Tag Archives: finding

♫“‘Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Jesus-Son Gone? Oh Where, Oh Where Can He Be?’ ♫ – – Well, He’s In the Temple, Listening And Asking!!” – Luke 2:41-52†


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Feast of the Holy Family:
Jesus, Mary, & Joseph

. table_of_contentsToday’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Quote of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer  

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions For January 2013. pencil

 

Pope Benedict illustrationFor the faith of Christians: that in this Year of Faith, Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in Him.

For Middle-Eastern Christians: that the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.

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Mike depue, OFS is a dear friend of mine, a brother in the  Secular Franciscan Order, and the St. Clare OFS Region’s JPIC Coordinator.  He wrote this beautiful piece on the Christmas “Caroling” tradition.  Surprising (to me), Christmas Caroling was started by St. Francis and other Franciscans.  I hope you enjoy this bit of historical CHRISTmas trivia from Mike:

Blessings to all!

Did you know that Francis of Assisi began the Christmas caroling tradition in the early 1200s?  Francis wanted people to be able to express their joy at Christmas by singing simple songs themselves, wherever they happened to be, such as in their own homes or even while walking around outside.  Francis also wanted to present the Christmas story in a way that ordinary singing-christmas-carolspeople could best understand.  Priests had been singing formal Christmas hymns in church worship services since AD 129, when a bishop called for a song called “Angel’s Hymn” to be featured in a Mass in Rome, Italy.  However, these Christmas hymns were in Latin, which wasn’t a commonly spoken language by the 1200s.  Francis decided to add religious lyrics to popular tunes of his time, creating the style of song called a Christmas carol.  The word “carol” derives from the French word “caroler,” which means “dancing around in a circle.”  It refers to the pagan tradition of people dancing around in a circle during the Winter Solstice.  Francis wanted people to express their joy in Christ in a similar, uninhibited style.

It was almost certainly through the Franciscans that Christmas carols came to the British Isles. The earliest extant English Christmas carol, “A child is boren” (given below), is found in a set of sermon notes written by a Franciscan friar before 1350.  Collections of poems produced by friars in Scotland in 1372 contain lullabies to the infant Jesus.

A child is boren” in the English of today:

Let us gather hand in hand / And sing of bliss without an end: / The Devil has fled from earthly land, / And Son of God is made our friend. / A Child is born in man’s abode, / And in that Child no blemish showed. / That Child is God, that Child is Man, / And in that Child our life began.

I wish you all a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

Mike [DePue] ofs

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Qu. thought2ote of the Day:

 

Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart?  Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?  Ask for the grace; He is longing to give it.  Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able hear Him saying, “I thirst” in the hearts of the poor.  Never give up daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person – not just the idea. ~ Taken from When Did We See You, Lord?”  by Bishop Robert J. Baker & Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.

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Today’s reflection: The boy Jesus is found in the Temple, with the Temple teachers, listening and asking.  When was the last time you truly listened and asked? 

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(NAB Luke 2:41-52)  41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 42 and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.  43 After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.  44 Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.  46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47 and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.  48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”  49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.  52 And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

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. ReflectionGospel Reflection:

 

Today we celebrate the “Feast of the Holy Family”.  We should place today’s Gospel in the context of what LFamily-12uke tells us about the birth of Jesus during.  Luke has been answering the question “Who is Jesus?” through his stories of the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (Chapters 1 & 2).  Today’s Gospel reading continues this same theme: “Who Jesus IS”.  

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are presented as a faithful Jewish family.  In today’s story, they are participating in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the “Feast of Passover”, an event shared each year with family and friends.  When Jesus is 6ddfb299120a9ca051e900744975446afound, Luke describes Him as seated “in the Temple in the midst of the Jewish teachers”. Although He is young, Jesus seems to NOT need teaching about His Jewish religion and traditions.  In His dialogue with these “learned” teachers (Rabbi’s), Jesus “astounds” them with His insight and understanding.  This event was the important turning point in Jesus’ earthly life when He shifted the name “father” from Joseph, addressing it to God, His Father in heaven instead. 

