Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
- · Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Today in Catholic History
- · Quote of the Day
- · Today’s Gospel Reading
- · Gospel Reflection
- · Reflection Prayer
- · Catholic Apologetics
- · A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- · Reflection on part of the OFS Rule
I came across the following document while listening to Patrick Madrid on a CD. I loved it for its simplicity and its beauty. This is my personal pledge, and I mean every word!!
† 1099 – First Crusade: 15,000 starving Christian soldiers march in religious procession around Jerusalem as its Muslim defenders look on.
† 1153 – Death of Eugene III, [Bernardo], Italian Pope (1145-53).
† 1579 – Our Lady of Kazan, a holy icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, was discovered underground in the city of Kazan, Tatarstan.
† 1623 – Death of Gregory XV, [Alessandro Ludovisi], bishop of Bologna/Pope, dies at 69.
† 1948 – 500th anniversary Russian orthodox church celebrated in Moscow.
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Faith is knowing God, committing our lives to God, and basing our lives on what He says.” ~ Fr. Francis Martin, “The Life Changer“, St. Bede’s Publications
Today’s reflection: Jesus is rejected in His hometown, Nazareth; the Who, What, Why, and the repercussions! – – AND, the “So What”!
(NAB Mark 6:1-6) 1 He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” 5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.
This Gospel immediately follows last week’s stories of the raising of Jairus’s daughter and the healing of the woman with a hemorrhage; It frames the context of our Gospel readings for the next two weeks, in which Jesus will extend the work of His ministry to His disciples. Today’s reading describes what many believe to have been the typical pattern of Jesus’ ministry: teaching in the Synagogue, followed by acts of healing. He left the place of two miraculous signs (probably Capernaum, but this is uncertain), to return to His home town, Nazareth:
“His native place” (Mark 6:1).
“It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.” (Mark 1:9);
However, generically, it could also simply mean a “native land”:
“He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read. He said to them, ‘Surely you will quote me this proverb, “Physician, cure yourself,” and say, “Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.”’ And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.’” (Luke 16: 4:23–24).
(Notice: The above quotes are reported by Luke.)
In His hometown of Nazareth, the people are amazed by what they hear, but they also cannot comprehend how someone they know so well since His birth might move them so powerfully.
Wow, what a surprise Jesus had waiting for Him; what a surprise Jesus had to them! Following the success of the Sermon on the Mount, and the two “cures” He just dispensed, the crowds are in an awesome, admiring, astonishment at Jesus’ teaching and healing abilities:
“When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching.” (Matthew 7:28).
However, back in His “native place”, Jesus is surrounded by those who take offense at Him:
“’Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:3).
It seems that our most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative, or neighbor we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when He returned to His home town, not simply as the carpenter’s son, but now as a miracle-working “Rabbi” – – with devoted disciples in-tow. Familiarity with Jesus’ background and His family life from infancy to boyhood, and then to adulthood, led them to regard Jesus as being pretentious – – exaggerated, pompous, and perhaps conceited – – in attitude and abilities.
Matthew seems to have amended Mark’s narrative slightly, stating that Jesus is NOT the carpenter, but the carpenter’s son:
“Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?” (Matthew 13:55).
Also, “and among his own kin” is omitted from Matthew’s account:
“And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.’” (Matthew 13:57).
And, in Matthew’s account, there is no mention of Jesus’ amazement at His townspeople’s “lack of faith”
“He [Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:6).
“Is He not the carpenter, the son of Mary” (Mark 6:3)
No other Gospel calls Jesus “a carpenter”.
Have you noticed what else Mark claims in this specific verse?
“Is He not the carpenter, the son of Mary” (Mark 6:3)
What is so interesting or surprising about calling Jesus the “Son of Mary”? After all, He was (and IS) the “Son of Man”!! Well, it is contrary to Jewish custom which ordinarily calls a man “the son of his father”. I believe this “turn of phrase” may reflect Mark’s own true personal and public faith of God the Father being the true Father of Jesus Christ. Mark expresses his fact of faith four other times in his Gospel:
“The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:1, 11);
“Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38);
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32);
“He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.’” (Mark 14:36).
It is unknown to us today how crude the comment was, which was directed at Jesus, calling Him the “son of Mary” (Mark 6:3), when every man at the time would have been called the son of his father. It seems that many of the townspeople believed Joseph was not Jesus’ real father, just his step-father; some scholars say this passage records Jesus as possibly being called something as demeaning as “Mary’s bastard” in today’s terms. Jesus, at least in His hometown, almost certainly carried a stigma as the probable illegitimate son of a peasant woman.
