|Enter the Kingdom |
|At the end of time, the King will say to those who were compassionate toward the hungry and thirsty, the naked and the strangers: "Come, O blessed of my Father, enter the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, even if you have never known me, because whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done to me."|
St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions
Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China's relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.
The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.
The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.
Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.
A year after these martyrs were canonized, Saint John Paul II addressed a group of Chinese and Western scholars, gathered in Rome for a symposium honoring the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Beijing of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit scholar and Chinese intellectual.
After noting the positive contributions that Christianity had made to China, especially in health care and education, Pope John Paul II continued: "History, however, reminds us of the unfortunate fact that the work of members of the church in China was not always without error, the bitter fruit of their personal limitations and of the limits of their action. Moreover, their action was often conditioned by difficult situations connected with complex historical events and conflicting political interests. Nor were theological disputes lacking, which caused bad feelings and created serious difficulties in preaching the Gospel....
"I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the church was motivated by feelings of hostility toward China. For all of this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians."
Daily Prayer - 2015-07-09
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.
I will ask God's help,
to be free from my own preoccupations,
to be open to God in this time of prayer,
to come to know, love and serve God more.
At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to You. I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations. I will take rest and refreshment in your presence Lord.
The Word of God
Judah approached Joseph and said: "I beg you, my lord,
let your servant speak earnestly to my lord,
and do not become angry with your servant,
for you are the equal of Pharaoh.
My lord asked your servants, 'Have you a father, or another brother?'
So we said to my lord, 'We have an aged father,
and a young brother, the child of his old age.
This one's full brother is dead,
and since he is the only one by that mother who is left,
his father dotes on him.'
Then you told your servants,
'Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.
Unless your youngest brother comes back with you,
you shall not come into my presence again.'
When we returned to your servant our father,
we reported to him the words of my lord.
"Later, our father told us to come back and buy some food for the family.
So we reminded him, 'We cannot go down there;
only if our youngest brother is with us can we go,
for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.'
Then your servant our father said to us,
'As you know, my wife bore me two sons.
One of them, however, disappeared, and I had to conclude
that he must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts;
I have not seen him since.
If you now take this one away from me, too,
and some disaster befalls him,
you will send my white head down to the nether world in grief.'"
Joseph could no longer control himself
in the presence of all his attendants,
so he cried out, "Have everyone withdraw from me!"
Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him,
and so the news reached Pharaoh's palace.
"I am Joseph," he said to his brothers.
"Is my father still in good health?"
But his brothers could give him no answer,
so dumbfounded were they at him.
"Come closer to me," he told his brothers.
When they had done so, he said:
"I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed,
and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.
It was really for the sake of saving lives
that God sent me here ahead of you."
R. (5a) Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
When the LORD called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
They had weighed him down with fetters,
and he was bound with chains,
Till his prediction came to pass
and the word of the LORD proved him true.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus said to his Apostles:
"As you go, make this proclamation:
'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts;
no sack for the journey, or a second tunic,
or sandals, or walking stick.
The laborer deserves his keep.
Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—
go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.
Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- Jesus imparts a radical message to his disciples as he sends them out on mission. They are to cast out demons and cleanse lepers just as he did and take nothing for the journey, not even a spare tunic or sandals for their feet. It is a rallying call by Jesus to his closest followers to trust completely in the providence and love of God.
- I pray Lord that I may cling less to material things and more to your providential presence in my life, which is alive and active in every moment of my day and every decision I make. Help me to place all my hope and trust in you -- for your love and generosity are never outdone.
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,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Meditation: Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5
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Saint Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)
It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. (Genesis 45:5)
Have you ever heard of a Fresnel lens? It's a very thin, powerful lens system that can project the light from a single bulb as far as twenty miles away. Pioneered in 1823, it is still in use today in many lighthouses around the world.
Although the Fresnel lens was an important advancement, the actual placement of the lighthouse itself was just as important. If it was built on ground that was too low or too high, for example, it could be obscured by obstacles or by the clouds. Sometimes, a lighthouse had to be placed on a cliff overlooking the sea or on outcropping rocks, making for both a treacherous construction project and an inhospitable place to work.
Near the end of his story, Joseph realizes that his job is to be a kind of Fresnel lens. He sees that the different situations he has found himself in—prisoner, servant, prophet, and steward—have all been opportunities for him to shine God's light into the lives of the people of Egypt. He also realizes that God has been using him to save his people, the Israelites, from famine. This is probably the hardest of all his situations, however, because it means that Joseph has to step out of his official, lordly role and forgive his brothers for all the harm they have caused him.
As he did with Joseph, God has placed you where you are so that you can shine his light. It may be hard to believe at times, but it's true—you have the potential to help people find their way in this world and even more important, to find their way to the Lord. As it was with Joseph, there are times when it's not all that easy to shine your light, times when you have to forgive or go out of your way or be extra generous.
Don't let this frighten you. Remember, it's his light shining in you, so it doesn't all depend on you. Just imitate Joseph, and take it one step at a time. You'll find Jesus giving you the grace you need as you lean on him.
"Lord, help me to shine your light wherever I am."
