Wednesday, January 16, 2019

⛪ For This Purpose Have I Come

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The Spiritual Problem of Our Time

The great spiritual problem of the day is being "like fish out of water." A life without spiritual regularity drifts through time with little to really hang onto when life most needs an anchor. Instead, we often get caught up in someone else's agenda most of our lives. We put the cell aside for work and its never-ending deadlines. We forget the cell when we need it most and make play a poor substitute for thought and prayer. We think that we can run our legs off doing, going, finding, socializing, and still stay stolid and serene in the midst of the pressure of it all. And then we find ourselves staring at the ceiling one night and thinking to ourselves, "There must be more to life than this."

—from the book In God's Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics


"And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels."
— St. Angela Merici

"We have difficulty understanding this, just as a blind man has difficulty understanding color, but our difficulty doesn't alter this fact: God's omnipotence and omniscience respects our freedom. In the core of our being we remain free to accept or reject God's action in our lives—and to accept or reject it more or less intensely. God wants us to accept him with all our 'heart, soul, mind, and strength'—in other words, as intensely as possible. But he also knows that we are burdened with selfishness and beset by the devil, so it will take a great effort on our part to correspond to his grace. … Every time our conscience nudges us to refrain from sharing or tolerating that little bit of gossip, every time we feel a tug in our hearts to say a prayer or give a little more effort, every time we detect an opportunity to do a hidden act of kindness to someone in need, we are faced with an opportunity to please the Lord by putting our faith in his will."
— Fr. John Bartunek, p. 591
The Better Part

"For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Colossians 1:13-14


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Saint Berard and Companions

(d. January 16, 1220)
Preaching the gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving one's homeland and adjusting to new cultures, governments and languages is difficult enough; but martyrdom caps all the other sacrifices.

In 1219, with the blessing of Saint Francis, Berard left Italy with Peter, Adjute, Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to preach in Morocco. En route in Spain, Vitalis became sick and commanded the other friars to continue their mission without him.

They tried preaching in Seville, then in Muslim hands, but made no converts. They went on to Morocco where they preached in the marketplace. The friars were immediately apprehended and ordered to leave the country; they refused. When they began preaching again, an exasperated sultan ordered them executed. After enduring severe beatings and declining various bribes to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, the friars were beheaded by the sultan himself on January 16, 1220.

These were the first Franciscan martyrs. When Francis heard of their deaths, he exclaimed, "Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" Their relics were brought to Portugal where they prompted a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the next year. That young man was Anthony of Padua. These five martyrs were canonized in 1481.

The deaths of Berard and his companions sparked a missionary vocation in Anthony of Padua and others. There have been many, many Franciscans who have responded to Francis' challenge. Proclaiming the gospel can be fatal, but that has not stopped the Franciscan men and women who even today risk their lives in many countries throughout the world.


Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Heb 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and Flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way,

that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord.
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.


Meditation: Hebrews 2:14-18

1st Week in Ordinary Time

He himself was tested through what he suffered. (Hebrews 2:18)

Today's first reading reminds us that Jesus wasn't some superhero. He became a man just like us; he suffered and was tempted just as we are. He got tired and hungry, just as we do. He felt hurt when people spoke against him, just as we do. And he needed to pray, just as we do. Jesus never sinned, of course, but he nevertheless experienced so many of the effects of sin that we know. This means that Jesus not only understands our suffering—he can also help us.

In today's Gospel, Jesus is pulled in every direction: healing, casting out demons, proclaiming the kingdom, dealing with a huge group of people crowding around his front door (Mark 1:33). Surely all those demands took their toll on him. And still he got up "very early before dawn" and went off "to a deserted place, where he prayed" (1:35). Didn't he deserve to sleep in a bit?

Like Jesus, we can feel pulled every which way at times. The best thing we can do when this happens is to try to carve out a few minutes for prayer. When we are vulnerable, the devil will try to sneak in and take advantage of our weakness. He might tell us that it's okay to be irritable; it's only because we're hungry. Or he might tell us not to worry about our word choice; anyone who is as tired as we are deserves to let off a little steam. Those are only the first steps on a slippery slope, and the sooner we get off that path, the better.

