Thursday, January 7, 2016

In Your Hearing

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Minute Meditations

Call to Respond

Embarrassment and awkwardness are the handles that God's redemptive grace holds onto. When failure shakes us, it is really shaking our false images, not our true selves. God doesn't call us to be successful. God simply calls us to respond.

— from Spiritual Resilience

Paul Chong Hasang (Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions)

This first native Korean priest was the son of Korean converts. His father, Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839 and was beatified in 1925. After Baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital.

Paul Chong Hasang was a seminarian, aged 45.

Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for an annual journey to Peking to pay taxes. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came in 1883.

When Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1984 he canonized, besides Andrew and Paul, 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men.

Among the martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. A boy of 13, Peter Ryou, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old noble, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.


We marvel at the fact that the Korean Church was strictly a lay Church for a dozen years after its birth. How did the people survive without the Eucharist? It is no belittling of this and other sacraments to realize that there must be a living faith before there can be a truly beneficial celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments are signs of God's initiative and response to faith already present. The sacraments increase grace and faith, but only if there is something ready to be increased.


"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land" (Pope John Paul II, speaking at the canonization).

Daily Prayer - 2016-01-07


I remind myself that, as I sit here now,
God is gazing on me with love and holding me in being.
I pause for a moment and think of this.


Lord, guide me always
to do your holy will
knowing that your strength
will carry me through.


There is a time and place for everything, as the saying goes.
Lord, grant that I may always desire
to spend time in your presence.
To hear your call.

The Word of God

Thursday after Epiphany

Reading 1 1 Jn 4:19--5:4

Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, "I love God,"
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

Responsorial Psalm PS 72:1-2, 14 and 15bc, 17

R. (see 11) Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Alleluia Lk 4:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 4:14-22

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news of him spread throughout the whole region.
He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

- - -

Some thoughts on today's scripture

  • What does Jesus mean by the kingdom of heaven? It is the world as it might be, as we would wish it to be, this lovely planet as we hope to have it, a place of peace and good will. Jesus is leading us out into the border country, away from our comfort zone of Nazareth, into strange territories where neighbours are different, and may misunderstand us, and it is not easy to spread the Good News.
  • It's universal - the mission of Jesus. It starts in Galilee where the chosen ones lived in proximity to the pagan nations. The 'road by the sea' was the ancient trade route going from the Mediterranean eastwards. The healings are beginning and the stage is crowded. All the sick were brought and all were cured. People whom nobody wanted are welcomed in the company of Jesus and healed. This is the beginning of the kingdom of God. God is for all, and the healing of Jesus is offered to all. Can we in our prayer include everyone, including the ones we find hardest to accept, tolerate or welcome?
  • Faith is born in us from others and for others, not a matter of 'me and God, me and Jesus or just me and God inside me'.    Jesus called his apostles in community and the same with us, religion is to be personal and not private;  personal and communal.   We light the candle of faith  for each other.  When a person's  faith is very weak, the faith of others keeps us going. Together they are called and together they will work for Jesus. Our prayer invites us to pray for our co-workers in the gospel-field of Jesus and to give thanks for those whose faith has strongly brought us into our own following of Jesus.
  • They were all people who wanted a cure for their family, neighbours and friends. Something about Jesus drew the helping side of people to the sick and to him.Reflect on what it was that drew them.
  • Who might emerge in your prayer today who needs care and help? God is prresent to the sick and needy of today throguh all of us.


Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read.
What part of it strikes a chord in you?
Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently -
will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness.
If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?


I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.

Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Luke 4:14-22

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Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Optional Memorial)

The eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. (Luke 4:20)

How often does your mind drift when you are listening to the readings at Mass? Maybe a cell phone is vibrating nearby or you feel an itch or you begin thinking about your plans for the day. As Jesus' listeners sat on benches and on the floor of the synagogue in Nazareth, they also could have been distracted by any number of items. But not on this day. This Sabbath liturgy was different: they looked at Jesus intently.

The passage that Jesus read was a very familiar one from the Book of Isaiah. Most of the people could have probably recited it themselves. Not to mention, the place where he spoke was their hometown synagogue—a comfortable, familiar place where they went to pray every week. On the surface, there was nothing out of the ordinary at all. But something about Jesus turned the ordinary into the extraordinary. Before he even said, "This Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing," his listeners were paying rapt attention to him (Luke 4:21). Somehow, they could sense that something new and important was unfolding before their eyes. The word of God, spoken by the Son of God, came to life in a way they had never experienced before.

This can be our experience as well. The Church teaches that God speaks to his people in a special way when the Scriptures are read during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. Even though it's an ordinary lector reading the words, Jesus is speaking through that lector in a powerful way. And if Jesus is speaking, you can be sure he has a message for each person there.

Whether you are hearing the passages for the first time or the hundredth, God always has something new to say to you through them. Gazing at you in love, he proclaims his message of liberation directly to you: Be free from your chains. Rise up and walk. Go in peace.

The next time you hear the Scriptures at Mass, try to close your eyes and imagine Jesus standing before you, speaking the words. He has something to say—something meant just for you. Listen closely, and you'll hear it.

