Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Whole Town Came Out

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We Need God—and One Another

Francis' giving up of material things was only a sign of that deeper self-emptying. But it is even more than self-emptying. Having an abundance of things gives one the illusion of independence—illusion, because we are all interdependent and dependent on God, who made us, saved us, and sanctifies us. The security that material possessions give us makes even the thought of God something we have to be reminded of, whereas, if we are poor, it is easier to turn to God in praise and thanksgiving for even the smallest gift.

—from Enter Assisi: An Invitation to Franciscan Spirituality


"We must pray literally without ceasing— without ceasing—in every occurrence and employment of our lives . . . that prayer of the heart which is independent of place or situation, or which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him."
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

"I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, 'Love one another as I have loved you.' Ask yourself, 'How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?' Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery."
— St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Thirsting for God

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6


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Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (1901-1925) was born in Turin, Italy, to a wealthy and prominent family. He was a vibrant, joyful, and athletic youth with an adventurous spirit and a strong zest for life. He loved mountain climbing, the theater, opera, and literature. He also had a deep spiritual life and a strong devotion to the Holy Eucharist and the Virgin Mary, even while his piety provoked criticism from his parents. He challenged his friends to a life of virtue, leading them in spiritual exercises such as daily Mass and the rosary. He joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society in 1918 and became a Lay Dominican in 1922. He was also politically active in resisting fascism and communism; he took part in public demonstrations and joined religious-political organizations such as the Catholic Students Federation and Catholic Action. He also spent much time caring for the sick and poor to a heroic degree, yet his parents punished him when they caught him giving away his money and possessions. While ministering to the sick he contracted polio and died just six days later at the age of 24. His family, thinking he suffered from a mild sickness, did not realize the seriousness of his condition until it was too late. At his funeral his parents were shocked to find thousands of the city's poor, whom their son had helped in some way, arrive to pay their respects. Pope St. John Paul II called Pier Giorgio Frassati a "man of the beatitudes" at his beatification in 1990. His feast day is July 4th.


Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Am 5:14-15, 21-24

Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD,
I take no pleasure in your solemnities;
Your cereal offerings I will not accept,
nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.
Away with your noisy songs!
I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.
But if you would offer me burnt offerings,
then let justice surge like water,
and goodness like an unfailing stream.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16bc-17
R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Hear, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you;
God, your God, am I."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"For mine are all the animals of the forests,
beasts by the thousand on my mountains.
I know all the birds of the air,
and whatever stirs in the plains, belongs to me."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"If I were hungry, I should not tell you,
for mine are the world and its fullness.
Do I eat the flesh of strong bulls,
or is the blood of goats my drink?"
R. To the upright I will show the saving power 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. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Alleluia Jas 1:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 8:28-34

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?"
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
"If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine."
And he said to them, "Go then!"
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.


Meditation: Matthew 8:28-34

Independence Day (USA)

When they came to the town they reported everything. (Matthew 8:33)

Shouting demoniacs, possessed pigs, sprinting swineherds, and terrified townspeople—this has to be one of the most colorful stories in Matthew's Gospel! But did you know that this is also the first story about Gentiles sharing the good news about Jesus? Imagine you were there when the swineherds raced into the town square to tell their story after they had encountered Jesus:

"You'll never believe what happened! There we were, tending our pigs away from the tombs because we knew about those two demoniacs. But a group of men speaking Aramaic came ashore and got out of a boat—and the demoniacs charged right at them, screaming something about being tormented! The men didn't run away. Instead, the man in front started gesturing toward our pigs. The next thing we know, our entire herd went racing toward the cliff and threw themselves into the sea. Every one of them drowned! We were terrified. How could this stranger do that?

"Right after that happened, we could see the demoniacs, but they weren't violent any more. They seemed peaceful, calm. Even happy. And this man, this foreigner, had something to do with it. We just had to tell everyone! Who could this man be?"

Sometimes evangelism is simply sharing what has happened to you, what you have observed or experienced. The swineherds give us an example of what it looks like to share the good news, but for each one of us, it will be different. That's because each of our stories is different!

