Pope Francis: A Model of Mercy
Pope Francis shakes hands with an inmate bearing a tatto at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia Sept. 27. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)
One of the phrases most likely to be associated with Pope Francis is "Who am I to judge?" It's a phrase that he has taken to heart. It is an openness to the mercy of God not only for oneself but for everyone. If God doesn't judge us for our many failings, who are we to judge others harshly? Blaming others, especially for something we've done, is an attitude that we ought to outgrow sometime in our toddler years. But like many of the other remnants of original sin, we cling to this ﬁnger-pointing.
Pope Francis has been an extraordinary role model in the art of being perfectly human and perfectly Christian. He makes it look and sound so easy, perhaps because he comes to us with the wisdom of decades learning to do this himself.
—from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
"O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary."
— St. Gertrude the Great
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"The Eucharist is alive. If a stranger who knew nothing about the Eucharist were to watch the way we receive, would he know this? When you and I approach the Eucharist, does it look like we believe we are about to take into our bodies the living person, Jesus Christ, true God and true man? How many times, Lord, have I forgotten that the Eucharist is alive! As I wait in line to receive you each day, am I thinking about how much you want to unite yourself with me? Am I seeing your hands filled with the graces you want to give me? Am I filled with awe and gratitude that you love me so much as to actually want to come to me in this incredibly intimate way? Or am I distracted, busy with other thoughts, preoccupied with myself and my agendas for the day? How many times, Jesus, have I made you sad, mindlessly receiving you into my body, into my heart, with no love and no recognition of your love? How many times have I treated you as a dead object? The Host that we receive is not a thing! It's not a wafer! It's not bread! It's a person – He's alive!"
— Vinny Flynn, p. 8
AN EXCERPT FROM
7 Secrets of the Eucharist
✞VERSE OF THE DAY
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:12-13
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St. Porphyry (Porphyrius) of Gaza (c. 347-420 A.D.) was born in Thessalonica in present-day Greece. Although a wealthy man, at the age of 25 he went to live in Egypt as a desert hermit. He later moved to Palestine near the Jordan River, then to Jerusalem itself. He did great penances and would often visit the holy places where Jesus lived and walked, despite his poor health. He then renounced all material goods and his inheritance and became a priest in Jerusalem at the age of 40. The relics of the True Cross in Jerusalem were entrusted to his care. Despite his protests he was ordained Bishop of Gaza, a pagan stronghold with an insignificant Christian community. Gaza's pagans were hostile, and St. Porphyry appealed to the emperor for protection and for the destruction of pagan temples, which he obtained. St. Porphyry built a Christian church on the site of the most important pagan temple dedicated to the chief god, so that he could say Mass in the place where the devil was previously most honored. St. Porphyry labored for his flock and won many converts through his miracles, though pagan opposition continued throughout his life. He was successful in spreading the Christian faith across his diocese. His feast day is February 26.
Monday of the Second Week in Lent
Reading 1 Dn 9:4b-10
"Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:8, 9, 11 and 13
R. (see 103:10a) Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Let the prisoners' sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Verse Before the Gospel See Jn 6:63c, 68c
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
Gospel Lk 6:36-38
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."
Meditation: Daniel 9:4-10
Great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you . . . (Daniel 9:4)
Awesome . . . Merciful . . . Covenant. Doesn't this sound like a strange way to begin a prayer of repentance? And yet here is Daniel, confidently proclaiming God's love before he starts confessing his sins and the sins of his people!
How could Daniel be so certain that God would forgive him? Perhaps because he had history on his side. Time after time, God had shown Daniel how much he treasured him. He provided for his swift promotion through the ranks of a Gentile kingdom. He saved him in the lion's den and from a conspiracy to have him killed. Clearly, God was committed to Daniel!
Daniel had no problem being honest about his sins and those of his people. He didn't keep anything a secret, even though he knew that justice wasn't exactly on his side (Daniel 9:7). Having experienced God's covenant of mercy over and over again and trusting that he was safe in God's presence, he knew he could come clean before the Lord.
Is that the way you look at God? If it isn't—if instead you see him as critical and overbearing in his demands—you'll either avoid coming to him, or you will be so bound in guilt that you'll spend your whole prayer time confessing your sins and bemoaning your lack of faith.
Don't fall into either trap! Your heavenly Father is too good, too generous, for that! Take Daniel as your model. Believe that the God you are confessing to is a loving, merciful Father. Recall his goodness to you over the years. Think about Jesus' willingness to endure the cross just so that you could be redeemed. He wouldn't go through all of that and then withhold his forgiveness, would he?
So go ahead and proclaim and trust in God's mercy and love for you. Go ahead and confess your sins to him. You don't have to fear condemnation. Just keep Daniel's words in the forefront of your mind, and you'll do fine: "Yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness" (Daniel 9:9).
"Lord, help me lay my sins at your feet so that I can know true freedom."
Psalm 79:8-9, 11, 13
We heard the prophet say "...yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness! Yet we rebelled against you..." This was centuries before Christ, BC, before Christ enters our world in a whole new way, to open and change our hearts. Indeed, life in this world has not been the same since He entered, and will only be the same...if you so choose, to be caught up in the dark ages.
Let us pray: " Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins. Let the prisoners' sighing come before you; with your great power free those doomed to death. Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; through all generations we will declare your praise." Holy souls are thankful souls. Those who have something to be grateful for. Those realizing that salvation means to give millions of years of thanks.
