Tuesday, December 11, 2018

⛪Did Not Stray

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God's Promise of Fulfillment

One of our deepest longings as human beings, as social beings, is to be understood even (or perhaps especially) as our most perplexing and difficult moments. We long to be loved for who we are, with the worst of our shortcomings and the best of our gifts. We want people in our lives who will rejoice with us, who will weep with us, who will simply be present to us. In these moments of deep connection with one another, we truly experience the presence of God in our midst, renewing us in his love. This is the promise of the prophets, a promise that came to fulfillment in the incarnation.

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent


"He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him wherever he goes."
— St. Ignatius of Loyola

"Little by little, we can make our daily life more and more prayerful, as we are able, over time, to incorporate those suggestions that work with our schedule and that we are ready for spiritually. There is a particular spiritual practice that Francis [de Sales] highly recommends that is possible for all of us: even on those 'impossible' days when we are perhaps unable to undertake our normal spiritual practices, we can stay rooted in prayer by constantly addressing brief prayers to the Lord. These can be acts of love, of adoration, of faith, of hope, of petition, or simply saying the name of Jesus—throughout the course of the day. Francis places a very high value on these simple utterances, traditionally called ejaculatory prayers or aspirations."
— Ralph Martin, p. 135

"Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

Jude 1:24-25


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Saint Damasus I

(304 – December 11, 384)

To his secretary Saint Jerome, Damasus was "an incomparable person, learned in the Scriptures, a virgin doctor of the virgin Church, who loved chastity and heard its praises with pleasure." Damasus seldom heard such unrestrained praise. Internal political struggles, doctrinal heresies, uneasy relations with his fellow bishops and those of the Eastern Church marred the peace of his pontificate.

The son of a Roman priest, possibly of Spanish extraction, Damasus started as a deacon in his father's church, and served as a priest in what later became the basilica of San Lorenzo in Rome. He served Pope Liberius (352-366) and followed him into exile.

When Liberius died, Damasus was elected bishop of Rome; but a minority elected and consecrated another deacon, Ursinus, as pope. The controversy between Damasus and the antipope resulted in violent battles in two basilicas, scandalizing the bishops of Italy. At the synod that Damasus called on the occasion of his birthday, he asked them to approve his actions. The bishops' reply was curt: "We assembled for a birthday, not to condemn a man unheard." Supporters of the antipope even managed to get Damasus accused of a grave crime—probably sexual—as late as A.D. 378. He had to clear himself before both a civil court and a Church synod.

As pope, his lifestyle was simple in contrast to other ecclesiastics of Rome, and he was fierce in his denunciation of Arianism and other heresies. A misunderstanding of the Trinitarian terminology used by Rome threatened amicable relations with the Eastern Church, and Damasus was only moderately successful in dealing with that challenge.

During his pontificate, Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman state, and Latin became the principal liturgical language as part of the pope's reforms. His encouragement of Saint Jerome's biblical studies led to the Vulgate, the Latin translation of Scripture which 12 centuries later the Council of Trent declared to be "authentic in public readings, disputations, preaching."

The history of the papacy and the Church is inextricably mixed with the personal biography of Damasus. In a troubled and pivotal period of Church history, he stands forth as a zealous defender of the faith who knew when to be progressive and when to entrench.

Damasus makes us aware of two qualities of good leadership: alertness to the promptings of the Spirit, and service. His struggles are a reminder that Jesus never promised his Rock protection from hurricane winds nor his followers immunity from difficulties. His only guarantee is final victory.


Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Reading 1 Is 40:1-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, "Cry out!"
I answer, "What shall I cry out?"
"All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever."

Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12, 13
R. (see Isaiah 40:10ab) The Lord our God comes with power.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The day of the Lord is near:
Behold, he comes to save us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
"What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost."


Meditation: Matthew 18:12-14

Saint Damasus I, Pope (Optional Memorial)

He rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine. (Matthew 18:13)

More rejoicing over finding one lost sheep than the ninety-nine that stayed where they were supposed to be? That sounds backwards. Doesn't Jesus expect us not to stray? Doesn't he want us to follow him faithfully and obediently?

Of course he does! And of course he rejoices over our faithful obedience. But Jesus also wants to do for us what he was trying to do for Israel's religious leaders when he first told this parable: he wants to turn our vision upside down in order to teach us how to value what he values.

Of course Jesus loves and values every one of us. But when it comes to the unsettled, the confused, or those mired in sin—these people tug at his heart in a special way. He doesn't want to see any of these people get lost or left behind. And neither does he want us, his disciples, to turn away from them. He wants us to share our love, our faith, and our material resources with them.

This call to care for those who are wandering often requires two shifts in our perspective. First, we need to take on Jesus' vision so that we actually "see" people who have strayed. It's easy to live in a world of our own making, safely cut off from anyone who is different from us. How can we care for someone if we don't notice them?

