Today in Catholic History:
† 1509 – Pope Julius II places the Italian state of Venice under interdict.
† 1605 – Death of Pope Leo XI (b. 1535)
† 1613 – Death of Robert Abercromby, Scottish Jesuit (b. 1532)
† 1939 – Birth of Stanislaw Dziwisz, Polish Cardinal
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Floribert, Saint Liberalis, Saint Mariana, Saint Zita
Today’s reflection is about Jesus being asked if He is the Messiah.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. — Navajo Proverb
The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (NAB John 10:22-30)
The “Feast of the Dedication” is an eight-day festival of lights. In Hebrew, it is called by the more popular word “Hanukkah,” and is held in December each year. It is always three months after the “feast of Tabernacles,” and is to celebrate the Maccabees’ rededication of the altar and re-consecration of the Temple in 164 B.C., after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Jesus, being a pious and dedicated Jew, was at the Temple for the event. The “Portico of Solomon” was located on the east side of the temple area and offered some protection against the cold winds coming from the desert.
Jews that already knew of Jesus’ reputation and miracles asked Him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly!” This popularity of Jesus, as some type of “star,” will eventually lead to a climax with Jesus’ encounters with the Jewish authorities. There has never yet been an open confession before then, and He had never openly said He was the “Messiah,” or God on earth.
I love it when Jesus says, “I’ve told you, yet you don’t believe me!” Some may consider this an evasive answer, but after all that He had done, how could anyone not believe He is the Messiah!” Jesus was right when he said that His “sheep” knows He is the “Good Shepherd” that will tend to His flock. As a good shepherd, His flock will faithfully hear and follow Him without fail. Some of His sheep, to me, are obviously deaf!
Jesus again justifies and asserts His unity of power, and reveals that the words and deeds of His are the words and deeds of God. Not a repeat of Gods words and deeds, but the same words and deeds. People need to look at Jesus, and just watch and listen to Him, instead of asking questions and being told what to believe.
“I believe in one God, and in Jesus Christ who is the same God. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Zita of Lucca
Born in the early 13th century to a poor but religious family at Mont Sagrati, a village near Lucca in Italy. St. Zita was brought up by her virtuous mother. Her older sister entered a Cistercian convent and her Uncle Graziano was a hermit regarded as a saint by people in the area. Great attention was given to the task of instructing her daughter in the faith and to instill the love of God in the fertile soil or her daughters lender heart. By the age of seven, Zita found pleasure in nothing but doing God’s will. Her mother reinforced her lessons by saying, “This is most pleasing to God: this is the divine will”, or, “That would displease God.” As she grew, Zita was noted for her happy disposition, her sweetness and modesty, she spoke only when necessary, worked very hard and prayed without interruption. At twelve Zita was sent to Lucca to work as a servant in the house of a rich weaver. The Fatinelli house was next to the church of St. Frediano. Praising and thanking God for the opportunity to serve others obediently in humble house work Zita was grateful that her position provided all the necessities of life allowing her to avoid the worry caused by a less secure life. She considered her tasks to be a gift from God, and an opportunity for total obedience and joyful penance. From the first, Zita tried to anticipate what her employers would want her to do for them.
Despite her dedication to her work, Zita was, for many years, taunted and disliked by her fellow servants for being affected and proud and was distrusted by her master and mistress as well. She never complained about the urjust treatment or the overwork, but was able to maintain her sweet disposition, her meekness and charity and her devotion to her duties. Eventually, when her virtues came to be valued by the Fatinelli household, Zita was fearful that it would be a snare for her Soul. Her sincere humility and modesty prevented her worst fears from being realized. Her life continued to be one of devotion to God and to the smallest detail of her duties. Zita was promoted to the position or Housekeeper with the full confidence of her employers. She was scrupulous in every task remembering that she had to give an account to God for the way she spent every penny and every minute of the day.. Signor Fatinelli seeing his assets multiply as a result of Zita’s industry, gave her control of her work schedule and even allowed her to have great influence over him and his family. Given to great anger, he would often calm down upon a single word from her. Knowing that Zita gave away most of her meager belongings to the poor, Signor Fatinelli gave her permission to distribute some of his funds as alms, which she did with great discretion always keeping him informed.
Zita believe that God would grant security and special blessings on the household In which the family and staff were pious, faithful to their duties, punctual, modest in speech and manner and set a good example for others. She said, “A servant cannot be holy if she is not busy”. She treated all the staff with kindness never seeking revenge for the years of mistreatment at their hands, and excusing shortcomings although she could be severe in dealing with instances of evil and sinful behavior.
Rising several hours before the rest of the household, she had time to pray and to attend Mass before her day’s work began – a day filled with work and continual mental prayer and meditation. She fasted all year, slept on the bare floor or on a board and prayed continuously during her work day, never complaining or procrastinating or speaking disparagingly of others. Whenever she had a little leisure, she went to a small attic room where she could spend time in quiet prayer and contemplation. Word spread throughout Lucca about her visits to the sick, to those in Prison, her good deeds and her heavenly vision and she was sought out by made people, rich and poor alike.
St. Zita was always moved to tears when she received the Eucharist and experienced ecstasies at Mass or during her prayers. She foretold her own death, and after receiving the last sacraments, died on the 27th of April, in 1278 at sixty years of age The people of Lucca proclaimed her a saint and 150 miracles attributed to herr intercession have been approved. Dante’s (Inferno XI 38) refers to the city of Lucca simply as St. Zita. Her body was found incorrupt in 1580 and is enshrined in St. Frediano’s Church in Lucca next to the Fatinelli house where she lived and worked for 48 years. Her face and hands are exposed to view through a crystal glass. To this day, the city of Lucca pays great veneration to her memory as well as to the memory of St. Ferdiano, an Irishman who converted Lucca to Christianity. It is interesting that St. Zita, the second patron saint or Lucca, is buried in the church of that city’s first patron saint, both having witnessed to Christ throughout their lives. on April 27th, her feast day, everyone in Lucca brings bouquets of blessed narcissus to her crystal coffin laying in state in the Cathedral dedicated to St. Martin, (the third patron saint of the city) – pictures and paintings of her showing her miracles are everywhere. St. Zita was beatified and devotion to her approved by Pope Innocent XII in 1696.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.
Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).