How precious is the Lord.
Jesus our Lord and God and Father speaks: ""Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Be like ME, He says. Be PERFECT. For lent, I have started a new texting group....a few teenagers. I told them in a text " the world teaches lies like "nobody's perfect" and "I'm only human". God created us in His image. Deep inside we are saints. Be who God created you to be. Perfect. Perfectly His. After all, all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. "
Be therefore, mercy. Be Jesus in the world. The devil knows scripture so well, to combat the word of truth. It loves today's line "stop judging". And it uses this line to promote its agenda, of abortion, of homosexuality, of even...murder. Why? Because it is anti-life.
But today, we want life. Jesus says Be Mercy. Show the way to life. "Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you". Giving is hard. I'm talking about REAL giving. Giving til it hurts. Giving of time til it hurts. Giving of money til it hurts. Time in prayer. Helping the poor. Sacrificing, fasting, til it hurts. It's when it costs something that you treasure something. When I was 14, I wanted my first car already. I worked in the fields, hoeing weeds for farmers with my family members. I wanted to drive. I wanted freedom (from the school bus LOL). I valued the vehicle and took good care of it. But there is something to be mindful in freedom. A brother said in our ultreya reunion group, that he does prison ministry. A huge man was in jail for killing his wife in the heat of the moment, of jealousy or fit of rage or both. The man was evangelized, an ACTS retreat. They say a year or so later, he was given house arrest. A miracle. The terms where that he could go to work at certain hours in the week and he could go to church on Sundays and that was it. This man was so happy. They say he would cry walking to church in thankfulness. So exuberant with joy. As months wore on, the smile wore off. Work now, "work demands" wanted him to go beyond his allowed limits. He now wants more freedom. He is not as happy anymore, and is falling into misery. Grace is becoming disgrace. Freedom from God, puts a frown on your face, the face of your soul. How grateful are you for your salvation?
It is lent. I am going to take advantage of your attention. Yesterday, I was driving home, we finished hearing a talk we missed at the conference with theologians, this one was Michael Barber. A song came on the radio singing to God "I'm going to love you til my heart stops beating", and just then a scene of an accident was on the road, many vehicles pulled over on both sides of the highway, it did not look good. A green streetbike, parts scattered, a body lying there, people in solemn looks all around, I drive by, I see a woman drenched over the body, reminding me of the "Pieta", the Mother of God over the body of Christ. I watched people I knew moving debris off the busy highway, I passed and prayed and asked my family to pray the rosary for them immediately. We prayed in solemnity. "Please Lord, let them have a second chance". Tears wanted to come out of me. This was once.
We get home, after several chores and what nots, I decide to go to my studio to download a song I recorded for a dying woman requesting several songs before she dies. This one was about a prodigal son, to the tune of a popular song in spanish "el ausente" meaning the "absent one". As I fired up the systems, I played with my keyboard, and a song popped up (Holy Spirit) and it happened that a revelation struck as I played and soon began recording. It was a moving song, it is called now "Baile de Amor" meaning "the dance of love". It is about the moon and the earth, dancing around one another, the moon twirling gracefully around the earth pulled by the world's gravity, she shines the light of the Sun (the Son) onto the darkness of the world. The song asks "do you want to dance...with our Mother Mary?" And tears started to break forth and my heart was burning in total immersion of the mere thought of this grace...so humbling, it's as if I was really there in a vision. This was twice.
I rush out after recording the song from God. I had to meet all my RCIA students having already received their sacraments, we'd do Mystagogy, the final phase of RCIA. We discussed "what now". We discussed grace and the mystical body of Christ, to which one student said "I've never heard that before". I said "God speaks through people, if someone talks to you about God, listen up...the way I've come to God is by people's invitations, written letters, calls, and person to person interactions, God speaks through people, because we are the body". We got up in the chapel at the end to pray. I said "let's stand at the 4 corners of this small altar and pray and give thanks". I was so moved by what had transpired, that I was moved to tears, but I was hiding it. This was thrice.
I learned just now this morning, that the motorcycle accident was a woman, 23 years old. She was breathing. I thank God and still pray.
I am sharing the news of the revelation of a Love dance with gracefulness, a dance of pure love with the majesty of the universe, and you will appreciate this if you love the mother of God who reflects the light of hope in darkness, and the source of light being God Himself.
And I am sharing with you a faith to move mountains. I am at work, and I am encountering face after face in need of grace. My judgements are "I love you and I want you with God in Heaven". Nothing more, nothing less. And so I am writing to you with the authority of Our Father, our Creator. He has spoken to my heart and it trembles, and heats up, and makes tears come so easily. Tears of sheer joy and love of God.
I am going to love you beyond.
That song the lady wants ends with a line that says "this memory, not even death will erase"
"Charity is the soul of faith and gives it life and
energy. If we lose charity by sin, faith itself must
die within us."
Without a deep sense of the charity that Jesus
preached, we tend to become hard and brittle in
all the wrong situations. Acting on this approach,
we constantly fight the wrong battles against the
In Matthew 25:31–46, those who are condemned for not feeding the hungry, caring for the
sick, etc., had long before become hard and brittle, whereas those who engaged in these works of
mercy were the genuine realists.
Praying with Saint Anthony
Lord, help me to make the right decisions today
about what truly matters in your eyes.