God knows best, and, while we'll still hope for a favorable surprise, we can hardly do better than not only being resigned to whatever God permits but even beforehand to thank him for his mercifully loving designs.
—Solanus Casey, as quoted in God's Doorkeepers: Padre Pio, Solanus Casey and Andre Bessette by Joel Schorn
✞ "Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do." — St. Thomas Aquinas
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "One of the most formidable obstacles to the conversion of a soul is the fact that God is a hidden God: Deus absconditus. But God, in His goodness, reveals Himself, in a certain manner, through His saints, and even through fervent souls. In this way, the supernatural filters through and becomes visible to the faithful, who are thus able to apprehend something of the mystery of God . . . make no mistake, there is a sort of instinct by which souls, without clearly defining what it is they sense, are aware of this radiation of the supernatural." — Dom Jean-Baptist Chautard, p. 124-5 AN EXCERPT FROM Soul of the Apostolate
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.'" Psalm 91:1-2
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Saint John XXIII
(November 25, 1881 – June 3, 1963)
Although few people had as great an impact on the 20th century as Pope John XXIII, he avoided the limelight as much as possible. Indeed, one writer has noted that his "ordinariness" seems one of his most remarkable qualities.
The firstborn son of a farming family in Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo in northern Italy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was always proud of his down-to-earth roots. In Bergamo's diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order.
After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Roncalli returned to Rome for canon law studies. He soon worked as his bishop's secretary, Church history teacher in the seminary, and as publisher of the diocesan paper.
His service as a stretcher-bearer for the Italian army during World War I gave him a firsthand knowledge of war. In 1921, Fr. Roncalli was made national director in Italy of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. He also found time to teach patristics at a seminary in the Eternal City.
In 1925, he became a papal diplomat, serving first in Bulgaria, then in Turkey, and finally in France. During World War II, he became well acquainted with Orthodox Church leaders. With the help of Germany's ambassador to Turkey, Archbishop Roncalli helped save an estimated 24,000 Jewish people.
Named a cardinal and appointed patriarch of Venice in 1953, he was finally a residential bishop. A month short of entering his 78th year, Cardinal Roncalli was elected pope, taking the name John after his father and the two patrons of Rome's cathedral, St. John Lateran. Pope John took his work very seriously but not himself. His wit soon became proverbial, and he began meeting with political and religious leaders from around the world. In 1962, he was deeply involved in efforts to resolve the Cuban missile crisis.
His most famous encyclicals were Mother and Teacher (1961) and Peace on Earth (1963). Pope John XXIII enlarged the membership in the College of Cardinals and made it more international. At his address at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he criticized the "prophets of doom" who "in these modern times see nothing but prevarication and ruin." Pope John XXIII set a tone for the Council when he said, "The Church has always opposed… errors. Nowadays, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity."
On his deathbed, Pope John said: "It is not that the gospel has changed; it is that we have begun to understand it better. Those who have lived as long as I have…were enabled to compare different cultures and traditions, and know that the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead."
"Good Pope John" died on June 3, 1963. Saint John Paul II beatified him in 2000, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014.
Throughout his life, Angelo Roncalli cooperated with God's grace, believing that the job at hand was worthy of his best efforts. His sense of God's providence made him the ideal person to promote a new dialogue with Protestant and Orthodox Christians, as well as with Jews and Muslims. In the sometimes noisy crypt of St. Peter's Basilica, many people become silent on seeing the simple tomb of Pope John XXIII, grateful for the gift of his life and holiness. After his beatification, his tomb was moved into the basilica itself.
Wednesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 Jon 4:1-11
Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh. He prayed, "I beseech you, LORD, is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loath to punish. And now, LORD, please take my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." But the LORD asked, "Have you reason to be angry?"
Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it, where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade, to see what would happen to the city. And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant that grew up over Jonah's head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was very happy over the plant. But the next morning at dawn God sent a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind; and the sun beat upon Jonah's head till he became faint. Then Jonah asked for death, saying, "I would be better off dead than alive."
But God said to Jonah, "Have you reason to be angry over the plant?" "I have reason to be angry," Jonah answered, "angry enough to die." Then the LORD said, "You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?"
Responsorial Psalm Ps 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10 R. (15) Lord, you are merciful and gracious. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for to you I call all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading. R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious. All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name. For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God. R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
Alleluia Rom 8:15bc R. Alleluia, alleluia. You have received a spirit of adoption as sons through which we cry: Abba! Father! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 11:1-4
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."
