Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Come Up Here...

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God's Saving Love

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal from New York talk with Sonny Fishback, a longtime friend of Muhammad Ali, as they pay their respects to Ali, the former world heavyweight boxing champion outside his childhood home in Louisville, Ky. Ali died June 3 at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. (CNS photo/John Sommers II, Reuters)

Like the apostles who were sent forth from the Upper Room out into the world, each week, each one of us is sent forth from our parish church to the world to be witnesses to Jesus' saving love. Pope Francis writes "every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God's saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love."

—from the book Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life by Peter J. Vaghi

franciscan media


"I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand."
— St. Anselm of Canterbury

"So when we pray, we must stand in His presence, on His level. We must see His suffering in the same way that we see His greatness, and as we picture His compassion. But we must also remember that that suffering, that greatness and that compassion will one day judge us. We shall be weighed in the balance by them; and if we are found wanting in any way, we shall hear the words: 'Depart from me. . .' 'Go elsewhere; go to those who refused to be my friends.'"
— Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 53
The Prayer of the Presence of God


"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation."
Psalm 68:19


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Saint Anthony of Egypt (Saint Anthony the Abbot)

(251 – 356)

Saint Anthony of Egypt's Story
The life of Anthony will remind many people of Saint Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, "Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor" (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony's life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares, and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again, like Francis, he had great fear of "stately buildings and well-laden tables."

At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. "The mule kicking over the altar" denied the divinity of Christ.

Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil—the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for "the book of nature" over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at age 105.

In an age that smiles at the notion of devils and angels, a person known for having power over evil spirits must at least make us pause. And in a day when people speak of life as a "rat race," one who devotes a whole life to solitude and prayer points to an essential of the Christian life in all ages. Anthony's hermit life reminds us of the absoluteness of our break with sin and the totality of our commitment to Christ. Even in God's good world, there is another world whose false values constantly tempt us.

Saint Anthony of Egypt is the Patron Saint of:
Skin Diseases


Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot

Reading 1 1 Sm 17:32-33, 37, 40-51

David spoke to Saul:
"Let your majesty not lose courage.
I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine."
But Saul answered David,
"You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him,
for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth."

David continued:
"The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear,
will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine."
Saul answered David, "Go! the LORD will be with you."

Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi
and put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag.
With his sling also ready to hand, he approached the Philistine.

With his shield bearer marching before him,
the Philistine also advanced closer and closer to David.
When he had sized David up,
and seen that he was youthful, and ruddy, and handsome in appearance,
the Philistine held David in contempt.
The Philistine said to David,
"Am I a dog that you come against me with a staff?"
Then the Philistine cursed David by his gods
and said to him, "Come here to me,
and I will leave your flesh for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field."
David answered him:
"You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar,
but I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.
Today the LORD shall deliver you into my hand;
I will strike you down and cut off your head.
This very day I will leave your corpse
and the corpses of the Philistine army for the birds of the air
and the beasts of the field;
thus the whole land shall learn that Israel has a God.
All this multitude, too,
shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves.
For the battle is the LORD's and he shall deliver you into our hands."

The Philistine then moved to meet David at close quarters,
while David ran quickly toward the battle line
in the direction of the Philistine.
David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone,
hurled it with the sling,
and struck the Philistine on the forehead.
The stone embedded itself in his brow,
and he fell prostrate on the ground.
Thus David overcame the Philistine with sling and stone;
he struck the Philistine mortally, and did it without a sword.
Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine's own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 144:1b, 2, 9-10
R. (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My refuge and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten-stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Alleluia See Mt 4:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to the Pharisees,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.


Meditation: 1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51

Saint Anthony, Abbot (Memorial)

Today the Lord shall deliver you into my hand. (1 Samuel 17:46)

Wouldn't it be wonderful to throw a rock at your problems and watch them all disappear? This is what David did: he chucked a tiny stone at Goliath, and the dreaded giant collapsed.

But there was more to this story than David's bravery. As his words to Goliath show, David also relied on the Lord to give him victory. How else could one small stone make such a big difference?

God wants us to learn the combination of faith and action that David showed, that balance between God's grace and our work that can lead us into victory. David's words, quoted above, show how much he placed his confidence in the Lord. But even as he spoke these words of defiant faith, he picked up a stone, took aim, and fired a deadly shot. Try to imagine what would have happened if David had merely boasted in the Lord but not done anything. It could have been tragic!

