Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 8:26-30

In the first paragraph of this selection St. Paul speaks about the impact the Holy Spirit has upon prayer. Even if one cannot express their needs, the Paraclete will search it out and intercede for Christ’s followers.

In the second part of the reading the Evangelist outlines the Christian vocation as God intended it to be. Because Christ existed eternally those called to him were carefully chosen or elected from the beginning of time to be called to salvation.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 13:4-5, 6[3]

R. My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.
Look, answer me, O Lord, my God!
Give light to my eyes that I may not sleep in death
lest my enemy say, “I have overcome him”;
lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.
R. All my hope, O Lord, is in your loving kindness.
Though I trusted in your mercy,
Let my heart rejoice in your salvation;
let me sing of the Lord, “He has been good to me.”
R. All my hope, O Lord, is in your loving kindness.

Psalm 13 is an individual lament. The signer, who is ill, asks the Lord for salvation so their enemies will not think the illness is a punishment from the Lord.

Gospel Lk 13:22-30

Linking nicely to the first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Jesus is asked how many will be saved. His response is that salvation comes with effort and that there is need to make that choice early because the “narrow gate” will not always be open. In the latter part of this reading we see that many of those first invited, the Jews, will reject Jesus and so those who are invited last, the Gentiles from the four corners of world, will come first to the Kingdom of God.

Reflection:

The image used today by Weigel does a nice graphical job of illustrating the point Jesus made in his answer to the question; “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” We see in the foreground the throng coming through the wide gate; the gate that does not restrict those who do not follow God’s laws. And in the distance we see the “narrow gate” and the path beyond that is difficult to travel. Not everyone wants that road.

If we think about the two choices offered it is easy to see why so many reject the narrow gate. They may know that it leads to eternal life, but it’s hard, that way that forces us to carry the poor and the downtrodden, to love one another. Many of our brothers and sisters will look at that way and say; “That is more sacrifice than I am willing to make.” They will see the Laws of God and of the Church as being to restrictive of their freedoms. It is not just in modern times that the narrow gate has stood as an unpopular choice. It has been so since the time of Christ. Is it any wonder that his answer to that question –“…will only a few be saved?” is a majority will choose the easier path. All are free to choose, some were able to choose the more difficult path.

Today our prayer must be two fold. First we pray thanking God for showing us the path to the narrow gate and we ask for his strength to stay on that path. Second we pray for those for whom that gate seems to be too much. We pray that they find the strength to see that, while the way is difficult, it leads to peace in this life and eternal life with the Father.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture used today is Narrow and Wide Gates by Johann Christoph Weigel, 1695
[3] I provide the entire psalm today because it is short and because it uses two different responses.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 8:18-25

There is a note on the NAB that really does this passage justice: “The glory that believers are destined to share with Christ far exceeds the sufferings of the present life. Paul considers the destiny of the created world to be linked with the future that belongs to the believers. As it shares in the penalty of corruption brought about by sin, so also will it share in the benefits of redemption and future glory that comprise the ultimate liberation of God's people (
Romans 8:19-22).

After patient endurance in steadfast expectation, the full harvest of the Spirit's presence will be realized. On earth believers enjoy the first-fruits, i.e., the Spirit, as a guarantee of the total liberation of their bodies from the influence of the rebellious old self (
Romans 8:23).”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 126:1b-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.

Psalm 126 recalls God’s salvation as the people scattered and enslaved are brought back out of exile. The restoration of the land and the people is seen as a foreshadowing of the salvation to come.

Gospel Lk 13:18-21

These two parables describe the humble beginnings and the ultimate growth of the Kingdom of God presented through Jesus’ ministry. While they have parallel passages in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark (
Matthew 13:31-33 and Mark 4:30-32) they are especially powerful for the Gentile population to which St. Luke ministers because of the inclusive nature of the stories.

Reflection:

We are reminded today, as we hear once more the two parables in the Gospel, of the old rhyme:

For want of a shoe the horse was lost
For want of a horse the message was lost
For want of the message the battle was lost
For want of the battle the country was lost
For want of a shoe the country was lost

From the very small beginnings in Israel, the word and work of Jesus has spread though out the world. The Church is in virtually every country and the Bible is the most published and distributed book in history. When we think of how far God’s plan has progressed in these two millennia we are amazed. Think of it. When the Lord suffered his passion and death there were only eleven –eleven disciples of Jesus. That does not, of course include his mother, Mary, Queen of the Saints nor the other women who where with them, but still there were certainly less than 100 people in the world who knew and believed Jesus' identity and mission.

From that humble beginning in that backwater part of the world sprang all the Christians everywhere. When that is considered, we wonder how anyone can doubt God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. We are awed by what has happened in the world because God’s Son chose to reveal His Father in the way he did.

We also fell insignificant at times in this grand plan our Heavenly Father has put into motion. We fell at times like our role is so insignificant that it would be alright if we sort of took time out from pushing forward with our zeal to bring that message to others. That is the reason we recalled that simple Middleville Rhyme. You see that mustard plant that God’s Church has become does not live in a gentle and loving world. Everyone is needed to keep it flourishing and growing. There are always leaves and even branches that are dying or cut back by a hostile world. We are part of that organic growth and the life of faith depends upon each of us.

Today our prayer is that we might help the Kingdom of God expand, even just a little, though our efforts for the greater Glory of the Father. We pledge to keep the promise handed down to us and to remain faithful to the one who gave all that we might live.