You want to know something? For me at least, experiencing shame, embarrassment, and ridicule is the way for discovering God in my life. It was from the margins of life and society that the prophetic “Word” of God shown fullest. It was from the undistinguished town of Nazareth that the personal “Word” of God Shone forth through the hometown “nobody”; the carpenter’s son, Jesus. So, from this, I am reminded of Paul’s words from Second Corinthians regarding the power of Christ dwelling in them because:
“My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Those closest to the “prophets” often did not recognize them as prophets. Just so, the people of Nazareth did not recognize the grace of Jesus flowing from God through Jesus’ teaching and healing power. Because of their familiarity with Jesus’ step-father and mother, the people of Nazareth could not recognize Jesus as the authentic interpreter of the divine will of the God of Abraham. As the Lord says in Ezekiel:
“Whether they hear or resist—they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them” (Ezekiel 2:5).
There is another, and more surprising, claim in the same verse in Mark’s Gospel:
“’Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’” And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3).
Whoa!! Wait a minute here!! Jesus had brothers and sisters? He was supposed to be Mary’s only son: She is ever-virgin, isn’t she?! We can all settle down and sit back in our pews; there is NO heresy here, only a translation problem. You see, in the Semitic (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic) language, the use of the terms “brother” and “sister” refer to not only the children of the same parents, but also for nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters, and so on, as recorded in the following:
“He recovered all the possessions. He also recovered his kinsman Lot and his possessions, along with the women and the other people.” (Genesis 14:16);
“Laban said to him: ‘Should you serve me for nothing just because you are a relative of mine? Tell me what your wages should be.’” (Genesis 29:15);
“Then Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, with the order, ‘Come, carry your kinsmen from before the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.’” (Leviticus 10:4).
The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures by Greek-speaking Jewish Scribes) often translates the Hebrew “’āh” by the Greek word “adelphos”, meaning “brother” and any “relative” by blood, marriage, or acquisition. Revealed in the cited passages, this fact that may make a claim for a similar and broader scope, of meaning for “relative” in some New Testament passages. However, on the other hand, Mark may have understood the terms, “’āh” and “adelphos” to be, in fact, literal in translation:
“His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, ‘Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.’” (Mark 3:31–32);
“While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him” (Matthew 12:46);
“Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” (Matthew 13:55–56);
“Then his mother and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd.” (Luke 8:19);
“So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing.’ For his brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:3,5).
The question of whether Jesus had familial brothers and sisters would not be of issue, and controversial to some “believers”, except for our Catholic faith and belief in the perpetual virginity of His mother, Mary. I believe the controversy of Jesus’ family; “brothers” and “sisters”, is proven to be OTHER kinds of “relative” is in a verse from Jesus’ crucifixion story. In it, Mary is at the foot of Jesus hanging on the Holy Cross, and other women are “looking on from a distance”:
“There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome.” (Mark 15:40).
This above “Mary” is a relative to Mary the mother of Jesus; and her children are also relatives to Jesus Himself.
These names in Mark 15:40, “James and of Joses” are identical to those in Mark’s reading today:
“’Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’” And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3).
Even today, I often say to my fellow Brothers-in-Christ, “hello”, by calling them, “My brothers from other mothers”. In fact, St. Francis perceived a deeper insight about the “relatedness” of ALL creation: Sun, moon, fire, water, animals, and so on, as truly being relatives to God, their and our Creator. St. Francis understood the deeper truth which Jesus revealed when he redefined and broadened the “relative” meaning of the “the words “brother” and “sister” in his famous song of praise:
“The Canticle of Brother Sun”
Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor,
and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praise be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars, in heaven you formed them
clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy willl,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.
St. Francis also understood the deeper truth which Jesus revealed when he redefined and broadened the “relative” meaning of the “the words “brother”, “sister”, “father”, “mother” in his prologue to the rule of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS), known as the “Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance”:
In the name of the Lord!
Concerning Those Who Do Penance
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).
We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).
We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).
Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.
Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying:
“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).
I believe St. Francis truly understood “relationships”!! However, I may be slight impartial to his way of following in Jesus Christ’s footsteps.
At His hometown people’s reaction of unbelief, Jesus appears not to be happy. – – And “if Momma Jesus aint’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!! Jesus knew His own hometown people did not see Him as the promised Messiah Savior – – which He is, truly and fully! In fact, Jesus revealed that He knew Himself to be the “prophet” Moses spoke about. They couldn’t see Him even as a prophet:
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4)
This above saying from Jesus finds parallels in other literatures, especially Jewish and Greek, but without reference to a prophet which Jesus adds to this well-known saying of the time (and you know Jesus doesn’t add or say things without a reason). By comparing Himself to previous Hebrew prophets – – whom the people also rejected – – Jesus associates and links His own eventual rejection by “the nation”, especially shown in view of dishonor and “offense” His own relatives had shown Him in Nazareth. This family disloyalty is already shown earlier in Mark’s Gospel:
“When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” (Mark 3:21).
Now, His own townspeople are rejecting Him as well:
“Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place.” (John 4:44).
