|Lenten Sacrifice |
|We renew and deepen our dedication to God and express that by sacrificing something meaningful to us. But as we go about our fasting and almsgiving, let's not forget to give him some extra time in prayer.|
Casimir, born of kings and in line (third among 13 children) to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning by a great teacher, John Dlugosz. Even his critics could not say that his conscientious objection indicated softness. Even as a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy.
When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir's father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. Casimir obeyed his father, as many young men over the centuries have obeyed their government. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the "enemy"; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home.
His father was irked at the failure of his plans, and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. The lad made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day, and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor's daughter.
He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father's absence. He died of lung trouble at 23 while visiting Lithuania, of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Saint of the DayLives, Lessons and FeastBy Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"Come to me all you who are burdened
and I will give you rest"
Here I am, Lord.
I come to seek Your presence.
I long for your healing power.
Many countries are at this moment suffering the agonies of war.
I bow my head in thanksgiving for my freedom.
I pray for all prisoners and captives.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them.
Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
"Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word."
Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.
R. (17b) Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
Verse Before the Gospel Jn 8:12
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day."
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, "What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Listen to audio of this reading
Watch a video reflection
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.
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: Psalm 31:5-6, 14-16
My trust is in you, O Lord. (Psalm 31:15)
What do you worry about? Health? Safety? Job security? Finances? Your children? We all have our lists. The world has no problem telling us how to handle these worries. It tells us to tackle the situation by working harder, getting extra training, buying better insurance, or figuring out how to influence people. It offers very self-oriented, self-focused responses that place our efforts and our fears at the forefront of our minds.
This kind of response seems to be at work in today's Gospel reading. James and John are concerned about their future. Jesus has been talking about how he will be mocked, scourged, and crucified. What will that mean for these disciples? So they work with their mother to develop a long-term career plan. Now the mother and her sons ask Jesus to approve their proposal for James and John to be Jesus' main men in his kingdom. While they seem to be doubling down on their commitment to Jesus, their real motives are self-centered.
Jesus takes this opportunity to remind all of the disciples that this isn't his path. His is the path of humility, surrender, and trust. It's the path of self-giving, not of self-protection. God doesn't want us promoting our own interests. He wants us to follow his way of sacrificial love and to trust that he will care for our needs.
The problem with such a self-oriented approach is that it makes our worries our top priority and reduces our life with God to something we can tend to only in our free time. But Jesus is the most important One! As we reorder our lives to reflect the values of his kingdom, we find that our cares and worries lose their all-encompassing nature. We become more confident that God will care for us.
So what's worrying you today? Are you trying to take care of it yourself? Or are you praying Psalm 31? Hand your destiny, your safety, your family over to the Lord. If you're having trouble letting go, try to focus on Jesus' love for you instead of whatever is causing anxiety. Ask him how you can imitate his love more fully, and let him take care of everything else.
"Lord, I trust you. Teach me how to live in your love."
On The Way
It's as if all the prophets are fulfilled in Jesus right? Jeremiah was persecuted, they were after him to kill him, and it was those people in Jerusalem...much like Jesus, right? And what was Jeremiah saying? "Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life?" Let's think about this. Because it boils down to how grateful we are, how much we appreciate God's gift, and the way we give thanks. In my life, I am forever grateful to our Mother in Heaven for one answered prayer, a simple one, I had a fever I couldn't get rid of for days until I prayed the rosary in faith and tears in my mysery. Now, I'm a salesman for the rosary, I sell it to everyone and their mommas, because there is healing and there is grace to this special angel of God, HIS MOTHER. I digress.
I have participated in the lives of many whereupon we both know the Lord has worked a SAVING miracle. I don't see them around to give thanks anymore. Why can't we give thanks forever? Small price to pay for a life. We are leading to Christ.
The Psalms pray "Save me o Lord, in your kindness". But wait, there's more. The culmination of the Psalms are the life of Christ. We read today some most beautiful words in the life of Jesus. Let's remember this forever, for the day we are to die: "Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God." The last words of our Precious Lord on earth were as He breathed His last "Into your hands I commend my Spirit". Which means total surrender in faith and life to God, to the Redeemer. Ahh. Isn't that what Lent is about? Surrendering? Giving? Now we are leading to the Holy Gospel of the day.
Jesus is going where? Oh no, to the place where prophets are slaughtered...Jerusalem, the so called "Holy Land" nowadays. And is only the Holy Land because Jesus makes things new and good, because it was the last place the culmination of prophets, Jesus, would make the ultimate sacrifice to redeem the world, to SAVE the world. He opened the doors of opportunity for me and you to now be saints. Everyone now born in Him is a saint through baptism. What kind of saint am I? A sad saint? That's sad. A mad saint? That don't make sense. How about a joyful saint? Hmm, yes. How about a peaceful saint? Now we're going into the life of Jesus. Lately, I've been feeling let down by people, but not in a way to make me sad, but I see them let down there cross, and so the weight seems to be heavier on my end. Lift Up YOUR CROSS! COURAGE! The sons of thunder (Zebedee) said they could partake of the cup (chalice) of our Lord. Little did they know it would mean giving their lives...to death. They did it though of some type of zeal, perhaps thinking they could do what others couldn't, as if to Lord power over others. Isn't that our problem? We want power? Respect? We want to show others the way instead of just being the way? Jesus wants followers, not so much leaders, too many chiefs, not enough Indians LOL. And it's the case in our families, and the family of God, at home and at church. Nobody wants to humble down. Nobody wants to be the servant of servants. Nobody wants to lift a finger, just want all the good and not the bad. But the secret is in what the world hates...the Truth. It is the main focus of our problems...Jesus is nowhere to be found...the servant. Many times I do not want to be the leader, I'm tired of it, I hate the feeling I get when I get chosen, like to feel important, for instance, last night after our building committee meeting I rushed over to a Lectors meeting. At the end, they all voted for me to lead the final prayer. I kept pointing for this man or this other person to do it, but I had to lead. I want to serve, and so the thing I will serve is Jesus. I will serve humility, and the way is through love. Because that is what is being served in Holy Mass...Jesus, humility through love. The greatest among the least, and from the least. Because the world hated Him first, why shouldn't it hate me, if I truly love God? Jeremiah was betrayed by family, friends, the so called "church", but His comfort was the Word. He asked the kings to repent and they imprisoned him.
Jeremiah was not able to keep from prophesying even when he decided to remain silent (Jer.20:9): "I say I will not mention him, I will no longer speak in his name.But then it is as if fire is burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding back, I cannot!" He is not to be dismayed, for God will be with him. "The fear of God is the best antidote against the fear of man." And he who has the world for his enemy but God for his friend is safe and secure. And it is right and just to set our lives on the stone that the architects rejected, Jesus. My Lord is my rock, my fortres, my shield in whom I trust.
But lets be real. If I say I love and trust God, let's do what He asks us to do. Let's actually follow the law and the prophets of God. Let's actually be the servant of servants. Let's be the ones doing all the serving instead of all the whipping. Let's actually let God in our lives and let His love burn in us every day. I wouldn't say it if it were not possible. And our Lord wouldn't have you read this if He had not chose to do so for you. He is serving up Love if we will partake to share the light to the world...
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