Second, we need to take on Jesus' heart by moving from judgment to compassion. We can be tempted to look at those wandering and search for character flaws that may have caused them to take a wrong turn. But unless we replace our judgmental attitudes with respect and goodwill, we won't be able to help them or lead them back to the Lord.

Take a look today at your disposition toward the people you tend to judge harshly. It could be a group of people, like the tax collectors, who upset many of the Pharisees in Jesus' day. Or it could be just one or two people you know. Ask God to forgive you for any negative attitudes you might have toward them, and tell him you want to learn how to love them. Let Jesus open your eyes. Let him soften your heart.

"Jesus, turn my thinking upside down. Teach me how to seek and save the lost."

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13


2 cents :
"Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs", Jesus is the Good Shepherd, He feeds us and gathers us. Did you know that the name of Satan also means "one who divides" meaning, scatters? Evil loves scattered souls, and loves to scare them and scatter them, and some are held by throats by wolves to be devoured in the future. Silent lambs are dying lambs. What is beautiful is the following verse "Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care." In His bosom? I've heard of people who've had encounters with our Lord, they are never the same, His love confounds the soul. There, everything is complete warmth of love, security; where nothing else matters, think of what repentance means. Think of the lamb. And you are a lamb He gathers to hold in His bosom.


Let us pray: "The Lord our God comes with power. Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands. Sing to the LORD; bless his name; announce his salvation, day after day." Announce how often? Every single day. Why? This is called shepherding. Easy enough? Right? My dear Body of Christ!

Our Lord enters our lives: "... if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray." The story of the Prodigal Son comes to mind. The wayward child squanders his inheritance that wasn't even due! The child was saying "father, I wish you were as good as dead...I want to do my own thing from now on". The story of Genesis begins. Adam and Eve. Right? These Parables are so intertwined and deep...with love. As if they were written with a pen, made of an Angel's feather and the ink used was precious blood...indeed, that of the Lamb of God. Every book in the bible serves its purpose. The purpose ends in God and begins in God. That is how our life should be written, beginning and end. In the Holy Sacraments, this is fulfilled. And so, rejoicing occurs when that wayward child comes back on his knees, all tore up, famished, the world chewed them up and spit them out. I like the story about a Mexican girl that left her widow mother, for she was tired of living in the mountains and wanted to make something for herself, stop being a nobody with nothing. Her mom cried and told her to please stay and be a good girl. The girl ran away one night. She found it difficult to make it in the city. Eventually, one problem led to another, and she found herself in prostitution now to make ends meet. If you know anything of prostitution, it is slavery in every sense of the word. (Think of how sin works). Her mother exasperated and tired of praying for her took off to the big city and put up pictures of herself with words on the back "my daughter, if you find this, come home". She had even posted the pic at places of prostitution. The daughter had hit rock bottom by now. And by chance, one day, she noticed the picture. With disbelief, she took down the picture, turned it around, read the words, and started crying. She did go home after that.

They say in Heaven there is much rejoicing when this happens. Who rejoices? The 99. The Body of Christ. We rejoice when a sinner returns. I cry inside. "Don't ever leave, don't ever go back, don't ever leave me again!". That is love, isn't it? That is being in the bosom of Christ, isn't it? What if in the 99 one is jealous for the rejoicing of that horrible sinner? Then that one needs to return! LOL. Return to love. Make the mountains low. Amen? The lowly will rejoice and be glad. Psalm 69:32 ""See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, take heart!"
Isn't this parralel with the story of the men who brought a paralyzed man through the roof? How? The paralyzed man was reconciled. Jesus said "your sins are forgiven". He was back in the fold. And to boot, physically it was proven! Ahh. Holy Confession. If we only knew what this does for the soul. Now, watch this, whence you are confessed, you must remain in grace, you must fill yourself with newness of life...Jesus. You shan't confess and digress! You shall not have an empty house!! If you have prepared room, let it be for Jesus! AMEN? How? You know how. You are already doing it. You are seeking Him to fill your heart and soul. I'm simply pointing to Him. LOL, Lord willing, I will go to daily Mass shortly. I expect to see there in that city I travel to, a short little old staunch looking nun, sitting in her little corner. Her feet sometimes are dangling off her chair, LOL. I expect nothing more and nothing less than to see her...being faithful. She barely smiles. But if she does, it is sincere. I expect her to expect much of me. That is how I desire to be. A sign. A doorpost. That is what Jesus said He was, "a sign of Jonah". Repentance. You are a rescuer. You are reading this because you are rescuer and desire to rescue others. This is called Saving Grace. This is a baptismal calling enforced by confirmation. Savior.

Have I told you how much I Love you lately....Savior?

I'm getting ready for you to enter my entering yours My Dear Lord...




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