Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bring Them Here

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Minute Meditations

Long Way to Go Minute Meditations

The standard for loving others may be greater than we've previously thought. Indeed, if Christ's laying his life down for a friend and foe is the example of how we should treat each other, it stands to reason that we have a long way to go.

— from Spirituality You Can Live With

Dedication of Churches of Sts. Peter and Paul

St. Peter's is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at St. Peter's tomb to pray. In 319 Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.

St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abaazia delle Tre Fontane, where St. Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter's was rebuilt, the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake's grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823. The first basilica was also Constantine's doing.

Constantine's building projects enticed the first of a centuries-long parade of pilgrims to Rome. From the time the basilicas were first built until the empire crumbled under "barbarian" invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.



Peter, the rough fisherman whom Jesus named the rock on which the Church is built, and the educated Paul, reformed persecutor of Christians, Roman citizen and missionary to the Gentiles, are the original odd couple. The major similarity in their faith-journeys is the journey's end: Both, according to tradition, died a martyr's death in Rome—Peter on a cross and Paul beneath the sword. Their combined gifts shaped the early Church and believers have prayed at their tombs from the earliest days.


"It is extraordinarily interesting that Roman pilgrimage began at an...early time. Pilgrims did not wait for the Peace of the Church [Constantine's edict of toleration] before they visited the tombs of the Apostles. They went to Rome a century before there were any public churches and when the Church was confined to the tituli [private homes] and the catacombs. The two great pilgrimage sites were exactly as today—the tombs, or memorials, of St. Peter upon the Vatican Hill and the tomb of St. Paul off the Ostian Way" (H.V. Morton, This Is Rome).

Daily Prayer - 2015-11-18


As I begin this prayer, God is here.
Around me, in my sensations, in my thoughts and deep within me.
I pause for a moment, and become aware
of God's life-giving presence.


"In these days, God taught me
as a schoolteacher teaches a pupil" (Saint Ignatius).
I remind myself that there are things God has to teach me yet,
and ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me.


How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted?
I may be very much at peace, happy to be here.
Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry.
I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word of God

Reading 1 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law.

Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
"I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man's beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law."

Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
"Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them."

She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
"What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king's command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God."

Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1bcd, 5-6, 8b and 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Alleluia See Jn 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 19:11-28

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
"A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.'
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
'We do not want this man to be our king.'
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.'
He replied, 'Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.'
Then the second came and reported,
'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.'
And to this servant too he said,
'You, take charge of five cities.'
Then the other servant came and said,
'Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.'
He said to him,
'With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.'
And to those standing by he said,
'Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.'
But they said to him,
'Sir, he has ten gold coins.'
He replied, 'I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.'"

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Some thoughts on today's scripture

  • This is a puzzling parable. There are two parallel story lines. First, the hostility between the king and the citizens who want to be rid of him. Second, the interactions between the king and his slaves. The latter receive the most attention. The king himself is avaricious, tyrannical and cruel. His only positive quality is his willingness to reward loyalty and initiative in his slaves.
  • It is difficult to see what light the parable throws on the nature of the kingdom of God (which is what the introduction leads us to expect). Could it be teaching that our service of God is not to be minimalist, grudging or fearful but generous, imaginative and proactive? That we need a willingness to take risks in responding to God's mandate? That we must be ready "to lose our life" in order "to find it"?


Dear Lord, stay by my side always.
Gain for me a trusting heart.
Thank you for loving me.


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: 2 Maccabees 7:1, 20-31

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Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Virgin (Optional Memorial)

I beg you, child, to look at the heavens. (2 Maccabees 7:28)

It's hard to imagine what this mother went through as she watched each of her seven sons executed for refusing to deny his faith. The only glimpse we have into her thoughts is in the words she spoke to her youngest son, and they are remarkable. Instead of telling him what to do or discussing the political viability of his choices, she told him to look at the heavens! Her words reveal a simple truth: when we face suffering and temptation, when we are confused or feeling persecuted, we need to keep the big picture in focus.

In the face of a life-or-death decision, this mother instructed her son to consider who God is: as maker of the universe, God knew what this young man was facing and was perfectly capable of seeing him through and beyond it.

We can see a similar attitude in Mary, who witnessed the rejection, torture, and unjust execution of her only Son. Surely her heart was broken. But in everything she went through, she kept her eyes on the heavens and was able to find comfort from the Holy Spirit. She didn't give in to despair. Instead, she remembered all that she had grasped of God's plan and found in that plan the strength to endure.

As our heavenly Mother, Mary gives us similar encouragement: Don't forget who God is! Remember his love for you. Remember his good plan for you and your family. Remember that he made the universe and has everything under control, no matter how bad things may seem right now. No matter what you are going through, whether as simple as daily deaths to sin or self-denial or as confusing or complicated as unjust persecution, God walks with you and will give you his divine strength.

