Friday, February 9, 2018

Be Opened

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Angels on Earth

Despite all of the skills we bring to challenging times in our lives, we never operate through them in a vacuum. We need and benefit from other people. Some of these men and women are familiar, perhaps even family members. Others are complete strangers. All can be our "angels on earth," true treasure in our lives—if we recognize them for who they are, the gifts they bring, and nurture the ties, however slight, that we share with them.

–from the book Don't Panic: How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough by Maureen Pratt
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Saint Anthony, Liberator of Prisoners

Dear St. Anthony, I am imprisoned by walls of selfishness, prejudice, suspicion. I am enslaved by human respect and the fear of other people's opinions of me. St. Anthony, Liberator of Prisoners, tear down my prison walls. Break the chains that hold me captive. Make me free with the freedom Christ has won for me. To your powerful intercession I also recommend these intentions. (Name them.)
Let us pray for those in prison, most often alone, neglected, abandoned, that they may feel the closeness of God. For the prison ministries and for this retreat today I ask for in Jesus' name....


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Saint Jerome Emiliani

(1486 – February 8, 1537)

Saint Jerome Emiliani's Story
A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.

In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.

Around 1532, Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928, Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.

Very often in our lives it seems to take some kind of "imprisonment" to free us from the shackles of our self-centeredness. When we're "caught" in some situation we don't want to be in, we finally come to know the liberating power of Another. Only then can we become another for "the imprisoned" and "the orphaned" all around us.

The Liturgical Feast of Saint Jerome Emiliani is February 8.
Saint Jerome Emiliani is the Patron Saint of:
Abandoned Children


Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 333

Reading 1 1 KGS 11:29-32; 12:19

Jeroboam left Jerusalem,
and the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the road.
The two were alone in the area,
and the prophet was wearing a new cloak.
Ahijah took off his new cloak,
tore it into twelve pieces, and said to Jeroboam:

"Take ten pieces for yourself;
the LORD, the God of Israel, says:
'I will tear away the kingdom from Solomon's grasp
and will give you ten of the tribes.
One tribe shall remain to him for the sake of David my servant,
and of Jerusalem,
the city I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.'"

Israel went into rebellion against David's house to this day.

Responsorial Psalm PS 81:10-11AB, 12-13, 14-15
R. (11a and 9a) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
"There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt."
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
"My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels."
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
"If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand."
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

Alleluia SEE ACTS 16:14B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man's ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
"Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!")
And immediately the man's ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
"He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."


Meditation: Mark 7:31-37

He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue. (Mark 7:33)

Life has become much more automated recently, hasn't it? Driverless cars are on the horizon. Cell phones can now be unlocked through facial recognition software. If you go to the grocery store or the public library, you'll find people flocking to the self-checkout stand. Certainly these innovations have made life more convenient. But there's still something to be said for the old-fashioned kind of customer service, in which a cashier hands you your money, and you sometimes end up chatting about the weather, sports, or a recent family outing. It's what we sometimes call the "human touch."

Human contact is not only important to us, but it's important to God as well. That's why Jesus held children in his lap, and it's why he had no hesitation touching lepers. It's also why, in today's reading, he didn't just pray words of healing. He made it a point to touch the deaf and mute man.

Jesus may no longer be present on earth physically, but he still wants to touch people. He wants to do it through us. This is especially important in our time, as we live in a world where human interaction seems to be decreasing every day.

Something that seems as insignificant as a warm handshake or a pat on the shoulder can be a huge comfort at times. A warm embrace can bring healing to a close friend who is struggling. Even a simple "hello" coupled with a smile can lift someone's spirits. And if you have the opportunity to pray with someone, you might ask if it's okay to hold their hand or place your hand on their shoulder while you pray.

God has given all of us a healthy desire to give and receive love. When that desire is bottled up, we suffer, and the people we have an opportunity to help suffer as well.

So let's make it a point to go out of our way to touch people with a smile and a warm gesture of affection today. In our homes, let's make it a point to offer displays of affection to our spouse and children. After all, Jesus did tell us to love one another as he loves us—and he loves to touch us!

"Lord, help me to be more kind and loving to everyone I meet."

1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19
Psalm 81:10-15



"The two were alone in the area", from the first Holy Scripture today.

" I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice. "If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways, Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand." we prayed today.

Jesus enters "He took him off by himself away from the crowd." set apart for holiness.
"He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
"Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!"). Groanings to Heaven. A proclamation comes "Be opened". A message for the entire world.
Have you ever heard His voice? I believe I have. It is a direct communication to the heart, not an audible voice but a direct. Set yourself apart with Him for Lent. Hear Him.
This weekend, pray for our prison retreat, that we may hear God's voice, our ears open up to Him.

This week, God has spoken to you.



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