Pax

[1] After Links to Reading Expire
[2] The picture used today is Landscape with Birds by Roelandt Savery, 1622

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Reading from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 8:12-17

St. Paul continues his discourse about the importance of making life in the spirit a priority as opposed to the life of the “unspiritual”. He reminds his Christian audience that when they became Christians they were not made slaves but adopted children of God. Able, he tells them, of calling God “Abba” the familial term used by Jesus, emphasizing that they are coheirs with Christ whose sufferings and glory they share.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 68:2 and 4, 6-7ab, 20-21
R. Our God is the God of salvation.

This song of thanksgiving exalts the Lord for his salvation of his children. His faithful, the singer calls, enjoy his strength, even his power over death.

Gospel Lk 13:10-17

The story of the cure of the crippled woman is parallel to the story of Jesus curing the man with dropsy on the Sabbath (Luke
14:1-6). He is challenged by the local Jewish leadership for doing “work” on God’s holy day. As before, he uses the need to tend to the necessities of life on the sabbath as parallel to his need to cure the woman.

Reflection:

Visualize the scene painted in St. Luke’s Gospel. It is the sabbath and Jesus is in the local Temple to worship with the community when he sees this afflicted woman. She is probably by herself since the people of that time would have seen her affliction as a punishment from God.

The Lord will observe her for just a moment as compassion for her suffering wells within him. Perhaps he notices other women there who fall into two groups; one group who are secretly pleased with this poor woman’s affliction and another group who are sorry to see their friend in such a state. Her solitude, however, reflects the common feeling of fear among those present, that by coming too close they will fall victim to the same punishment.

Jesus walks over to the woman. As he passes into the area reserved from women, some of the men there may even reach out tentatively as if to prevent him or to warn him. But he is undeterred and walks right over to the woman and says an amazing thing. He says “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” (We imagine a murmur of wonder among those present. They had no doubt heard things about this wandering Rabbi.) Then to everyone’s amazement, lifting his eyes and head slightly, he touches her!

Perhaps a look of amazement crosses her face as she realizes that cramped muscles and frozen tendons no longer prevent her from moving, from standing up straight. Then she straightens up for the first time in eighteen years. Imagine the quiet roar that must have enveloped the worship space. We are told the woman immediately began glorifying God. Curious that she did not embrace Jesus and thank him isn’t it? No she heard the Lord say you are set free. God had released her from her infirmity. To him was praise and glory due.

Ah, but what about the scribes and Pharisees? They were in the men’s part of the Temple and they were not happy. This person had just done something they classified as work and in so doing violated the law against laboring on the sabbath.

The Lord’s argument with them is familiar to us. But we note something else in the story and the Lord’s response. His example of “untying an ox” would be an act, not just of compassion, but of necessity. A person would not give their beast of burden a drink of water because the felt sorry for it, but because it was their duty to take care of it.

Using that same example, we now understand something new about the Lord’s message. We, who as St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans, are heirs to God’s Kingdom, coheirs with Jesus, are not to see our acts of mercy on his behalf as simple compassion. No, it is our duty as his disciples, to do whatever he calls us to do. And when God is glorified because of what his servants have done, we look at those actions not with pride, but with the same satisfaction as the master carpenter views his finished commission, as a job well done.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture today is “Beggars and Cripples” by Hieronymus Bosch, 17th Century

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Readings for Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time [1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Sir 35:12-14, 16-18

In this passage from the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) the effectiveness of prayer is extolled. The author explains that God hears the prayers of all and that one’s station in life makes no difference (“…he hears the cry of the oppressed”). God, we are told always hears the faithful and answers.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 17-18, 19, 23
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

Psalm 34 is a song of praise and thanksgiving. In these strophes the song rejoices in God’s care for the weak and defenseless.

Reading II 2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18

St. Paul sees the end of his life as imminent and gives thanks to God for giving him the strength and words to provide an adequate defense against his prosecutors. It is clear that he views his own impending martyrdom as an act of worship, visibly proclaiming the message he was sent to deliver to the Gentiles.

Gospel Lk 18:9-14

This selection presents us with the second of two consecutive parables on prayer. In this one, the Lord takes a critical stance against the prideful Pharisee, telling his disciples that, like the tax collector, their prayer must recognize that all have sinned and all must be humble before God. This parable carries a similar message and image of the earlier parable (
Luke 7:36-50) where Christ forgives the sinful woman in the house of Simon.

Reflection:

There was once a young boy who loved movies. Because he was close to a number of theaters, he went to see them all the time. He had one particular favorite actor, a swash-buckling hero who always won the fight and always rescued and won the love of the beautiful heroine. One might say he became obsessed with this person.

The young boy took on his mannerisms his manner of dress. He read all he could about the actor and tried to be just like him. He was so good at imitating this actor that everyone who saw him recognized the likeness to the actor he idolized instantly.

One day a great opportunity came his way. The young boy was given the chance to meet his idol. He could hardly contain his excitement as the day drew near. This actor was going to attend the premier of his newest film at the theater right in the boy’s town. The day came and as luck would have it, the boy was able to meet the actor face to face. To the young man’s shock, the actor looked nothing like his stage version. When he smiled and opened his mouth to speak, he sounded nothing like the boy’s hero on the screen. Fortunately, the boy was so shocked he was unable to speak which the actor interpreted as shyness in his presence. But the image was destroyed and the boy went on to more important things in life.

We begin with this story today because it carries an important moral that relates to the message so loudly proclaimed in scripture. The boy in this story made a fundamental error when he began to pretend to be like his hero. He did not know the person. He only knew what he had seen from a distance and heard second hand. Had he been able to speak directly to the actor, he would have gotten to know him. He may have still held him in high esteem, but he would have done so because he knew the person.

