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“Walk the Talk; That Is All I Ask Of You!”–Luke 11:42-46†


 

ENCOURAGING PREDICTIONS FOR 2011: With all the problems the World is facing, it can be unsettling!

 
The Top 10 Predictions for 2011:

 1. The Bible will still have all the answers.
 2. Prayer will still be the most powerful thing on Earth.
 3. The Holy Spirit will still move.
 4. God will still honor the praises of His people.
 5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.
 6. There will still be singing of praise to God.
 7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.
 8. There will still be room at the Cross.
 9. Jesus will still love you.
10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

 
Isn’t It Great To Remember Who Is Really In Control, and that; “the Word of the Lord endures forever.”  ( 1 Peter 1:25 )
 
I hope you found this encouraging!   I did!  Sometimes we need a reminder of just “WHO” is really in control.

     

Today in Catholic History:

 

†   1492 – Christopher Columbus (a Third Order Franciscan) and his crew land in the Bahamas
†   1582 – Because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
†   1878 – Birth of Patrick Joseph Hartigan, Australian Roman Catholic priest, educator, author and poet. (d. 1952)
†   1917 – The “Miracle of the Sun” is witnessed by an estimated 70,000 people in the Cova da Iria in Fátima, Portugal.
†   1958 – Burial of Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII on the 41st anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun”.
†   In the Roman Catholic Church – translation (1163) of Saint Edward the Confessor; memorial of Saint Gerald of Aurillac; optional feast of Our Lady of Fatima

(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:

 

Sweep first before your own door, before you sweep the doorsteps of your neighbors. — Swedish Proverb

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus confronting the Pharisees and Scribes for their hypocrisy.

 

42 Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.  These you should have done, without overlooking the others.  43 Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces.  44 Woe to you!  You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”  45 Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”  46 And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.  (NAB Luke 11:42-46)

 

Do you think Jesus is angry?  This is the first of three woes against the Pharisees found in Luke’s Gospel.  But, it is actually as much an expression of sorrow and pity as much as it is anger towards the temple officials.  Jesus was angry with the Pharisees because they failed to “hear” God’s word, and they failed to lead the people in the “true” ways of God’s personal love and relationship with each of His people.

(Trivia time: Do you know the origin of the expression “Oh woe is me?”  It is straight from the Holy Bible.  You can find it Job 10:15, “If I am wicked, woe to me!”–NRSV.)

What was meant by Jesus calling the Pharisees “unseen graves?”  Well, any contact with the dead or with human bones and/or graves brought upon that person a ritual impurity, separating him/her from worshiping in the temple.  Spelled out in Numbers 19:16: “everyone who in the open country touches a dead person, whether he was slain by the sword or died naturally, or who touches a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean for seven days.”  This Biblical book called “Numbers” is one of the five books of the “Pentateuch.”    The Pentateuch (Greek for “having five books”) is itself, the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – and enjoys a particular prestige among the Jewish people as the “Law,” or “Torah.” It is considered the concrete expression of God’s will in regard to Judaic faith.

Jesus portrays the Pharisees as ones who have slowly and subtly led the Jewish people astray through their misconceived perception and attention to the “law.”  To me, Jesus is calling out the Pharisees as hypocrites who profess one doctrine, and live another of selfishness and elitism.

The “Scholars of the law” were experts in the Mosaic Law, the Torah, and were probably a member of the group identified in Luke 5:21 as the Scribes.  The Scribes devoted their lives and “vocations” to the study and interpretation of the “Torah:” the Law of Moses.  The Scribes took the Ten Commandments and expanded their interpretations, creating over fifty large books of instructions containing thousands of specific rules, regulations, and practices.  So exacting were their interpretations of these instructions and directions, that in attempting to “live them out,” it left very little time for anything else, including worship and prayer!  In the Pharisees and Scribes foolish fervor, they required superfluous and taxing rules and practices which obscured the more important matters of religious life: love of God and neighbor.  

In response to the remark from this Jewish legal expert, the probable Scribe, about Jesus daring to insult them and the Pharisees, Jesus illustrates the superiority of God in recognizing the Pharisees and Scribes movement away from the personal relationship with God through Jesus, and towards only “following rules” without regard to a deeper meaning and reason for the laws.  Jesus is literally “calling out” the Pharisees as ones that He considered “ritually impure” through their own misconceived actions and attitudes.

Jesus wants people to “walk the talk.”  He wants people to lead by example; to love – unconditionally – both Him and all others of His Creations.  Unfortunately, the Pharisees and Scribes in today’s Gospel have forgotten this very basic tenet of their faith.  There are still many of these types of “pseudo-Pharisees and pseudo-Scribes in our midst even today.  Could any of us reading this reflection today possibly be considered “ritually impure” by Jesus?  Hmm – food for thought!!

 

For the Lord’s Cleansing, Defense, and Governance of the Church 

 

“May your continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Your Church; and, because without you she cannot endure in safety, may she ever be governed by Your bounty.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)

 

Margaret Mary was chosen by Christ to arouse the Church to a realization of the love of God symbolized by the heart of Jesus.

Her early years were marked by sickness and a painful home situation. “The heaviest of my crosses was that I could do nothing to lighten the cross my mother was suffering.” After considering marriage for some time, Margaret entered the Order of Visitation nuns at the age of 24.

A Visitation nun was “not to be extraordinary except by being ordinary,” but the young nun was not to enjoy this anonymity. A fellow novice (shrewdest of critics) termed Margaret humble, simple and frank, but above all kind and patient under sharp criticism and correction. She could not meditate in the formal way expected, though she tried her best to give up her “prayer of simplicity.” Slow, quiet and clumsy, she was assigned to help an infirmarian who was a bundle of energy.