With this Gospel reading, the infancy narrative ends – – just as it began – – in the setting of the Jerusalem Temple.  This particular story today, is about an incident from Jesus’ youth, and is unique in, and to, Luke’s Gospel.  Luke’s Gospel is the only Gospel to report of Jesus being “lost in the temple”.  Thus, Luke assumes and presents Jesus in the role of a faithful Jewish boy, raised in the traditions of Israel, fulfilling all that the Mosaic Law requires of a boy His age for Him to become a Jewish “man”.  

Today’s story starts with the Holy Family in Jerusalem for the “Feast of the Passover”, a high holy day (days) in the Jewish religion:

Each year His parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when He [Jesus] was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom (Luke 2:41-42). 

This Jewish holy feast was prescribed from the time of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  The reason for this feast wJesus_as_boy_jpg_w300h300as to remember and celebrating God’s interaction in the Jewish “chosen” people’s lives, allowing the Jewish faithful to escape their oppressive captivity:

You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants.  Thus, when you have entered the land which the LORD will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite.  When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice for the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he delivered our houses.’  Then the people knelt and bowed down” (Exodus 12:24–27);

And, also in Exodus, the time when this feast is to take place each year:

You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread.  As I have commanded you, you must eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for it was then that you came out of Egypt.  No one shall appear before me empty-handed” (Exodus 23:15);

Abib” is the time of the year, the name of the month, in which the barley harvest happened.  “Abib” translates to “ear of grain, or, ripe grain” and corresponds to our present months of March and April.  At a later time, the month of “Abib” became known as the Babylonian name of “Nisan” instead.

Only males aged 12 and over were required to make this yearly journey of faith.  This clearly puts Jesus at this age, since this is His first time going to Jerusalem for the feast.  How far did they have to travel? Well, Nazaretdirect-map-nazareth-to-jerusalem2h is about 60 miles from Jerusalem (in a straight line on a map).  However, with the “hilly” nature of the country, this trip would actually be about 85 miles.  This is definitely a long way to walk, especially for women and children, every year.

On pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the Jews used to travel in two linked-groups: one of men, followed closely by another of women.  Children could go with either group, probably depending on age and sex of the child.  No wonder Mary and Joseph travelled for a full day’s journey before discovering the child Jesus missing.  They probably “discovered” Him gone when regrouping to camp for the night, each thinking Jesus was with the other group.

Just try to imagine the anxiety and fear Mary and Joseph were experiesimpsons_scaredncing.  Mary certainly was crying, with both of them running to the various family camps, searching for, and inquiring about Jesus’ whereabouts in each of the camps; discovering He is NOWHERE to be found!  I personally have had the anguish of “losing” one of my kids for just a few minutes.  I cannot even imagine the fear of realizing a child of mine was left behind in a strange and very threatening environment of a “big city” like Jerusalem.  

Hmm, here’s a notion or thought for you about “concern for Jesus”.  The concern Mary and Joseph had in “looking for” Jesus might, and should, encourage each of us to personally, and always, seek out Jesus in our own daily lives.  This idea is especially true if we “lose” Him through our sins.

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Jesus was probably found in the courtyard area of the Temple; this is where the “teachers” – – the “rabbi’s” – – taught.  “Listeners” used to sit on the ground at their feet, asking questions, and responding to questions untitledasked of them.  The four “Rabbinic” ways of teaching are:

  • ·        exegesis” – – literal, plain teachings and interpretations; following “hints” in words, phrases, and other elements of truth;
  • ·        eisegesis” – – an allegorical or homiletical application of a text, searching or reading one’s own thoughts into the text, and then expounding on them;
  • ·        finding the “secret” “mystical or hidden meaning” of Jewish Scripture by using the numerical values of the Hebrew letters in Scripture, noting unusual spellings, by transposing letters, and so on;

And finally,

  • ·        through parables:
    • o   as an illustration to help grasp a concept or teaching;
    • o   as a “secret speech”, to deliberately minimize or conceal a concept;

and, 

  • o   as a rhetorical narrative in order to draw a parallel between a fictional story and one’s reality in life.    

The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC) says of Jesus’ teaching through parables and secrets:

“Jesus’ invitation to enter His kingdom comes in the form of ‘parables’, a characteristic feature of His teaching.  Through His parables He invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but He also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything.  Words are not enough, deeds are required.  …  Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables.  One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to ‘know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.  For those who stay ‘outside’, everything remains enigmatic [mysterious]”  (CCC, paragraph 546).

