What a beautiful weekend. Our SFO Fraternity had its monthly meeting yesterday, and I think it was one of the best meetings we have had since I started. I truly love my SFO brothers and sisters. I am learning so much, every time I am with them.
Today I reflect on Jesus’ being chased out of His hometown.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt. — George Sewell
And Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away. (NAB Lk 4:24-30)
The references to Elijah and Elisha serves a couple of purposes in this gospel reading: they emphasize a portrait of Jesus as a prophet similar to Elijah and Elisha, in that they all help to explain why the initial admiration of the people turns to rejection. And it also provides the scriptural justification for the future Christian mission to the Gentiles, after His ascension to heaven. The widow of Zarephath, in the land of Sidon; and Naaman the Syrian are non-Israelites, and the object of the two prophet’s (Elijah and Elisha) ministries.
Elijah and Elisha were rejected prophets. Now so is Jesus, in the town of His youth. How dejected I would be if chased out of my neighborhood, out of fear of life and limb, from the people that know me best! Seems like a cruel joke of hypocrisy.
What this gospel reading does show, is Gods boundless compassion, as He continues to send prophets to a rebellious people, both in the Old and in the New Covenants.
There is a theme between the three: the prophets, the chosen people of God, and God himself. This theme usually starts with rebellion, and possibly even the killing of a prophet. Then a punishment ensues, most often in the form of captivity or exile. God sends new prophets to His people to show mercy, and to encourage them during their time of trial. They sin again and reject the new prophets, and then the cycle repeats, until His people finally get their acts together; for a while. Then the theme repeats itself again, over and over.
Realizing this, the rejection to Jesus is thankfully not Gods final answer to Israel. Jesus continues His journey on earth, for our salvation, and according to Gods plan for our redemption. Jesus’ escape by literally walking unharmed, through the center of the angry mob, points ahead to His victory over sin, for us on Easter Sunday.
“Lord, I trust you with all my heart and soul. I never wish to reject You. Please be with me always. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. John of God
At eight years old, John heard a visiting priest speak of adventures that were waiting in the age of 1503, with new worlds being opened up. That very night he ran away from home to travel with the priest and never saw his parents again. They begged their way from village to village until John fell sick. The man who nursed him back to health, the manager of a large estate, adopted John. John worked as a shepherd in the mountains until he was 27. Feeling pressure to marry the manager’s daughter, whom he loved as a sister, John took off to join the Spanish army in the war against France. As a soldier, he was hardly a model of holiness, taking part in the gambling, drinking, and pillaging that his comrades enjoyed. One day, he was thrown from a stolen horse near French lines. Frightened that he would be captured or killed, he reviewed his life and vowed impulsively to make a change.
When he returned he kept his spur of the moment vow, made a confession, and immediately changed his life. He begged his way back to his foster-home where he worked as a shepherd until he heard of a new war with Moslems invading Europe. Off he went but after the war was over, he decided to try to find his real parents. To his grief he discovered both had died in his absence.
As a shepherd he had plenty of time to contemplate what God might want of his life. A priest advised him to leave for Spain at once. In Spain he spent his days unloading ship cargoes and his nights visiting churches and reading spiritual books. A vision at age 41 brought him to Granada where he sold books from a little shop. (For this reason he is patron saint of booksellers and printers.)
After hearing a sermon from the famous John of Avila on repentance, John rushed back to his shop, tore up any secular books he had, gave away all his religious books and all his money. Clothes torn and weeping, he was the target of insults, jokes, and even stones and mud from the townspeople and their children.
Friends took the distraught John to the Royal Hospital where he was interned with the lunatics. John of Avila came to visit him there and told him his penance had gone on long enough — forty days, the same amount as the Lord’s suffering the desert — and had John moved to a better part of the hospital.
John of God could never see suffering without trying to do something about it. And now that he was free to move, although still a patient, he immediately got up and began to help the other sick people around him. The hospital was glad to have his unpaid nursing help and were not happy to release him, when one day he walked in to announce he was going to start his own hospital.
At night he took what little money he earned and brought food and comfort to the poor living in abandoned buildings and under bridges. Thus his first hospital was the streets of Granada.
Within an hour after seeing a sign in a window saying “House to let for lodging of the poor” he had rented the house in order to move his nursing indoors. Once there he cleaned them, dressed their wounds, and mended their clothes at night while he prayed.
When he was able to move his hospital to an old Carmelite monastery, he opened a homeless shelter in the monastery hall. Immediately critics tried to close him down saying he was pampering troublemakers. His answer to this criticism always was that he knew of only one bad character in the hospital and that was himself.
His impulsive wish to help saved many people in one emergency. The alarm went out that the Royal Hospital was on fire. He rushed into the blazing building and carried or led the patients out. When all the patients were rescued, he started throwing blankets, sheets, and mattresses out the windows. At that point a cannon was brought to destroy the burning part of the building in order to save the rest. John stopped them, ran up the roof, and separated the burning portion with an axe. He succeeded, but fell through the burning roof. All thought they had lost their hero until John of God appeared miraculously out of smoke. (For this reason, John of God is patron saint of firefighters.)
John was ill himself when he heard that a flood was bringing precious driftwood near the town. He jumped out of bed to gather the wood from the raging river. Then when one of his companions fell into the river, John without thought for his illness or safety jumped in after him. He failed to save the boy and caught pneumonia. He died on March 8, his fifty-fifth birthday, from the same impulsive love that had guided his whole life.
John of God is patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals, nurses, the sick, and firefighters and is considered the founder of the Brothers Hospitallers. Feast day is March 8.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #8:
As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do. Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.