Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Those Who Enter Through

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Who Did God Create You to Be?

From all eternity, God has known the persons he created us to be, and knows us better than anyone else. Our greatest responsibility is to allow his Spirit to form us according to the divine plan. The full abundant life Jesus promises will only come about to the extent that we become the person God desires us to be. We must always yield to God. This is what it means to die to self. Only this will allow his work to reach its completion. Whenever we try to take control and tell the Lord who we think we should become, we end up discouraged and disappointed, and we may eventually even come to resent God.

—from Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple


"Dismiss all anger and look into yourself a little. Remember that he of whom you are speaking is your brother, and as he is in the way of salvation, God can make him a saint, in spite of his present weakness."
— St. Thomas of Villanova

"One of our sure guides along the path of life is that we do not know when earthly life will come to an end. How important that our repentance for past and present transgressions be a daily practice."
— Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy, p. 36
Inspirational Thoughts for Everyday

"But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8


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Blessed Raymond Lull

(c. 1235 – June 28, 1315)

Raymond worked all his life to promote the missions and died a missionary to North Africa.

Raymond was born at Palma on the island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea. He earned a position in the king's court there. One day a sermon inspired him to dedicate his life to working for the conversion of the Muslims in North Africa. He became a Secular Franciscan and founded a college where missionaries could learn the Arabic they would need in the missions. Retiring to solitude, he spent nine years as a hermit. During that time he wrote on all branches of knowledge, a work which earned him the title "Enlightened Doctor."

Raymond then made many trips through Europe to interest popes, kings, and princes in establishing special colleges to prepare future missionaries. He achieved his goal in 1311, when the Council of Vienne ordered the creation of chairs of Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldean at the universities of Bologna, Oxford, Paris, and Salamanca. At the age of 79, Raymond went to North Africa in 1314 to be a missionary himself. An angry crowd of Muslims stoned him in the city of Bougie. Genoese merchants took him back to Mallorca, where he died. Raymond was beatified in 1514. His Liturgical Feast Day is June 30.

Raymond worked most of his life to help spread the gospel. Indifference on the part of some Christian leaders and opposition in North Africa did not turn him from his goal. Three hundred years later Raymond's work began to have an influence in the Americas. When the Spanish began to spread the gospel in the New World, they set up missionary colleges to aid the work. Saint Junípero Serra belonged to such a college.


Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent envoys to Hezekiah
with this message:
"Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah:
'Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you
by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over
to the king of Assyria.
You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done
to all other countries: they doomed them!
Will you, then, be saved?'"

Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it;
then he went up to the temple of the LORD,
and spreading it out before him,
he prayed in the LORD's presence:
"O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim!
You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.
You have made the heavens and the earth.
Incline your ear, O LORD, and listen!
Open your eyes, O LORD, and see!
Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.
Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations
and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire;
they destroyed them because they were not gods,
but the work of human hands, wood and stone.
Therefore, O LORD, our God, save us from the power of this man,
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know
that you alone, O LORD, are God."

Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah:
"Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
in answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria:
I have listened!
This is the word the LORD has spoken concerning him:

"'She despises you, laughs you to scorn,
the virgin daughter Zion!
Behind you she wags her head,
daughter Jerusalem.

"'For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.'

"Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:
'He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it,
nor come before it with a shield,
nor cast up siege-works against it.
He shall return by the same way he came,
without entering the city, says the LORD.
I will shield and save this city for my own sake,
and for the sake of my servant David.'"

That night the angel of the LORD went forth and struck down
one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.
So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp,
and went back home to Nineveh.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 10-11
R. (see 9d) God upholds his city for ever.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.
R. God upholds his city for ever.
Mount Zion, "the recesses of the North,"
is the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
renowned is he as a stronghold.
R. God upholds his city for ever.
O God, we ponder your mercy
within your temple.
As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Of justice your right hand is full.
R. God upholds his city for ever.

Alleluia Jn 8:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

"Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few."


Meditation: Psalm 48:2-4, 10-11

God is with her castles. (Psalm 48:4)

Tourists love to visit castles. From Windsor Castle in England to Cinderella Castle in Disney World, these structures radiate both beauty and power. Their size and exquisite decoration reflect the importance of the people who live there.

Today's psalm praises God for being with Israel's "castles." Anyone standing amidst the buildings in the holy city of Jerusalem saw in them a visible expression of God's power and protection. The Temple, in particular, reminded the Israelites that God would always be with them. Just walking through the city and worshipping at the Temple called to mind God's faithful protection.

The people of Israel had a physical place designated by God where they could experience his presence. Isn't this true for us too? We may not have a "holy city" nearby, but we do have reminders of God's presence: physical objects, places, and even gestures that remind us of the truths of our faith and offer us spiritual comfort.

Catholics have a name for this: a sacramental. There is more to our rosary, the Sign of the Cross, or a favorite chapel than just its outward appearance. Sacramentals can point us toward the Lord, teach us, or help us to worship God. It's similar to the way that an ordinary gesture like a smile, an unexpected gift, or a warm embrace is an outward sign of our inner affection for a person.

Here's a spiritual example. You might know that Jesus died on the cross for you, but you can experience this truth more firmly when you make the Sign of the Cross over yourself or a loved one. A physical reminder like this is like the "towers" and "ramparts" of Jerusalem that manifested God's presence (Psalm 48:13-14).