One third of Jesus’ teachings consisted of parables.  It is importance for us to not only try to understand the “Rabbinic ways of teaching” – – especially the parables – – from OUR viewpoint, but to understand them in their cultural, historic and linguistic context of Jesus’ time as well.

So, Jesus was sitting at the Rabbi’s feet, listening, and asking questions.  However, His questions and answers attc06racted a great interest from the “teachers”!  Jesus was obviously well informed and well taught, in the eyes of these religious men.   If they only realized the truth about this “boy” sitting among them!!

Not only were the “teachers” astounded, so were Jesus’ parents when they saw Him sitting and conversing with the learned religious men:

When His parents saw Him, they were astonished” (Luke 2:48).

Ever since the Annunciation, Mary (and Joseph) knew that her (their) child, Jesus, WAS GOD!!  Mary’s pure and true faith is the foundational bedrock for her generous fidelity to00007803_h her Son, Jesus, throughout her entire life.  There was no reason for Mary to know every detail about the sacrifices Jesus – – her Son, her GOD – – would ask of HER!  Nor, did Mary have reason to know how Jesus Christ would go about His mission of redemption and salvation.  The revelation of Jesus’ mission would be “discovered” as time went by, and while living and contemplating her Son’s life, death, resurrection, and assumption as it happened, and remembered.

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Mary and Joseph asked Jesus why He stayed behind when their group departed for Nazareth:

Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (Luke 2:48). 

Iuntitleda am pretty sure I would NOT have been as stoic (showing patience and endurance) as Mary and Joseph was upon finding MY son, in this situation.  If my twelve year son purposely stayed behind, and not told anyone, I probably would have been augmenting my questions with unique “actions” as well: first, a hug and kiss – – then, “something else”. 

Jesus’ reply is His explanation of why he did such a “foolish” thing:

Why were you looking for meDid you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

These are the very first “Words” Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel.  In His saying, “I must be in my Father’s house”, Jesus is referring to God the Father as HIS Father!!  It also shows Jesus’ divine “Sonship”, His defirstwordsforiphonetermination, and His obedience to fulfilling His Eternal Father’s “will”; a “Sonship” which will take precedence over His ties to His earthly family.  Jesus does not chastise Mary and Joseph for searching for Him.  But He does raise their attention, their souls, to understanding and appreciating what He owes to His Eternal Father, whose Eternal Son – – He is!!  Jesus’ parents must have realized that His reply contained a deeper meaning they could not grasp (at that time):

But they did not understand what he said to them” (Luke 2:50).

They did grow to understand the revelation of their Son’s life, as it unfolded – – as it was revealed – – before their eyes.  Mary and Joseph’s faith, and their reverence to their incarnated child, led them to not ask any further questions.  Instead, they “reflected” Jesus’ “Words” and “actions” in this occurrence, and as they will d7%20Sorrowso on many other occasions in His and their lives:

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Jesus, in His youth, recognized He had been given a “call” by His heavenly Father.  While Jesus recognized His unique call, He, nonetheless, submitted Himself – – with love and obedience – – to Joseph and Mary, waiting for the time when His “call” would be fulfilled.  

Our Heavenly Father also calls each of us to a unique task and mission in this earthly life.  We may not discover or understand it fully, but if we cooperate with God, He will use us for His righteous purpose and plan.  With any call, God also gives a grace – – a grace to say “yes” to His will, and a grace to persevere through any obstacles and trials we encounter.  It is truly an awesome feeling to recognize God’s “call” in one’s life.  It is also an awesome feeling to trust in His grace.  Give it a try the next time He “calls” YOU!!  I cannot even describe the AWE and JOY of answering His calling!!

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Today’s Gospel sums up Jesus’ life in Nazareth in a few simple words of the second to last verse:

[He] was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

Jesus, the “Second Person” of the Holy Trinity, came to earth to “obey” God tlove-obey1he Father – – and to obey His earthly “beings”, though Mary and Joseph are very special “beings” indeed!  We have to love God so as to love His will and desire in responding to His calls.  God’s will and desire comes to us through our ordinary daily duties: family, friends, work, private, public.  His will and desire come to us through our own – – and other’s – – difficulties and relationships, and in our eagerness to do what is right and just in life.

