Wednesday, January 2, 2019

⛪ Nor by human choice

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Basil the Great: Care for the Poor

Saint Basil the GreatIn A.D. 368 when Cappadocia was stricken with a dire famine, the suffering was intense. Basil distributed the entirety of his inheritance to the poor. He also used Church funds to open soup kitchens where he was often found serving food, girded with an apron. Some of the people in his social class, however, both held on to their money and enjoyed profit from the higher prices resulting from decreased supply and increased demand. We are fortunate to still possess the text of a homily he preached to his peers during this crisis: "You refuse to give on the pretext that you haven't got enough for your own need. But while your tongue makes excuses, your hand convicts you––that ring shining on your finger silently declares you to be a liar! How many debtors could be released from prison with one of those rings! How many shivering people could be clothed from only one of your wardrobes? And yet you turn the poor away empty-handed."

—from the book When the Church Was Young: Voices of the Early Fathers


"Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them. Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created and loved by God."
— Pope St. John Paul II

"There is nothing to be dreaded in human ills except sin—not poverty, or disease, or insult, or ill treatment, or dishonor, or death, which people call the worst of evils. To those who love spiritual wisdom, these things are only the names of disasters, names that have no substance. No, the true disaster is to offend God, to do anything that displeases him."
— St. John Chrysostom, p. 334
A Year with the Church Fathers

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."
Isaiah 40:31


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St. Basil (330 – 379 A.D.) was born to wealthy and pious parents in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). His family was renowned for their great sanctity; his grandfather was martyred under the persecution of Roman Emperor Diocletian, and his grandmother, mother, and several siblings are all numbered among the saints. St. Basil became a monk and founded several monasteries, famously writing a monastic rule of life which has proved to be the most lasting of those in the East. He studied under the finest teachers and was a respected man of great learning, as well as a zealous defender of orthodoxy against many heresies that threatened the Catholic faith, especially Arianism. He was appointed the bishop of Caesarea and in this role became one of the most influential saints in Church history. His life of deep prayer, austerities, and humility, combined with his uncommon preaching and teaching gifts, guided him in leading one of the most politically and ecclesiastically important Sees of the day, for which he earned the name "the Great." He is a Doctor of the Church, and one of the group of three saints called the Cappadocian Fathers, together with his brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and his lifelong friend, St. Gregory of Nazianzus. St. Basil's feast day is celebrated on January 2nd, a shared feast day with his close friend St. Gregory Nazianzus.


Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

Reading 1 1 Jn 2:22-28

Who is the liar?
Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ.
Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist.
Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father,
but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.
And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.
I write you these things about those who would deceive you.
As for you,
the anointing that you received from him remains in you,
so that you do not need anyone to teach you.
But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false;
just as it taught you, remain in him.

And now, children, remain in him,
so that when he appears we may have confidence
and not be put to shame by him at his coming.
. . .
Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
R. (3cd) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
. . .
Alleluia Heb 1:1-2
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In times, past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets:
in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, "Who are you?"
He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted,
"I am not the Christ."
So they asked him,
"What are you then? Are you Elijah?"
And he said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."
So they said to him,
"Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?"
He said:
"I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
'Make straight the way of the Lord,'
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
"Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?"
John answered them,
"I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.


Meditation: 1 John 2:22-28

Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops

And now, children, remain in him. (1 John 2:28)

Lord, you know that I want to remain in you. I want to stay close to you at all times. But you also know that I don't always do it. I often get distracted. I don't think to call on you when I'm in trouble. Sometimes I get so busy that I forget about you. So I'm asking you to help me. I do not know what this new year holds, what joys I will experience or what sorrows and challenges I will face. But in everything I want you by my side.

Lord, help me to remain in your love. It's your love that gives meaning to my life and fills me with thanksgiving. Knowing that I am precious in your eyes helps keep me from getting discouraged—especially when I face my weaknesses and failings. I need to remain in your love, Lord, because without it, I cannot love the people you have put in my life. I want to love them as you love me, even those I find hard to love.