Although the analogy breaks down rather quickly in this case, we have the same obligation when it comes to our Lord. We have known him from our infancy through the stories we have heard. We have known him from the things we have read about in scripture. We have even known him through others who did their best time emulate him, the Saints. But to truly know the Lord we need to speak with him, and more importantly let him speak to us.

One piece of that relationship captured by the analogy was our attitude when we do talk to the Lord. It must be one that recognizes that we have some “making up” to do. We are not “God’s gift to the world” (actually that was His Son, Jesus). We approach him in awe and praise him for the wondrous gift he has given and get to know him.

This is our pledge today, that we spend time with God in prayer. That we listen to what he has to tell us and understand what we need to do to imitate him.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture used today is St. Dominic in Prayer by El Greco, 1586-90

Friday, October 26, 2007

Saturday of the Twenty Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1
Rom 8:1-11

In the first section of this passage from St Paul’s letter to the Romans the Evangelist differentiates between the disconnected Law that leads to death and the Law connected and fulfilled in Christ that leads to salvation. He goes on to say that those who concern themselves more with the material world have chosen death while those who have elected to pursue life in the spirit have chosen live eternal.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 24:1b-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Psalm 24 was probably used as part of a high celebration that both commemorates God’s creative power and provides a formula for a profession of faith.

Gospel
Lk 13:1-9

In the story from St. Luke there is once more reminder that there is urgency required for repentance. The story begins with an explanation by the Lord that victims of Roman punishment and God did not single out victims of an accident for punishment. He uses the parable of the barren fig tree as a way of saying that God, at some point will become impatient and will call sinners to account for their actions.

Reflection:

There was recently a news report about an unusual car chase. A woman was captured on camera driving down a freeway during the day. She was driving erratically and when the person in another car pulled up next to her, she was clearly asleep at the wheel. The observing car honked at her and while she jerked away for a short time, soon she was weaving again. This incredible saga lasted for 58 miles until a highway petrol vehicle finally pulled her over.

Anyone who has been driving for a number of years has probably had a situation where they caught themselves nodding off. We all know how dangerous it can be to fall asleep at the wheel. The Lord is making that same point in the Gospel. We cannot afford to fall asleep at the wheel of our faith and we all know that happens as well.

When we are driving and begin to get drowsy, we know we need to pull over and get some sleep. When we feel ourselves weaving on the road of faith it’s time to stop what we are doing and spend some time with the Lord. That can be in prayer, in meditation, with the Holy Scripture or with the sacraments. The point is that we need to be constantly vigilant.

Today we thank God for watching over us and keeping us safe. We thank the Lord in a special way when he sends us reminders like the one we received today. We vow to remain awake and vigilant and continue to fill up our spiritual selves as we continue our journey in life to the one who promises us eternal life.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture today is Mankind beset by Devils by Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1500

Friday of the Twenty Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 7:18-25a

The Note on this selection from the NAB summarizes the passage better than I could as St. Paul continues he existential apology about over-dependence on the letter of the Law:

“…persons who do not experience the justifying grace of God, and Christians who revert to dependence on law as the criterion for their relationship with God, will recognize a rift between their reasoned desire for the goodness of the law and their actual performance that is contrary to the law. Unable to free themselves from the slavery of sin and the power of death, they can only be rescued from defeat in the conflict by the power of God's grace working through Jesus Christ.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

In ironic counterpoint to St. Paul’s discourse about the need to be dependent upon the spirit rather than the letter of the law, this passage from Psalm 119 give thanks for the Law and rejoices in its structure as a saving grace.

Gospel Lk 12:54-59

The Lord continues his reflection on the end times (the Parousia) and, using the analogy of seeing what weather will come based upon the direction of the wind, he asks if they cannot see the signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Using that urgency generated by the uncertainty of the hour of that call to judgment, he exhorts the crowd to order their lives now and do not delay.

Reflection:

St. Paul sets the tone for us today. In his Letter to the Romans he gets into a very deep apology about how the Law of Moses actually defines right and wrong and therefore opens the door to sin by so defining it. The logisticians would have loved that argument postulated in classical Greek forms.

For us, however, we look at a much more practical application of that same kind of logic. As Christians we are defined by the language and logic of Christ. The concepts he taught go against modern norms surrounding some important concepts. Let’s take the Lord’s definition of leadership for example. In his day, political leaders ruled with an iron fist. There was no democracy, no benevolent governance. There were rules and armies to enforce those rules and the leaders lived in lavish comfort, usually having attained their posts through ruthless dealings with their competitors.

Christ taught his disciples to lead through service telling them that the greatest among them would be the servant of the rest. This is a complete inversion of the view of leadership in his day (and to a large degree, ours).

Let’s also look at how the Lord defines victory or success. It is not as the world counts success. His victory was the Baptism he spoke of in the verses we heard yesterday. It is his passion and ultimate crucifixion that marked his victory. By the standards of his day (and ours) that would have seemed a defeat, but in dying he destroyed death for those who love him and fulfilled the plan God had set in motion from the beginning of time.

St. Paul drives a good argument as he twists the logic of his opponents. As he so eloquently points out “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In him we have found the hope and reality of salvation through the forgiveness of our sins and new life in His resurrection.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture used today is The Descent into Hell by Tintoretto, 1568

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday of the Twenty Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 6:19-23

St. Paul now adds the active dimension to his discussion of salvation. Up to this point he has focused on faith in Christ. He now expands his argument to include the actions of the person. He points out that through sinful acts death is achieved but through acts of righteousness sanctification (holiness) is achieved. He concludes this passage with the famous line”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 1 serves as a preface to the whole book of the psalms. The psalmist here exalts those who follow the Lord’s commands and reflects upon the blessings they will receive. As is usual, this selection emphasizes the contrast between the salvation of the just and the punishment of the wicked (see also
Thursday of the 27th Week).

