Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Whoever wishes to be great

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More Than Just a Theory

The apostles James and John, the sons of Zebedee, wanted to be like Jesus and sought to drink from his chalice of suffering. But when Jesus knelt to wash the feet of Simon Peter, it was too much for the fisherman to accept: "Peter said to him, 'You will never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me'" (John 13:8).

Jesus is not meant to be a model in theory, he came to live out the active model of God's love for us. Pope Francis writes: "Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another's feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others."

—from the book Meeting God in the Upper Room


✞ "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
— St. Augustine

"Some beginners, too, make light of their faults, and at other times indulge in immoderate grief when they commit them. They thought themselves already saints, and so they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another great imperfection. They also importune God to deliver them from their faults and imperfections, but it is only for the comfort of living in peace, unmolested by them, and not for God; they do not consider that, were He to deliver them, they would become, perhaps, prouder than ever."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 9
Dark Night of the Soul

O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
Isaiah 33:2


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Saint James the Apostle

Saint of the Day for July 25

(d. 44)

This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. "He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him" (Mark 1:19-20).

James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus, and the agony in Gethsemani.

Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. Saint Matthew tells that their mother came–Mark says it was the brothers themselves–to ask that they have the seats of honor in the kingdom. "Jesus said in reply, 'You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?' They said to him, 'We can'" (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it "is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father" (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident "We can!"

The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.

On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—"sons of thunder"—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. "When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, 'Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?' Jesus turned and rebuked them…" (Luke 9:54-55).

James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. "About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also" (Acts 12:1-3a).

This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.


The way the Gospels treat the apostles is a good reminder of what holiness is all about. There is very little about their virtues as static possessions, entitling them to heavenly reward. Rather, the great emphasis is on the Kingdom, on God's giving them the power to proclaim the Good News. As far as their personal lives are concerned, there is much about Jesus' purifying them of narrowness, pettiness, fickleness.

Saint James the Apostle is the Patron Saint of:



Feast of Saint James, Apostle
Lectionary: 605

Reading 1 2 COR 4:7-15

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6

R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

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 MT 20:20-28

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."
He replied,
"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."


Meditation: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Saint James, Apostle (Feast)

. . . that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Pirates store their treasure in chests bound with chains and heavy padlocks. Banks store cash in high-security vaults. But God? He places his treasure in "earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:7). In us! He doesn't need chains and locks, laser beams or retina scans, to protect it. He doesn't lock it up because he trusts in the power of his grace to strengthen and transform the vessels so that his treasure can rest secure. Look at St. James as an example.

James was an ordinary fisherman. Strong, passionate, and simply educated—how could he ever take on the responsibilities that Jesus wanted to give him? But he did. The same reckless James who wanted to call fire down on a group of Samaritans became the head of the Jerusalem church. The same scheming James who connived with his brother to seek a special seat in Jesus' kingdom eventually became the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:1-2).

At first blush, you wouldn't pick James to be a leader of the Church—especially not as the Church was beginning to include outsiders. He probably had little idea at first how to help Jewish and Gentile believers come together and form one body in Christ. But he allowed God to change him. He stepped out in faith and gave God the opportunity to teach him and shape his heart.

God isn't limited by what you think you can do for him. He has dreams for you that surpass your expectations. Just keep coming to him every day, and ask him to guide you. Over time, your path will become clear.

Remember: God always begins where your human ability ends. If you think he has called you to reach out to someone you find it difficult to be in the same room with, tell him. He'll supply the patience you need. If you need to keep serving your family when you're bone tired, he has strength for you. Even if you're too scared to do anything at all, tell him. He will help you. Take just one step, and watch him take it with you.

"Lord, I am determined to walk with you today and every day. I trust that you will help see me through!"

Psalm 126:1-6
Matthew 20:20-28



St. Paul said "So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith...". The death of Christ is at work in us, for He is with us, and that type of death my LIFE.

We prayed today: "Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing". There's one point of proving of this in my life, and it is the years I was a "vocal" or leader of our cursillistas (those having lived a cursillo) in our town. I remember very distinctly the worst moment, where I found myself alone, with my dish for potluck dinner, my guitar, and I was scraping bottom for the Lord. I prayed for His will to be done. It felt dark in that hall, even though some lights were on. It was eery, no sounds. After a while of sitting alone, my sister walks in, a blood sister, and we had an ultreya, which means "Onward!". It's one thing to suffer for self, but another...for the LORD. It is truly glorious. And I can say this, because years later, we are facing a unique situation...we may now have ultreyas weekly soon, instead of once a month. What we sow in tears, we shall reap rejoicing. This type of work, it is a special calling. Working with sinners is the hard part, but its easy, once you realize how us sinners work...and sinners feed on weakness, but if we feed on weakness of God? It is more powerful than anything and defeats sin itself, even death.