ThJesusGrewe final verse of today’s reading is insightfully interesting for me:

And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:52).

A similar phrase, “growing in spirit”, is used two times in Luke’s Gospel:

The child [John the Baptist] grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel” (Luke 1:80);

The child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).

Luke is the only Gospel writer to connect John the Baptist – – who also “grew in age and favor” – – establishing John’s early direct-relationship to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, some thirty years before Jesus’ public ministry.  The key element in these three verses above is that both of these two great “beings” grew in age, spirit, wisdom, and favor before God the Father.  I personally believe we can also add Mary and Joseph to this extremely unique twosome of people – – models for how to live a “Christ-like” life.

Jesus lived like other people in Nazareth, working in the same trade as His “earthly” father, Joseph.  Just as any other tradesman, Jesus learned His living by the “sweat of His browthehomelifeofjesusluke2-51”.  Details of Jesus’ life are blank – – to us – – for nearly twenty years.  However, Jesus’ ENTIRE life is an example of how to be a Christian.  We are to sanction – – to SANCTIFY – – our unique and individual vocations, our paths in life, through years of our quiet, often humdrum, and mostly unspectacular living – – in, with, and through Him!  Being in the midst of our individual “ordinary” lives does not mean God has forgotten about any of us.  Being in the midst of our individual “ordinary” lives does not mean God hasn’t called you or me for an important role in His kingdom.  God wants us to know that each of us, in our own personal vocations, professions, and talents, are not absent from His divine plan.  Instead, with God – – in our lives – – has sanctified them, making them a more acceptable offering to Him.  WOW!!

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T. summarize titlehe dialogue between Mary and Jesus contains many references to family relationships.  Interestingly Mary and Joseph are never identified by name.  (I bet you didn’t catch this fact.)  Instead, they are referred to by their relationship to Jesus.  Ultimately, this style of writing emphasizes Luke’s point about the identity of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is asked a poiwords-hurt-feelingsnted question, “Why?”  Jesus responds with an equally pointed response, “I must be!”  Jesus did not intend to cause his mother and step-father any distress.  However, His actions most-likely provoked that type of response.  When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, they question Jesus, expressing their anxiety.  Jesus replies in “Words” that many of us may believe to be disrespectful.  Jesus, in fact, is saying He was never lost; He is God’s Son; and He was at home in God’s “house”.  Luke will continue throughout His Gospel to suggest that faith in Jesus establishes “new” family relationships as He describes Jesus’ public ministry in his later chapters.  Luke is also telling us, through his Gospel, that Mary’s importance is even greater than her role as Jesus’ mother.  Remember, Mary is the first disciple, also present with Jesus’ other disciples after His Resurrection at Pentecost.

In the Holy Family, we see the face of God’s love.  As Jesus told us – – and as my Order’s founder, Saint Francis of Assjs2isi lived – – we need to see the face of God in every single person we encounter, not just in the one’s we love.  If we see fear instead of love in others who are different from us, we are not seeing God!!  

We need to be in the presence of God every second of every minute of every day, not just for one hour on Sundays, and not just with people who are like us.  If we do not see the face of God in the marginalized – – the sick, the homeless person, the unborn child – – then God will not dwell within us.  Others will look at us, seeing fear instead of God’s love.

So, let us sing with great joy (Re-JOY-SING) at the celebration of the our Lord’s birth and the gift of the Holy Family to each of us, who are inviting each us into God’s – – HIS – –  family forever and ever.  Let us also renew our commitment, on a daily basis, to do as Jesus told us: to take up our cross and follow Him.  Let EVERYONE who sees us see also the face of God, knowing His love through us.

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T. conclusionoday’s Gospel describes a time of anxiety in the life of Jesus’ family.  We can imagine their panic and worry as Mary and Joseph discoveJesus in the temple discussing his Father's business Luke 2:46-49red Jesus was not with the caravan of people returning to Nazareth.  The Holy Family journeyed with family members and friends because traveling alone was dangerous.  When they found Jesus at the Temple, it appears Jesus spoke like a typical adolescent, unsympathetic to His parents’ concern.  But, His “Words” teach an important lesson about reducing anxiety in our family life.  In essence, Jesus says to them:

“If you had remembered who I am, you would have known where to find me.”