Gospel Lk 12:49-53

We see in this passage a glimpse of the passion and anguish the Lord feels for the message he is bringing. He sees the flame of faith igniting the whole world. He knows there will be those who accept the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and those who will reject both it and him. This disunion will result in friction and ill will, dividing even families.

Homily:

”For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What a remarkable statement. When we think about a reason for our faith in Christ and acting in ways that label us as his disciples, this is probably the most compelling. Look at St. Paul’s statement as a choice. Here he clearly states that if we chose to behave in ways that violate God’s insistence that we love him and one another, we have chosen death. If we choose the other path, the difficult path, we choose life. Not just peace in this life, but eternal life in Christ.

It sounds simple, like a “no-brainer”. So why then do so many chose the wrong course? We are reminded of the lyrics to a popular song of a number of years ago. The singer, in the song “Only the Good Die Young” chooses to go to hell to be with sinners because “the sinners are much more fun.” On the surface that may seem to those who are weak, to be a good reason. But look at what happens. When sin (a conscious failure to love) enters the human heart, guilt follows; perhaps not at the time, but it will come unless the person is completely amoral (an animal feels no guilt because there is no soul). Guilt manifests itself later in a variety of negative ways. Truly, over time this innate understanding that, even though it may have been “fun” it was wrong, will build causing unhappiness and even death. Yes, “the wages of sin is death.”

On the other side is eternal life in Christ. It is not popular with a secular society that celebrates the “if it feels good, do it” mentality. Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said that his message would divide even families. But look at what comes from following his simple instructions; love God and love one another. We are constantly at peace with those around us, in love with all creation, being loved by the creator. That is what comes from choosing Christ. As for us, we choose life.

Pax

[1] After Links Expire
[2] The picture used today is Death and the Miser by Hieronymus Bosch, 1490

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Saint Antony Mary Claret, Bishop

Biographical Information about St. Antony Mary Claret[1]

Readings for Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 6:12-18

In the first part of this selection, St. Paul exhorts the Romans to remain faithful to teachings of Christ and to avoid sin. He uses the unique existential argument that the Law defines sin and therefore Christians are not under the Law but under the Grace of Christ. In the second part he defends the argument that obedience to Christ sets his audience on the road to salvation since obeying Christ’s commandments leads to righteousness and frees them from sin.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 124:1b-3, 4-6, 7-8
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Psalm 124 is a song of thanksgiving. In these verses God is praised for rescuing his chosen from their enemies and natural disasters so they could live in the freedom he had promised in his covenant.

Gospel Lk 12:39-48

Following the Lord’s initial exhortation to his audience about the need to remain faithful even if it seemed the hour was getting late St. Peter asks the Lord if that message is for everyone or just for the disciples. The Lord responds with a parable similar to that which was used in the previous verses (Luke 12:35-38) and then punctuates it with a special injunction for the disciples. He uses the analogy of a servant entrusted with the master’s property concluding with “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” The final verse in this passage answers St. Peter’s question clearly.

Reflection:

One of the big objections to Catholicism in the world at large is its apparent overly strict and idealistic stand against things like birth control, premarital sex, cohabitation of couples, and overall critical view of the hedonistic lifestyle so prevalent in much of the developed world.

Many of these critics say the leadership is unrealistic and the Church’s position on these issues is so provincial that her stance makes her irrelevant to large numbers of peoples and cultures. At the heart of this apparent unbending moral doctrine is that last line in St. Luke’s Gospel “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Through St. Peter, Christ gave the Church the “Keys to the Kingdom of God.” He told St. Peter that whatever he loosed on earth (what ever standards he approved on earth) would be loosed in heaven. In essence, what was entrusted to the Church and its leaders was nothing less than the teaching and moral authority of the Lord Himself. In keeping and holding that trust, the leaders of the Church must take the highest moral standard, no matter how unpopular, and cling to it. Think of the consequences if they should fail. There is a reason that when a new Pontiff is elected he goes immediately to “the room of tears”, so much rests on Peter.

Today we pray that we are able to accept our share in mantel of Christ placed upon our shoulders at the time of our Baptism and Confirmation. Much has been given to us as well and we are assured that much will be expected in return. We give thanks that the yoke is light with the support given in the Holy Spirit and we shoulder it gladly in Christ’s name.

Pax

[1] The picture used is St. Antony Mary Claret, Artist and Date UNKNOWN
[2] After Links to Readings Expire

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday of the Twenty Ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Saint John of Capestrano, Priest

Biographical Information about St. John of Capestrano[1]

Readings for Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

St. Paul uses this simile of sin and righteousness to describe the affects of Jesus on the world. He recalls that sin entered the world through Adam’s original sin (“as through one person sin entered the world”). Through a number of iterative comparisons he establishes that, through Christ’s entry into the world, sin and death are defeated for those upon whom his grace falls.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Supporting the position taken by St. James that we are justified through faith supported by actions, these strophes emphasize that God does not wish mere acts of religiosity but a conversion of the heart.

Gospel Lk 12:35-38

This selection from St. Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the need for fidelity and faithfulness to Christ’s teachings because the hour and the day of the Lord’s return is not known. The image used to describe this preparedness, “Gird your loins and light your lamps” instructs the faithful to be prepared for a journey from darkness into light.

Reflection:

Have you ever thought of what you would grab if you had to leave your home suddenly? Say there was a natural disaster and you had just a few minutes, what would you take? Wouldn’t you take those things that could not be replaced? You would not grab the stereo or the refrigerator even though those might be the most expensive things you have beyond the house itself. You would probably take the important records, heirlooms, and photographs.

