Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Whoever wishes to be great. ..

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The Challenge to Be Fully Awake

As we tend to our spiritual garden, we first show up fully awake, take notice of the choices we make and of how resources of time, energy and finances are expended. Tending the garden requires paying attention to a quality of prayer life, availability to family and friends, how our bodies move in the world and engagement with the personal conversation God holds with each person. In particular, tending to our spiritual garden requires asking the daily question: What is it only I can do with the time and space of my distinct life? And then doing it with gusto, presence and passion!
—from Your Spiritual Garden: Tending to the Presence of God


"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
— St. Augustine

"Some beginners, too, make light of their faults, and at other times indulge in immoderate grief when they commit them. They thought themselves already saints, and so they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another great imperfection. They also importune God to deliver them from their faults and imperfections, but it is only for the comfort of living in peace, unmolested by them, and not for God; they do not consider that, were He to deliver them, they would become, perhaps, prouder than ever."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 9
Dark Night of the Soul
O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
Isaiah 33:2


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St. Christopher (3rd c.) is a highly popular saint, though little is known about him with certainty. According to one account, a pagan queen prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary for a child, whom she named Offerus and dedicated to the pagan gods. The child grew into a man of exceptional size and strength, and he endeavored to serve only the strongest and most courageous of masters. First he served a heathen king, but soon realized that the king feared the Devil. He then served the Devil, until he saw that the Devil feared the Sign of the Cross. He then decided to serve Christ, reasoning that Christ must be the strongest master of all. Offerus found a Christian hermit who instructed him in the faith, baptized him, and gave him a new name, Christopher, or "Christ-bearer." From then on Christopher determined to serve Christ by using his great physical strength to assist travelers crossing a treacherous river. One day he helped a small child across the river; as Christopher carried the child he felt his burden becoming strangely heavy, as if the weight of the whole world was upon his shoulders. When he spoke of this, the child replied that Christopher carried not only the whole world, but also Him who made it. The child then revealed himself as Jesus Christ and announced that Christopher's humble service was pleasing to Him, and worked a miracle by turning Christopher's staff into a tree. Due to this miracle many converted to Christianity, which caused Christopher to be imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded for refusing to worship the pagan gods. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. His feast day is July 25th.



Feast of Saint James, Apostle

Reading 1 2 Cor 4:7-15

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 126:1bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6
R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Alleluia See Jn 15:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 20:20-28

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
"What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
He replied,
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Meditation: Matthew 20:20-28

Saint James, Apostle (Feast)
The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. (Matthew 20:28)
Jesus spoke these words in response to an attempted power grab by two of his closest disciples. Through their mother, James and John had asked to be seated at Jesus' right and left when he came into his kingdom. Like his brother, James must have felt that he deserved special treatment. Perhaps it was because he came from a relatively well-off family: his father could afford to hire men to work for him (Mark 1:20). Or maybe it was because Jesus had singled him out, along with John and Peter, to witness miracles that the other apostles missed out on (1:29; 5:37; 9:2).
Whatever the case, this story tells us that James had more to learn about following Jesus. This is not the attitude of someone dedicated to serving people. It's the attitude of a man hoping to be served instead.
But what a change of heart! As he continued to follow Jesus and especially after he received the Holy Spirit, James went from seeking recognition to offering himself in service to the gospel, wherever that service might take him. He could have chosen any ministry he wanted, perhaps a quiet life leading a Christian community in a small town or village with little risk of having to sacrifice too much. He could have even gone back to fishing in Capernaum! But he chose instead to continue preaching, thus putting himself in harm's way.
That choice ultimately led to his martyrdom (Acts 12:1-2). Just as Jesus had promised, James truly did "drink the chalice" that Jesus drank (Matthew 20:22).
James stands at the head of a long line of saints who gave up their lives out of devotion to God's people. That line includes martyrs like St. Lawrence and Edith Stein, evangelists like Francis Xavier, and workers of charity like Jeanne Jugan. It also includes countless other men and women whose stories only God knows.
Jesus is asking you to join this line as well, in whatever way you can. There are people all around you who need to be cared for. So take James as your model, and try to give just a little bit more to them today.
"Jesus, teach me to lay down my life for your people."
2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalm 126:1-6



