Thursday, September 20, 2018

⛪You did not give me a...

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God Lifts the Anguish from Our Hearts

Jesus says to each one: "Take courage; do not give in to life's burdens; do not close yourself off in the face of fears and sins. Come to me!" He awaits us; he always awaits us. Not to magically resolve problems, but to strengthen us amid our problems. Jesus does not lift the burdens from our life, but the anguish from our heart; he does not take away our cross, but carries it with us. And with him every burden becomes light, because he is the comfort we seek.

—from the book Believe in Love: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis


"The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers."
— St. Maximilian Kolbe

"There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely in this obscurity; it has suffered: for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable, than that of rejoicing and of action. In suffering God gives strength, but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness and imperfections. And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue, and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious."
— St. John of the Cross, p. 149
Dark Night of the Soul

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.'"
Luke 1:39-40


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Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions

(August 21, 1821 – September 16, 1846; Companions d. between 1839 – 1867)

Saints Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions' Story
The first native Korean priest, Andrew Kim Taegon was the son of Christian converts. Following his baptism at the age of 15, Andrew traveled 1,300 miles to the seminary in Macao, China. After six years, he managed to return to his country through Manchuria. That same year he crossed the Yellow Sea to Shanghai and was ordained a priest. Back home again, he was assigned to arrange for more missionaries to enter by a water route that would elude the border patrol. He was arrested, tortured, and finally beheaded at the Han River near Seoul, the capital.

Andrew's father Ignatius Kim, was martyred during the persecution of 1839, and was beatified in 1925. Paul Chong Hasang, a lay apostle and married man, also died in 1839 at age 45.

Among the other martyrs in 1839 was Columba Kim, an unmarried woman of 26. She was put in prison, pierced with hot tools and seared with burning coals. She and her sister Agnes were disrobed and kept for two days in a cell with condemned criminals, but were not molested. After Columba complained about the indignity, no more women were subjected to it. The two were beheaded. Peter Ryou, a boy of 13, had his flesh so badly torn that he could pull off pieces and throw them at the judges. He was killed by strangulation. Protase Chong, a 41-year-old nobleman, apostatized under torture and was freed. Later he came back, confessed his faith and was tortured to death.

Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592 when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers. Evangelization was difficult because Korea refused all contact with the outside world except for taking taxes to Beijing annually. On one of these occasions, around 1777, Christian literature obtained from Jesuits in China led educated Korean Christians to study. A home Church began. When a Chinese priest managed to enter secretly a dozen years later, he found 4,000 Catholics, none of whom had ever seen a priest. Seven years later there were 10,000 Catholics. Religious freedom came to Korea in 1883.

Besides Andrew and Paul, Pope John Paul II canonized 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867, when he visited Korea in 1984. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women and 45 men.

We marvel at the fact that the Korean Church was strictly a lay Church for a dozen years after its birth. How did the people survive without the Eucharist? It is no belittling of this and other sacraments to realize that there must be a living faith before there can be a truly beneficial celebration of the Eucharist. The sacraments are signs of God's initiative and response to faith already present. The sacraments increase grace and faith, but only if there is something ready to be increased.


Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, and Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

Reading 1 1 Cor 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the Gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the Apostles.
Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he appeared to me.
For I am the least of the Apostles,
not fit to be called an Apostle,
because I persecuted the Church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective.
Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they,
so we preach and so you believed.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 118:1b-2, 16ab-17, 28
R. (1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
"His mercy endures forever."
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
"The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD has struck with power."
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
You are my God, and I give thanks to you;
O my God, I extol you.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Alleluia Mt 11:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 7:36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,
and he entered the Pharisee's house and reclined at table.
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
"If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Simon, I have something to say to you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;
one owed five hundred days' wages and the other owed fifty.
Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.
Which of them will love him more?"
Simon said in reply,
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven."
He said to him, "You have judged rightly."
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
"Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little."
He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
The others at table said to themselves,
"Who is this who even forgives sins?"
But he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; go in peace."


Meditation: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Priest, Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs (Memorial)

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Like a river, God's grace is constantly flowing. It flows from heaven into our hearts, and smooths out the sharp edges over time. It's the same grace that flowed into Paul's heart when he saw the Lord on the road to Damascus. Paul responded to this grace, and he discovered that it was not "ineffective" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Once a persecutor of Christians, he became a believer who traveled the world building up the very Church he once tried to destroy.

Our story may not be exactly as dramatic as St. Paul's, but in many ways it is no different. We too have received God's grace, and this grace has not been ineffective: we have believed and decided to follow Jesus.

