Today in Catholic History:
† 461 – St Leo I the Great ends his reign as Catholic Pope with his death (440-461)
† 627 – Death of Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury
† 1241 – Death of Celestine IV, [Goffredo Castiglioni], Pope (for 16 days)
† 1483 – Birth of Martin Luther, Ex-Catholic Priest and German Protestant reformer (d. 1546)
† 1549 – Death of Paul III, [Alessandro Farnese], Italian Pope (1534-49), at age 81 (b. 1468)
† 1687 – Pope Innocent XI publishes decree Coelestis pastor
† Feast Days: Pope Leo I the Great; Andrew Avellino
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Suffering with truth decay? Brush up on your Bible.
Today’s reflection is about is about Jesus healing 10 lepers, with only one (the Samaritan) returning to give thanks; and on the nature of change.
11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” 14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? 18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” 19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (NAB Luke 17:11-19)
Jesus, during His journey to Jerusalem, stopped to heal ten lepers that approached Him. (Note: all skin diseases during this time were called “leprosy,” which itself is now known as “Hansen’s Disease”). In performing an act of mercy, Jesus is giving us a lesson about faith, love, and reconciliation. Jesus also gives us a reminder that faith can sometimes be found in unlikely places and that we should always be open to change.
Ten people afflicted with “leprosy” came to Jesus asking for a cure. In the Jewish culture, leprosy created a division between those with skin disease and family, societal, and religious practices. “Sin” does the exact same thing to any of us also. With the effects of sin on our souls, we are separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially with the Trinitarian God Himself! With sin, we are focused on a self-love, our own needs and wants instead of the needs and love of those with whom we come into contact. When we confess our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are “healed” immediately by God’s grace.
Struck with compassion towards the ten “diseased” men, Jesus heals all of them. However, only one returns to thank Him, that one being the Samaritan, a “foreigner.” In the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived, Samaritans were looked down upon as “heathens” because of the differences between the two communities in their observance of Mosaic Scripture.
How could this Samaritan, a foreigner in Jesus’ land – a man with a strange accent and probably strange mannerisms – and definitely a man possessing a rebellious theology, be the ONLY ONE to go back to Jesus? He surely had to overcome two major barriers in order to ask for, and receive, a cure from Jesus. The first barrier was physical. He had to overcome the contagious aspect of his disease in order to approach Jesus. He also had to forget about the cultural and religious differences (the second barrier) of their perceived mutual disbelief of each other’s religion to obtain God’s favor.
Why were Samaritans so disliked by the Jewish people? Well, Samaritans were a people that originally inhabited a portion of central Palestine west of the Jordan. Many were “Hebrews,” but with their own separate doctrinal beliefs, and perhaps even different religious practices. They, like the Jewish people, regarded themselves as descendants of the “ten tribes of Israel.” The Samaritans though claimed to possess the orthodox religion of Moses in their manuscripts of the Torah or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). The Samaritans further regarded the Jewish Temple, and the Jewish priesthood, as having deviated from the Orthodox Law of Moses. In essence, the two groups existing together could be described as gasoline being thrown into an oil pit. The two did not mix well, but if any match was thrown into the mix (e.g., controversies or in-fighting) BOTH could erupt violently!
So, imagine what it might be like for these ten men (nine Jewish and a single Samaritan) to begin realizing they are being totally healed – WOW! Then imagine the nine Jewish lepers excited to run to the Temple priests as Jesus commanded; while the one Samaritan stopped, realized he is free from the disease, and his first impulse was to return to Jesus in order to thank Him, and not go to the “Jewish” Temple priest in Jerusalem. Jesus was delighted to see him return fully whole and healed.
The significance of Jesus commending the Samaritan for his faith (and salvation) is very important to not only the Jewish crowd following Jesus, but also to the non-believers in the area overhearing Jesus’ surprise of the Samaritan returning. Jesus proclaimed, and also demonstrated, that God will bring salvation to ANYONE who hears with faith; and that a true faith can be found in very unique and surprising places (e.g. “foreigners”).
This event describing the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan [hence, non-Jewish believer of Jesus] who had leprosy is told in Luke’s Gospel only. I believe it is because this happening provided a further illustration of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries that God’s grace through Jesus the Messiah is for all people who will believe, even “foreigners.” Another example of this perception can be found in Luke 10:33, where a comparable point is achieved in the story of the Good Samaritan (Another foreigner who cares for his neighbor without regard of religion). It is the faith these “foreigners” had in Jesus that brought them salvation. I can think of three other similar Bible verses that compare the relationship between faith and salvation in Luke’s Gospel: Luke 7:50; 8:48; and 8:50. Please read them.
Why did Jesus tell the ten men to “Go show yourselves to the priests?” Jesus, being well-versed in the Old Testament and Levitical laws knew that any person with a skin disease had to be examined by the temple priest when a skin disease was cured; and then also to make an offering for their cleansing, as Moses prescribed in Leviticus 13:45-46, 49; 14:2-9; and Num 5:2-3. With the priests’ approval, this person could then re-enter Jewish society, and thus re-enter the temple to worship as well.
