Tuesday, August 21, 2018

⛪The Last Will Be First

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Hope Is a Grace from God

Hope is not simply a saving emotion. It is also a theological virtue. Unlike a natural virtue with which one is born, hope is a grace from God that helps one trust there is life beyond the funeral, the loss of treasured possessions, or the rights and privileges one is denied. It sometimes strikes like lightning in silent moments of prayer and emboldens one to walk through the fiery furnace with a confidence and assurance never before experienced. At other times, it is planted in the cracks of broken dreams and cultivated over a period of time by the words, presence and actions of others.

—from Instruments of Christ: Reflections on the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi


"Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing."
— St. Therese of Lisieux

"For it is our plain duty to preach and defend the truth in a straightforward way. Those who are to stumble must stumble, rather than the heirs of grace should not hear. While we offend and alienate one man, we secure another; if we drive one man further the wrong way, we drive another further the right way. The cause of truth, the heavenly company of saints, gains on the whole more in one way than in the other."
— Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 25
Quotable Newman

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8-9


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Saint Pius X

(June 2, 1835 – August 20, 1914)

Pope Pius X is perhaps best remembered for his encouragement of the frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children.

The second of 10 children in a poor Italian family, Joseph Sarto became Pius X at age 68. He was one of the 20th century's greatest popes.

Ever mindful of his humble origin, Pope Pius stated, "I was born poor, I lived poor, I will die poor." He was embarrassed by some of the pomp of the papal court. "Look how they have dressed me up," he said in tears to an old friend. To another, "It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemani."

Interested in politics, Pope Pius encouraged Italian Catholics to become more politically involved. One of his first papal acts was to end the supposed right of governments to interfere by veto in papal elections—a practice that reduced the freedom of the 1903 conclave which had elected him.

In 1905, when France renounced its agreement with the Holy See and threatened confiscation of Church property if governmental control of Church affairs were not granted, Pius X courageously rejected the demand.

While he did not author a famous social encyclical as his predecessor had done, he denounced the ill treatment of indigenous peoples on the plantations of Peru, sent a relief commission to Messina after an earthquake, and sheltered refugees at his own expense.

On the 11th anniversary of his election as pope, Europe was plunged into World War I. Pius had foreseen it, but it killed him. "This is the last affliction the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge." He died a few weeks after the war began, and was canonized in 1954.

His humble background was no obstacle in relating to a personal God and to people whom he loved genuinely. Pius X gained his strength, his gentleness and warmth for people from the source of all gifts, the Spirit of Jesus. In contrast, we often feel embarrassed by our backgrounds. Shame makes us prefer to remain aloof from people whom we perceive as superior. If we are in a superior position, on the other hand, we often ignore simpler people. Yet we, too, have to help "restore all things in Christ," especially the wounded people of God.


Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope

Reading 1 Ez 28:1-10

The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man,
say to the prince of Tyre:
Thus says the Lord GOD:

Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, "A god am I!
I occupy a godly throne
in the heart of the sea!"—
And yet you are a man, and not a god,
however you may think yourself like a god.
Oh yes, you are wiser than Daniel,
there is no secret that is beyond you.
By your wisdom and your intelligence
you have made riches for yourself;
You have put gold and silver
into your treasuries.
By your great wisdom applied to your trading
you have heaped up your riches;
your heart has grown haughty from your riches–
therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
Because you have thought yourself
to have the mind of a god,
Therefore I will bring against you
foreigners, the most barbarous of nations.
They shall draw their swords
against your beauteous wisdom,
they shall run them through your splendid apparel.
They shall thrust you down to the pit, there to die
a bloodied corpse, in the heart of the sea.
Will you then say, "I am a god!"
when you face your murderers?
No, you are man, not a god,
handed over to those who will slay you.
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
at the hands of foreigners,
for I have spoken, says the Lord GOD.

Responsorial Psalm Dt 32:26-27ab, 27cd-28, 30, 35cd-36ab
R. (39c) It is I who deal death and give life.
"I would have said, 'I will make an end of them
and blot out their name from men's memories,'
Had I not feared the insolence of their enemies,
feared that these foes would mistakenly boast."
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
"'Our own hand won the victory;
the LORD had nothing to do with it.'"
For they are a people devoid of reason,
having no understanding.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
"How could one man rout a thousand,
or two men put ten thousand to flight,
Unless it was because their Rock sold them
and the LORD delivered them up?"
R. It is I who deal death and give life.
Close at hand is the day of their disaster,
and their doom is rushing upon them!
Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people;
on his servants he shall have pity.
R. It is I who deal death and give life.

Alleluia 2 Cor 8:9
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich
So that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
"Who then can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible."
Then Peter said to him in reply,
"We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."


Meditation: Matthew 19:23-30

Saint Pius X, Pope (Memorial)

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)

Why do you think Jesus made such a strange, disquieting statement about the wealthy? Did he disdain the prosperous and abhor their affluence? No, Jesus had wealthy friends like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, along with a group of wealthy women who supported his ministry (Luke 8:1-3). He didn't think that the rich are inherently more sinful. He was warning that money and possessions can be significant obstacles to living life in his kingdom.