"Jesus, I believe your word is for me today. I marvel at the power of your message."

1 John 4:19--5:4
Psalm 72:1-2, 14-15, 17

In Your Hearing

The last line of today's 5 minutos said "Haz del perdon en el amor de Jesus tu "estilo" de vida." Which in my attempt to translate says "Make of forgiveness in the love of Jesus your "style" of life."  Today's first Holy Scripture spoke about it in a powerful way "If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar" and there are alot of liars out there claiming to be God lovers, right?  And hate is such a powerful word.  Because it speaks of the heart and what is going on in the heart.  I remember a brother in law once told me after we prayed for their marriage "but I do love you brother" and I laughed saying "you can say that all you want, but you've never shown that love" all on the contrary, he always kept away from our family and wouldn't want our family to go see his kids with my sister.  I told him "you have to show it by actions" and it is good for us to read today that saying "it's me and my God thing" because saying that is a selfish line.  It's not all about you and Him, it's about all of us, we're in this thing together.  Too many non-church goers say they have this thing with their god...their made up god too often.  I told a co-worker yesterday that was saying he was doing real good, even better than last year, and I said, "who told you that? and who are you comparing yourself to? Because if you ask me, I can tell you my perspective, one that is not yourself by yourself!".  The same thing with all the non "church" believers, that believe in a god but not the Holy Church.  You have made your own benchmark.  You have then...made up your own god and not sought the fullness of truth.  That is the danger of moral relativism which is a modern day heresy "believe what you want and that is truth".  Lies, lies, and more lies designed to trap you in darkness.  What's worse?  Liars don't love, they don't love like God has been asking.  So why am I reading this?  "I am not a liar".  Good, then be a truth speaker and be a light unto the world.  And make sure you are not lying to yourself by giving into sin and spitting hatred onto other people in any form or fashion, because that divides and does not unite.  And what divides is of Satan.  And what unites is from the Lord in Heaven.  Therefore, who is a liar?  Surely it is not the good God of is someone else.  Because to even insinuate that our Lord is not casting our own demise and siding with evil.  And still the Lord waits to give mercy...and waits, waits in the confessional, waits in the Church, waits for you to be one with Him, the fullness of truth in His holiness.
The Psalms pray on "Lord, every nation on earth will adore you. From fraud and violence he shall redeem them, and precious shall their blood be in his sight."  They said my nephew was being picked on in school.  Some fellow team mates threw his clothes in the toilet.  My sister said "what should I do?" because she was going to approach the coach, and I said "I guess give them a heads up that you're going to charge them for the clothes" in a joking manner but to raise awareness of the issue. She later said that my nephew said "no mother, I washed my clothes, they have a dryer here, it's ok".  Pshh.  So who was right?  Me or my nephew?  Who truly was being meek and humble?  I was going to approach them direct, and my nephew was going to turn the cheek.  Pray for him, he has a good heart, and I love him for it.  It's one of them deals where maturity shows, and it shows best in Christ.  He was redeemed and will be redeemed.  Because the bible says that the "meek shall inherit the earth".  Notice in Korea, they killed 10,000 Catholics in a century: The 20th century may have been the most striking in the annals of Christian martyrdom, and a new book shows it with numbers.  In two millennia of Christian history, about 70 million faithful have given their lives for the faith, and of these, 45.5 million -- fully 65% -- were in the last century, according to "The New Persecuted" ("I Nuovi Perseguitati").  Kill as many of us as you want, you will never kill the truth which is Jesus in our hearts.  This is how the devil aimed to destroy the truth.  The liar wants to shut out the truth out of their lives, perhaps a full willing atheist? Or a neutral hearted Christian?  Because most people in the world believe in some type of god...but there is only one with TRUTH which sets free and saves and lives forever and comes among us and lives among us...JESUS.  And what torments the unfaithful is that they can not see Him, but the faithful do.
In comes Jesus our beautiful savior into our lives:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me. "  At the end of a day some water people worked on our water at our house, the man found out I played the guitar and asked at what church.  Then he said with such a care, "you remind me of a catholic lay person that preaches on youtube Salvador Gomez" ( I think from El Salvador).  El Salavador means "The Savior" in English.  Keep in mind, I never preached to this fellow, I never uttered a word about faith, he found out all on his own, through the Holy Spirit, and I handed him a CD I record at home of myself singing "here, this is how I preach".  The Savior is speaking boldly to save lives, marriages....souls.  "to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind"  A blind cursillista said "now that I am blind, I see", and his life was turned over to Christ.  The Lord continues " to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."  Are you proclaiming a year acceptable to the Lord?  I ask you this with sincerity. How much are you willing to lay down for the Lord now?  I told a cousin as we traveled last night "I know you're facing troubles with being laid off from work, but I'm going to ask you to start giving more to the Lord" always give, and it's not money alone we give.  We give time.  We give Forgiveness.  We give a yes to the Lord.  And we give when we recieve from Him, so ask Him for more.  More faith. More grace.  More strength, and more love.  Because the truth is found in those in love with Christ and one another, the humanity, the Christ offered for Life eternal...