Besides the importance of faith, another lesson given to us in this healing encounter has to do with salvation itself. Salvation is defined in this instance as “liberation of an individual from sin and its consequences.” All ten of the lepers were given the gift of healing for their skin lesions; but in his gratitude to God for this gift of healing, only the Samaritan actually found the gift of “salvation,” a personal relationship with Jesus. Salvation is realized in recognizing and accepting the gifts we have been given; sharing these gifts as God wants us to; and in knowing to whom we are to offer our thanks: God!! To me, salvation creates a divine change in our attitudes, our reasoning, and our souls.
Change is inevitable in all our lives. “Nature” itself is changeable (every 10 minutes in my part of the country); and we, as mortal humans change, in part, through and because of the staining nature sin on our souls. Even though we are redeemed and renewed by the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Holy Eucharist, we are still continuously bombarded by the temptation to sin. Our nature is continually urged towards corruption by bodily desires unless fortified by divine spiritual assistance.
When our battles with evil our made evident (even if just to ourselves), “brought out into the open,” so too are the graces of and from God. We only need to choose which nature to grasp: God’s grace or Satan’s iniquities. When temptation and failure is nearest, the promise of God is also at hand.
Among our many and unrelenting responsibilities as loving parents, we are to help foster the gift of appreciation and thankfulness. This is especially true of appreciating and thanking God for all His compassion, benevolence, kindness, and helpfulness to us.
Prior to Jesus coming into their lives, the Apostles were certainly victims to earthly vices. After encountering Jesus, they were changed – transformed or converted – into people who labored and counseled others with love and gratitude for all, Jew and Gentile alike. This conversion or transformation was not easy in any way. It was a Daily struggle of hard work on the Apostles part. So it goes with OUR spiritual journey of DAILY conversion. One is not saved on belief (FAITH) alone: one must work at being a Christian!
What are some of the gifts you have received from God? How often do you give thanks for all of God’s goodness given to you? Do you praise God, even when given the gift you DO NOT want? It is far too easy to thank Him for the good things in life. But, through the bad periods we are also given the opportunity to grow closer to our magnificent, heavenly, Father by giving Him thanks in all circumstances as St. Paul instructs us to do! Our sufferings can unite us with the same suffering Jesus endured for our salvation on the Holy Cross in a very personal way. We are not necessarily thanking God for the suffering itself, but for the grace to endure, and the lessons we will learn from the gift of suffering.
I am in pain on a daily basis. Like the lepers in today’s Gospel reading, I am ordained to a life of agony and suffering. Between my heart and lung maladies, back and knee pain from 30 years of abuse as a paramedic lifting, prying, and carrying many things and people in awkward situations, plus the usual general aches and pains of growing old, I am very familiar with agony and hurting. I have come to realize that my suffering is a permanent – and probably necessary – component in my life. I now know I need to be humble instead of being the proud and boisterous person of my youth. I need humility in my general life, as well as my prayer life and my faith. I used to pray and NEVER listen. I now know that I NOT ONLY need to talk to God, but also more importantly, I need to LISTEN to Him as well.
My pain and trouble breathing keeps me focused on the divine mercy of God in Jesus, through His own suffering and forgiveness. Maybe my pain is a kind of personal “stigmata” to keep my heart and soul going in the right direction. By the way, I can honestly say that I have never been happier in my life. God definitely works in mysterious and unorthodox ways. He gave me a difficult cross to carry; and for giving me this unique and true grace, I truly love Him more than I ever have before.
Don’t think I am bragging. There is nothing to brag about in what I just related to you. Other than being a uniquely special creation of God, (as each one of us is to God), I believe I am nothing special. I believe I am a typical Catholic man living in an often “unjust” and “secular” world today. However, I have hope and faith for the future; and I give thanks and praise to God for His “Peace and all good.” (A translation of St. Francis’ favorite greeting: “Pax et Bonum.”)
Today’s story relates to us what Jesus is wanting from all of us. Every time our faith is increased, we should turn to Him in prayers of thanksgiving and adoration. Every time our prayers are answered, we need to acknowlege His grace with a moment of being in His presence spiritually. It is not because He knows that when we approach Him our faith increases. It is because every time we come to Him our hearts and souls are opened even more to His word, His works, and His love!!
“Joy in Suffering”
“Lord, help me to joyfully suffer in this life for the souls in purgatory; and be with me in prayer as I gladly cleanse my soul in purgatory for my transgressions. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Leo the Great (d. 461)
With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as “Peter’s successor,” guiding his fellow bishops as “equals in the episcopacy and infirmities.”
Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism, Manichaeism and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs. A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.
In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.
It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and St. Peter, in whose place Leo acted.
At a time when there is widespread criticism of Church structures, we also hear criticism that bishops and priests—indeed, all of us—are too preoccupied with administration of temporal matters. Pope Leo is an example of a great administrator who used his talents in areas where spirit and structure are inseparably combined: doctrine, peace and pastoral care. He avoided an “angelism” that tries to live without the body, as well as the “practicality” that deals only in externals.
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 10 & 11 of 26:
10. United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.
11. Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.
Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.