What was (and still is) the result of those around Him having no faith?
“He was not able to perform any mighty deed there” (Mark 6:5).
According to Mark, Jesus’ power could not take effect because of a person’s lack of faith in Him – – or in themselves. How often do we have trust in others, but lack the same trust in ourselves? “Trust” and “faith” make up the “two-faced” coin of “hope”!! We need to have trust, and have faith, in God’s providential and saving abilities in order to have the essential hope (trust and faith) needed to survive this short exile from God’s eternal heavenly paradise. We need to believe there is absolutely nothing which God cannot do!!
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26).
Do you have the proper trust, faith, and hope to truly and fully believe in Him doing anything (?) – – possible and/or impossible (?) – – for YOU? I do!!
In summary, in today’s Gospel, we learn some interesting details about Jesus and His early life. Jesus’ kinfolk know Him to be a carpenter, an artisan who works in wood, stone, and metal. He probably learned this trade from His guardian-father, Joseph.
Since “brothers” and “sisters” of Jesus are named in this reading, scholars are divided on how to interpret this verse. As Catholics, we believe that Mary was – – and remains – – always a virgin. Thus, we do not believe that this Gospel refers to other “natural children” of Mary. Some have suggested that these family members might even be Joseph’s children from a previous marriage; but there is difficulty in supporting this interpretation as well. (We know Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus among other travelers and relatives when returning from Jerusalem after a Passover feast, finding Him three days later in the Temple (cf., Luke 2:41-52).
It would have been customary for Jesus to go to the Synagogue each week – – during the Sabbath – – and when His turn came, to read from the Holy Scriptures during the Sabbath service. His hometown folks listened with captivated and spellbound attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles He had performed in other towns. After all, Jesus was a local hero, a Tim Cardinal Dolan sort of figure, in first century Galilee and beyond.
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus is hampered from performing miracles in Nazareth because of the people’s lack of faith. Jesus is said to be surprised by this lack of faith manifesting itself in His OWN hometown folks and relatives. He did not predict or foresee this rejection of hostility. However, in this detail of unbelief from those familiar to and of Him, we find a profound description of the very human side of the divine Jesus, and of human society as a whole.
So, what sign would (could) Jesus do in His hometown? The only sign Jesus performed was a couple of instances of “laying on of hands”, curing a few people – – and then, startling them with a glaring rebuke about no prophet or servant of God receiving honor among his own hometown people. The people of Nazareth took this as an offense to them, and refused to believe in Him, and not even to listen to Him. These hometown “fans” and kin actually despised His preaching. To them, Jesus was “only” a working man, a simple carpenter. He was just a mere layman – – not a teacher and healer – – and some of Jesus’ hometown folks despised Him, even making efforts to kill Him by “hurling” Him from “the brow of a hill”:
“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.” (Luke 4:28-29).
Today’s reading unfolds a continuing theme of Mark’s Gospel: “Who is Jesus Christ?” His kinfolk in Nazareth might know Him as the carpenter, and the son of Mary; yet, they do not know Jesus as the Christ – – the divine “Son of God” to come. By recording their unbelief, Mark is foreshadowing Jesus’ rejection not only by His own people, but also the key leaders of the people of Israel.
Mark is also reflecting on, and trying to explain, the situation of his community, written in the later years of the first century, for which he wrote this specific part of his Gospel. While many of the first Christians were Jewish, Christianity took hold and flourished in the Gentile communities as well. (Oh NO!! – – um – – Oh YES!!) Mark’s community was mostly a Gentile community, a community experiencing persecution at the time Mark was writing his Gospel. By showing that Jesus Himself was rejected, Mark was consoling and reassuring his first readers, his first audience, who received and heard this divinely inspired book. He is also preparing ALL OF US to accept the possible consequences of Christian discipleship: ridicule, offense, rejection, and possibly – – even a Martyrs death!! Can you truly and fully say that you would be a Martyr for your trust, faith, and hope in Jesus Christ? For me, the answer is definitely “YEP!!”
To conclude, let’s reflect on the “so what” about the descriptions of Jesus, and His relationships with others, especially including “relatives”. Our families play an important role in shaping us and forming our self-identity – – and our role in life. In family life, we find a safe place to discover “who we are” and the “who God calls us to be” in this earthly life. However, sometimes the influences from outside and inside our family can make us “unrecognizable” – – “hidden” – – to those who know us best: our personal and intimate family and friends. These influences can lead us away from God, OR, they can lead us toward a deeper understanding and relationship with God. (I want to give a personal thanks to John Hough for this latter part in my life.)