In their panic, Mary and Joseph had forgotten what had been told to them before Jesus’ birth, their son was the Son of God.  Knowing a person well helps reduce our anxieties for them because we can better predict how they will behave, and we know their capacity to handle the challenges that life might present to them.

Recall times when you learned something, even something trivial, about your close friend and/or family members.  Recall times when YOU told others something which possibly “startled” or “surprised” them.  Now, recall how you felt in each of these “revealing” “revelations”. 

Torange_man_thinking_questionake what you have learned from this simple exercise you just reflected on, and reread the questions and answers in today’s Gospel, placing yourself in the roles of the one asking AND the one being asked: 

Son, why have you done this to us?”  (Luke 2:48);

Why were you looking for me?”  (Luke 2:49);

Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  (Luke 2:49).

Hmm, the one thing about “true” relationships is that we come to eventually learn to know each other well.

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R. prayer sfeflection Prayer: 

 

A Relationship Prayer

 

“Lord, teach me how to love in a way that would be pleasing to You.  Open my eyes and heart so as to be receptive to the needs in my life, and not just for my wants.

Grant me wisdom, direction, purpose, confidence, discernment, and any other tool n06-07-buildingrelationships[1]eeded by me for this great journey with, in, and through You.  Wipe away any and all fears, tears, and doubts, created by my sometimes tumultuous relationship past.

Create in me a new heart filled with a deep and abiding love for You above all else, then for others, and finally for myself.  When the right person comes along, bless me with clarity of vision to see that this is indeed the right person for me.  When this person does come, I will never forget who made it all possible.  In each day, I will strive to exhibit a love that would make You proud.

With a fullness of heart, and a sincerity in my spirit, I ask this all in your name.  Amen.”

Based on a prayer at the following website:
http://www.flyguychronicles.com/2011/02/a-relationship-prayer/

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“Mom and Dad, I HATE you; But In A Christian Way!” – Luke 14:25-33†


 

Today is the feast day for my parish’s namesake, St. Martin de Porres.  A great description of his life and endeavors is posted at the end of this blog today.  I hope you enjoy this piece from americancatholic.org.

 

 

 

Thank you Lord, that all the “Hate” talk over the elections yesterday has subsided.  Please allow us all to remember that we are all BROTHERS and SISTERS in Christ.  Amen.

            

Today in Catholic History:
    

†   753 – Death of Pirminius, German saint
†   1493 – Christopher Columbus, a Third Order (Secular) Franciscan, first sights the island of Dominica in the Caribbean Sea.
†   1584 – Death of Charles Borromeo, Italian Roman Catholic cardinal (b. 1538)
†   1794 – Death of François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis, French cardinal and statesman (b. 1715)
†   1876 – Birth of Stephen Peter Alencastre, Hawaiian Roman Catholic prelate (d. 1940)
†   1889 – Chaplain Ariëns founds 1st roman catholic workers group
†   1924 – Birth of Samuel Ruiz García, Mexican Roman Catholic bishop
†   1931 – Birth of Michael Fu Tieshan, Chinese bishop (d. 2007)
†   Feast Days: Acepsimas of Hnaita and companions; St. Germanus; St. Hubert; St. Malachy O’ More; St. Martin de Porres; St. Winifred

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“Before we can pray, ‘Lord, Thy Kingdom come,’ we must be willing to pray, ‘My Kingdom go.’” – Alan Redpath

 

http://www.thebricktestament.com

 

Today’s reflection is about the cost and rewards of following Jesus Christ

 

25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, 26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’  31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?  32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.  33 In the same way, every one of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.   (NAB Luke 14:25-33)

 

 

What does following Christ suggest that’s seems to be worth giving up everything including one’s own life?  The answer: the freedom of eternity in Paradise; absolute and true happiness, peace, and joy forever in God’s kingdom. 

This compilation of proverbs, most of which are only found in Luke’s Gospel, centers on an absolute and total dedication necessary for a disciple of Jesus Christ.  No attachments, – – such as to family, possessions, political viewpoints, or any other of our needs – – can stand in the way of the absolute and total commitment demanded of, for Jesus’ disciples.