Remember, Jesus knows what you're going through. He chose to become fully man so that he could feel what we feel. He chose to become one like us so that he could relate to us—and so that we could relate to him!

Every time you feel tired or tempted, hungry or hurt, remember that Jesus knows. Remember how he turned to his Father in prayer before the devil even had a chance. Then pray. Find a "deserted place," and ask Jesus for his grace to see you through (Mark 1:35). Always remember that he is with you. He is always at your side, ready to help you and encourage you. Always remember that he knows.

"Jesus, you know what it is like to struggle with the demands of life. Help me, Lord."

Psalm 105:1-4, 6-9
Mark 1:29-39


"Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham...". What would our life be like without the help from God? He helps. And He saves. But from what? From sicknesses? Is He just a doctor? I've heard of doctors say that their patients often give way more information than they need to hear, about personal lives. People want to be healed...spiritually. But we go to the wrong sources. Some even turn to witchery, all things horoscopes and cards and the list goes on. So, is He just a doctor that helps? Someone said that medical malpractice is something like the 3rd largest killer there is. So can you really fully trust in man alone? The Supreme Good realized this and "therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people."


Let us pray: "The Lord remembers his covenant for ever. Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly." So often the question arises, "what is the purpose of life"? Glory to God. To know Him. To Love Him. To serve Him. Take heed of the heavenly Word of ages, not decades, not centuries, but millenniums. These Heavenly words are proved and are proving to be true. As the world gets darker, the Word gets brighter. Look. He is Here.

And so, in the Holy Gospel, Jesus appears and offers a helping hand. "They told him about her". They talked to Jesus about somebody, how she was down and out, and not doing well. Jesus knows. But Jesus knew what they desired, for her to be one with Him. So, "He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them."

First, the approach. Oh man is the approach a power to reckon with. Faith is about to meet the giver. I can only imagine her eyes seeing Him coming towards her, heart racing, sweating, shivering, weak, but hope is increasing, love is on the horizon.

And then, the grasp. He touches her hot hand, and the love from His heart warms her soul and ignites a fire like never before, suddenly, she has energy she didn't know she had.
He helps her up. She holds firmly, with one hand, and then the other, and gets out of her bedding area, and as she turns her body, He grabs her other hand and being a strong built man, His strength is like a rock, solid anchor, and you can pull yourself up so nice and easy on an anchor.

The fever is no more. A miracle of love has transpired, out of sheer grace. She waits on them, serves them, feeds them with love and love is served. Thanksgiving.
Immediately, people start pouring in after they eat. He heals one, and then the other, from the words of ailments...demons. Jesus frees people from demons. Again with angels and demons in the bible! What's up with that? Either you will believe or not. Because angels have been from the beginning and to the end of the Bible. And demons come around lurking always. The story of our life, no? I walk into a shop yesterday in a city, truck parts, and I see in the guy's shop a poster with women on the beach. Towards the end of the conversation, the older man asks if I want a calendar, I look at them, one was a white cowpoke calendar stickon type, the other was of bikini women, topless. It is funny how lures lurk everywhere. For men to trip up, and fall from grace. What now? I felt guilty. Guilty for looking, like a trap was set, and I was forced to look. And these things play with men, for men are visual people, unlike women, we are not the same no matter what the world tells you. In the world, you will always have to face traps. You will always have to fight for grace. I've only to reach out to Jesus. See His approach. Be freed from demons that make us cold inside and weak. And weakness means an inability to live in grace. Therefore, do not be so hard on knuckleheads that refuse to enter an intimate relationship with Christ. Grace must build on grace. You are marked for a reason. And the reason ranchers mark their livestock is to let everyone know who's they belong to.
We are His creatures.
The mark of our baptism and sealed in confirmation says "You Are Mine". And this says "You must do as I say".

The world makes His Word sound like an invitation, but it is a command.
Do it...or else.
Or else what? If you do your own thing, follow the ways of the world, the ruler of the world will have its way.

We are creatures.
Created for His greater glory.
And this is an honor.

Thank You Jesus
Thank you for always helping us, every single day.
Breathe is a gift.
Your love is the greatest of gifts.
Thank you for the Eucharist, your precious species on earth.
Heaven to man and man to go to Heaven.
For greater glory.



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