Wednesday, August 29, 2018

⛪ They Came and took....

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Rise from Your Slumber

Once we have heard God's voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act (cf. Rom 13:11). In our families, we have to get up and act! Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. This is very important! We have to be deeply engaged with the world, but with the power of prayer. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God's kingdom in our world.

—from the book The Blessing of Family

Franiscan Meditations Blog


"He who wishes for anything but Christ, does not know what he wishes; he who asks for anything but Christ, does not know what he is asking; he who works, and not for Christ, does not know what he is doing."
— St. Philip Neri
"Think, dear friends, how the Lord continually proves to us that there will be a resurrection to come, of which he made the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising him from the dead. Contemplate the resurrection that is always going on. Day and night declare the resurrection to us. The night sinks to sleep, and the day rises; the day departs, and the night comes on. Look at the crops, how the grain is sown: the sower goes out and throws it on the ground, and the scattered seed, dry and bare when it fell on the ground, is gradually dissolved. Then out of its disintegration the mighty power of the Lord's providence raises it up again, and from one seed come many bearing fruit."
— St. Clement, p. 9
A Year with the Church Fathers


St. John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus, and his mission was to preach repentance to Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. When John rebuked King Herod for his unlawful union with Herodias, his brother's wife, Herod had John imprisoned. On his birthday, Herod celebrated with a great feast as Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced before his guests. Herod, pleased with Salome's performance, promised to give her whatever she asked for, even up to half his kingdom. On the advice of her wicked mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod regretfully ordered the execution. St. John the Baptist is the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, highly venerated by the Church. The feast of his martyrdom is August 29th.
See More About Today's Feast >

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation."
Isaiah 12:2


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Martyrdom of John the Baptist

The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The "voice crying in the desert" did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life?

This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. "I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11).

Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: "The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God.' The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus" (John 1:35-37).

It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John's life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God's grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation, repentance, and salvation.

Each of us has a calling to which we must listen. No one will ever repeat the mission of John, and yet all of us are called to that very mission. It is the role of the Christian to witness to Jesus. Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ. By our words and deeds, others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord. We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ's saving grace.


Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist

Reading 1 2 Thes 3:6-10, 16-18

We instruct you, brothers and sisters,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to shun any brother
who walks in a disorderly way
and not according to the tradition they received from us.
For you know how one must imitate us.
For we did not act in a disorderly way among you,
nor did we eat food received free from anyone.
On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked,
so as not to burden any of you.
Not that we do not have the right.
Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.
In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that
if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

May the Lord of peace himself
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.

This greeting is in my own hand, Paul's.
This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 128:1-2, 4-5
R. (1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Alleluia Mt 5:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
"It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias' own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
"Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you."
He even swore many things to her,
"I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom."
She went out and said to her mother,
"What shall I ask for?"
She replied, "The head of John the Baptist."
The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request,
"I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist."
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Meditation: Mark 6:17-29

The Passion of Saint John the Baptist (Memorial)

Give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist. (Mark 6:25)

We are all familiar with today's Gospel: the sad and brutal execution of the "righteous and holy man," St. John the Baptist (Mark 6:20). But let's take a moment to review some of the background for this familiar story.

John was a descendant from the priestly clans of Israel—a group that had, by and large, collaborated with King Herod's corrupt rule. Rather than associating with this group, John withdrew to the desert and began preaching a message of repentance aimed at all of Israel, including Herod and his priests. Angered by John's confrontational words, Herod had John imprisoned.

Now comes the scene in today's Gospel, in which Herod's stepdaughter was used in the most perverse way. She was sent to seduce him with her dancing and trick him into agreeing to John's execution. Many movies and plays have portrayed this girl as a wicked temptress who was complicit in the plot. But it's more likely that she was just a pawn in the hands of her manipulative mother.

We don't have to search far for similar injustices happening today. News outlets are filled with stories of children subject to similar kinds of abuse. We hear also of poverty and racial tensions, human trafficking and abortion. The list goes on and on.

All of this can lead us to feel overwhelmed. How can I make a difference on such global-scale issues? I'm only one person. Besides, I don't have the time, the money, or the resources to help out.

But nobody is really helpless when it comes to overcoming injustice. You certainly can reach beyond the walls of your home. Whether it's through financial support or by volunteering at a local agency or by committing every day to pray against these evils, you can make a difference. You don't have to follow the path of John the Baptist and become a martyr in the cause of social justice. You just have to take one small but courageous step, and you'll help bring God's salvation and justice to the people who are hurting today.

