Monday, July 2, 2018

Let Me Go First...

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Why Do We Spend Time with Jesus?

God is never bound by what we do, even when done out of love for him. We should undertake the things we do for God simply because we must, period. I spend time with Jesus each day not because of how it makes me feel (sometimes I really do not feel like it) or because I promised the Church I would. I do it because I cannot live without it, and in fact, I could not get out of bed if I did not.

—from Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple


"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."
— St. Augustine

"If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way around. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself."
— C. S. Lewis, p. 78
Mere Christianity

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20


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St. Bernardino Realino (1530–1616) was born in Italy to a noble family. He grew into an accomplished "Renaissance Man" of his day; he studied law and medicine, had a successful career as an attorney and judge, and served as the mayor of three cities. At the age of 34 he completed an eight-day retreat with Jesuit priests, and during this time he discerned a call to the religious life. He entered the Jesuit order and was ordained a priest in 1567. As a priest he preached, taught, and visited the sick and poor in the areas of Naples and Lecce. He was much loved and venerated by the people he ministered to, especially because of the miracles he performed. It was commonly believed among the people that he was a living saint. Even public scandal and civil strife were calmed due to his holy influence. While he was on his death bed, the city leaders of Lecce came to request of him that he become the official patron saint of their city once he entered heaven. After St. Bernardino's death, vials of his blood were kept for veneration, which were observed to liquefy and exhibit unusual phenomena for more than a century. St. Bernardino Realino's feast day is July 2nd.


Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Am 2:6-10, 13-16

Thus says the LORD:
For three crimes of Israel, and for four,
I will not revoke my word;
Because they sell the just man for silver,
and the poor man for a pair of sandals.
They trample the heads of the weak
into the dust of the earth,
and force the lowly out of the way.
Son and father go to the same prostitute,
profaning my holy name.
Upon garments taken in pledge
they recline beside any altar;
And the wine of those who have been fined
they drink in the house of their god.

Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorites before them,
who were as tall as the cedars,
and as strong as the oak trees.
I destroyed their fruit above,
and their roots beneath.
It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and who led you through the desert for forty years,
to occupy the land of the Amorites.

Beware, I will crush you into the ground
as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves.
Flight shall perish from the swift,
and the strong man shall not retain his strength;
The warrior shall not save his life,
nor the bowman stand his ground;
The swift of foot shall not escape,
nor the horseman save his life.
And the most stouthearted of warriors
shall flee naked on that day, says the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:16bc-17, 18-19, 20-21, 22-23
R. (22a) Remember this, you who never think of God.
"Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?"
R. Remember this, you who never think of God.
"When you see a thief, you keep pace with him,
and with adulterers you throw in your lot.
To your mouth you give free rein for evil,
you harness your tongue to deceit."
R. Remember this, you who never think of God.
"You sit speaking against your brother;
against your mother's son you spread rumors.
When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes."
R. Remember this, you who never think of God.
"Consider this, you who forget God,
lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
R. Remember this, you who never think of God.

Alleluia Ps 95:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him,
he gave orders to cross to the other shore.
A scribe approached and said to him,
"Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
Another of his disciples said to him,
"Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But Jesus answered him, "Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead."


Meditation: Matthew 8:18-22

He gave orders to cross to the other shore. (Matthew 8:18)

Doesn't it seem, at first, that Jesus is annoyed with everyone in today's Gospel? First, he tries to get away from the crowds, then when a scribe and a disciple declare their desire to follow him, he seems to pour a bucket of ice water over their enthusiasm. But Jesus is not responding out of exhaustion or moodiness. He's saying something that can be difficult to hear: following him can be hard. He's inviting them—and us—to follow him more wholeheartedly even though the cost is high. Let's look closer at each one:

The Crowd. When Jesus crossed to the other shore, he was asking everyone in the crowd, "Will you follow me wherever I go?" The people had to ask themselves how far they were willing to go when following him. Would they cross this lake too, in order to receive his healing or hear more of his teaching?

The Scribe. This man was fascinated by Jesus; he wanted to follow. But he needed to know there was a cost. He would not always be treated with the welcome and respect usually given to experts in the Law of Moses. He might not even have a place to lay his head. Was he willing to risk becoming a social outsider?

