I am leaving tomorrow for Chicago to attend a “Franciscan Action Network” (FAN) “Ours to DO” workshop. This workshop is on “care for creation;” something very close to St. Francis and St. Clare’s heart and soul. As I travel, please keep me in your prayers as I keep all of you, AND God, in mine.
What a “God-wink!” I am preparing to journey in order to do God’s work on the same day the Gospel talks about the Twelve Apostles preparing to journey to continue Jesus’ work.
“94 Days till CHRISTmas!!”
Today in Catholic History:
† 530 – Boniface II begins his reign as Catholic Pope
† 530 – St Felix IV ends his reign as Catholic Pope
† 530 – [Discorus] begins his reign as Catholic Pope
† 1774 – Pope Clement XIV (b. 1705) 1775 – Matthew Wright, executed for killing Pope Clement XIV
† 1915 – Xavier University, 1st Black Catholic College in US, opens in New Orleans, Louisiana
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
When God ordains, He sustains.
Courtesy of “the Brick testament”
Today’s reflection is about Jesus sending the Twelve Apostles on their missions.
1 He [Jesus] summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (the sick). 3 He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. 5 And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” 6 Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)
Being told “not” to take ANYTHING on a journey wrought with trials and tribulations; not to bother about the very things needed to make the journey possible – What was Jesus thinking? After all, Jesus was not naive to the needs and wants of traveling. He walked hundreds of miles proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom and knew what was needed for long journeys.
The Twelve Apostles probably looked at each other in amazement; this made no sense to them. But they also knew though that it is the trust in God that can make this, and anything else possible. As Jesus promised in John 14:12: “… whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these ….”
Jesus sends the Twelve out to continue the work that He Himself had been performing throughout his Galilean ministry. They were fortified and properly prepared with the power and authority from the Holy Spirit for their continuation of Jesus’ work. These men were to proclaim the kingdom as Jesus did, and as related in such Gospels verses as Luke 4:43 and Luke 8:1: “But he [Jesus] said to them [the Apostles], ‘To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.’” and “Afterward he [Jesus] journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve.”
The Apostles were now commissioned to exorcise (to purge) demons as Jesus did in such Gospel verses as in Luke’s 4:33-37, 41 and Luke 8:26-39: “33 In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, 34 ‘Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!’ 35 Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 They were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ 37 And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.’” and “41 Demons also came out from many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah.”
Jesus carried out many exorcisms during his earthly ministry. He is now extending His ability, His grace, to the Twelve Apostles. He gave them the exclusive authority to wrestle humanity from the evil spirits dwelling among us, and ravenously hungry for our souls. This authority has been passed on, without any break, to the Catholic priests and bishops via an irreversible and permanent “mark” on their souls when anointed with the Holy Spirit during their profession and ordination.
Luke 8:26-39 tells of a man possessed by demons. He was naked and lived among the tombs. Jesus ordered the unclean spirits to come out him. When Jesus asked, “What is your name?” the man replied, “Legion.” (A Roman legion during this period consisted of 5,000 to 6,000 foot soldiers; hence the name implies a very large number of demons.) Wow – how many demons can a man hold? From a medical viewpoint, would this be called “polydemonena?” (I don’t think Medicare would cover this.)
A herd of many swine was feeding nearby. With Jesus’ demand, the demons left the possessed man and entered these swine, and then the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. Surprisingly, the entire population of this “Gentile” region (because of the presence of pigs – unclean animals for Jews) asked Jesus to leave because they were overwhelmed with a great fear of Him. So, Jesus got into a boat and left the area.
Finally, Jesus gave the Twelve Apostles the authority to heal the sick as He did many, many times. In Luke’s Gospels alone, chapters 4 – 8 have large sections devoted solely to the healing ministry of Jesus. Jesus was the first “paramedic:” going to the people to help them in times of distress.
Luke 4:38-40 is about healing Simon’s (Peter) mother; Luke 5:12-16 is about curing the leper; Luke 5:17-26 the paralyzed man; Luke 6:6-10 talks about Jesus fixing a man whose right hand was withered; Luke 7:1-10 is about curing the Centurions slave – an act we remember at every mass just before receiving communion, when we proclaim, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.” Finally, also in Luke 4:40, Jesus again heals a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, AND a synagogue officials daughter that died; Jesus directed the 12-year-old daughter to rise – and she did! I did not even include the “famous” “Lazarus resurrection” story.
Jesus ordered the twelve chosen Apostles of Jesus Christ to take nothing for the journey. This affirms the absolute detachment from materialism that is required of any disciple – any follower of Jesus Christ – treading their personal paths to redemption and salvation. In Luke 14:33 it is written, “In the same way, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” Leaving the temporal aspects of our lives behind, in due course, leads one to a complete reliance on God.
Jesus, in Luke 12:22-31, relates God’s belief towards temporal and spiritual needs. With God, living is more than the acts of finding food and clothing for the body. God knows that all the people of the world seek material and physically life sustaining things. God the Father truly knows that we need these things in order to live. BUT, we MUST seek His kingdom first, and then the materialistic things we need will be given to us besides.
God wants us to be His instrument: for Him to work through, in, and with us. His power is manifested to the world through our actions. We only need to respond with a faith that allows Him to do this work through us. It is not really “us” doing the work at all, just as it wasn’t the Twelve Apostles dependence on the food, money, housing, and so on that sustained them in their ministry and mission.
Towards the end of His instructions to the chosen Twelve, Jesus tells these brave and hope-filled men to “shake the dust from their feet” if not welcomed in a town. Shaking the dust from one’s feet is a gesture of that time period to indicate a complete disassociation from unbelievers – a total “diss” as my children would say. A disassociation is literally a termination of any association with that town and/or people: a denial of any connection or involvement with anyone or anything from that town.
How often have we shaken the dirt of Jesus’ path from our feet, as we left His lead, to blaze our own (and usually easier) trail away from God? How often has Jesus stopped in His tracks, and waited patiently for us to return to Him and our journey to paradise that He leads us too? Jesus can never leave us – only we can leave Him!!
We need to learn how to depend on His power and grace more than we depend on our worldly skills and possessions! God wants His wonders, and His miracles, to be a regular part of our life. Our path, our journey, can be extremely hard at times. Jesus wants us to know that He is with us, helping us up when we fall, and carrying us when needed, as we walk this path with Him.
“Prayer for Travelers”
“O Almighty and merciful God, who hast commissioned Thy angels to guide and protect us, command them to be our assiduous companions from our setting out until our return; to clothe us with their invisible protection; to keep from us all danger of collision, of fire, of explosion, of fall and bruises, and finally, having preserved us from all evil, and especially from sin, to guide us to our heavenly home. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions (1600?-1637)
Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.
His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that “he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him.”
At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.
They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, “I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there.” In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.
They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.
The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.
In Lorenzo’s moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, “I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life.” The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.
The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.
Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.
We ordinary Christians of today—how would we stand up in the circumstances these martyrs faced? We sympathize with the two who temporarily denied the faith. We understand Lorenzo’s terrible moment of temptation. But we see also the courage—unexplainable in human terms—which surged from their store of faith. Martyrdom, like ordinary life, is a miracle of grace.
When government officials asked, “If we grant you life, will you renounce your faith?,” Lorenzo responded: “That I will never do, because I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and for him I will give many thousands of lives if I had them. And so, do with me as you please.”
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 22 & 23 of 26:
22. The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.
23. Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sisters.
Admission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule. The entire community is engaged in the process of growth by its own manner of living. The age for profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are regulated by the statutes.
Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.
Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue. Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.