"Jesus, open my heart to the cries of the poor and abused. Show me how I can help them today."

2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
Psalm 128:1-2, 4-5



"For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you...". All we have on this earth are imitators. As much as people try to be "different" they are actually imitating someone or something they have seen or heard of, right? Who do you imitate? Who do you emulate? People are watching you, even total strangers. What are they watching for? Your faults? Your errors? Or, maybe, just maybe...they are looking for Christ. Maybe looking for light. Especially in this down world, where statistics say 50% of people suffer some type of depression. It is then, an epidemic. But this is not true of a true Christ follower. Even in married couples, the statistics for joy and 100% fidelity, are those who are 100% faithful to God! Ahh. The secret nobody wants. The Lord. To be 100% devoted and committed to Him. In all aspects. Time. Talent. Treasure. Is it too much to ask? Too

Let us pray: "Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; blessed shall you be, and favored." People love prosperity gospels, "to have God's favor" they say in protestant denominations. But, it almost sounds like you want something for nothing. It actually takes blood, guts, and tears to be in God's favor. Take Saint John The Baptist. He suffered false imprisonment, for the sake of Christ. When John was an unborn baby, he jumped in the womb of Saint Elizabeth when Christ came in Mother Mary's womb. When Jesus came as an adult to John, to be baptized, John said "I am not worthy". John so believed in Jesus. John so knew this was the "Lamb" of God. And in prison he calls out to Jesus, wondering if this is what had to be. "Are You the One who was to come, or should we look for someone else?". Was there doubt now? Now it would take guts. Now glory would have to be shown, true love. Jesus replied like this: ""Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepersa are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of Me."

Remain faithful. Have faith.

In comes our Holy Lord and Savior into our lives. This time, the Herods were on the move. A King, his wife, and the daughter. Herod is seduced. Drunk and bedazzled. And then he is taken advantage of. I read a quote by that said quoting Saint Basil "Hell can't be made attractive, so the devil makes attractive the road that leads there". We get bedazzled and drunk on life, don't we? We think these things, these temporal things are so great and wonderful. But we fail to see what they point to...the Creator. Even sex which is a wonder of Creation made for creation, it has been bedazzled by the devil into something else. It has caused many ruined souls, to the tune of millions per day "falling like snowflakes into hell" as various saints have seen in visions of hell. Why? Mostly due to sins of impurity. Impure souls. Rotting in the soul. Outside beautiful people, inside rotting souls. Lives surrendered to what the senses feel. We are not people of mere temporal senses. They say that there is a another sense in a Franciscan Letter I read yesterday. A quick excerpt from it: (click to read all)
"Recent studies exploring the healing potential of awe and wonder state that feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness. It's akin to the health benefits of meditation, which slows us down, quiets our hearts and minds, and helps us achieve a new perspective on life. Awe can help us realize our insignificance before the immensity that is God and strengthen our connections to other human beings. Experiencing awe makes us happier and kinder. It can even alter our bodies, reducing levels of cytokines, markers of stress and inflammation. Some even refer to awe as a seventh emotion, right up there with the big six: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise.
"Did you know that fear of the Lord can cause this "awe"? It is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Back to square one. Loving God. I read another thing from ChurchPop this morning, it was a beautiful excerpt about a singer songwriter Emily Wilson, who had been given a journal by her daddy and it was pink and it said "love" on the cover. Something prompted her to write to her future husband, whoever it would be. Here are some excerpts she wrote:

"I would pray for specific things that I would want to pray for. If my future husband was out there, that he would be a holy man with a heart after God."

She continued, "I just prayed for total surrender and total freedom in knowing that God's plan for me…"

In another letter to her husband she wrote, "I'm no longer consumed with wanting to meet and know who you are, but I'm now consumed with the beauty, grace and peace of knowing that God's plan for my life is perfect."

It seems she is writing in total faith, right? Is this not a story about true love then? It said that she gave it to her husband the moment before he would walk the aisle, he read it, and was moved to tears.

What is required of us to have a ticket to Heaven?

What was required of Saint John the Baptist?
Total faith. Total Surrender.
We have to this day, the head of Saint John The Baptist in Rome. The head. To remember, to love and to hold the word of Christ near and so dear to our heart.
Our Lord our God loves us so intimately. He can hear you. He can feel you. And if you are ever in awe of Him, it is because He is near.

How can you be in awe, in times of trouble? Saint John the Baptist reached out to Jesus, and was awed by the response.

"Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of Me"



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