Friday, July 20, 2018

If You Knew.....

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Lives of Biblical Significance

The Scriptures are living because they live in me and I live in them. They tell the story of my life precisely because they tell the story of the life of the Son of God. Jesus promised his followers that we would be able to recall all things concerning him. I know this to be true because I take him at his word. Through the Spirit, he opens his life within mine. Jesus allows me to share all of salvation history, as I need to know it, and that means as my own. My life and your life are of biblical significance.

—from Prayer Everywhere: The Spiritual Life Made Simple


"You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds . . . What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can."
— St. Thomas More

"We must be present with and to the Lord, in silence as Mary practiced silence. We begin with silence of the will, that is, willing nothing but the will of God. Begin here and the rest will come. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will experience silence. Guard and protect it with love and you will become a garden enclosed. Silence is the soil for the seed of the word."
—St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, p. 50
Thirsting for God

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds."
Titus 2:11-14


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Saint Apollinaris

(d. c. 79)

According to tradition, Saint Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.

Following Jesus involves risks—sometimes the supreme risk of life itself. Martyrs are people who would rather accept the risk of death than deny the cornerstone of their whole life: faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone will die eventually—the persecutors and those persecuted. The question is what kind of a conscience people will bring before the Lord for judgment. Remembering the witness of past and present martyrs can help us make the often small sacrifices that following Jesus today may require.


Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Is 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8

When Hezekiah was mortally ill,
the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him:
"Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order,
for you are about to die; you shall not recover."
Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD:

"O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly
I conducted myself in your presence,
doing what was pleasing to you!"
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: "Go, tell Hezekiah:
Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David:
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.
I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD's temple;
I will add fifteen years to your life.
I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria;
I will be a shield to this city."

Isaiah then ordered a poultice of figs to be taken
and applied to the boil, that he might recover.
Then Hezekiah asked,
"What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?"

Isaiah answered:
"This will be the sign for you from the LORD
that he will do what he has promised:
See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun
on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz
go back the ten steps it has advanced."
So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.

Responsorial Psalm Isaiah 38:10, 11, 12abcd, 16
R. (see 17b) You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.
Once I said,
"In the noontime of life I must depart!
To the gates of the nether world I shall be consigned
for the rest of my years."
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.
I said, "I shall see the LORD no more
in the land of the living.
No longer shall I behold my fellow men
among those who dwell in the world."
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.
My dwelling, like a shepherd's tent,
is struck down and borne away from me;
You have folded up my life, like a weaver
who severs the last thread.
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.
Those live whom the LORD protects;
yours is the life of my spirit.
You have given me health and life.
R. You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die.

Alleluia Jn 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
"See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath."
He said to the them, "Have you not read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry,
how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering,
which neither he nor his companions
but only the priests could lawfully eat?
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath
the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath
and are innocent?
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath."


Meditation: Matthew 12:1-8

Saint Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr (Optional Memorial)

Your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath. (Matthew 12:2)

It's not uncommon to read in the Gospels about how a group of Pharisees began arguing with Jesus—like what we have in today's reading. After reading stories like this, it might be easy to write these people off as enemies of Christ. But is this true? What do we know about the Pharisees?

For one, they were mostly laypeople who took their Jewish faith seriously. They volunteered to take on themselves the extra requirements of a priest's way of life. Even their name—"Pharisee"—comes from a Hebrew word meaning "to separate," showing their desire to be devoted totally to God.

They also saw themselves as teaching a moderate approach to the Mosaic Law. Their way of life was probably more accessible to the average Jew than joining the more extreme groups of the day: the Sadducees, the Essenes, or the Zealots.

Finally, they deeply valued many of the same things that Jesus valued: the Scriptures, holiness, God's chosen people. Theologically speaking, they were closer to Jesus than the other sects. Some Pharisees even followed him. But others saw him as a threat to the Jewish faith and perhaps to their own position. In part, you might say that their proximity to Jesus led to conflict.

The same can be true sometimes for us as well. Somehow, it can be hardest to remain at peace with the people who are closest to us, especially our family members. We know each other so well that we can overreact to trivial things and create rifts in our families. We also tend to have high expectations of each other—because of our love—and we get frustrated when these expectations aren't met.

According to Mother Teresa, "It's easy to love the people far away. It's not always easy to love those close to us." God wants to teach us how to love the people with whom we have so much in common. He is offering grace to help us to listen and understand them before we jump to conclusions, make snap judgments, or bring up old wounds.

Is there a family member whom you're having a hard time with? Ask God to bless them and bring the two of you closer together. Then, look for one opportunity to show that person your love.

"Jesus, heal all our divisions."

Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8
(Psalm) Isaiah 38:10-12, 16



Our Lord speaks, through prophets to Kings and to all of us. Today He tells Isaiah to tell Hezekiah: "I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD's temple". In 3 days. Today is Friday. In 3 days Jesus made all the difference in the world. He rose. He went to destroy sin and death. And He rose to the temple of everlasting life. How much He did in those 3 days we will never know. For sure, it went back to the beginning of time to the end of time. All in 3 days. And He invites us to rise up with Him.

Let us pray: " You saved my life, O Lord; I shall not die. Those live whom the LORD protects; yours is the life of my spirit. You have given me health and life." There was a man who sat and asked us in a ultreya or bible study, "what is more important to you, spiritual health, or physical health?". All sorts of answers abound. He seemed to lay heavily on spiritual health. What's funny to me, is we don't have an obvious monitor that can tell you what percentage of health you are at in the spirit. But, we can see symptoms. Bad symptoms. We can diagnose them if we can identify them. But how would you know something is not right if you don't know what is right?

In comes our Lord and finds Himself reproached by Pharisees, those who claim to know what is right. They judged Him and His followers for breaking the Sabbath's laws. They had gone to the field, plucked wheat and ate. That's what they did wrong. They worked and ate. Today, we have a new Sabbath, Sunday. The 3rd day, now the holiest of days. I wrote a song and called it Son-day. It is all about the Son's day. It is important that we make it holy. Very. One time a new brother said that his mom says "if you're going to church on Sunday and see someone broke on the side of the road, you are to help them first". That kind of rubbed me wrong, irked me inside. Can this be true? Because I am like the priests and Pharisees that says you can not miss, or else! I help strangers on roadsides alot. I once gave a ride to a hitchhiker for 100 miles. But on a Sunday? Or how about this, a guy walks in with sunshades to Holy Mass on Sunday. Ohh, I just had to go tell him that wasn't right. And when I did, he took them off apologizing, showing me an eye infection he was trying to heal from. Or all these people wearing shorts to Mass now. Boy I wish I could just tell them all something. "Don't you know how to make holy the Sabbath?" Don't you? Men and women should learn to make Holy the Sabbath. And our Lord brings up the way. And it aims at the heart of the matter. Our Lord tells the Pharisees " I say to you, something greater than the temple is here." WHOA! Say what? The temple was everything to the Pharisees, it was the place for God! That's where God would speak and appear and even dwell! Much like today's Holy Catholic Churches where Jesus is dwelling and speaks and appears. That's why we honor the temple, that's why see a priest kiss the altar, and that's why we take a knee to the Blessed Sacrament in it's little house looking tabernacle. The House of God! But Jesus says "I am more". Last night, in our friendship group, a brother said "people don't know that this is the life!". I said Amen. I said "it's like we've found a hidden gem....that pearl". We've traded our lives for it. Yet Jesus says, I am more. He goes on "If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men." I have family not going to church, not honoring the Sabbath, not tending to the 3rd Command from God, a mortal sin for those that are knowing. Willingly choosing not to go see our Lord. A thought hit me yesterday, about sin. There is all the forgiveness in the world for sin. But a sinner chooses not to be forgiven. God doesn't condemn anybody, people condemn themselves! So how can I blast them and slam them with bible verses and scoldings? It wouldn't make sense. But you know what makes sense? Mercy. Sure I'll go glorify and praise God on Sunday, but what about mercy? Mercy wins souls. I know that is what transformed me. Mercy. Like the song says, Mercy came a running, like a prisoner set free. If I get mercy, how can I not give mercy? God gives me mercy much more than I think I deserve. Learn what this means! It means everything. Mother Teresa said "When we have less, we can give more. It seems impossible, but it is not. That is the logic of love." It is an emptying of self to see what is at the bottom. Jesus was asking the Pharisees to empty themselves before Him. Let go of what you know of Him. It is a sin to say you completely know God. You don't even know your own self! Much less the designer who designed you at this moment in time. "The Son of Man is Lord of Sabbath". I don't know why people confuse Mark2:27 "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. " They say this means Sabbath must take 2nd place. Well, it is true if God takes 1st place. But no, they take it and make it a work day. That makes Mamon, the god of money, 1st place. Some say they HAVE TO work. I deny that lie. You only have to if you have willed it to be! I have had many jobs, and I told them all before getting hired, I can not work on Sunday. Most people will not do this, so yes, now they are stuck working Sundays. You see, you can decide your own destiny. Tell me where you go on Sundays and I can tell you where you'll go when you die. Why do I say this and ignore God's grace and mercy? Because it has to be said that Jesus is most important. What this means is "where does Jesus Christ live in your life?" Is He just somebody else to deal with, or is He EVERYTHING.
You see? He is asking the Pharisees to stop with what they have made up to be God's ways. Jesus IS the Way.
That being said, I've never encountered a hitchhiker on the way to Mass, much less people asking for a ride to Mass. But I have encountered many paralyzed. I pass many homes and I pray for them families on my way "Lord bless them so they can come see you where I am trying to go" Mass. To Heaven.



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