But don't forget; the townspeople weren't half as enthusiastic as the swineherds. They ran to Jesus—and begged him to leave! They responded with fear, not faith. These townspeople show us that the response of our audience is not in our control.

You may not see the response you're hoping for when you try to share your faith. But don't worry. All you can do—all God asks you to do—is share what you've seen and heard. It's up to the Holy Spirit to inspire a response.

Each one of us has a story. Whatever yours is, share it!

"Jesus, you are amazing. Give me the chance to tell people what I have seen."

Amos 5:14-15, 21-24
Psalm 50:7-13, 16-17


Today's first Holy Word ends "But if you would offer me burnt offerings,
then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream." Mother Teresa of Calcutta said "Work without love is slavery." Works of God. How empty churches are. I envision it half full, as is most of the time in summer. But even more empty with translucent souls, hardly visible. Some I can see real good, but some are almost invisible. Here, and not here. You know? You know the faithful are always there. But the unfaithful are hardly there. You know? I get hurt when loved ones don't go to church, but as I told a brother (in law) in Christ, "you know, I find it hard to tell my loved ones they missed church, because deep down there's something else going on...what led them to miss an opportunity to be with God? A lack of zeal? A lack of love? of God?" You see? You know? But some go, and there too is a lack of zeal and lack of love. They leave even worse than if they had not come at all! Some souls are translucent. But some are not. Some have real flesh, some do not. Think Christ. Think Eucharist.

Let us pray: "To the upright I will show the saving power 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?" Do you hate discipline? How do you feel when someone hurts your feelings, although deep inside, you know they are right? "Hey you should've been nice!", or "Hey you need to get help!' or even this one "hey you're gaining weight!". Gluttony, pride, addictions. What if they are right? What would you do? What CAN you do? Love discipline. Not hate. God wants disciples in discipline. Learn to hate sin. My uncle said he quit smoking by telling himself over and over "I hate smoking", until one day he said he actually did hate it. Because you love things without truly acknowledging these...sins.

In comes our Lord to liberate, to free, to give us true independence! Two demoniacs, a couple guys possessed by demons. You know, there are rare cases of possessions. Exorcisms, true hefty ones, are rare. But they exist. There is what you call "infestations", when a true exorcism is needed, such as today's case. These people have been infested with these creatures. They make people levitate, distort their bodies, smell bad, spew bad, talk really REALLY bad, just nasty vile things, all opposite of good things come out of them. It is an image of a soul that has been possessed by these critters, taken over. I have an oleander tree in my backyard. I have many different trees. This year, I noticed, a little bug was starting to "infest" the backyard, and I traced its roots, its home to the oleander. I killed every bug I could see, stepped on tons of them, smashed several on the limbs, and then came and sprayed everything. I saved my backyard of the infestation. How can we avoid an infestation? Confess every little sin, and the more often, the better. Soon, the would be infestation will be avoided, and you will save your environment, family, work, and neighborhood by saving yourself! Don't let little sins settle in your soul. Be Holy. Be VERY Holy. Be so Holy it is uncomfortable for those around you, like today's saint, who's good parents even wanted him to chill from piety. Do not be like the pagans who plead for Jesus to leave because he's upsetting the system, rocking the boat. They failed to consider two men were saved that day. Two men that became evangelizers for Christ. Two men that were given a second chance when nobody else could give them, all they could do was lock them up and keep them away from the public. All they could do is tell everyone to stay away from them if they know what was good for them! OOps. How many people do we treat like that? We stay away from them and ask others to do the same? Condemnation, instead of salvation. Bondage, instead of freedom. Letting sin take over, and living with it, with all the swine, all the pigs they loved more. Think of it. The prodigal son got tired of living with and eating with pigs, he said "I'm going back to my Father's house".

And Mercy came running to meet Him. And the "good son" that never left now had to deal with his pigs, his uncharitable attitude.

When Jesus comes, mercy comes.
And I dare say, I don't know of a greater gift He has created.
I can not live on without mercy.
I would not be here had it not been for mercy.
Mercy is deliverance.
Mercy is reconciling.
Divine Mercy is Jesus.

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