Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Come To This House


Mother Mary Knows Your Voice

Mother Mary knows each voice singularly. She hears the call, perceives the need, and rushes to her child's side. This sweet Mother of mercy and grace will be there for her children in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts, and fears.
Mary knows your voice. She will hear your call, she will perceive your need, and then she will rush to your side. Call her now. She is waiting to hear your voice above all the others.
—from the book Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon


✞ "I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of his body. He belongs to you as the head belongs to the body. All that is his is yours: breath, heart, body, soul and all his faculties. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that in serving him you may give him praise, love and glory."
— St. John Eudes

"Since Jesus has gone to Heaven now, I can only follow the traces He has left behind. But how bright these traces are! How fragrant and divine! I have only to glance at the Gospels; at once this fragrance from the life of Jesus reaches me, and I know which way to run: to the lowest, not the highest place!"
— St. Therese of Lisieux, p. 153-4
Story of a Soul


November 21st is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated to God as a young child; when she reached three years of age her holy parents, St. Anne and St. Joachim, presented her before God in the Jerusalem temple where she was to be educated and raised. This dedication was a result of a promise St. Anne made to God while she suffered from many years of infertility. This liturgical celebration honoring this event appeared in the East much earlier than it did in the West. In the late Middle Ages it was promoted as a feast day for the universal Church.

"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope."
Romans 15:4


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Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saint of the Day for November 21

Mary's presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary's birth, we read of Mary's presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary's presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.


It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God's saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They–we–too are temples of God and sanctified in order that we might enjoy and share in God's saving work.


Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1 2 Mc 6:18-31

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes,
a man of advanced age and noble appearance,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork.
But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement,
he spat out the meat,
and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture,
as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.
Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately,
because of their long acquaintance with him,
and urged him to bring meat of his own providing,
such as he could legitimately eat,
and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice
prescribed by the king;
in this way he would escape the death penalty,
and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner,
worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age,
the merited distinction of his gray hair,
and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood;
and so he declared that above all
he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.

He told them to send him at once
to the abode of the dead, explaining:
"At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense;
many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar
had gone over to an alien religion.
Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life,
they would be led astray by me,
while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men,
I shall never, whether alive or dead,
escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now,
I will prove myself worthy of my old age,
and I will leave to the young a noble example
of how to die willingly and generously
for the revered and holy laws."

Eleazar spoke thus,
and went immediately to the instrument of torture.
Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed,
now became hostile toward him because what he had said
seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows,
he groaned and said:
"The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that,
although I could have escaped death,
I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging,
but also suffering it with joy in my soul
because of my devotion to him."
This is how he died,
leaving in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Responsorial Psalm PS 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. (6b) The Lord upholds me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
"There is no salvation for him in God."
R. The Lord upholds me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.
R. The Lord upholds me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.
R. The Lord upholds me.

Alleluia 1 Jn 4:10b
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God loved us, and sent his Son
as expiation for our sins.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 19:1-10
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
"He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
"Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over."
And Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost."


Meditation: Luke 19:1-10

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial)

Zacchaeus . . . was seeking to see who Jesus was. (Luke 19:2, 3)

There's a lot of seeking and looking going on in this story. First, Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree because he was "seeking to see who Jesus was" (Luke 19:3). Then Jesus looks up at Zacchaeus and invites himself to the man's house. Then, having heard Zacchaeus declare his intention to change his life, Jesus declares that he has come "to seek and to save what was lost" (19:10).

Both Jesus and Zacchaeus were seeking each other out, but with different intentions. Zacchaeus wasn't trying to make contact with Jesus. He just wanted to see him, but he was too short. There are plenty of other people in Luke's Gospel who either cry out to Jesus or interrupt his dinner or reach out and grab his robe (Luke 17:11-19; 7:36-38; 8:43-44). Zacchaeus could have taken any of these approaches. Instead, he chose a hiding place that would give him a good, but safe, view. We don't know if he was just curious, if he felt too sinful to meet Jesus, or if he was some kind of celebrity watcher trying to get a glimpse of this famous rabbi.

But where Zacchaeus was "seeking to see," Jesus had come "to seek and to save" (Luke 19:3, 10). Zacchaeus wanted to stay at a safe distance, but Jesus wanted to be close to him. Zacchaeus wanted to disappear into the crowd, but Jesus wanted to single him out and spend time with him.

And look what happened! Simply by standing in Jesus' presence, Zacchaeus was moved from wanting to see him to wanting to follow him. He was so changed that he "received him with joy" (Luke 19:6).

Zacchaeus shows us what happens when we open the door to Jesus just a little bit. He invites himself in and softens our hearts. He soothes our fears. He moves us to confess our sins and feel the freedom of his love. He doesn't call us a "sinner" but a spiritual "descendant of Abraham" (Luke 19:7, 9).

Jesus has the power to change our lives. He wants to change our lives. He is eager to change our lives. Even the smallest glimpse from us is enough for him to come and touch our hearts. Isn't this a comforting message?

"Here I am, Lord!"

2 Maccabees 6:18-31
Psalm 3:2-7



The first Holy Reading from Scripture (not found in protestant bibles) is phenomenal, because it shows a blazing example of how we are to remain faithful, "...and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God." Nowadays, our holy laws are challenged, always about abortion and non-traditional marriage. It becomes a question of faith, and the test comes to you too, "what do you believe?" and are you willing to die for the truth? Or does the truth have to die for be happy.
Do not negate the Lord or you too will be negated. Rather, accept Him and be blazing about it, for he'd rather see light...the light He gave us.

We pray today "The Lord upholds me. When I lie down in sleep, I wake again, for the LORD sustains me. I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side." Where is my confidence? Or do I rely on my "esteem"? Where then, have I gone astray? Shall I not make a return? Return to God!

In comes our Lord with Zacchaeus, that-is-us. Zacchaeus is a sinner, people around him grumbled about him being called out instead of "holier" people, people believed to be in the flock, in total unity. If these are the people Jesus wants, then we have a huge field to work in. Just in my place of work, perhaps 80% of the work force aren't faithful flockers. Perhaps in your neck of the woods the same with friends and family. The Holy See has wanted a "new evangelization" for years. But that is a tall order isn't it? Because it has been the order of ages, which began with our Lord.

But, the conversion begins with a call. A call of love and a call of repentance.
Before I continue, a word of the Holy Spirit, called to mind something very important "he who has greater sin has greater need and will be even greater in thanksgiving upon repentance". If I have little need, of Him, something is wrong...with me. Better check yo-self! There is such great love for Him in such great need. Jesus does something spectacular in front of the crowds. He puts Himself on the line of fire...for the sinner.

This is what crosses Zacch's heart. It tears it open for Jesus to come in. When Jesus wants to enter your house, He wants to enter your heart. He wants to not only visit, but to be one with you. This happens more effectively in the Holy Eucharist. A contrite heart, cut open, and His blood enters the soul.

Bishop Barren ends His reflection today with "Notice how Jesus tells Zacchaeus to hurry. Don't wait, don't hesitate. Seize the moment of conversion when it comes."
Every day is a new life and a new opportunity for conversion. Convert more and more into Him and to be His....blazing light. The world needs Him, let it be through you.



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