In today's 1st Holy Scripture, we read that we are never to forget the little ones and to have mercy, and to be charitable, and to live in righteousness which means with the Lord our God, trusting only in Him because in the end...He's all we've really got as we live. Joseph cries out in pain, love, and mercy as his brothers confess to him. Because they are true in confession, they are saved, takes them into the palace to be taken care of and live together in love. This is the prefigure of Christ our Lord. We should always be reading the Old Testament in context, with our Lord Jesus in mind, for He is the culmination of the entire Old Testament, the old covenant, for the New.
The Psalms pray today "Remember the marvels the Lord has done". Remember. Jesus says to remember Him too. And so in the Holy Mass we "do this in rememberance of Him". I remember some Jehova's witnesses went to my house. They invited me to their church, and I invited them to mine. I said "we celebrate what the Lord said at the Last supper" and they said "we do that too, we have a memorial (once a year)" but what we have is not a memorial, it is an actual re-presentation, we re- live the moment of Christ breaking the bread and His body for us. So we more than just remember, we live it again, and again and Jesus said "do this until I return". And we are, awaiting in hope, remembering in hope, living in hope. If your world is like mine, it can be easy to get depressed isn't it? For instance, in the past week, just here at work, some fellow co-workers have passed away over the weekend, one after an illness that suddenly took him, possibly alcoholism, and the other in an arguement with his siblings driving down the highway, he flew out the door and got killed. These people I knew. These people I talked to. What more could I have done? The young man that died, we just had a funeral for his dad few months ago. The mother is devastated. And forget the news channels, all doom and gloom, this robbery, this murder, this financial situation, it is all darkness. And so, yeah, it is easy to get depressed.
Now, let me tell you the Good News, because where there is darkness, all the more there is God's mercy and love working. For every time I hear there is trouble in a town I say "there is something good trying to happen there". It is the first fire in the spiritual life to pass through, and so I invite you to pass through that first fire to more. More of our Lord. More of hope. More of joy. Why do people like to go to the mall? Or to the beach or lake or dances or even Church? Because, they want to see the happiness and share in the happiness with others. But only one of those places just mentioned one has true happiness waiting forever. The pursuit of happiness is the story of our faith, this journey we are embarked on as we live on earth. For this journey, our Lord says to take nothing, no money, no food, no extra clothes, NOTHING. We actually had a full room of co-workers last night in our bible study, and this is the exact Gospel we studied. I said when it was my turn to share "it's as if the Lord is saying to trust in nothing else but Him", trust not in the money, nor the food, nor what you find comfort in. Trust only in Him, in what He provides. Trust that is enough, for His grace is enough. I told a couple workers before the meeting, what I learned from a severely depressed man a few years back. This man I met told me that he used to go to the stores to buy things all the time, just to feel good, to get that little high. It was like he was filling a vast empty hole in his life and all the junk he would buy would not fill it. He went to a 3 day retreat and came back alive. He used to take up to 22 anti-depressant pills per day, and after coming back to life after the retreat, after encountering our Lord, he no longer takes a single pill. Today he can be found slaving away for the Lord, devoting His life to God. I would like to say I had something to do with that, because at one point he had decided to leave our parish because of an arguement with our priest and I said "You can't leave...we are the Church together, not just the priest". Now together we're going on our 3rd priest in our parish. You see, we are in this together, with our faults and all...but Jesus is with us, the Glue, and what is on that altar is the food that saves lives..real lives...souls.
What's more, this week I've had phenomenal encounters with the Lord. A couple days ago, as I took a co-worker/friend with me, we drove in my truck to another town. As we drove we talked, and he said on his own "hey, do you know where I can get a rosary?" I said "yeah, I know someone who makes them and also this Catholic store has them...why do you ask?" He said he wanted to hang it on his rearview mirror of the car he just bought. I said "oh no way! that's not what the rosary is for, it is to pray! I used to see people pull up to the abortion clinics with rosaries hanging on their rearview mirrors, this can not be! We can't hang our faith, present it to the world and not really live it inside our hearts!" So, the Holy Spirit told me to pray, and teach him how to pray the rosary. I knew we'd get to the town soon and perhaps interrupt the rosary, but I started anyway. It was Tuesday, the Sorrowful mysteries (the only one I know by heart). We prayed and I explained the mysteries of Christ. One more decade and we were pulling into that town, and a though hit me, "what if we take a detour and end up at this Catholic Church for the ending of the rosary", and it worked out that we did it. As we prayed and parked at that church like an Hacienda style church with archs, we got off, and as we got off a new priest greeted us, shook our hands, a new priest from India, (another import because we have low vocations). We turned around and another priest greeted us (keep in mind Jesus is in the priests). We finally finished the rosary in front of a huge celtic cross which at the base had a statue of the Holy Mother of God holding her Son's body in her arms, dead after being crucified. It was fitting for the sorrowful mysteries which are the passion of Christ. I could almost cry at the marvel and beauty of how it all transpired. After praying and walking back to the truck, I said to the friend "you see how we encountered Jesus as we prayed the rosary?".
This is just one example of good working amidst the supposedly bad world. Jesus sends us two by two. One with the other. One helping the other...and the other is always Jesus
I have more good news, to speak but I will not take more of your time to be with the Lord
God bless you on your journey. Help Jesus, and let Him help you. That's the whole point of being in love
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