The Disciple. He had been following Jesus and may have already given up home or comfort. But Jesus offers an extreme response: don't bury your father. It's unlikely that Jesus meant this literally, but one thing is clear. Jesus wanted this man to know that the call to discipleship can be demanding at times. He wanted to show that he was serious, and that there are times when sacrifices may be called for.

No matter which of these examples you identify with, Jesus is calling you to take the next step. If that idea makes you uneasy, remember today's psalm. It reminds us that "to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God" (Psalm 50:23). The goal that we're working toward is to see God's salvation, and God will bless any step forward along the "right way" that we take. Jesus is asking you to take that one small step today. What does it look like for you?

"Lord, help me to follow you more closely."

Amos 2:6-10, 13-16
Psalm 50:16-23


The first Word said today: "I will not revoke my word" said our Lord. He does not revoke. He can not revoke. His Word is truth and life. Seek ye first His Holy Word. Seek and find this treasure. And there, you will find Christ, at the heart of truth, and life.

Let us pray: "Remember this, you who never think of God. "Consider this, you who forget God, lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you. He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God." Yesterday I wrote a song, asking to wake up on Sonday. It is the day of the Lord, the Son's Day. Everyone believes it is for rest, but is HIS rest, not ours. He made the first day His day, it used to be the first day of the work week but now it is the first day for everything. Remember. Or He may not remember you. Now you know. First comes love.

In comes the love of Life: ""Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." Get ready for a life that does not know to stop what He does. He speaks of places where animals live, fox dens, and bird nests, but the Son of Man nowhere, not even the temple would hold Him anymore, because Love is on the move, love is always in action, love is a verb and we are talking about the first love.

And so our Lord says to the wannabe follower that said ""Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead." This is the EXACT same conundrum of the day. When God asks you to follow Him, its about leaving everything, all loves take 2nd place. In another Gospel, our Lord said "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26. Can I get an Amen? Or do I see people turning their backs to our Lord?

This very day is no different than the day our Lord walked this earth. People still choose family over Him. They love mothers and fathers and children, brothers and sisters so much that they will choose them over Him. Simple example, sports, "I can't go to church because we got sports this day". Another example "I can't go to church because I got family coming". Another example "I can't got church because my brother/sister asked me to go....". And the story goes on to this day. I see families at movies on Sundays but at church? No. This weekend I had a feeling a loved one would not go to Church on Sunday if we went without her on Saturday. And definitely it happened she told me flat out she wasn't going. And her son followed suit. If one doesn't go, the other doesn't go. If husband doesn't go, wife won't. If wife won't, husband won't. Is this always the case? Very rarely does one actually choose Christ.

But it is possible. Amen? It is possible to tell the Lord, "I will follow you, right now, and leave all". It is possible, but to many it seems impossible. Impossible God with all our heart, mind, strength, and soul.
There is a mystery, I am not fully revealed yet. That of life after death. What kind of life awaits? Well, it'll surely reflect the love you lived in the world. If you loved the world, the world will bury you. If you loved the Lord with everything, the Lord will raise you to life eternal. To an eternal love. Do want temporary love or eternal love? Your spouse and children and family love you with limited love. They can only love you till death. Then you are forgotten. But our Lord says "Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me." "I will never forget you". Billions have passed before us, billions forgotten. One or two are written about, but the rest? Many are forgotten. Many chose other loves. Many chose other...gods.
God is a jealous God. Zealous and jealous. I am jealous for Him it seems. Maybe wrongly, but when I hear of a family member or any friend that chose something else other than God, I get jealous. "Why not Jesus?"
"Let me go bury my Father!" What does this mean? In the old days, a burial was within 24 hours or so. This scribe probably had a sickly father, not dead yet, is what I'm being led to. Jesus says now.
I took a friend home from Mass yesterday. He read to me all the notes he had taken during the homily. At the end I said "yes, how can the dead bring anyone to life?" But the ones alive can bring the dead to life. Amen?
This is a day for miracles. The miracle of life has us on our toes.

I once told my wife, "if you really want to love me, you must love God more than me".

I told my friends in group reunion "it is good that you have left your families to be here, because this is good for your families".

You see? Love comes first.
True Love.
And God is Love

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