Using that example of a rushed departure, let’s ask ourselves what we would do if we had just a moment to prepare to meet the Lord, face to face. What would we want our “record” to look like, especially that all important “most recent” record. Remember the Lord told the parable of the workers called to the vineyard at various times of the day. They all received full wages for coming to that place. If we were called now, how would we do?

We suspect that there would be those who would do very well and those who would not. The ones who would do very well are those who place their faith in front of themselves, working daily to become better disciples of Christ; praying constantly to the Lord for strength and guidance through the Holy Spirit. These individuals would come before the Lord seeing a gulf between their own efforts and the perfection represented by Jesus. Their loins are girded and their lamps lit. They would do well in that judgment hall.

Then there would be those to whom faith is much less important or even unimportant. They, ironically would not see the gulf between themselves and the Lord because in order to understand how far one must travel to reach him, one must try to understand how wondrous he is and how immense his love for us. When one cannot see the path, how can they know how far it stretches? These would not do well – there is much further they must come before they enter that heavenly kingdom.

Our call today is to be in that former group, ready to go to the Lord at a moment’s notice; striving to grow closer to his ideal even though in doing so the distance seems much further. We pray today for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on that path to holiness. We offer our humble efforts to the Glory of God and we have confident hope in the compassion of our Lord who will know our hearts on the last day.

Pax

[1] The picture used today is St. John Capistrano, Artist and Date UNKNOWN
[2] After Links to Readings Expire

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Monday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 4:20-25

St. Paul continues to develop his “salvation through faith” apologetic. In this passage he again uses Abraham (clearly addressing a predominantly Jewish audience) whose faith in God caused him to behave in righteous ways. Faith in Jesus must be on the same level since his passion was suffered for our salvation.

Responsorial Psalm Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.

This responsorial psalm is part of the Canticle of Zachariah who recites this song to his son, St. John the Baptist, at his birth. He reminds the infant St. John that God is faithful to his promises and proclaims the Savior’s mission of salvation, a promise to Abraham, as a fulfillment of that promise.

Gospel Lk 12:13-21

Jesus uses the parable of the Rich Landowner to emphasize the need to focus on the spiritual gifts not just on material goods. He tells the one who wishes to have Jesus arbitrate a dispute with that person’s brother to take care against greed.

Reflection:

The Gospel message today is, for the adult living in the modern world, one of the most difficult of Jesus’ axioms to come to grips with. Society views people with many possessions as being successful. In every human culture this is true. If one lives comfortably free from financial worries, content with all the food they need, having substantial property and creature comforts, that person is considered to have spent their effort and life well.

Yet today, the Lord tells his “friend” to be careful not to fall victim to the sin of greed. We ask ourselves; when does our responsibility to family and to self stop being that “responsibility” and start becoming greed? Let’s examine that tipping point in our attitudes.

We are taught in the school of life that our lives are to be spent providing the following for the family of which we are a part – First, a place to live, a home. This is shelter from the elements and safety from natural predators. Second we are to provide food for ourselves and our family. In an agrarian society this meant either tending crops or herds of animals (I am skipping the “hunter gatherer” stage). In a modern family this means multiple members of the family may work outside the home to provide income for food and to maintain the domicile.

This is where things start to get blurry. What exactly are we working for? This question varies depending on where in the world we live but in all cases there is a point at which what we work for drives our effort beyond what we need into what we want, in short our greed. At some point each person must evaluate the balance of their effort and ask; “Am I doing this because I need (a bigger house, another car, the latest sound systems, a pool) or because I want?

In some this distinction becomes irrelevant since they do not understand that there is something more important than having the best or the most of everything. There are others who believe that society owes them the basics (shelter and food) and that they are not required to do anything but accept this charity, squandering their efforts or worse making none.

We, however, as Disciples of Christ must take a close look at the balance of our life’s efforts. We need to spend enough of our effort providing for ourselves and our families and the much of the rest developing that treasure for the heavenly kingdom. The difficult part of this equation is finding that balance. It is so easy to rationalize that working for something that falls into the greed category is really a need.

For us the tool to help us find the right balance is prayer. The Lord prayed constantly. Elsewhere in St. Luke’s we are told to pray persistently for guidance. That is where we need to be – as we pursue the use of the talents our Lord gave us. We receive with gratitude what is offered for the greater glory of God and use those resources in a balanced way. We remember that is for God’s glory we do what we do and it is his treasure we truly value.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture used today is Faith by Giuseppe Angeli, 1754

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Readings for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Ex 17:8-13

The Israelites had just finished arguing (at the legendary Massah and Meribah) about whether the Lord was in their midst or not. In this passage, his presence is made clearly known as Moses gives them as sign of his continued support (against Amalek, leader of the indigenous people of southern Palestine).

Responsorial Psalm Ps 121:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
R. Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

The imagery in the opening strophes reminds us of Moses in the first reading as he stood upon a high place so that the Israelites could see that God was with them. In this song of praise we are reminded of God’s continuing guidance and the salvation he provides us through His Son.

Reading II 2 Tm 3:14-4:2

St. Paul, in his instructions to St. Timothy tells him that sacred Scripture provides wisdom because it is inspired by God (Here he is speaking of the Hebrew Canon since the first Christian Canon has not yet been codified. However,
Dei Verbum from Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation quotes this passage as the Church’s view on that body of Holy Scripture as well.)

He goes on to tell his disciple that his work needs to be persistent, pointing us to the Lord’s lesson in the Gospel that follows.

Gospel Lk 18:1-8

This is the first of two parables on the need for prayer found in St. Luke’s Gospel. In this selection the Lord tells the disciples of the need for persistent prayer so they do not fall victim to apostasy. He assures them that God, the Just Judge, will listen to their prayers and come speedily to their aid in times of need.

