Thursday, January 17, 2019

⛪ He Remained Outside

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God Speaks in Many Languages

Exclusion in the name of God is the very worst of religious sins. God speaks in many tongues and to every color and age of people. It is not ours to decide where God's favor lies. But it is ours to see as a spiritual task the obligation to come to our own opinions. We are not to buy thought cheaply. We are not to attach ourselves to someone else's decisions like pilot fish and simply go with the crowd. We are meant to be thinking Christians.

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


"I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand."
— St. Anselm of Canterbury

"So when we pray, we must stand in His presence, on His level. We must see His suffering in the same way that we see His greatness, and as we picture His compassion. But we must also remember that that suffering, that greatness and that compassion will one day judge us. We shall be weighed in the balance by them; and if we are found wanting in any way, we shall hear the words: 'Depart from me. . .' 'Go elsewhere; go to those who refused to be my friends.'"
— Dom Augustin Guillerand, p. 53
The Prayer of the Presence of God

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation."
Psalm 68:19


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St. Anthony of the Desert (251–356 A.D.), also known as St. Anthony the Great, was a leading figure among the Desert Fathers, the early Christian monks who lived in the Egyptian desert in the 3rd and 4th centuries. The story of his life was written by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. St. Anthony's parents were wealthy, and after their death Anthony desired to conform himself to the manner of life of the Apostles and early Christians. On hearing these words from the Gospel of Matthew in church, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me," St. Anthony left everything behind to live a life of prayer, fasting, self-denial, and labor. Whenever he heard of other holy people living in this manner, he would visit them to learn from their virtues in order to imitate them. He eventually removed himself from all society and became the first Christian to live a life of consecrated solitude. He occasionally left his hermitage for pressing matters, once to encourage persecuted Christians, and another time to support Pope Athanasius against the heresy of Arius. St. Anthony died at the age of one hundred and five. His feast day is January 17th.

Saint Anthony of Egypt is the Patron Saint of:

Skin Diseases


Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot

Reading 1 Heb 3:7-14

The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
"Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, 'They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.'
As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter into my rest.'"
Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today,"
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 95:6-7c, 8-9, 10-11
R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
"Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
I said: "This people's heart goes astray,
they do not know my ways."
Therefore I swore in my anger:
"They shall never enter my rest."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Alleluia See Mt 4:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.


Meditation: Psalm 95:6-11

Saint Anthony, Abbot (Memorial)

Harden not your hearts as at Meribah. (Psalm 95:8)

Just the mention of the name Meribah was enough to trigger the Israelites' memories. The prophets, the psalms, and even today's reading from Hebrews recall this place, so it must be important. What happened there?

The word meribah means quarrel, and that's what the Israelites had been doing. God had delivered them from Egypt and brought them to safety by parting the Red Sea for them. Now they were wandering in the desert, thirsty. So they grumbled. Their protests grew so strong, in fact, that Moses began to fear for his life. But God answered them. He commanded Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and an abundant supply of water gushed out.

It may seem that the Israelites were being chided for complaining against the Lord, but more was going on than just grumbling. The people began doubting the goodness of the One who had just rescued them. "Is the Lord in our midst or not?" they demanded (Exodus 17:7). They lost sight of what God had already done for them, and that led them to harden their hearts against him.

That's why the psalmist urged the people to recall Meribah: not as a condemnation, but as a remembrance of God's closeness: I was suffering in bondage in Egypt, but the Lord heard my cries and delivered me. I walked on dry ground through the Red Sea. The Lord gave me manna and quail in the desert. Like the pillar of cloud by day and fire at night, these memories could assure the people that God had not abandoned them at all.

We all have times when we start to doubt that God is really with us. It's especially at those times that we need to make the effort to remember how he has already worked in our lives. Do you remember that time when you had just moved into a new area, and a neighbor came to greet you warmly? Or when you felt God's presence as you looked at your new grandchild? Or that time when you were able to forgive a slight that would have normally upset you?

Remember God's works. Remember his presence. Then, harden not your heart.

"Lord, bring to my mind all the ways you have been with me through the years. I believe you are in my midst."

Hebrews 3:7-14
Mark 1:40-45


"Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today," so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin."

I've been asked to send you words of encouraged. So, here it goes, as daily, but, do not harden your hearts, don't be too busy, don't be too distracted, just meditate on the word. Dive into it. One word of all the words you read can change everything. Make your day, even your life. There are 2 ways to harden your soul, either in darkness, or in Christ. Here, we aim to harden in Christ, become like the rock that saves, the stone the architects reject to this day. How is this good news? The inverse is true, for if there is darkness, there is light. They say darkness is the absence of light, but I say Light is what shows darkness. How strange a comment, but it is Christ. I believe my job is to bring souls to Christ. But How can I if I myself am not with Christ? Remain. Faithful. You will be faithful to one thing. Let it be our Lord our wondrous savior.