Meditation: Jonah 4:1-11 Saint John XXIII, Pope (Optional Memorial)
. . . not to mention the many cattle. (Jonah 4:11)
Doesn't this read more like the punch line of a joke than a verse from the Bible? Here God is, explaining to Jonah why he had compassion on the people of Nineveh, and his argument hinges on . . . cows?
What makes something funny? Reversed expectations. Irony. Unforeseen twists. The Book of Jonah has all of them. It's no mistake: the humor is there to get our attention, to help us reexamine how we think about compassion and God's mercy.
Look at some examples: the title character is a prophet. He is supposed to be especially close to God, and yet he blatantly disobeys God's command and does the exact opposite of what God asks. He actually thinks he can hide from God by running away!
Jonah is rescued when he jumps into the sea. How? A giant fish swallows him—and he's a grown man! Not only that, but after three days in this unconventional watercraft, Jonah is saved when the fish vomits him back up on land!
And what about the cattle? They have to fast, just like the citizens of the city. Imagine the poor cattle herders trying to put sackcloth on their cows!
These examples might make us chuckle, but they also prompt us to think: Can we really run from God? Does a tyrant like the king of Nineveh deserve forgiveness? Does God really take care of all his creation, even when it rebels against him?
In the end, Jonah teaches us that compassion rises above and beyond judgment and anger any day of the week. Reconciliation is better than retribution. God is patient and merciful even toward the most "unforgivable."
If these ideas seem difficult to embrace, you're in good company. Look at the way Jonah pouts! But God patiently reminds him, as well as us, that he loves all things that are and loathes nothing that he has made (Wisdom 11:24). Just think: even the cattle of Nineveh are so valuable to him that he spares them. How much more precious, then, is each human being made in his image and likeness. How much more are we all worthy of mercy and forgiveness.
"Father, help me to laugh at the ways my ideas fall short of yours. Teach me your compassion."
Psalm 86:3-6, 9-10 Luke 11:1-4
The First Holy Word said "Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh." In his eyes, this city deserved what was coming to them, but who are we to know better than God? Humility goes out the door, and so ...cast out of Heaven the person goes that does not accept God's will. The Lord said "...should I not be concerned over Nineveh...", Jesus of the Father, our Lord says in Mt9:13 "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Many times I find myself sitting with sinners in ministries. Outcasts is what they should be called, but they answer the call to serve the Lord. This is all we got to work with...I find it interesting, I know they are living in sin, and yet, all the ones "not living in sin" are not available for the Lord, and this brings us to the great parable of the feast that the Lord calls us to, and all the would-be appropriate ones deny the invitation, they turn it down, they simply "got other things to do"...perhaps...more important. And so we pray today "Lord, you are merciful and gracious. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for to you I call all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul." If you have been stricken by something, consider it a gift. Even suffering. It should serve you to keep you in check, in God's corral. In His part...His heart. There are two things we ask of the Lord in His prayer, mercy, and bread. Our Lord said "Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins". Yesterday, I got into somewhat of an argument about daily Mass. He said "they told me at my cursillo we shouldn't go every single day to mass". That raised an eyebrow, I wasn't there, I don't think this is what one should teach, a heresy even. Especially since Mass is where Christ enters the world, body, blood, soul, and Divinity. I said "what about the Lord's prayer about daily bread?", because I strive to receive the daily bread. The reply was "what about all these folks that don't get to go every day like you?" I replied "I go and pray for them". Truth is, even if they could go every day, they would not, because they won't even go on Sunday....the Lord's day. There is nothing to argue about when the Truth is alive. I go for spiritual nourishment. I go because I feel honored at the invitation. I go, because I feel the call, and it is special. I go, when others go to restaurants in the mornings, I go to receive the best meal ever. Truth is, my body is no longer hungry after receiving the Eucharist. My soul is no longer hungry. My soul is strengthened in what I have offered the Lord. And what about Jonah, Mr. Pouty face today? Some of the strangest sensations I have to fight with is exactly what Jonah experiences: There is a threat of a world war, a calamity, and we pray, and the cancer goes away...and then what? Now what? Are you thankful? Do you repent? How do you give thanks? How do we do thanksgiving? I have found the Way, Jesus...in the ultimate thanksgiving....in the Holy Eucharist. This is the Truth, Jesus. And this has become my life. My day is not complete without Him. Days fly by without Him. Time slows down, the more I am with Him. Life is enriched with Him, and with this richness I am called to reach the poor...to pour out myself for them. God needs saints. Sinners become saints. So, God needs sinners....that will become saints. Saint Pope John XXIII said "nothing that happens to men should strike us as strange". He also said "It is easier for a father to have a child than for a child to have a good father". Yet....this child has a great Father....GOD. I invite you to Our Father