Reflection:

Once upon a time there was a young man who lived in a small town. He was an ordinary young man but with a keen eye to what was right and wrong. He knew from his earliest years the meaning of justice. One day, in is small town, he noticed a constable taking fruit from a grocery display and, in front of the grocer, not paying for it and simply walking away. The young man saw the look of arrogance in the constable and the look suppressed anger in the grocer.

The situation, of course, was complex. Normally the young man, seeing such thievery would have reported it to the constable. In this case the constable was the thief, what should he do? He approached the grocer and said “Why don’t you report this to the local magistrate? He will surly make see justice is served.”

But the grocer was clearly afraid. “What if the Magistrate takes the side of the constable? Then it will be much worse for me. “

Seeing the fear in the grocer but still outraged at the injustice he approached other merchants in town, asking each the same question. They all had been victimized by this dishonest constable. Finally, understanding that none had the courage to plead their case to the higher authority, the young man asked for an audience himself. This was kind of difficult too, because the person who he had to ask was the constable himself.

None the less, the young man told the constable that there was an urgent matter that required him to see the Magistrate and “no thank you” the constable could not handle it. Finally, after telling the constable several times, even under threat of persecution, that the Magistrate was the only one who could help him, he was granted an appointment.

When the time came for the young man’s appointment, he was worried. What if the Magistrate did not believe him and turned him over to the constable? What if the shop keepers did not support his story out of fear? Never the less, the young man appeared before the Magistrate and, with the constable standing at his right hand, told him of the injustice being measured out to the merchants of the town.

The Magistrate was shocked. How could such a thing be happening in this small town with no one but this young man lodging a complaint? But again the young man persisted. The constable blustered, denied any wrong doing and accused the young man of all manner if misdeeds. But the Magistrate saw the sincerity of the young man and the fear in the constable caused by his accusations.

The Magistrate asked the constable why this young man should make such a claim, since he had nothing to gain from placing himself in jeopardy. When the constable made no good answer, the Magistrate launched an investigation and discovered the truth of the allegations. The constable was removed from is post and handed over to the jailors. The young man received the thanks of the merchants and would one day become a constable himself.

The moral of the story is that we cannot remain silent and hope that the Lord will see our plight and respond. The Lord tells us we must pray constantly and the Father of Justice will hear our call. We must fearlessly call out to the Father, through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that he will aid us in our pursuit of justice and truth. We do so confident that he will hear our plea and come to our aid.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The picture used today is Christ Praying in the Garden by Marco Basaiti, 1510

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday of the Twenty Eighth Week in Ordinary Time


Readings for Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time[1][2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 4:13, 16-18

St. Paul continues his discourse on justification through faith. In this passage he reasserts that Abraham was given the promise, not because of adherence to the Law, but because of God’s love. In an intense theological statement, St. Paul states that the Law has the negative function of bringing the deep-seated rebellion against God to the surface in specific sins.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:6-7, 8-9, 42-43
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

In support of St. Paul’s discourse about the children of Abraham, this song of praise recounts the covenant and faithfulness of the descendents of his line.

Gospel Lk 12:8-12

Jesus, still addressing the disciples about their mission, brings in the person of the Holy Spirit. Notes on this section relate it nicely to the mission St. Luke records in Acts: “The sayings about the Holy Spirit are set in the context of fearlessness in the face of persecution (
Luke 12:2-9; cf Matthew 12:31-32). The Holy Spirit will be presented in Luke's second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, as the power responsible for the guidance of the Christian mission and the source of courage in the face of persecution.”

Reflection:

St. Luke’s Gospel provides us with a look into the mind of Christ as he instructs his disciples about their up-coming mission. He tells them that if anyone denies Jesus the “son of man” they may be forgiven but if anyone blasphemes against God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, they will be condemned.

This small set of sayings about the Holy Spirit provide us with an understanding of the power the Lord left to us, his modern day disciples. He promised that this Divine Advocate would be provided so that we could have ongoing guidance from God (recall his words “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,” (
John 14:16))

He reminds us, his faithful followers, that what he asks of us will not be easy. We like so many who have gone before us, will be resisted, persecuted and rejected by those who would rather embrace darkness. On our own we will be ineffective in overcoming this resistance. The Lord did not leave physical proof that the Kingdom of God is coming and so many who do not want to believe in the Son of God demand that physical proof. Like the unbelieving in this same Gospel, they ask for a sign.

He tells his disciples not to worry about these times of confrontation. He tells them “…the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” The faith that St. Paul speaks about in the reading from Romans taps into the power of that Holy Advocate and our words can have power beyond all reckoning. That is the hard part of course. Being so at peace with the knowledge of God’s love that we can reach in and open that indwelling source of grace, giving it the power to silence the evil one and proclaim God’s glory. Today we pray for that peace, that state of grace that will allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into instruments of God’s purpose.

Pax

[1] After Links to Readings Expire
[2] The Picture used today is “The Holy Family with God the Father and the Holy Spirit” by Carlo Dolci, 1630

Friday, October 19, 2007

Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues


Priests and Martyrs, and Their Companions, Martyrs
Saint Paul of the Cross, Priest

Biographical Information about
Saint John de Brébeuf[1] and Saint Isaac Jogues
Biographical Information about Saint Paul of the Cross

Readings for Friday of the Twenty Eighth Week in Ordinary Time[2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 4:1-8

St. Paul, in this passage, addresses the gift of salvation through faith in the One God. It is a gift given to Abraham and David who worked to follow God’s command but did not “earn” faith through these actions – it was a gift as was the salvation that flowed through it.

