Thursday, July 5, 2018

Authority On Earth. . .

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Step Out to Be Church in the World

Following the Camino of Saint Junípero Serra goes well beyond traveling his historical path through the missions of California. It also involves imitating his missionary fervor, demonstrating always a loving understanding and respect for others and their cultures. Like our new saint who walked along the coast of California sharing the Gospel, we too are called to step forward in our daily lives and bring to others the Gospel of God's love. We are called not just to proclaim the Good News, but to be that good news; not only to invite others into the Church, but to be the Church in the world.

–from Saint Junipero Serra's Camino: A Pilgrimage Guide to the California Missions



"Let us never forget that if we wish to die like the saints we must live like them."
— St. Théodore Guérin

"He that sacrifices to God his property by alms-deeds, his honor by bearing insults, or his body by mortifications, by fasts and penitential rigours, offers to Him a part of himself and of what belongs to him; but he that sacrifices to God his will, by obedience, gives to Him all that he has, and can say: Lord, having given you my will, I have nothing more to give you."
— St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 191
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguiori

"Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made."
Romans 1:20a


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Saint Anthony Zaccaria

(1502 – July 5, 1539)

At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18, and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22, and while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist, and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men, one for women, and an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious, and lay people.

Greatly inspired by Saint Paul—his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint—Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions, and was not ashamed of doing public penance.

He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion, and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. His holiness moved many to reform their lives, but as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated.

While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.

The austerity of Anthony's spirituality and the Pauline ardor of his preaching would probably "turn off" many people today. When even some psychiatrists complain at the lack of a sense of sin, it may be time to tell ourselves that not all evil is explained by emotional disorder, subconscious and unconscious drives, parental influence, and so on. The old-time "hell and damnation" mission sermons have given way to positive, encouraging, biblical homilies. We do indeed need assurance of forgiveness, relief from existential anxiety, and future shock. But we still need prophets to stand up and tell us, "If we say 'We are without sin,' we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).


Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 380

Reading 1 AM 7:10-17

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam,
king of Israel:
"Amos has conspired against you here within Israel;
the country cannot endure all his words.
For this is what Amos says:
Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land."

To Amos, Amaziah said:
"Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."
Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'
Now hear the word of the LORD!"

You say: prophesy not against Israel,
preach not against the house of Isaac.
Now thus says the LORD:
Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city,
and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword;
Your land shall be divided by measuring line,
and you yourself shall die in an unclean land;
Israel shall be exiled far from its land.

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11
R. (10cd) The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.

Alleluia 2 COR 5:19
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
"Courage, child, your sins are forgiven."
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
"This man is blaspheming."
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
"Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins"–
he then said to the paralytic,
"Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.


Meditation: Amos 7:10-17

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (Optional Memorial)v

I was no prophet. (Amos 7:14)

How could Amos not be a prophet? He spoke prophetic words to the people of God! Amos didn't deny proclaiming a prophetic word to Israel, but at the same time, he refused to be called a professional seer. He was just a farmworker in the southern kingdom of Judah. But this didn't hinder God from calling him to the wealthier northern kingdom of Israel—even to the courts of the king himself!

The truth is, there is no cookie-cutter version of a prophet. Amos' story shows us that anyone can be a prophet. How? By the working of the Holy Spirit. Remember, when you were baptized, you received the Spirit, and you were commissioned to take up your share in Jesus' role as priest, prophet, and king.

True, you don't have an international platform like Pope Francis, but you can still be a prophet right where you are. The Catechism tells us that the whole people of God shares in Jesus' prophetic ministry "when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ's witness in the midst of this world" (CCC, 785). So whenever you grow deeper in your faith, and whenever you share it with people around you, you are acting prophetically.

So many people lack hope today. So many people feel trapped in sin. So many are bound in selfishness. And you have an important message to share with them. You can remind them that God has plans to give them a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11). You can proclaim it every time you go out of your way to care for someone who is hurting. You can announce it every time you gently but firmly stand up for your faith or for the needs of the poor, the unborn, and the marginalized. Your words and actions can make a difference. You can be a prophet.

God isn't waiting for someone else to come along; he's hoping you will take up your calling. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your occupation, your state in life, or any other external factor disqualifies you. If God can call a farmworker from the south to proclaim his word to the elites of the north, he can call anyone. Even you.

"Lord, give me the courage to share your words with the people I will meet today."

Psalm 19:8-11
Matthew 9:1-8


Amos said:
"The LORD took me from following the flock...". And, like today's saint, spoke out against the darkness. We need to be truthful about faith and we need to be sharing our faith.

We pray: "The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; The ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just." The fear of our Lord is being lost. Why? What has taken over? Fear is wonder and awe. Why is it being lost? And how can I say that? Fear of the Lord. People are not as amazed anymore. Amazement, wonder, and awe are signs of the Holy Spirit. We are needing to invite Him to all our lives. Fear makes you humble. We need humility.

In the Holy Gospel, "...people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher." Sorry for delaying, I had to stop typing because an accident at work occurred and an ambulance came to see if our guy was ok, another driver had struck him from behind on a big highway our guy had just drove onto. Several came to help, state troopers, county officials, and regular people came to help. Eventually, they got him out of the truck (through the passenger side) and sat him in the ambulance to check him. People care. And that is great, and that is the way it should be in the spiritual world, people caring and carrying. Only, the ambulance here would be a stretcher, and the stretcher to the hospital. Right? The hospital is Church. We need to take people to the hospital. There, the doctor is our Lord. They will come to see what they can do, miracles even here and there. Our guy got off the stretcher/ambulance saying he was ok, didn't need to go to the hospital. Can we force people to the hospital? To church I mean. No. Free will. It takes free will to go.

In today's Holy Gospel, our Lord encounters one they brought that was willing. Many times our Lord invites you. He invites us to come for healing. But, for more than encounter. For everyone there, it was an encounter with our Lord. The kind that changes lives, to this day. This encounter we heard about is one that should inspire wonder, and awe. A holy fear of the Lord our God. But what it should prompt faith.
Have faith.
We can take others to God, but, others can take us to God if we let them.
And this is what we are to be ready with. Holy Fear. Holy Faith...

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