How often do we rely too much on God and neglect the work that he calls us to do, whether in evangelization or in our own growth in holiness? On the other hand, how often do we rely on our own strength, doing the "work of the Lord" but neglecting the "Lord of the work"? Both approaches are risky. The first one can leave us feeling fruitless and frustrated. The second one can leave us full of ourselves or worn out and dispirited. But the middle way—the way of cooperation between divine grace and human work—brings not only fruitfulness but refreshment and joy as well.

It's an interesting combination, isn't it? We need to humble ourselves and recognize that we are weak without the Lord. But we also need to believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We need to learn the art of being still and knowing that he is God, and we need to learn how to step out of the boat and onto the surging waters of life.

What Goliath are you facing right now? How can you step out in faith, trusting in God's power as you fling your stone?

"Jesus, I embrace the victory you have given me on the cross. I place my confidence in your power and in the talents you have given me."

Psalm 144:1-2, 9-10
Mark 3:1-6



David said to the King: "...I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine." David says "Let me do this". "I can do this". And He does. Think Jesus. Jesus was the chosen one from Heaven, from God. He descends to our world, where there is death and destruction and accomplishes the utlimate good...restoration of our life with Him. Think about this as we read on.

Let us pray: " Blessed be the Lord, my Rock! Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war." What do your hands do? What have they to do with God's Kingdom? Think about this as we read on.

In comes our Lord, and where is He found and on what day? Take into consideration the time, the place...restoration.

Line by Verse:
Where were they? "Jesus entered the synagogue."
What did He heal? "There was a man there who had a withered hand."
When was it ? "They watched to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him."
What did the Son of David say? "He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us." (Jesus awaits for us to listen to His command/invitation in the Heavenly realm.)
This is it! The moment of justice and restoration, in a world taken over by men, even the Sabbath was proclaimed to be for them!
God speaks: "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
The Goliath, the accusers: "... they remained silent."
They had nothing to say! They would not dare say it was good to do good on the Sabbath. They could deal with money, they could tell people what to do, they could even tend to their animals, but to heal a man suffering that couldn't work and was thought accursed? No way!
And so "Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He hurled the stone of salvation, just like when He chose Peter as our first Pope. The stone which the architects rejected, beginning with Jesus.
The poor man, all of mankind in the people of God, "He stretched it out and his hand was restored."
Do you know what restoration feels like? DO YOU? It's the kind of feeling that brings you down to your knees and in tears, and give praise and glory to God, and changing your life forever.

Yet we heard that "The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death." To this day, Jewish people, and other religions want this truth put to death. How about you?

Do you remain silent too, when asked about a truth? A truth about abortion? A truth about marriage between man and woman and how Holy it is? A truth about the Catholic faith? Do you remain silent watching those living in sin? We are very interconnected. What you do, your sins do, affects me and the others. My sins affect you.

Look at your hands today. Are they in need of healing/restoration? Restored to give praise to God? To reach out to Him? Or are they withered and withering away right before your eyes? What will your hands do for God this year? This month? This week? This day? The hands of Jesus stretch out withered hands...withered souls.

Jesus wants restoration among us. If He set forth His people, He designed them for Himself. It is from Genesis to Revelation, a complete book of life. Me and you are these agents of restoration. I can use my body for good or for bad, thus becoming fruitful or withering, ever growing or stumped, or dying. How do you use your body? Your eyes? Your mouth? Your ears? Your hands and feet? How about your heart?

These are gifts from God. Precious to say the least. Take care of the body the housing and inter-making of the soul. Because we are one. Therefore, my sin against you is sin against our God.

We want to be strong. We want to be protected. But sometimes we have to take charge and charge at evil with great faith. Or else...remain silent as the devil asks us to be silent, always hushing the Church, the voice of God, especially through shame and guilt and accusations.
Praise God! Raise your hands and reach out to heal. Yes YOU.
Temple restoration has always been the dream of Jewish folks since Jesus came.

But it has been restored....through Jesus, we are the temple, where God resides. We are the body of Christ! We are, as Catholics, we are what we eat!

A priest said "we are not holy until we die", let that death be now, death to flesh which is sin.

The world sees light when you do what is right. Do right, now.
He works in flashes.
He works in instants and in the instance we open ourselves to Him.

True love works this way.

And He is opened up for you



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