What is the price for the ticket to this “heavenly’ life?  Jesus declares with an apparently blunt and directly honest proclamation and in no uncertain “words”, he tells His followers that the price of following Him will cost one dearly.  One must be ready to accept persecution, suffering, and the prior knowledge of hardships and costs in following our Lord in His footsteps! 

To gain all, one must balance this gain with giving up all possessions and treasures in His name.  From a human viewpoint, this last sentence makes very little, if any, sense to our materialistic minds and ways of life.  But there are no opportunities for negotiation, bartering, or special deals with God; we either surrender our existence over to Him totally, or we live in ourselves selfishly! 

“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”   This is an extremely strong message for Jesus to utter publically.  I wonder how many “followers” actually left Jesus after saying this profound statement?!  A similar verse can be found in Matthew 10:37: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”.  What I believe Jesus is saying is that the follower’s family has to take a secondary place to the absolute dedication involved in following Him!  I personally see the three BIG priorities as “God, Family, and Country!” – – in THAT order!!

 In Luke 9:59-60, Jesus talks to His followers about following Him.  A disciple asks, “(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father.”  Jesus responds, “Let the dead bury their dead. You go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  WOW!!  What Jesus is declaring, is just another example of prioritizing your relationship with God.  He, I believe, is not talking about the dead of “Body,” but more importantly, the dead of “Spirit!”  Jesus meant for the spiritually dead (those who do not follow the way of Christ) to bury the physically dead.  His followers were to be far too busy doing His work in the presence of the second person of the Holy Trinity.

St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 6:19, 20, wrote “… You are not our own … we were bought with a price ….”  Jesus paid that enormous price in the blood He shed for all of us on the Holy Cross of salvation.  He already knew that the “Fathers’” way to salvation and victory over sin and death was through His own sacrifice; being scourged and crucified in reparation for OUR sins.  Even with this foreknowledge, Jesus said “YES” to his Father’s will with a total love for God – His and OUR Father in heaven.  Are you ready and willing to say “YES” in following Jesus’ “path to the cross”?!   This path with Jesus will inevitably involve an extreme cost in sacrifice: the sacrifice of surrendering yourself to God’s “will” each and every day of your human life.  Franciscans call this daily surrender, “a daily conversion.” 

Placing any relationship, or any possession, above God is idolatry by definition.  In today’s reading, Jesus challenged his followers to think about who they love first: above all.  Jesus’ way is opposite the world’s way; so the choice is yours!  Do you love Jesus so much as to surrender to self and to put God first in all you do each and every day?  We can never “out-give” or “out-shine” God and His graces He bestows on us!  He always gives more to us than we can ever dream of, in this world AND the next!  

 

“Prayer of Wisdom from
St. Francis & St. Claire of Assisi”

 

“Jesus, following You is not always easy and carefree.  It does require something from me: I must follow your commands. 

Often out of pride or convenience, I seek to follow my own will instead.  Lead me through the narrow gates.  Be merciful and soften my heart when I stubbornly refuse to follow You.

Remind me that life with You is well worth any cost I may incur in following You.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639)

 

“Father unknown” is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. “Half-breed” or “war souvenir” is the cruel name inflicted by those of “pure” blood. Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised.

He was the illegitimate son of a freed woman of Panama, probably black but also possibly of Native American stock, and a Spanish grandee of Lima, Peru. Martin inherited the features and dark complexion of his mother. That irked his father, who finally acknowledged his son after eight years. After the birth of a sister, the father abandoned the family. Martin was reared in poverty, locked into a low level of Lima’s society.

When he was 12, his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to draw blood (a standard medical treatment then), care for wounds and prepare and administer medicines.

After a few years in this medical apostolate, Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a “lay helper,” not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. It was particularly impressive that he treated all people regardless of their color, race or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of “blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!” When his priory was in debt, he said, “I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me.”

Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin’s life reflected God’s extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister’s house.

He became a formidable fundraiser, obtaining thousands of dollars for dowries for poor girls so that they could marry or enter a convent.

Many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a “poor slave.” He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima (August 23).

