Listen to Your Own True Self
One thing I have learned as a dad and a husband is that no one listens to me, and they ought not to, either. You ought to listen to your own true self. I can maybe help you tiptoe a little closer to that self by sharing stories that matter, but if you are too cool to play today, swell. I suggest that the sooner you wake up and get it that there actually is a wild grace and defiant courage in people, and there actually are stories that save and change lives, and that there is a lot more going on here than we can ever find words for, and that love and attentiveness and creativity are real and wild and immanent, the cooler and wilder a life you will enjoy while you have such a priceless and inexplicable thing as a life, which goes by awfully fast, my friend.
Believe me, I know.
—from the book Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace
"Preserve the warmth of the family, because the warmth of the whole world cannot make up for it."
— St. Charbel Makhlouf
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man's attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God. Two kinds of study are called for here. We must first learn how the Scriptures are to be understood, and then see how to expound them with profit and in a manner worthy of them . . . No one can understand holy Scripture without constant reading . . . The more you devote yourself to the study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest."
— St. Isidore of Seville, p. 201
AN EXCERPT FROM
Witness of the Saints
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
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Saint Joan of the Cross
Saint of the Day for August 17
(June 18, 1666 – August 17, 1736)
An encounter with a shabby old woman many dismissed as insane prompted Saint Joan to dedicate her life to the poor. For Joan, who had a reputation as a businesswoman intent on monetary success, this was a significant conversion.
Born in 1666 in Anjou, France, Joan worked in the family business—a small shop near a religious shrine—from an early age. After her parents' death she took over the shop. She quickly became known for her greediness and insensitivity to the beggars who often came seeking help.
That was until she was touched by the strange woman who claimed she was on intimate terms with the deity. Joan, who had always been devout, even scrupulous, became a new person. She began caring for needy children. Then the poor, elderly, and sick came to her. Over time, she closed the family business so she could devote herself fully to good works and penance.
She went on to found what came to be known as the Congregation of Saint Anne of Providence. It was then she took the religious name of Joan of the Cross. By the time of her death in 1736 she had founded 12 religious houses, hospices, and schools. Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1982.
The downtown areas of most major cities hold a population of "street people." Well-dressed folks usually avoid making eye contact, probably for fear of being asked for a handout. That was Joan's attitude until the day one of them touched her heart. Most people thought the old woman was crazy, but she put Joan on the road to sainthood. Who knows what the next beggar we meet might do for us?
Reading 1 Jos 3:7-10a, 11, 13-17
The LORD said to Joshua,
"Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know I am with you, as I was with Moses.
Now command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant
to come to a halt in the Jordan
when you reach the edge of the waters."
So Joshua said to the children of Israel,
"Come here and listen to the words of the LORD, your God.
This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst,
who at your approach will dispossess the Canaanites.
The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan.
When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the LORD,
the Lord of the whole earth,
touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow;
for the water flowing down from upstream will halt in a solid bank."
The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan,
with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark
waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan,
which overflows all its banks
during the entire season of the harvest,
than the waters flowing from upstream halted,
backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed,
from Adam, a city in the direction of Zarethan;
while those flowing downstream toward the Salt Sea of the Arabah
Thus the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
While all Israel crossed over on dry ground,
the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD
remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan
until the whole nation had completed the passage.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 114:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
When Israel came forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue,
Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his domain.
The sea beheld and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like the lambs of the flock.
Why is it, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
You mountains, that you skip like rams?
You hills, like the lambs of the flock?
Alleluia Ps 119:135
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 18:21–19:1
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."
When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
Joshua 3:7-11, 13-17
The people struck their tents to cross the Jordan, with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant. (Joshua 3:14)
Imagine that you are one of the people chosen to bear the ark in today's first reading. For hours on end, you have been standing in the riverbed, shouldering the ark of the covenant as thousands of people pass by. Estimates vary widely, but many scholars believe that the ark weighed between 300 and 400 pounds—and that was without the two tablets of the Law! So if one of the people passing by were to ask you, "What is God like?" you might shout back, "He's heavy!"
Actually, theologians really do speak of the "weightiness" of God. In fact, the Hebrew word for glory, kabod, can also be translated as "weight." Of course, you can't measure God on a scale. Instead, by weightiness they mean that all the intelligence, strength, glory, and mercy in the whole universe are infinitely concentrated within him. God has no beginning, and he has no end. As Creator, he holds up the entire cosmos with a single word (Hebrews 1:3). As the "Lamb of God," he is able to wipe away the sins of the whole world (John 1:29).
It's no wonder that the angels and saints behold God's majesty and throw themselves at his feet, proclaiming, "Give him glory" (Revelation 19:7).
We earthlings can taste a little bit of God's weightiness. We can marvel at the vastness of the night sky. We can stand on the ocean shore or beside a huge mountain and feel tiny in comparison. We can look into the eyes of our children and discover God's infinite riches and wonder.
Have you ever experienced the "weightiness" of God's love for you? It's heavy enough to outweigh all of your anxieties and frustrations. Even better, it's unlimited. Try to get a taste of this love, right now. Be still. See Jesus looking into your eyes with a smile and putting his hands on your shoulder. Remember: these hands unfurled the galaxies! They were also pierced for you. What do you think he wants to say to you right now? Don't be afraid to use your imagination. He is with you right now, mighty in glory but tender in love.
"Lord, show me the weight of your love today."
"The ark of the covenant of the LORD of the whole earth
will precede you into the Jordan" we heard in the first Holy Scripture. And the river Jordan told still as if time stood still and as He held time, the people were let through into the promised land of victory. In this land the Lord would remain with them...until this day....the promise of the Lord is with us. Mary became the new ark of the new covenant, the new promise, the new Testament....Jesus.
So we pray today " Alleluia! When Israel came forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of alien tongue, Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his domain." Isrsel is God's people, His domain, where He works...and reigns.
In comes the Lord speaking to Peter [our first Pope], " "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times". Some scholars say this means 7 x 70 which is hundreds of times over and some see the number 7 as the perfect and even infinite number. In this world we live, most believe in limits, or the baseball rule "3 strikes and you're out". Even the old Jewish laws teach limits. But Jesus proves there are no limits. When He died for you, He was that ark of the new covenant. How many people of all sorts would He die for? It is said that in one day a very good person fails God at least 7 times. God can forgive this many times in one day and tens of thousands of times more. What does this mean? It means way too much to fathom. It means you are to forgive like that. And that can be a hard pill to swallow. It's not easy, and some times it is seemingly impossible....but with Christ. ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE
If you desire mercy...then you are to be merciful. If I confess, I'm forgiven. If someone fails me after that, they too are to be forgiven. Grace upon grace. You will live in the Kingdom of victory in a new promised land....Heaven