Build Up the Kingdom
We can never know who or what God is going to use to teach us something new. If we truly want to build up the kingdom of God, we must have the eyes and ears of that kingdom, and the humility to accept that we do not always have the answer. If what we do allows us to do that, we might be well on our way to a vocation.
—from the book Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God
"Let us stand fast in what is right, and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God's strengthening aid and say to him: 'O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations.'"
— St. Boniface
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Everything that exists is a gift from God. Yet oftentimes we look to the things and creatures created by God for a satisfaction and fulfillment that only God Himself can provide. When the soul wraps itself around the things and the people of this world, looking for satisfaction or fulfillment that only God can give, it produces a distortion in itself, and in others as well. Many spiritual writers call the process of unwinding this possessive, self-centered, clinging, and disordered seeking of things and persons 'detachment'. The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Things and people become even more beautiful and delightful when we see them in this light. There are almost always painful dimensions to this process of 'letting go' in order to love more, but it's the pain of true healing and liberation. Christian detachment is an important part of the process by which we enter into a realm of great freedom and joy."
— Ralph Martin, p.205
AN EXCERPT FROM
The Fulfillment of All Desire
✞VERSE OF THE DAY
"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
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Saint Pedro de San José Betancur
(March 19, 1626 – April 25, 1667)
Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur. Known as the "Saint Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala.
Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived, he was so destitute that he joined the breadline that the Franciscans had established.
Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later, he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless, and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent.
Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion.
He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries.
Pedro died in 1667, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002.
Calling the new saint an "outstanding example" of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that Saint Pedro practiced mercy "heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived." Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change.
"Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness," he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy.
As humans, we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason. But as Pedro's life shows, other skills may be an even more crucial element of our humanity than a clever mind: compassion, imagination, love. Unable to master studies for the priesthood despite his efforts, Pedro responded to the needs of homeless and sick people; he provided education to the poor and salvation to the rich. He became holy—as fully human as any of us can ever be
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Reading 1 Acts 13:13-25
From Paphos, Paul and his companions
set sail and arrived at Perga in Pamphylia.
But John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
They continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia.
On the sabbath they entered into the synagogue and took their seats.
After the reading of the law and the prophets,
the synagogue officials sent word to them,
"My brothers, if one of you has a word of exhortation
for the people, please speak."
So Paul got up, motioned with his hand, and said,
"Fellow children of Israel and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors
and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out,
and for about forty years he put up with them in the desert.
When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan,
he gave them their land as an inheritance
at the end of about four hundred and fifty years.
After these things he provided judges up to Samuel the prophet.
Then they asked for a king.
God gave them Saul, son of Kish,
a man from the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.
Then he removed him and raised up David as their king;
of him he testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.
From this man's descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'"
Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27
R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
"My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.'"
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Alleluia See Rv 1:5ab
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead,
you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 13:16-20
When Jesus had washed the disciples' feet, he said to them:
"Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master
nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.
If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.
I am not speaking of all of you.
I know those whom I have chosen.
But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.
From now on I am telling you before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send
receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."
Meditation: Acts 13:13-25
God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. (Acts 13:23)
Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. We focus on the little things right in front of us, our everyday concerns and preoccupations, and lose sight of the big picture of God's plan for our lives.
This can be true even with our acts of faith. For example, we can be so focused on getting to Mass on Sunday and saying our prayers every morning that we lose sight of their significance or power. Or we can be so intent on getting God to answer a particular need that we fail to see how much he has already done for us and how much he promises to do for us if we stay close to him.
In today's first reading, Paul is showing the people in Pisidia the big picture. He outlines how God's plan has unfolded over thousands of years, and how it has culminated in the sending of Jesus as Savior. Everything God has promised, Paul proclaims, is coming true now in Christ.
Just what has God promised? That if we believe in his Son, we will have eternal life (John 5:24). That all things do work for our good (Romans 8:28). That he will be with us forever, in this life and for all eternity (Matthew 28:20).