Help me to remain in your strength, Lord. Teach me to look to your grace every morning as I start a new day. Thank you for offering me your grace to help me care for my family and accomplish the work you have given me. Your strength buoys me up when I am struggling and gives me the ability to press on when I feel weak.

Lord, help me to remain in your joy. I want to show the world the kind of trust and freedom that come from a relationship with you. I want my disposition to attract people to you. So give me your joy, not only in good times, but also when life becomes difficult.

Lord, again and again you open your arms to me, inviting me to remain in you. There's no other place I'd rather be. So when I fail to come to you, gently remind me that you are eagerly awaiting my return. Come, Jesus, and hide me in the shadow of your wings each day of this new year.

"Father, thank you for sending your Son to abide with me this year."

Psalm 98:1-4
John 1:19-28


2 cents :
"And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming."
Remain! Ahh, what beautiful words our Lord has spoken, because He is the new prophet that speaks among His people. He is asking us to remain. Remain what? Faithful and true. Remain in Him. Do not go. Do not wonder and wander. Just wonder on Him alone, because awe and wonder are signs of the Holy Spirit. Has this Christmas liturgical time inspired wonder and awe in you? It should! Our Lord comes to inspire you with confidence, the opposite of shame, confident that you can be faithful, confident that you can be true, and confidence in that you can remain in Him!


Let us pray "All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. The LORD has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel." Our Lord entered our world and changed it. Time began counting. A new order began. God would change everything, in the way He would communicate and be with His people. We would no longer be left completely alone.

In the Holy Gospel, they approach the Holy and Saint, John the Baptist. "Who are you?" It was almost as if asking him "just who do you think you are?". Jesus also asked "who do people say that I am?". Saint John the Baptist said some amazing and prophetic words ""I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, 'Make straight the way of the Lord". Indeed, Saint John, the greatest prophet on earth, yet the least in Heaven, was the last living prophet of the Old Testament. "Why do you baptize then...?". Saint John was purifying the way. Purifying the people. Purifying the temple. For Jesus was about to enter. Of whom Saint John said "... there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." Have you ever seen an escort vehicle that has flashing lights and signs giving everyone a warning, or heads up, that a large load is coming? This was Saint John. He was the one giving the warning/heads up. He said though, that He was among us and did not recognize him. Someone greater. Someone that he wasn't even worthy to untie his sandal, which even mere servants do! Yet, how do we pay respects and honor Jesus in the Eucharist? Think about with what state of heart and mind and grace you receive Him. Do we even recognize Him in our world? How can you? You know, today we heard a quote by Saint Therese of Lisieux, and she said that if we run out of virtue, simply smile at Jesus or say a friendly word when you'd rather not. WOW! No wonder she is a doctor of the Church. Who can dare smile at Jesus when things aren't going your way? Who can utter a mere good word to someone they are mad at? Who can raise spirits from the dead? Can the dead raise the dead? Of course not. But Jesus can. So how can we recognize Jesus? Be ready. Having prepared for Jesus in Advent, we had plenty of time to get ready for His coming. And now that it is Christmas time, have you recognized Him yet? Or have you been too busy recognizing the devil? Who do you pay more attention to? I spend much time worrying about who goes to church and who don't. Is that right? Yes and no. It is good to admonish the sinner. But not good to worry more than you pray, or have faith. Have faith in the good, this means hope. Recognize Jesus.

What kind of Jesus would you like to encounter?

A super power that rocks your world and performs extravagant miracles that our completely out of this world?
Or, a subtle encounter with Him, the kind that makes you do a double-take, and wonder in your heart "what was that!? Who was that?!" The kind of encounter that makes for a change of heart, mind, and soul, the kind that touches the heart, and turns the mind and saves the soul.
Jesus can encounter in any way He desires to encounter. So long as you are found on the way, in search always of the Good Shepherd.

From Bethany, Saint John baptizes Jesus, and across the Jordan, is Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Jesus changes forever into the New Jerusalem, which is Heaven. The river of life is crossed, baptism with Him. You have been baptized with Him. His desire is that we follow Him to the New Jerusalem. There He awaits for the encounter of a lifetime that has no time. There He remains.
I welcome you on this journey. I am with you.
I love you.



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