Jesus knew that having the wrong mind-set toward money and possessions can lead us to deny God his rightful place in our lives. We may become self-serving and think only of our comfort and our desire for greater and greater financial security. Or we may be easily distracted by the cares and responsibilities that come with greater wealth. For instance, we may spend all our time and energy worrying about our bank accounts and trying to protect all that we have. Or we can get a false sense of security that leads to a greater sense of pride and self-sufficiency. No wonder Jesus gave such a strong word of warning!

If you're well-off financially, take Jesus' caution to heart. Do the best you can to keep money in the proper perspective. Be grateful for all he has blessed you with, and try to be a good steward of these blessings. Remember too that where much is given, much is expected. So use your resources wisely, not only for your own good, but for the good of others. Be generous to the Church and the needy. Set your heart on the Lord and seek to give him glory with everything you own.

If you're struggling just to make ends meet, don't let anxiety or cares weigh you down. Keep following the Lord! Trust his love and provision for you, even as you work to strengthen your finances. Ask him to give you a generous heart as well, so that you can give to other people in a way that's in-line with your means. The Lord will shower blessings on you according to his unlimited resources!

"Jesus, give me a generous heart that is free from worldly attachments. You are my greatest treasure."

Ezekiel 28:1-10
(Psalm) Deuteronomy 32:26-28, 30, 35-36


The Holy Scriptures said "Because you are haughty of heart,
you say, "A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!"—
So wise, so rich. To think by your own thoughts you made all this happen. So wrong. So foolish. Back in the day before Christ, the most prominent seats in the temples were of the richest of Jews, which I believe is still the case in modern Judaism. This belief is one that says God has blessed you, therefore, take a seat up front, pay for it. The poor, sit in the back. There is a problem with this prosperity preaching. Not everyone can be rich. And in most countries, most of the riches (monetarily speaking) belongs to a handful. Some of these do believe they are like gods, tinkering with morality with their money. They said Oprah is telling everyone to be proud of their abortions, the murder of a child. Tinkering with morality. But she is not as rich as some real rich, that are really pouring millions into affecting the outcome of their agenda, of their ideals, of their "kingdom". At this point, it is not even about money any is a mind battle and spiritual battle. " Where or what is the truth?" Pontius Pilate in mighty governance power asks the Lord about to be handed over for crucifixion. How do we "handle" the truth? With care? Or irreverence?

Let us pray: "It is I who deal death and give life. "'Our own hand won the victory; the LORD had nothing to do with it.'" For they are a people devoid of reason, having no understanding." Simple logic and reasoning is being thrown out the door as "science and technology" improves. True wisdom disregarded, morality turned into confusion. For some, gender re-assignment, is a fixing of God's mistakes. As if to say "we can fix you, because you weren't supposed to be born this way". A "gender reveal" means nothing now. Because after they are born, they are then taken at toddler age and told to choose which bathroom they want to use, man, woman, or "other". All this is said to simply prove the fact of reasoning, science becomes the god, your own reasoning becomes the god, your own place instead of the truth.

In comes Jesus, the Truth and the Life: " ...everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life." How can you receive a hundred times more children or mother? Jesus says ""For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."
We have severely limited God. That is why Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth, and other places. Why? Because, there was bitterness and hatred, doubt and disbelief, a lack of true love and trust. There is a fresh wound being peeled open again, sex scandal and abuse in the Church. Things from up to 40 years ago, a generation, being brought back up. So, random priests are being stereotyped, yelled at, calling them names, and one got knocked out after Mass by a man saying "this is for our kids". Violence for violence. All caused by what nobody is talking about...nudity (pornography) all things filth in our media and minds. We think we have solutions for everything, but for the truth?

What is the solution for truth? Acceptance. The truth is revealed and nobody welcomes it...because "it" is a Him...our Lord. There was no room for Him when He was born, and there was no room for Him by most of the Jews when He died. To this day, Jews are stereotyped. Jesus too, a Jew. Christians are slaughtered, Jesus the Christ Himself. But, what of all this? Aren't you a Christ follower? Aren't you of a Jewish descendant? The rich will have a hard time entering Heaven. Why? They have no room for Christ. It is not a fit...for the Kingdom. And you? Do you have no time for Christ? Do you have no money for Christ? Do you have nothing to offer Christ? Not even your sins?

Jesus said "blessed are the spirit" and blessed are the merciful.
Today's Gospel is about mercy, believe it or not. How?
Jesus said "For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible." What was impossible? For a rich person to be saved and enter the Kingdom...the life. But for God, He would make it possible. It is a call to repentance. It is a call to follow him, the possibility.

Wouldn't we love a guarantee into Heaven?
What does it cost?
Jesus paid the price.
We just have to accept the ticket...the life of Christ (not just saying words of acceptance!)
What is the life of Christ? Lowliness like Mother Mary. Obedience like Saint Joseph her spouse. Charity like none other.

I read this morning:
"The fruits of the Holy Spirit are perfections formed in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Galatians 5:22-23, Vulgate)."
What if everyone one of these fruits was a requirement to live in Heaven? Which one are you lacking? Work on it. Focus on it. Be gentle, generous, good, kind patient, peaceful, modest, self controlled and...CHASTE.

Be Holy
Wholly His!

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