This is the big picture—the "forest"—that we need to focus on in the midst of the "trees" of our everyday concerns and obligations. God keeps his promises! He has a plan for me!
No matter what the specific circumstances of your life may be, God's overall vision for you never changes. Whatever hardships and suffering you may be experiencing now, however your life is unfolding, keep God's love and his purposes in the forefront of your mind, and you'll be more peaceful.
Through Jesus, God has fulfilled his promises. He loves us, he forgives us, and he invites us to spend all of eternity with him. This vision can inspire you when you rise in the morning and when you go to sleep at night. It can remain with you throughout the day. Everything else in your life fits into this plan—a plan not just for today or tomorrow but for all eternity!
"Father, thank you for fulfilling your promises. Help me to see every aspect of my life as part of your plan for me."
Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25, 27
"Fellow children of Israel and you others who are God-fearing, listen." Listen to what is about to be said of God. A messenger is about to speak. A listener will listen, will adhere, will obey, will be open to the truth, that is, the Word of God. Some listen. Some will not. Some will follow, others will go against the followers. Some will be the light, and others will be the darkness. And some that follow, will follow the light.
""My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him, and through my name shall his horn be exalted. He shall say of me, 'You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord" Listen: He says "through my name his horn be exalted". We are mere instruments. Some people despise this notion. Modernists that think they are so smart now hate this notion, of "being played by God" as if we are nothing but muppets and puppets by some horrible pie in the sky spaghetti monster. But a holy and humble soul loves it. They love doing God's will and being used by God as He pleases, even to the point of death. And this is where the truth is revealed, the reason for dying, the cause and purpose of life.
In comes the creator of Life, our Lord, and He comes, not walking on water, not raising people from death this time, but on his knees washing feet of his followers. "If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen." God has chosen some, some who listen. And they are blessed, for understanding. I believe in things that are in the world and not in the world at the same time. I believe in things that I can not see. I believe that the truth is alive and is to die for just like the first apostles. The truth is clothed in majesty, in humility, and even disguised as a nobody. And God cares for that nobody. When the world will have forgotten you, He would have not. This is true love. This love is eternal. I believe you have had a taste of love, but not the whole truth of true love. It takes a special breed of souls to understand what God is saying. Firstly, you would have to be amazed by His Holy Words today. Be amazed at what He is getting at...the heart. It should pine the heart to say "I want that!" I Want to understand. I want to be blessed by doing what you say Lord.
"The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me." Judas? Judon't know who Judas is. The spirit of the betrayer is alive. This is why our Lord said ""Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him." Some get big heads. Big heads make for trouble. Egos get involved. Feelings get hurt. And there is hell to pay. A slave owner has an equal in his slave. I am involved in an ownership of business with dozens of employees. One could see them as slaves. Some slaves are good, some are alright, and some take advantage of us, stealing, cheating, and lying to us to our face, even though I provide for every thing they ask of me within reason. So are we really equal then, if I cheat on them, take from them, and lie to them too? Think about sin now. We can never be equal to our creator. Never. We need to get that through our big heads. We are not God. We will never be God. I can not be my earthly father, and much less our Heavenly Father. And this my friend, this is GOOD NEWS. God created a unique person in each one. With the full capability to grasp Him as our life. Humility is tame and not wild and rebellious, like a horse that has never been worked or handled gently. We are a fearful people, just like most animals, afraid. God speaks. But so extremely soft, that you have to be so still, to hear Him...in prayer. He leads so gently. His is a voice so soft that only a heart for Him can hear it. "Be still and know that I Am God". And we cry "BUT BUT BUT". When a child says this, it is not listening. Shhhh. God quiets the storms, He was already asleep in the rocking boat in the storm. His heart is still. Still and alive, still alive.
If you want to persevere, find grace and never let go.
If you want faith, just try it for once and for reals.
"Lord, today I am going to have faith in You".
And suddenly, the world sees Love in action....