In comes our Lord today: ""You do not know what you are asking."
Before I continue, let us hear from Bishop Barren today:
Friends, today in our Gospel the mother of James and John asks Jesus on their behalf for high places of authority in his kingdom. Ah, there is the voice of ambition. Some people don't care at all about money or power or pleasure—but they care passionately about honor. A lot of people can identify with James and John. They want to go places, they want to be movers and shakers in society. Perhaps a number of people reading this reflection are filled with these emotions.

But Jesus turns the tables on them: "You do not know what you are asking." He is indeed a King and he will indeed rule Israel, but his crown will be made of thorns and his throne will be a Roman instrument of torture.

And so he tries to clarify: "Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" The key to honor in the Kingdom of God is to drink the cup of suffering, the willingness to suffer out of love, to give one's life away as a gift. Look at the lives of the saints. It is not about aggrandizing the ego, but emptying it out.

Having to deal with people's egos is something I have to work with at home, at work, and at church. Get ready for it, and get ready to get rid of yours, deflate yours so you fit into the narrow gate that few fit into. It's not about me. Jesus serves, Peter says "NO you are not going to wash my feet!" Jesus deflates his ego, "If you do not allow me to serve you, you will have no inheritance". Serving love is what God wants. Where there is no love, there is no charity, where there is charity without love, there is an ego. So many become "humanitarians" helping others, just because it makes them feel good. That's not the fullness of God's love. Fullness is emptiness. Weightlessness is grace, even when God poured out His blood, grace poured out, the cross could not hold Him down, and that's what the devil wants, to tie you down, so you will not ascend to the Father. That is the devil's job, to keep dirty dirt down. But Jesus had none. I want you to realize many things then: Be careful what you desire. It just may cost you your life. And if we are dealing with sin, and mortal sin, and venial sins that accumulate to mortal sins, then we are talking about an eternal life, the life after that has no such thing as "time". And so we have a moment. Take the moment and let it become the momentum that is needed to travel through space. Every thing we do has an impact, for good, or for bad. I desire, that for you, the message of today becomes that which St. James took, "I CAN".

I can take the leap of faith.
I can die for the Lord, beginning with self.
Funny, when the first cursillistas marched up the hill to visit the tomb of St. James in pilgrimage, that's when the first yelling of "Ulreya" was yelled "Onward!".

And we are all pilgrims on this journey through life, helping one another to Heaven.
To you I say as I sit here alone writing to you....ONWARD!!!



From a spanish reflection today, allow me to attempt to translate the poetic prayer:

Like an amphora of clay my heart is filled Every day with You. Every day that passes You take over More and more, my fragile vessel Giving me from within your luminous height. My voice so brittle watches your own. I am marked in the midst of the soul by your hands, Potter so intimate, clay for brooks that always splash me melodious songs.How fragile my clay is for You to look at! How strong your tenderness so that I do not break. How you can love me without me shattering. Only You have cooked me to have you inside. Lord, to the edges of my little clay Fill me every dawn of your infinite light. Let there be no gap left of myself ever For another thirst different from yours, my God.

from original text:
Como un ánfora de barro mi corazón se llena
cada día de Ti. Cada día que pasa
más y más Tú te adueñas de mi frágil vasija
dándome desde adentro tu luminosa altura.
Mi voz tan quebradiza atalaya las tuyas.
Estoy marcado en medio del alma por tus manos,
Alfarero tan íntimo, arcilla de los arroyos
que me salpican siempre melodiosos cantares.
¡Qué frágil es mi barro para que Tú lo mires!
Qué fuerte tu ternura para que no me raje.
Cómo sabes amarme sin que yo me haga añicos.
Sólo Tú me has cocido para tenerte dentro.
Señor, hasta los bordes de mi arcilla pequeña
lléname cada aurora de tu luz infinita.
Que no quede ni un hueco de mí mismo jamás
para otra sed distinta de la tuya, Dios mío.
-Valentín Arteaga

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