Encouragement from heaven, thank you Saint Paul:
"We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed". As I journey through life, I notice many souls. Many suffering. Monday I went to a funeral, a cursillista family in an accident, the father takes the hit, the mother survives and the little girl, their daughter survives. As if he had given his life for them. And yesterday, a 17 year old funeral, a young man that hung himself, his grandmother raised him, as the mother had started another new family with a new man, and the grandma was wailing in tears, she had found him hanging. I told the guys this morning at our safety meeting, never underestimate how much influence we have in our children's lives. Men have about 80% say in children's lives, if they will have faith or not. I don't think it set well with most, because this was a safety meeting, what business does faith have to do? I said 'it has to do with responsibility, just like safety, what we do affects others...what's more, we are not just bodies, we are souls, spirits come about, and that affects our bodies, and this affects others".

Let us pray: "Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing." They say a clay pot was cracked. It was carrying water on the back of a person, and it cried because it leaked as it journeyed. The other pots were fine, carried all the water to where it was supposed to. It came to the potter and the potter said, "do you think you are wasting the water? Why are you crying? Look, have you not noticed that all along the way in the field, you have been watering the plants that nobody else has?' And the pathway had beautiful flowers growing all along". Have faith. Have faith, this means simply one thing, be faithful. As Mother Teresa said, "God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful."
In comes our Lord and our Savior: "You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?" Some of us want all the glory with not guts. But they say "no guts, no glory". It takes guts to be seated by the Father. The kind of guts our Blessed Mother had who was told " a sword shall pierce your heart" and she simply said "may it be done according to Thy will"...Master. What kind of slave is that? Abram, was the first to say the similar, offering his only son. And the son had guts too because he hauled the wood and made the altar and had a hunch, this was looking grim for there were not animals to sacrifice being taken up the mountain. And why would God say "I will provide the lamb" and it was His only Son? John 3:16 says it is because He loves the world so much. He said "I Am manifesting myself in a new and eternal way" the new and everlasting covenant. In comes the body and blood of our Lord. Sowing with tears, Jesus wept, and Jesus rejoiced in the Resurrection "Be Not Afraid" He says. And many of us tremble. At the safety meeting I said "It seems when we cover a topic, it happens, like last month we covered driving safety and then our guy gets on the highway and gets slammed from behind, luckily he's alive". Is this a prophecy? Or statistics? What is a prophecy? It is a message to behold, to treasure, and to make valuable. Like when Jonah finally arrived to the city, they repented, they heeded the call. They...listened.
And you? Are you listening? I watched some short videos on purgatory after work yesterday. By the time they were done, I was pushed to desire holiness. People in purgatory suffer, the lowest levels are like hell, so disconnected from God you would surely believe you are in hell. The higher levels a burning ardent desire that causes suffering, a desire for union with God. So purgation is good. Isn't it? I am talking to a special, select group of people. You are reading this so you can see the prophecies of God.
His Holy Word speaks volumes. He says " whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;" and check this out " whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave." Great people are servants. The number one, is the slave. If God is treated like a slave, then, when He goes missing, everything goes missing. If He has served you your whole life, who will serve you now? Who served you through those hard times? God.
Who served you in the good times? God.
Who served you even though you didn't want Him around? God.
Who served you air to breathe? God.
Who gave you water to drink and food to eat? God.
Who gave you an inkling of true love? God.
Who is always there when nobody else is? God.
Heed the notice. "Life is limited" I told everyone in the meeting. Everything we do matters. And it matters to God, our Father. Because He hinges on our every move. Shall I not hinge on His every move? Shall I not be His slave? Shall I not wait on Him, hand and foot? Shall I not heal Him? Shall I not feed Him? Shall I not give Him rest? Shall I not show Him great love?

How about the greatest of loves?




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