This selection may seem to contradict St. James statement that our justification or salvation comes only through faith supported by actions. However he (St. James) was speaking of extremists who used St. Paul’s argument to support moral self-determination.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 32:1b-2, 5, 11
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Psalm 32 is a song of thanksgiving. In this selection we see support of St. Paul’s apologetic on forgiveness flowing from God as a consequence of his great mercy and love.

Gospel Lk 12:1-7

St. Luke continues to present us with a collection of sayings of Jesus passed on to his disciples. In this passage he first warns them about adopting the style and attitude of the Pharisees whose “holier than thou” attitude was a veneer for their internal sin. The Lord tells them that there is nothing that can be hidden from God and that all will be made clear in the final judgment.

He goes on to encourage them, telling them that God will watch over them. He uses the analogy of the sacrificial animals as a metaphor for the attacks they will encounter from the Jewish leadership and how God will uphold them.

Reflection:

If we looked for a single phrase to sum up the message scripture has for us today it would have to be “Do not be afraid, have faith in the Lord and he will give you his strength so that people will know He is your God.” The foundation for the message is laid with St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. In his apologetic he asks a rhetorical question; “Did Abraham earn the favor of God?” He answers that question ironically as he describes the acts of faith that Abraham is known for but says “A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due.”

St. Paul is telling us that even if we demonstrate the faith of Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God, we are doing no more that what God expects. We have earned no special place of honor (as the Lord latter tells us the Pharisees seem to expect). Rather the salvation that God gives us is a free gift, provided out of the pure love that is expressed in God’s gift of His Son.

We take that foundational message and overlay what Jesus is telling his disciples. The beginning of the Gospel tells us things are getting crazy and their popularity is growing (“So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot). The Lord takes his disciples aside and tells them they cannot have the attitude of the Pharisees who seek places of honor and hold themselves up as better than others (“Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees”)

Their attitude, Jesus tells them, must be one of humility because they are not perfect and God sees all imperfections. These will be clear to everyone. In their humble powerlessness they should have no fear in proclaiming the message of the Kingdom of God, the Heavenly Father sees them, knows them, loves them, and will protect their spirits from harm.

The message, between Paul’s assurance that faith is a gift, and the Lord’s exhortation not to worry about physical harm, to humbly take God’s message to all we meet is now visible. Our prayer today is that we will fearlessly but humbly take the message of God’s love to all we meet. That the examples of courage exemplified by the Saints we memorialized today will be our inspiration, and that our day’s efforts bring greater glory to God.

Pax

[1] The picture used today is Saint John de Brébeuf by Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1897
[2] After Links to Readings Expire

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist


Biographical Information about St. Luke[1]

Readings for the Feast of Saint Luke[2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 2 Tm 4:10-17b

St. Paul, at this point on his second missionary journey, has run into significant opposition and his companions, with the exception of “Luke” (believed to be the Evangelist) have deserted him. The Lord, however, through his divine assistance has kept St. Paul’s mission alive and effective.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Psalm 145 is a hymn of praise. These strophes call on the faithful to give thanks to God for opening the gates of his Heavenly Kingdom. They continue praising God for his justice and his creating hand.

Gospel Lk 10:1-9

It is only in the Gospel of St. Luke that we hear the story of Jesus sending the seventy (two). This event is supported by other non-biblical writings (see
Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265-c. 340) Church History, Book. 1). The instructions given to those sent out are very similar to the instructions given to the Twelve, as was the message they were sent to proclaim.

Reflection:

In the garden at Gethsemane as Christ prayed and was plunged into sorrow, his thoughts, as true man and servant of the Father, must have been; “I have failed.” He had, a few short years earlier started his public ministry and because of his healing power, attracted large groups of people. Some of these would have been curiosity seekers, others seekers of a spiritual truth. Those few who were sincere, he called to himself. He sent them out like “sheep among wolves.”

Some of these early disciples had great success because of their faith in Jesus. But there in the Garden, the Lord saw all of this melting away. His closest friends were afraid. The Sanhedrin was certainly moving against him and the Romans were worried. His disciples would run, he knew it as surly as they could not stay awake and pray with him. His message would die unless the people he had touched carried it forward, so he wept.

Christ, the Son of God, had other plans. His Holy Spirit came to rest on many of these early followers. Some the Spirit landed on gently, allowing them to carry on in the face of persecution. Upon some, however, the Holy Spirit landed with both feet, driving them to heroic works in spreading the message Jesus had brought into the world. One of these, the ascribed author of the Gospel bearing his name, was St. Luke whose feast we celebrate today. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he documented the Lord’s life and message and went even further; he also gave us the Acts of the Apostles, additional evidence of God’s revelation and examples of faith for us to follow.

As we think about the man, Jesus, praying in the garden, let us give thanks God for calling to St. Luke through the Holy Spirit so the story of our Savior could spread through out the world and bring us the knowledge of salvation we so desperately need to hear.

Pax

[1] The picture used today is St. Luke by El Greco, 1605-10
[2] After Links to Readings Exprire

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr


Biographical Information about Saint Ignatius of Antioch[1]

Readings for the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch[2]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 2:1-11

St. Paul begins a rather long discourse on the impartiality of God toward Jew and Gentile alike. He begins by indicating that those who judge others have no moral superiority. The standard applied to others will be applied by God to them in the final judgment. This judgment, St. Paul says, will be measured out to Jews and Gentiles as will salvation for those who demonstrate their faithfulness through good works.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 62:2-3, 6-7, 9
R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

This hymn of praise strikes a tone of complete submission to the will of God and reflects the peace that comes from the trust that attitude requires.