So how do we respond to this constant flow of God's grace? In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer talked about the difference between "cheap grace" and "costly grace." Cheap grace, he said, "is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ." Costly grace, on the other hand, "confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus."

We can "cheapen" our experience of grace by failing to respond to its flow in our lives. Every day we face numerous situations in which we can call on God's grace or try to move on without it. For example, you may be tempted to nurture resentment or bitterness over something someone said or did. You can ask God for the grace to forgive. You may want to lose patience with one of your children who is acting out of line. You can stop for a moment, and call on God's grace so that you can deal with the issue calmly.

No matter how difficult your situation may be, God's grace is always available to you. It is continually flowing, like a rushing, refreshing river. Step into that river today. Let its waters flow over you and in you and through you. This grace is not ineffective in the least—not if you embrace it and treasure it.

"Father, mold me by your grace. Let me echo the words of Paul: 'by the grace of God I am what I am'" (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 28
Luke 7:36-50



Saint Paul says in the Word of our Lord: "I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins...". Saint Paul calls himself the least of all the ones that Jesus appeared to. An unfit apostle. Why? Because he persecuted the Church, put people in chains and led them to their death for following Christ. We don't see it, but this still happens. In our country, it is more subtle, more hidden, persecutions, they disguise themselves as human lovers but underneath they hate humans, especially Christian humans. Who are "they"? Evil spirits. What is the hatred they carry? Twisted loves. This is the danger of your love being twisted by other things other than truly seeking to be God lovers. You see, Paul was a zealot, but so are many that persecute the Church. Paul thought everything he used to do was for God. Until He was struck by Love...Jesus. Then, everything changed, the least can become the greatest.

Let us pray: "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, "His mercy endures forever." His mercy endures and was shown in His whole of life on earth and in Heaven. That's one gift that can change a life. That's one gift that can save a life. That's one gift some find hard to believe, simply because they can not see it. That's one gift you can bring to the world. That's one gift our Lord can live through us. And gift to the world.

In comes our Lord, invited to eat dinner by a Pharisee, and in comes a sinful woman, the "prostitute of the town" that everybody knew, and how did this Pharisee know? He knew that woman, supposedly, knew who she was, but we don't know everything, do we? He didn't know she longed for repentance, and forgiveness, therefore, longed for great mercy. She met mercy. She met Jesus. Her life completely changed. And she was not embarrassed to show it. Show what? Gratitude. Thanksgiving. True honor and worship. That's what Eucharist is. She was on her knees, weeping, inside burning with anguish, pouring herself out, for that perfume was her whole life, it was herself being poured out, for a prostitute depended on smelling good and looking good. The room they were in was filled with this fancy smell. And this smell made people think things, some good, and some bad, mostly bad. For there too was an Apostle, the money handler, smelling money being wasted, wasted on Jesus. Judas. Here the Pharisee's eyes opened up with the smell, perhaps that smell he had smelled before, for some prostitution was legal as it is trying to spread in our country, unfaithfulness spreading. So the woman cries. Why? She desires something. Her life has been nothing but emptiness. She was tired of being used and abused. She was tired of being a slave. A slave of sin. A slave of self. A slave of a trade. She wanted out.

She wanted freedom. She wanted a man. A real man that really cared for her. A man she could really hold and call "Father". She wanted God. She wanted heaven. She wanted to be one with God. She was tired of her living hell.

And now, let's turn the story to you. Are you tired of being a slave to the world? "Take my yoke" says our Lord. His yoke is easy. His slavery is better. We are mere creatures of God. We serve a purpose. In the whole room filled with Pharisees, Apostles, and sinners, only the sinner, the least was the greatest. She had the greatest of humility. Saint Paul was on his knees calling himself the least out of sheer guilt, a true contrition of heart. True, you are a wretched sinner. It is true, you are hurting many people. It is true, you've done some really bad things in your life. But we await an encounter. The kind that brings you down to your knees to recognize who truly is God.
Every knee will bend in Heaven, Earth, and what is below. To this Son of Man. Jesus the Messiah. Jesus the Nazarene. Jesus son of David. Jesus, our master, our Lord, and our Savior.

Today's saints died for proclaiming this life. They followed orders, simply because they followed Christ to the cross. They didn't want to die, but they also didn't want to lose Jesus in Heaven. Once you decide to follow, there is no turning back. You shall not deny Him honor and glory. For He too came, didn't want to die, but He gave honor and glory to Our Father. This life is a gift. Would you give it to our Father in Heaven. . .



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