who can stand?"
And our Lord comes in the Holy Gospel:  "Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven."
Sounds pretty serious today right?  I mean, so what's at stake here?  Did Jesus just change the rules?  Well, let's just say, we never really knew the rules to begin with, as a people of God.  Let's go back to Scripture:
+From the 1st reading:  "Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?"  God sets rules so that we might live...with Him...forever.  It's almost as if we spend our lives grappling with God, but it was like this with Jacob in the book of Genesis, and so it has been from the beginning.  So maybe we shouldn't feel bad if we are grappling with our faith, with our Lord. When the grappling was done scripture says "Then the man said, "You shall no longer be named Jacob, but Israel,* because you have contended with divine and human beings and have prevailed." Gn32:28.   And so we have to understand what our Lord does: He will break you down and answer to your exclamation saying He is not fair.  He broke Jacob's hip and he left the Lord limping.  I want sometimes the Word to cut your heart.  Because what happens is things in this world don't let Him set well in your Spirit. 
Lent will help us break down, get off our high horse, and leave limping for the Lord, because it seems only when we break down and get on our knees is when we are responsive for a life change.
+The Psalms pray on: "Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice!".  Today we will pray the stations of the cross, the way of the cross, the Passion of Christ as depicted in Catholic Churches across the world.  14 stations in all.  In one of them, Jesus cries out to our Lord on a Friday "Abba!" which means daddy.  And He couldn't have yelled too loud having lost most if not all His precious blood along the way to the cross.  Hear me LORD!  PLEASE!  Grappling.  We feel alone sometimes don't we?  We need God and we need one another...keep that in mind as Jesus speaks:
+In the Holy Gospel, Jesus speaks; "But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment....and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna."  You mean, because I called someone stupid or an idiot I may be facing some fiery hell?  You mean, just because I'm mad at someone I could be liable to this judgement?  NOT FAIR!  Yeah LOL, not fair if you believe the lies of the world!  Why do you think GOD said these words today?  For your own salvation?  Yeah, but not just that, but for that person your mad at and called stupid!  He loves them just as much as you!  DOH!   Let's say, I say something about someone or a group of people, or I write a book about it (no difference).  What you do is plant seeds of evil that end up in some of their deaths or demise.  "See that you do not despise one of these little ones,* for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. " mt 18:10.  Oh no.  Can you start to see why God is serious about despising others in ANY way!?  When someone was speaking to me this week and he kept bringing up so many people's "problems" I made him realize (I hope) that it seemed peculiar that everyone else was the problem. Rock hard hearts huh?  God wants to grapple because He will win.  Are you in?  Are you ready for the truth?  Truth is Jesus and His Word, because He IS THE WORD, turned flesh, and the Word is Among us.  Today, be on your best guard, because He could be disguised as someone you have despised.  Or He could be that nurturing voice you needed to hear, same difference, He can do anything He pleases and however He pleases...with a loving heart
and or