What helps you sense God's presence and protection? Maybe the kiss of peace at Mass reminds you that God accepts you with open arms. Maybe the smooth wood of a church pew tells you that God is your firm foundation. Think about your past day and try to identify one experience or object that helped you remember the Lord. Once you get into the habit of looking, you'll see reminders of his presence all around you. The world is filled with physical "meditations" about the Lord.

"Lord, show me how you are present with me today."

2 Kings 19:9-11, 14-21, 31-36
Matthew 7:6, 12-14



"You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth." Then, God spoke, and it came to be. When someone in command gives a command, it comes to be, doesn't it? There is power in the Word, then. What word do you speak? What do you speak of? Who do you speak of? Watch what words come forth, because they are speaking of what is inside.

Let us pray: "God upholds his city for ever. O God, we ponder your mercy
within your temple. As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth. Of justice your right hand is full." Jerusalem this day, is dominated by 3 of the world's largest religions. Jews. Christians. And Muslims. They say the smallest is the Christians, and more specifically, the Catholic. Just like in the Assyrian threats of old, there is the constant threat of being pushed out. But not if God's word is provoked in prayer. In the temple. Within.

Let us turn to Christ our Lord who resides in the temple: ""Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces." Why is there such a predominance of Muslims? There is one thing to admire, and this is absolutely key: Faithfulness. They are demanded to be faithful...or else. Christianity works this way, but in spiritual realms, unlike Muslims who take physical action, even stoning people like today's saint. Ours is a spiritual action and reaction. Someone, I think my dad, said that in a couple, in a marriage, the stronger one in the faith pulls the other. If one is one religion and another the other, whoever is more faithful will have more say-so and pull. In the case of a weak catholic faith, it is sad to see one get lost, but, what good was it anyway? The faith was left to the dogs, the pearls were thrown to the swine. What is God asking us for in the Holy Gospel? Faithfulness. Why is God in last place always? Why? I see it. My family members don't go to church, as much as I admonish them and tell them to go, they just won't. But if it comes to partying or traveling or work? They are quick to go! Faith to the pigs. Even though they may say I am lying, actions speak louder than words. And the word is powerful.

So what can we do? Us who care? I pray for them. I persevere. I enrich my faith like a nuclear reactor, especially in the Eucharist, better enriched with a good confession and living in grace. One day, one that touches the enrichment will walk away lit up. And the enrichment is Christ. I wish so much I could walk people by the hand. Just yesterday an acquaintance I heard, was locked up in jail. I know he is lost in drugs and the drugs have him locked up, in prison, as a slave, a dog in a kennel. All the faith things I talked to him about were thrown out the door. Other things take self. Selfish desires. Selfish wills. Selfish dreams. Sounds bad right? How selfish are you? With your talents, your very life? How do you honor and praise and worship God?

It's crazy, this weekend, we went to see our very first deacon be ordained from our parish, in over 20 or so years. We were at a local college coliseum. I looked around at the advertiser banners and one huge one was an "alma mater" (alma in spanish means soul) and it said that the college team was to be praised and honored and words kept raising it up. I thought "funny, those are words I normally use to speak about God". How twisted are things in the world? Honor and praise, the highest form all belong to God.

Today, I may travel as is on Tuesdays, to a nearby city to attend Holy Mass. We don't have Mass in my town on Tuesdays. I bring my guitar. I sing there. Usually its a room full of elderly ladies. Many thank me on the way out. It's an awkward thing to be thanked. All I did was pray like them, sing with them, in the highest form I know how. It's like when I pass out my CDs I record myself singing at home. "How much do you want for the CD?" some ask. I say "nothing, how can I charge you for prayers?" just like when I help at funerals I tell the family of the deceased who offer to pay, "I don't want to be paid to pray". Some people need to be paid, but others do not. What is at the heart are pearls. Treasures. To people that care.

A daddy loved his daughter, and she loved a plastic pearl necklace, always wore it. One day daddy bought her a REAL pearl necklace. She didn't like it. He couldn't get her to understand the value. She didn't take it. She threw it away. As we grow, we can cherish the kid things or grow up and learn to "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.: 1Cor13:11.
Enter the narrow gate. A reflection said "crouch down" and I say get on your knees to enter. Imagine a gate with a conveyor, it takes people somewhere and most people ride on it because it is easy. Now imagine a small gate, hard to enter, squeezing through, you can't even take luggage through, you have to unload everything and leave it behind. Once your eyes are set on Christ, peeling away luggage becomes easy. But it takes effort, day in and day out. The narrow gate; For the broad mind. The wide gate, for the narrow minded. Narrow minded because you focus on any one thing other than Christ.

Think about this: only a few bodies of saints have been found incorrupt still intact, almost alive. Millions and billions of other bodies have been corrupted, fallen to pieces and blown away in the wind. See this as a real sign of what can be expected. Not everyone prances right into Heaven as the world teaches, as if to say "do whatever you want, you will go to heaven anyway" as many protestants teach in error.

Pearls to swine. What is holy to dogs.
Narrow the gate. Take this to heart.
It is the Word of God.
It has been said.
All Glory And Honor to You God, ALONE.



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