Take these two mothers' words to heart today. Approach this day alert to the opportunities and challenges you will face, but be sure to look up! When you are tempted to sin or feel weighed down by burdens, try to picture God, who made the universe, looking on you in love. Let that vision clear your head and fortify your resolve to follow him.

"Jesus, I believe that you love me—even when I can't understand what's going on. I will look to you for the strength to persevere."

Psalm 17:1, 5-6, 8, 15
Luke 19:11-28


Podcast Page:

Today's 5 minutos (allow me to translate for you):
  "There was one time a beggar named Nicolas.  He lived in a cabin outside the city, but he chose to stay at the side of the road to gain his daily bread.  One day, he saw a great courtship.  It was the king with all his great oriental pomp, sitting in his carriage preceded by a colorful entourage.  Nicolas said inside himself "today I'm going to get great alms".  The carriage came close, but before he could reach out with his hand, the king had already got ahead to say "Give me alms, for the love of God".  Nicolas stayed astonished and bewildered, just like everyone else.  Where have you ever seen that the king ask for alms from a beggar?  What could a poor person give to the king?  But the king continued with an outstretched hand.  The beggar put his hand in his pocket of alms, took out a grain of rice and put it in the king's hand.  He gave thanks, got on the carriage and left on his way.  That night, Nicolas in his cabin, emptied out on top of the table the contents of the purse.  In the middle of all the coins, of the beans, of the flour of other donations, there shined a little seed.  It was a grain of rice that had transformed into a nugget of gold, so brilliant that it shined the dark cabin.  Nicolas hit his head with his hand, regretting his pettiness.  Why didn't he give him all he had? But now it was too late!"

When we read of the greatness of the basilicas, the great churches built centuries ago, what makes them so great?  Their size?  Their age?  No, what makes a building great is what is inside, and inside are the bodies surrendered to God.  For centuries, attackers have taken over the buildings, but never over the Spirit.  And this is what the Lord is asking us today.  In the book of Maccabees, the king or whoever was asking for the people to give up their customs, their beliefs, and he even offered richness and so called "happiness" if they do what he says.  The mother is given a choice and every one of her children is given a choice, and they choose to give glory to God.  Nowadays, who is asking you to surrender your faith? In the business world, you perhaps have to make decisions that affect your faith, for the good or the worse.  Simply take the Obamacare healthcare mandate.  A Catholic company has to pay for abortions.  Some have spent tons of money fighting in courts, requesting for the exemption to not have to pay for abortions.  In the personal realms, you are given a choice too.  Don't pray, or don't pray a certain way, or else you may get kicked out.  For some it means the death of a "social life".  For some it may mean the death of a "business".  But would it be better to die here than forever to the Kingdom of God?  You can live "happy" here, or forever in bliss with the Lord.  And the sacrifice of sin...well, some just won't let go.  Could that be me?
The Psalms pray on "Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full".  You see, true love awaits, and your heart is yearning for it, and it is going to be filled with the Lord.  The Lord will appear in Glory, most often with that sacrifice that you've made, up your life for His, because this was His Glory to you, Him on the cross, for you.  So it is an asking of a sharing.  There is room for you in His bosom, and His Bosom stretches out for universes on end.  Do not be afraid to lead the way be giving your life.  Only goodness awaits.
Our Lord speaks, our beautiful savior gives a beautiful story again to remind us of our gifts.  He speaks about the return.  Because He will return.  His first coming?  When the Virgin Mother Mary is found to have conceived, at the moment of conception began His first coming.  He was traveling to Jerusalem today, when He said about a nobelman that would be crowned King and return to His people that didn't want Him as their king.  Today, we are those people.  We are those people that are either investing to different degrees in His Kingdom, in His return.  People will invest greatly.  Today, the mother of the children that gave up their lives, she invested all she had...all her children.  She was said to have had "manly courage".  Perhaps because until then, only men had demonstrated such courage, but she symbolized the courage of the Virgin Mother Mary.  Because it takes courage to do God's will.  It takes courage to face certain demise with faith.  "I know this could cost me my life, but I will do it" and we are speaking to the Lord.  We are speaking with faith, now turned courage.  Keep in mind though, that most often this courage comes from the Holy Spirit.  That is why we have to be open to His Holy Spirit continuously, always with Him in mind in every dealing, both personal and business.  I encourage you then, to be a giver, an investor.  I propose to you that what has capital gains that are liquid, and they come in a form of transubstantiation, and the one who we invest ourselves into promises extraordinary benefits that will only be revealed if invested.  His proven track record is phenomenal, dating back thousands of years.  You think we can trust Him?  How much you got?  How much can you give?  How much will you invest?  A part of your life, a part of your heart?  Or every last drop?

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