Wednesday, December 27, 2017

He Saw And Believed


The Quiet Promise of Christmas

The dark days of winter are a good time to consider our relationship to nature. While children (with visions of snow days dancing in their heads) peer gleefully out their windows when an evening brings its first flakes, adults are more likely to grumble at the plowing, the shoveling, the longer commute, the dangerous driving conditions, and the possibility of missed work. Rather than remembering the sweltering months of summer and embracing the cool weather with relief, we snarl at utility bills and snap when a door is left open a moment too long.

Christmas doesn't have to be a loud, hectic marathon of spending, eating, consuming, and disposing. It could be—it should be—a quiet season of remembering and celebrating what's most important in our lives.

—from the book Franciscan Christmas by Kathleen M. Carroll


✞"O Holy Family—the Family so closely united to the mystery which we contemplate on the day of the Lord's Birth—guide with your example the families of the whole earth!"
— Pope St. John Paul II

"Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone maketh light all that is burdensome and equally bears all that is unequal. For it carries a burden without being burdened and makes all that which is bitter sweet and savory. The love of Jesus is noble and generous; it spurs us on to do great things and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect."
— Thomas à Kempis, p. 87
Imitation of Christ

"In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us."
1 John 4:10-12


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Saint John the Apostle

(6 – 100)

It is God who calls; human beings answer. The vocation of John and his brother James is stated very simply in the Gospels, along with that of Peter and his brother Andrew: Jesus called them; they followed. The absoluteness of their response is indicated by the account. James and John "were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him" (Matthew 4:21b-22).

For the three former fishermen—Peter, James and John—that faith was to be rewarded by a special friendship with Jesus. They alone were privileged to be present at the Transfiguration, the raising of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemane. But John's friendship was even more special. Tradition assigns to him the Fourth Gospel, although most modern Scripture scholars think it unlikely that the apostle and the evangelist are the same person.

John's own Gospel refers to him as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (see John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2), the one who reclined next to Jesus at the Last Supper, and the one to whom Jesus gave the exquisite honor of caring for his mother, as John stood beneath the cross. "Woman, behold your son…. Behold, your mother" (John 19:26b, 27b).

Because of the depth of his Gospel, John is usually thought of as the eagle of theology, soaring in high regions that other writers did not enter. But the ever-frank Gospels reveal some very human traits. Jesus gave James and John the nickname, "sons of thunder." While it is difficult to know exactly what this meant, a clue is given in two incidents.

In the first, as Matthew tells it, their mother asked that they might sit in the places of honor in Jesus' kingdom—one on his right hand, one on his left. When Jesus asked them if they could drink the cup he would drink and be baptized with his baptism of pain, they blithely answered, "We can!" Jesus said that they would indeed share his cup, but that sitting at his right hand was not his to give. It was for those to whom it had been reserved by the Father. The other apostles were indignant at the mistaken ambition of the brothers, and Jesus took the occasion to teach them the true nature of authority: "…[W]hoever 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" (Matthew 20:27-28).

On another occasion, the "sons of thunder" asked Jesus if they should not call down fire from heaven upon the inhospitable Samaritans, who would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. But Jesus "turned and rebuked them" (see Luke 9:51-55).

On the first Easter, Mary Magdalene "ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 'They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him'" (John 20:2). John recalls, perhaps with a smile, that he and Peter ran side by side, but then "the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first" (John 20:4b). He did not enter, but waited for Peter and let him go in first. "Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed" (John 20:8).

John was with Peter when the first great miracle after the Resurrection took place—the cure of the man crippled from birth—which led to their spending the night in jail together. The mysterious experience of the Resurrection is perhaps best contained in the words of Acts: "Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they [the questioners] were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus" (Acts 4:13).

The Apostle John is traditionally considered the author also of three New Testament letters and the Book of Revelation. His Gospel is a very personal account. He sees the glorious and divine Jesus already in the incidents of his mortal life. At the Last Supper, John's Jesus speaks as if he were already in heaven. John's is the Gospel of Jesus' glory.

It is a long way from being eager to sit on a throne of power or to call down fire from heaven to becoming the man who could write: "The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16).

Saint John the Apostle is the Patron Saint of:


Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist

Reading 1 1 Jn 1:1-4

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
R. (12) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are around him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia See Te Deum
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 20:1a and 2-8

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
"They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him."
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.


Meditation: 1 John 1:1-4
Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast)

What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you. (1 John 1:3)

If there were a job that required a person to have spent a lot of time with Jesus, John would certainly qualify for it. He was one of only a few apostles present at the Transfiguration, at the Last Supper, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, and he was the only apostle who stood at the foot of Jesus' cross. Instead of calling himself "the one whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23), John could just as truthfully have named himself "the one who loved Jesus"!