Comment:

Racism is a sin almost nobody confesses. Like pollution, it is a “sin of the world” that is everybody’s responsibility but apparently nobody’s fault. One could hardly imagine a more fitting patron of Christian forgiveness (on the part of those discriminated against) and Christian justice (on the part of reformed racists) than Martin de Porres.

Quote:

In 1962, Pope John XXIII remarked at the canonization of Martin: “He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.'”

Patron Saint of: African-Americans; Barbers; Hairdressers; Race relations; Social justice

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 3 & 4 of 26:

 

3.     The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.

  

4.     The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.

Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.

Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.

“Knock, Knock. Who’s There? God; Drop Your Crap & Follow Me NOW!” – Luke 14: 25-33†


    

Another beautiful Sunday is in store today for the great mid-west.  Yesterday, I literally spent the entire afternoon sitting in the backyard with the bar-be-que.  A St. Louis deliciously: “Pork Steaks,” are so scrumptious when slowly grilled. (For those not in the St. Louis mindset, pork steaks are just sliced [about ¾ inch] pork butt.)  Pork Steaks go great with toasted ravioli, gooey-butter cake, and Ted Drewes ice cream – more St. Louis treats.

 

 

Next Saturday is the ninth anniversary of terrorism showing its evil head on US soil with a devastating outcome for the entire world.  Unofficially known as “Patriot’s Day,” it needs to be remembered by all.  Please fly you’re flags proudly on this day as a symbol of unity by all.

 

 

I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of writing this blog.  I am embarrassed by my earlier works; please do not read the first ones if you choose to read older ones.  Not only has my writing style and format for this blog matured, so has my love for, wonder, and awe for our magnificent Lord.  I can’t wait to see what happens in the near future.

 I wish to thank everyone that has read this blog through the year.  I want to expressly thank one individual, John H. for being my sounding board, editor, and spiritual director these last few months.  John, you have pushed, prodded, and loved your way into my heart and soul.  In you is the perfect example of someone trying to live as a “little Christ:” a Christian.  God has blessed you, and has blessed me with you.

Everyone, please give me input on what you like, didn’t like, would like, or any other “like” I may have missed!  I am totally serious – I am writing this for you as much as for me.  I truly need your input!!!  Please leave a comment on this blog site, or on my Facebook page.  Thank you again, I love you all.  Dan

            

 

Today in Catholic History:

  
    
†   1933 – Birth of Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Chilian catholic archbishop

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Heck is a place for people who don’t believe in Gosh.

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ demand of all His disciples:

   

25 Great crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and addressed them, 26 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  28 Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sits down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?  29 Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30 and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’  31 Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?  32 But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.  33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.  (NAB Luke 14:25-33)

 

This collection of the sayings of Jesus, most of which are distinctive to Luke, focuses on the total dedication necessary for a disciple of Jesus: His conditions for discipleship.  Just prior to these verses, in Luke 14:16-24, emphasis was placed on the absolute gratuity and love of God wanting to share His banquet feast with us.  These verses in today’s Gospel reading are the other side, the flip side, of the coin; God requires a full-hearted and totally absolute response on the part of the disciples.  No attachments to family or possessions can stand in the way of this total commitment demanded of a disciple towards God.  Also, this acceptance of the call to be a follower of Jesus demands a readiness to accept persecution, suffering, and a realistic assessment of the hardships and costs of following Him.

With Jesus saying the words “Hating his father…,” a total commitment was stipulated by Jesus for all wishing to follow him.  A similar declaration is found in Mt 10:37-38: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”  In Matthews Gospel, this is the first mention of the cross explicitly meant for the disciple, but implicitly foretold what was awaiting Jesus when He said “and follow after me” in last Sundays Gospel reading.

The two parables about building a tower and a foundation concentrate on the absolute need to reflect before acting.  One must weigh the cost of decisions and actions.  The last verse in today’s Gospel reading is not a command that all disciples, all followers of Jesus, just recklessly or spontaneously renounce their possessions.  The comparison between the two parables and the last verse is that of the fate of those who are not able to see a decision or action through to the end, its conclusion.  A true disciple of Jesus cannot withdraw from the sacrifice required of them for their faith!  A disciple of Jesus follows Him to the end, even if it means sacrificing all their possessions, including their life!

