Thursday, August 16, 2018

⛪From His Heart

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Prayer Is a High-Risk Enterprise

Prayer that allows the mystery of Christ to change our lives, is a high-risk enterprise—an uncontrollable experience. Yet, the power of God's grace is such that one who, like Francis of Assisi, is able to trust God sufficiently can enter into the "cave" of the heart, the place where Incarnation takes place, and be transformed into the triumph of love. Franciscan prayer, therefore, is Christ-centered, affective, contemplative, cosmic and evangelizing. The goal of prayer is to make Jesus Christ alive in the believer. To bring Christ to life is the way to peace.

—from the book Franciscan Prayer


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Saint Stephen of Hungary

(975 – August 15, 1038)

The Church is universal, but its expression is always affected—for good or ill—by local culture. There are no "generic" Christians; there are Mexican Christians, Polish Christians, Filipino Christians. This fact is evident in the life of Stephen, national hero and spiritual patron of Hungary.

Born a pagan, he was baptized around the age of 10, together with his father, chief of the Magyars, a group who migrated to the Danube area in the ninth century. At 20, he married Gisela, sister to the future emperor, Saint Henry. When he succeeded his father, Stephen adopted a policy of Christianization of the country for both political and religious reasons. He suppressed a series of revolts by pagan nobles and welded the Magyars into a strong national group. He asked the pope to provide for the Church's organization in Hungary—and also requested that the pope confer the title of king upon him. He was crowned on Christmas day in 1001.

Stephen established a system of tithes to support churches and pastors and to relieve the poor. Out of every 10 towns one had to build a church and support a priest. He abolished pagan customs with a certain amount of violence, and commanded all to marry, except clergy and religious. He was easily accessible to all, especially the poor.

In 1031, his son Emeric died, and the rest of Stephen's days were embittered by controversy over his successor. His nephews attempted to kill him. He died in 1038 and was canonized, along with his son, in 1083.

God's gift of holiness is a Christlike love of God and humanity. Love must sometimes bear a stern countenance for the sake of ultimate good. Christ attacked hypocrites among the Pharisees, but died forgiving them. Paul excommunicated the incestuous man at Corinth "that his spirit may be saved." Some Christians fought the Crusades with noble zeal, in spite of the unworthy motives of others.

Today, after senseless wars, and with a deeper understanding of the complex nature of human motives, we shrink from any use of violence—physical or "silent." This wholesome development continues as people debate whether it is possible for a Christian to be an absolute pacifist or whether evil must sometimes be repelled by force.

Saint Stephen of Hungary is the Patron Saint of:


Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 416

Reading 1 EZ 12:1-12

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious house.
Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on,
prepare your baggage as though for exile,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you live to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house.
You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime
while they are looking on;
in the evening, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness;
cover your face that you may not see the land,
for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.

I did as I was told.
During the day I brought out my baggage
as though it were that of an exile,
and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand
and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness,
shouldering my burden.

Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
This oracle concerns Jerusalem
and the whole house of Israel within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to them;
as captives they shall go into exile.
The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in the wall,
and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.

Responsorial Psalm PS 78:56-57, 58-59, 61-62
R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!

They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And he surrendered his strength into captivity,
his glory in the hands of the foe.
He abandoned his people to the sword
and was enraged against his inheritance.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Alleluia PS 119:135
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant
and teach me your statutes.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 18:21–19:1

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."

When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.


Meditation: Matthew 18:21–19:1

Saint Stephen of Hungary (Optional Memorial

If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? (Matthew 18:21)

Peter probably didn't ask this question out of idle curiosity. Something Jesus said or some incident provoked Peter to ask about the boundaries of forgiveness.

It's amazing how many angry or resentful thoughts against people are able to bounce around in our heads. It's not that we like having these negative thoughts. But we may not know how to get free of them, or we may not be ready to forgive.

When Peter asked Jesus, "How many times must I forgive?" Jesus basically said, "Every time." He said that we have to be like our Father, who never stops offering us his mercy.

To illustrate this point, Jesus told a parable about an unforgiving servant. This man, who was forgiven a large debt, was unwilling to forgive a very small debt from his fellow servant. That's why the master asked him, "Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?" (Matthew 18:33).

According to the logic of love, forgiveness ought to breed forgiveness, and mercy ought to breed mercy. But this unforgiving servant followed his own self-centered logic. He believed that mercy received had nothing to do with mercy given.

God is asking us to be merciful to each other. That's easy to say, but it can be hard to do. We should be able to let go, at least of the smaller hurts of life. Let's not let petty pride get the better of us. Let's forgive instead.

When it comes to larger hurts, it can be difficult if not impossible to forgive completely. But here are four simple steps we can take that may help us: first, thank Jesus for being so merciful to you. Second, tell Jesus that you want to forgive the one who hurt you, but that it hurts too much to forgive just now. Third, know that Jesus is with you. He knows how much you are hurting. He understands. He still loves you. Finally, ask Jesus for the grace to forgive over time.

Sometimes the deep hurts of life can take months or years to be healed. Jesus knows this, and he understands. He is infinitely patient, just as he is infinitely generous with his own grace and mercy.

"Lord, help me to forgive everyone."

Ezekiel 12:1-12
Psalm 78:56-59, 61-62



Our Lord said to Ezekiel: "... for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel." You are a sign. You are a sign of hope. You can be. You can show what it means to forgive, not by words but by heart.

We pray: "Do not forget the works of the Lord! They angered him with their high places and with their idols roused his jealousy." Do not forget. Be practicing. Be telling the truth, teaching the truth. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

In the Holy Gospel, our Lord said: "So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."
Question: How many times do we have to forgive?
Answer: Always
That's what Jesus did on the cross. Always. Difference between the two thiefs he was in the middle of, was that one ridiculed Him and the other pleaded for Him to forgive. The only reason one went to Heaven with Jesus and still is, is because he desired mercy.
Mercy is beyond comprehension. It's all we got to live off of. We need mercy since the day Adam and Eve did the first sin. Since then, God has been merciful in various ways, in loving ways, and in strict ways, but all just, all righteous ways.

We too must always be merciful. Be merciful with your words and actions. Train yourself in mercy training.

Train your heart to see as God sees.
And ask for Mercy to be your life...JESUS



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