Let us pray: " If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides." So how does it feel to be a part of the flock? For me, it is liberating. I'm on this side of the fence, in God's Kingdom. Boy, there's lots of room! I keep inviting people to come over but they seem to like their side more. Over here, on this side, I can see and hear our Lord better. His flock is of sheep choosing to be slaughtered. The others don't know they are going to be slaughtered. So how does this feel? Self surrender. Self sacrifice. It is humbling. And nothing else matters but Christ. He says that if we slaughter ourselves for Him, we will live. And we are talking about from earth to Heaven. The seed only germinates for so long in earth. The rest of its life is of giving and transforms the world. Do you want to live forever? Do you want to be a part of God's flock? Do you want what He can do?

In the Holy Gospel, an outcast that is dying both physically and mentally, cries out to Jesus ""If you wish, you can make me clean." What does this mean, to be "clean"? It meant everything to him. They believed that if you were sick, it was because of unclean spirits. This speaks volumes for this man's pleas "CLEAN ME! IF YOU WILL!". Nowadays, this kind of cry isn't heard much. I would encourage you to seek charismatic groups and visit confessions often, at least monthly. There, you can be helped, healed, and made clean. But, you'll have a hard time finding it my friend. There aren't that many charismatics out there. And, to find confessions takes effort. You have to lift a finger to find a local time and place on your phone or computer. LOL. You can't sit on your lazy-boy and expect miracles. This leper sought out Jesus, found Him, and pleaded with a cry that left everything to God's will..."if you desire Lord".

Jesus says "I DO". He is the bridegroom. He does desire for His men to be holy souls for Christ. Nowadays masculinity is being attacked. Fathers are made less. Men are made less. Men are special creations of God. Jesus came as a Man. First came Adam. An attack always on Adam, and Jesus. Men should be helped. Men should see Christ. I spend most of my life dealing with men. Last night, we had a communion service, since no priest is here these days. Lack of vocations. Lack of men. And we need real men. For some odd reason, I decided to not get up and leave before everyone else in a rush to teach 9th graders. For one, it was early. And secondly, I felt a calling to stay. I can't explain it, it is spiritual gravitation. Anyhow, I'm sitting there with my son, and I'm looking up scriptures and Sacraments to teach on my phone. A lady comes to ask about faith questions. Before she said a word, I prayed in my mind and heart "Lord, come Holy Spirit, for I know not how to answer questions". In our short conversation, I learned many things. Her husband died. She was a widow. I thought it was a deceased co-worker's wife that I was talking to. But in conversation I realized not, though the similarities were there, even the name of the deceased man, Juan. Anyhow, I could see the age of worries on the face. 4 children, no father for the children. The weight. So I spoke "I can only encourage you to remain faithful to the Father". And I said "my secret to faithfulness is community and Eucharist". Both of which are not easy to attain. Most of the time I have to fight for community and humility for Eucharist. I learned she was invited to "other churches" where they already were attacking the Mother of God and saints. I explained that our Mother is in Heaven, and she is queen of Heaven and Earth. An attack on the Mother is an attack on Christ. I told her to be faithful to the commandments, and to stop missing church. And finally, the Holy Spirit led me to say "your non-church going husband needs your prayers, and perhaps is the greatest reason for the weight you carry". With that, we left. It had all started with a question on retreats, which I had prayed for in our general intercessions. I said "go to any retreat you are invited to". They are all unique and they all bring us closer to Christ. To the degree you are disposed.
My deer fellow flock members, I now encourage you to be the leper and Jesus. Jesus is in the leper. Jesus tells the leper to go see a priest. Jesus is a priest. Jesus lives in priests. The devil attacks priests day in and day out, on all fronts. They are often neglected, they are often alone. They are often ridiculed and despised. These men are men of God. Pray for them and help them. You ask not to be judged so why do you judge them? They carry the hands that carry Christ. Jesus says not to tell anyone what a priest does. And I can't. I have to tell you what has happened to me at the hands of a priest. Growing up, I was an altar boy. The priest was very active with altar boys, always took us swimming. Always took us on trips. Once we went on a two week trip to New York and saw Niagra Falls. I saw things I'll never forget. He showed me how to run computers. He showed me what a charismatic would be and do. I'd say there were some questionable things about him, yes, not perfect. But, today, I blame my computer savvy and love because of him. He asked me to be a priest. I thought about it. Nobody ever asked me to be a priest. Nobody ever asked me to be a man. I loved that priest. Years later I learned how some in the parish despised this priest I loved. They wouldn't go to church because of things he said. Things that I can't even remember, things though that called for humility.

I bet you thought you were going to hear a confession on how I was abused sexually by a priest, no? I'm sorry. That just isn't the case, that would be an odd case. And I've served every single priest after that, helping them, praying for them, inviting them on camping trips with my family since they are not allowed to take anyone anymore. And guess what happens? Love happens. They aren't the ousted leper anymore when you love them. And He serves us Eucharist, Jesus. The leper gives everything to me. When I go to prisoners, or at the nursing home, the visits are haunting. They stand out so much, it is Jesus.

The leper can't stop telling everyone what happened, because after all, how can you hide the truth? The truth spread like wild fire.

Nowadays, the truth is there. The ignition source is ready for en-kindling the world on fire.
Very few are healed instantaneously like the leper.

That is because very few take to Jesus the way he did. Faithfulness and love. Like Mary. Leaving everything to God's will, like a self sacrifice.

After all, what have we got to lose...or gain?

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