A disciple’s family must take second place to the absolute dedication involved in following Jesus.  This may sound pretty harsh by today’s standards.  I believe it was equally as harsh during Jesus’ time on earth.  Realize though that Jesus is not telling one to abandon one’s family and friends, as that might be a wrong and imprudent action.  What He is saying is that one’s priorities need to be focused first on God in every action and major decisions we need to make!  By taking up our cross – our responsibilities, duties and sufferings, all in the name of Jesus, we come a bit closer to the love of the Holy Trinity.  Let’s remember that Jesus promised to send another advocate, a Paraclete, to be with us and to help us.  By living our lives through and with the Holy Spirit, we can bring a stronger love to all those we encounter.

Several years ago, I was a very successful paramedic, educator, and administrator.  Then I became sick, very sick, and literally, “circling the drain” in regards to my health.  I had to retire from a vocation – a profession – of 30 years, which I had chosen and loved nearly more than life itself.  With this turn of events, I became extremely angry at anyone and everyone.  My anger was most importantly, directed to God who “put me in this position.”

Over a period of time my anger diffused and dissipated.  God was a focal point for me (out of desperation at first).  I decided to pick up my cross and start down that path, my own “Via Dolorosa.”  In my pain and illness, I discovered a God I never knew before, a God of love for me regardless of my feeling towards Him! 

How can one not be moved by the beauty of God’s creations in this world, and in knowing that this is just a pittance of the visions and love we will see and encounter when we leave this existence, to be in His presence for eternity?  I am happy to say that I am now on a new path in my life, and have been as of that moment of discovery.  This path was not of my choosing, but of God’s.  Mine is now a much harder path in many ways, but a better fit for me.  I can now see with a more open eye, and can see Jesus in all creation.  How can one not want, or love what I can see now?   

There is a Roman Catholic Priest in my area that was a naval officer aboard nuclear subs before becoming a priest.  He actually helped develop nuclear torpedoes to be used in warfare, and other tools of total human destruction.  With advanced degrees in nuclear sciences, this man was destined for a spectacular career in the US Navy and in the secular world.  Instead, he turned his back on his supposed future and his past life of material wealth.  He not only took and picked up his cross, he embraced it with the love only found through abandonment of self to the promised Holy Spirit.  Our lives are a gift – a great grace – from God.  What we want to do may not be what God wants us to do; then, maybe it is!  The way we learn the difference is by the grace and whisper of the Holy Spirit when we ask God for help.  Let the Holy Spirits grace lead us all to a truly God-centered life, since our relationship with Him is our first priority.  I truly believe God cannot lead anyone down the wrong path!

 

“Just For Today”

 

“Oh, God, give me grace for this day.  Not for a lifetime. Not for this week. Not for tomorrow, but just for this day.

Direct and bless everything I think and speak and do for just this one day, so that I have the gift of grace that comes from your presence.

Oh God, for today, just for this day, let me live generously & kindly, in a state of grace and goodness that denies my many imperfections, and makes me more like you.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

 

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003.  Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the Order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community.  Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests.  

Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived.  For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father’s construction business thrived.  But life changed overnight following his unexpected death.

During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions.  At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin.  It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life.  The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India.  There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service.  She was assigned to a high school for girls in Calcutta, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy.  But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people.

In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call.  The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.”  She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.”

After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months.  She returned to Calcutta, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children.  Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits.

The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long.  Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity.  Other helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings.  In 1952 the city of Calcutta gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute.  As the Order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging and street people.

For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor.  Her love knew no bounds.  Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor.  In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.

Comment:

Mother Teresa’s beatification, just over six years after her death, was part of an expedited process put into effect by Pope John Paul II. Like so many others around the world, he found her love for the Eucharist, for prayer and for the poor a model for all to emulate.

Quote:

Speaking in a strained, weary voice at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed, prompting waves of applause before the 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.  In his homily, read by an aide for the aging pope, the Holy Father called Mother Teresa “one of the most relevant personalities of our age” and “an icon of the Good Samaritan.”  Her life, he said, was “a bold proclamation of the gospel.”

 

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 5 & 6 of 26:

  

#5 — Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.

 

#6 — They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

 Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.