Familiarity with another can often breed a mistaken contempt easily. Jesus could do no “mighty works” in His hometown because the people were closed and disbelieving towards Him. These people came together to “question”, not “to listen” with faith in fact, then actively refused to understand, trust, and believe in Him. They saw no other point of view than their own; they refused to love and accept another’s viewpoint, belief, and insight from Holy Scriptures. They took offense at Jesus and His implications. Do you take offense at others easily? Do you routinely cement “first-impressions” into your beliefs, never changing your viewpoint?
God’s power alone, His grce only, can free us and save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of hopelessness and death. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today. I hope and trust you are growing in “seeing” the beauty, joy, and freedom of the Holy Gospels (!) – – our Holy Scriptures!!
Today, we learn that the people of Nazareth could not recognize Jesus as the Son of God because of their unwillingness to believe that God would favor on of their own. They could know Him only as the “son” of the carpenter, Joseph, and the “son” of Mary – – not as the “Son” of God through Mary, the chosen “handmaid of the Lord”:
“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38).
We hope that through our own family life and experiences, we will be encouraged to filter the many influences affecting our lives through the lens of faith, hope, and trust. In doing so, we are assured of becoming the unique person which God is calling us to be – – in His kingdom – – both, in heaven and on earth – – NOW!! Think about the people and events which were (and are still) influential to you. Many of these people and events had positive influences, helping you to be a better person, leading to a deeper understanding and relationship in, with, and through Jesus Christ. However, there have certainly been negative influences in your life as well, risking a pulling away from God.
Jesus was a person who allowed His relationship with God to be the most important thing in his life! This led many people to have trust, faith, and hope in Him as the true “Messiah”, “Son” of God. However, not everyone could (or can) recognize this in or about Jesus. Ask yourself this question: Who might not recognize Jesus as God’s Son in this Gospel? The correct answer from today’s reading would be some of His closest neighbors and intimate relatives in Nazareth. However – – could the correct answer also be in pointing to you personally as well?! I pray that you are already – – or soon to become – – a member in the “Fellowship of the Unashamed!!” (See the beginning of today’s reflection, under the section, “Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations”.)
“A Christian Family Prayer of Faith and Hope”
Lord, I believe that You can do all things. I believe that I cannot understand Your workings, but I trust that in all things there is meaning and purpose. I believe in Your infinite compassion and love. I believe that you can heal the sick and raise the dead. I believe that you fill my heart with your purpose and that I am unworthy of this gift, but I accept it gladly. I ask for humility. I ask for the wisdom to serve you in all things. I believe in You and I pray that my loved ones feel Your Grace. Amen.”
My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church. Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit who inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.
Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral. Oral tradition includes written forms. After all, it ALL started with oral tradition. Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Laying on of hands for healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination.
All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit“ (Matthew 28:19). RSV
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19). KJV
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians. 13:14). RSV
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” (2 Corinthians. 13:14) KJV
Christian missionaries have often gotten caught in the crossfire of wars against their own countries. When the governments of Britain, Germany, Russia and France forced substantial territorial concessions from the Chinese in 1898, anti-foreign sentiment grew very strong among many Chinese people.
Gregory Grassi was born in Italy in 1833, ordained in 1856 and sent to China five years later. Gregory was later ordained Bishop of North Shanxi. With 14 other European missionaries and 14 Chinese religious, he was martyred during the short but bloody Boxer Uprising of 1900.
Twenty-six of these martyrs were arrested on the orders of Yu Hsien, the governor of Shanxi province. They were hacked to death on July 9, 1900. Five of them were Friars Minor; seven were Franciscan Missionaries of Mary — the first martyrs of their congregation. Seven were Chinese seminarians and Secular Franciscans; four martyrs were Chinese laymen and Secular Franciscans. The other three Chinese laymen killed in Shanxi simply worked for the Franciscans and were rounded up with all the others. Three Italian Franciscans were martyred that same week in the province of Hunan. All these martyrs were beatified in 1946 and were among the 120 martyrs canonized in 2000.
Martyrdom is the occupational hazard of missionaries. Throughout China during the Boxer Uprising, five bishops, 50 priests, two brothers, 15 sisters and 40,000 Chinese Christians were killed. The 146,575 Catholics served by the Franciscans in China in 1906 had grown to 303,760 by 1924 and were served by 282 Franciscans and 174 local priests. Great sacrifices often bring great results.
“Martyrdom is part of the Church’s nature since it manifests Christian death in its pure form, as the death of unrestrained faith, which is otherwise hidden in the ambivalence of all human events. Through martyrdom the Church’s holiness, instead of remaining purely subjective, achieves by God’s grace the visible expression it needs. As early as the second century one who accepted death for the sake of Christian faith or Christian morals was looked on and revered as a ‘martus’ (witness). The term is scriptural in that Jesus Christ is the ‘faithful witness’ absolutely (Revelations 1:5; 3:14)” (Karl Rahner, Theological Dictionary, volume 2, pp. 108-09).
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)
08. 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.
09. The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call. She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family. The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.