Gospel Lk 11:42-46

In this passage the Lord continues his criticism of those who believe that ritual practice is more important than the spirit of God’s law. He points at their contributions to the temple and their neglect of the needy as symbolic of this lack of understanding. In teaching this type of faith, focused only on religious practice, they lead others astray and in doing so they are doing the evil one’s work (“You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk” touching human remains, according to Hebrew Law caused ritual impurity).

Likewise, when questioned by the scholar of the law (probably referring to a scribe), the Lord points at his questioner and says that those who focus only on the minutia of Hebraic Law are missing its intent.

Reflection:

Scripture today contains a great reminder for us. We get it with both barrels, so to speak. In the first reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Apostle begins a discourse on God’s impartiality. His first argument in this apologetic is a theme the Lord himself provided both in St. Luke’s Gospel (
Luke 6:27ff) and in St. Matthew’s (Mt 7:1ff). St. Paul expands this prohibition against being judgmental to all peoples of all races and nations. All people, he tells us, will stand before the same God in the final analysis.

We couple St. Paul’s reminder with the Lord’s criticism of the Pharisees and Scribes, two groups viewed by the Jews of his day as being the most faithful to God. These groups the Lord accused of completely missing the point of God’s message were viewed by the Lord’s audience as being examples to be followed. They knew each jot and tittle of the Law of Moses and took it literally, practicing intricate rituals from memorized obscure passages in the Torah. Very impressive.

Their mistake, the Lord tells them, is that while the letter of law is important, the spirit of the law is more important. When they expect others to do as they do with their sometimes meaningless practices and accuse them of betraying God if they fail, they place burdens on the people they themselves cannot lift. They judge the people using a scale they will not be able to meet when their time comes.

Of all the Christians in the world, we Catholics with our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters, have retained most of the ritual handed down by the early Church. Our celebrations are more complex and our rules more exacting. We have said before, following the discipline of the Catholic Church is a difficult thing to do. Many of us do it extremely well, some of us hold up our faithfulness as a source of pride. That is where the caution comes in. When we look at others and think, because we are more involved in that discipline, for instance, “I not only attend Mass daily, I also do the Liturgy of the Hours, the Angelus, the Divine Mercy, and the Rosary.” And think; “Therefore I am a better Catholic than Joe who only makes Mass once a week if he’s lucky.” The Lord would look at us and say; “…you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.” St. Paul would probably blast us as well.

The reminders call us back to what is truly important in our faith, to love God and love one another. When this is at the heart of all we do in God’s name and for our own spiritual health, we have gotten the point. When our practice is a reflection of our life with others, we have come close to getting it right. This is a supper tough reminder today and one that we will take to heart.

Pax

[1] The picture today is a Greek icon of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Artist and date UNKNOWN
[2] After Links to Readings Expire

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday of the Twenty Eighth Week in Ordinary Time


Saint Hedwig, Religious
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin

Biographical Information about St. Hedwig[1]
Biographical Information about St. Margaret Mary Alacoque[2]

Readings for Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time[3]
Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Commentary:

Reading 1 Rom 1:16-25

St. Paul, after his introduction and prayer, takes up the major theme of his letter to the Romans, salvation through faith. The critical and unbelieving reception he received is acknowledged in the opening lines – “I am not ashamed of the gospel”.

This passage goes on to point out the purposely disrespectful attitude of the “those who suppress the truth” since God’s presence is make clear in His creation. In spite of this evidence they have made graven images of people (and animals) to worship. These amoral people have degraded themselves with their excesses and God, whom they have abandoned for creatures, has handed them over to this degradation of body and mind.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:2-3, 4-5
R. The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

Psalm 19 rejoices in God’s visible hand, revealed in all creation. The same argument St. Paul uses in the opening of his criticism of the idolaters of Rome.

Gospel Lk 11:37-41

St. Luke regularly associates Jesus with the Pharisees; in this case he is again dining with a member of that group. The Lord is challenged for his failure to observe the strict ritual cleansing required by pharisaic law. In response, he chastises the Pharisee for mistaking external hygiene for purity of spirit, saying that it is more important to demonstrate spiritual purity, especially through giving alms for the poor, than acts of religiosity for the sake of appearance.

Reflection:


It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Today the scriptural message deals with purity of soul. St. Paul first provides a profession of God’s active presence as he points out his visible act of creation, obvious to the faithful but ignored by the wise. How good is all that the Father created.

Following St. Paul’s profession we find the Lord taking a Pharisee to task for not understanding that our actions proclaim our faith, our internal love of God, not external acts intended to show others how religious we are. He tells his scrupulously religious host that he has washed the outside (with his ritual purification) but the inside needs to be transformed. It is through selfless acts that this will be seen. Give alms – help those in need – in this way the interior purpose is revealed.

As was said in the beginning, a picture is worth a thousand words. Today we are given two of them. First, is St. Hedwig. At a time when monarchies were self-centered and corrupt, she was a light of faith and charity for her people. When she had completed her motherly task of raising her children, she gave away all she owned to the poor and entered religious life.

The next image of faith is St. Margret Mary Alacoque. In addition to her lifelong devotion to our Lord, she is credited with starting the practice of “the Holy Hour”. Her devotion to Christ’s mission on earth inspires us to acts of adoration and thanksgiving.

Today our prayer is that we can be seen as heralds of Christ, but for our acts of love, compassion, and charity, not just because we participate in ritual worship. The inside must be clean, as well as the outside.

Pax

[1] The first picture is St. Hedwig, Queen of Poland, Artist and Date UNKNOWN
[2] The second picture is St. Margaret Mary Alacoque by George Pollard of the Alliance of the Two Hearts
[3] After Links to Readings Expire