It is this closeness to Jesus that gives John's words so much weight. If John had simply heard about Jesus and then decided to start preaching the gospel, he would have had far less influence! However, like Peter, his fellow apostle, John knew that he was not telling "cleverly devised myths" (2 Peter 1:16). His words have the ring of truth because he had been so personally connected with Jesus.

But the story doesn't end with John's proclamation of what he saw and heard. Each of us can "see and hear" Jesus in the quiet of our hearts. And that can happen in a powerful way as we read and ponder Scripture. That's because the word of God is "living and effective," filled by the Spirit with the potential to bring us face-to-face with the Lord (Hebrews 4:12). And because of this, Scripture has the power to make Jesus' words and his Person come alive for us and change our hearts.

If you want to delve deeper into Scripture, consider St. John as a starting point. His first letter, which we are going to read throughout the Christmas season, gives us wonderful insights into who Jesus is, what he has done for us, and how we can experience his work in our lives. So take these next few weeks and follow John as he uncovers more and more about Christ for you. Try to read slowly and prayerfully. Give the Spirit the chance to speak to your heart. Who knows? Maybe you will become like John, eager to tell everyone about what you have "seen and heard"!

"Holy Spirit, open my heart to the word of God. As I read and pray Scripture, inspire me to devote myself to Jesus the way John did."

Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12
John 20:1-8


"...for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it...We are writing this so that our joy may be complete." When someone I meet, and I know them, I see them with a false joy or lack thereof, I know they have departed from our Lord, the joy is gone, the grace is not in their face, and I'm not talking about smiles, because I have seen someone smile all the time I seen them, and then hear they took their own life. No, the joy is rest and hope combined, that is the peace of the Lord. And the peace is the piece of Heaven we are granted. It is life then, a life of Christ.

" Rejoice in the Lord, you just! Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart." Upright, the just, the holy with grace in the face, that face that faces God that He has an angel in representation thereof. Let that angel always see God and not turn away.

In the Holy Gospel we hear the Word: "...he saw and believed." It was John. It was the "beloved disciple". The one "whom Jesus loved". Jesus loves you. And? And me? And you? What did John see? An empty tomb. What did that mean? What caused him to believe? In the Transfiguration of the Lord, Jesus shown His true identity. They would believe when Jesus' words would be fulfilled, as they came down after having been transformed into light Jesus said to Peter, James, and John "As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision* to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." This all came to cause one huge thing in John's life, the beloved's life: Joy. Death caused joy. Strange huh? My cousin that was my age died in a train accident, a train struck his truck and died instantly. Why do I write about this tragedy, this travesty? Because, as I looked to his little children during the funeral days, and his wife, they weren't seemingly devastated, they weren't crying, it was all "a matter of fact" as if to say "we'll see him later". When does death cause joy? It is when Jesus culminates a deep revelation that moves hearts and worlds. Joy entered the world when Jesus entered. Christmas is a time of joy, of believing, a time to start a new year, a new life ever closer to Him.
If God melts mountains, how can He not melt your heart?
If God created trillions of stars to shine, how can you, his child, not shine brighter?
If God believes the small is great, why can't you believe it?
If Jesus told John to believe and then John tells us to believe, why can we not believe?
Believing will be living joy.
This belief moves mountains.
Did Jesus move mountains.
He was crucified on a mountain.
He climbed the mountain, Zion if you will, and only the Holy belong there.
I know this is late and going long, but let me tell you how it is: the devil persecutes and hangs the holy. Have joy. "Do it anyways" as Mother Teresa loved to say. I was a student in a University years ago, I was going to Sunday Mass, and was at a gas station, no real rush. A cop was there. I left. Moments later the cop was chasing me with his lights on. I realized it was for me, so I pulled into a smaller street. The cop was seemingly agitated, pumped up as if having been on a wild chase: The conversation ensued:
Cop: "What's your problem, your hurry?"
Me: "Nothing sir, just going to church".
Cop: "I'll be back".
I wait there, only to realize he was bringing me a ticket. I had no idea my ticket was for "hot rodding". From what I remember there was no traffic, I was not late, I was in no hurry, my truck must've picked up some gravel as I drove off the store lot or something and that sparked a mad chase in the cop's eyes.
To me, it was an injustice. I asked the judge for pardon saying I was not racing or nothing just going to church, and he said I'd have to open a case and get a lawyer or something and it would be cheaper just to pay it. I received no mercy.
I never forgot the moment of no mercy. Years later it looked like the same cop had been taken in for being with a minor in his cop car.

What's the point? Karma? No. The point is the mercy in the heart. I should have been the one with mercy and praying for the ones being unjust....unholy.
I should be able to climb Mount Zion if I am to follow closely like Saint John, the "Beloved" which broken down says "be loved" and you will be love by loving.
Strange little backward things operating in the world are surefire signs of God's way.
This is the way to eternal life...with our LORD JESUS



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