On December 21, 1674, three years a nun, she received the first of her revelations. She felt “invested” with the presence of God, though always afraid of deceiving herself in such matters. The request of Christ was that his love for humankind be made evident through her. During the next 13 months he appeared to her at intervals. His human heart was to be the symbol of his divine-human love. By her own love she was to make up for the coldness and ingratitude of the world—by frequent and loving Holy Communion, especially on the first Friday of each month, and by an hour’s vigil of prayer every Thursday night in memory of his agony and isolation in Gethsemane. He also asked that a feast of reparation be instituted.

Like all saints, Margaret had to pay for her gift of holiness. Some of her own sisters were hostile. Theologians who were called in declared her visions delusions and suggested that she eat more heartily. Later, parents of children she taught called her an impostor, an unorthodox innovator. A new confessor, Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, a Jesuit, recognized her genuineness and supported her. Against her great resistance, Christ called her to be a sacrificial victim for the shortcomings of her own sisters, and to make this known.

After serving as novice mistress and assistant superior, she died at the age of 43 while being anointed. “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”

Comment:

Our scientific-materialistic age cannot “prove” private revelations. Theologians, if pressed, admit that we do not have to believe in them. But it is impossible to deny the message Margaret Mary heralded: that God loves us with a passionate love. Her insistence on reparation and prayer and the reminder of final judgment should be sufficient to ward off superstition and superficiality in devotion to the Sacred Heart while preserving its deep Christian meaning.

Quote:

Christ speaks to St. Margaret Mary: “Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love. In return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt they have for me in this sacrament of love…. I come into the heart I have given you in order that through your fervor you may atone for the offenses which I have received from lukewarm and slothful hearts that dishonor me in the Blessed Sacrament” (Third apparition).

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 13 & 14 of 26:

   

13.     As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.

A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.

  

14.     Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.

 

 

 

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“Jesus, Do You See the Lights in the Distance” – Jn 18:1-5†


Today is Good Friday.  This is the only day in the Catholic Church when there is no Mass.  Prayer services today (not mass) use hosts consecrated yesterday, solely for today.
 

Some believe the term “Good” evolved from “God” or God’s Friday.  Others believe “good” represents the good gift of salvation brought forth by the martyrdom.  Regardless, it is a holy day throughout the Christian world.
  

Pope John Paul II (the Great) died five years ago today. 
  

Today’s reflection is Jesus in the Garden.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. — Henry Ford
 

Today’s Meditation:
   

When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.  Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.  So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.  Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”  They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”  He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them.  (NAB Jn 18:1-5)
  

This particular gospel reading does not mention the agony in the garden, and the kiss of Judas; nor is the identity of the place known as the Mount of Olives mentioned.

Jesus had left the upper room, where the “last meal” was held, heading towards the Kidron valley.  Judas had already left, and was assembling a mob, in order to arrest Jesus.

Jesus wanted to pray and be with His heavenly Father privately, one last time prior to His death.  He wanted to let God know He wished for another plan, but would obey His Father unconditionally.  Jesus knew He was to be condemned and humiliated by a group that once saw Him as a teacher and friend.

Darkness had fallen, as torches and lanterns were used by the mob.  Jesus, the light of the world, was to have this evil act started in the darkness of that Thursday night.  How curious that this evil act also ends in darkness, the afternoon of the next day!  Makes me think about, and reflect on the “bright light” emanating from the burial cave on Easter Sunday morning.  Light will always overtake darkness!!  Sunrises will always be different for me now.

Roman troops, numbering anywhere from 200 (a maniple) to 600 (a full cohort, or 1/10 of a legion) came after Jesus.  John (the writer of this gospel) is hinting at Roman collusion in the action against Jesus, prior to being brought before Pilate.  This many people coming after “one” person.  I wonder if they thought that if Jesus was the “Messiah,” He would be protected by either a worldly, or heavenly, army of some type.  If this was the reason, it makes the Sanhedrin even more hypocritical by wanting to kill someone THEY knew was the Messiah!   

 “I AM” was probably intended as an expression of divinity by Jesus.  Jesus knows who He is; that being the “Son of God.”  His use of the term “I AM” (Yahweh in Hebrew) literally knocks the arresting party off their feet.  The Jewish people, even to this day, do not say this name out of the extreme reverence they have for God.  For Jesus to say this had to totally stun anyone who heard Him pronounce such a name, for Himself.

Jesus’ courage when saying “I AM” also contrasts with Peter’s cowering fear when he said three times, “I AM NOT!”  Jesus, though humble and having fear for the approaching events, stood His ground and allowed the actions to run its course.  He had total confidence in His Father’s love. 

Peter, on the other hand, initially acted with a reactive violence, and then total fear.  Peter ran off, and observed the Passion of Jesus from a distance.  When challenged several times, he denied, without hesitation, his allegiance to Jesus Christ: his Lord!

“Jesus, please allow me the courage to stand with you at my hour of need.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bl. Elisabetta Vendramini

Blessed Elisabetta Vendramini, (1790-1860), Born in Bassano del Grappa near Treviso, at age 27. Elisabetta broke off an engagement to marry and decided to alleviate the moral and material sufferings of the poor. She began working at a girls’ orphanage in her hometown in 1820 and joined the Secular Franciscan Order the following year. After moving to Padua in 1828, she continued working with children. In 1830 she founded the Franciscan Tertiary Sisters of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. Until her death Elisabetta guided this community, which dedicated itself to teaching as well as caring for the elderly, orphans and the sick. She united her physical sufferings with those of Christ and the Sorrowful Mother Mary. Elisabetta was beatified in 1990.

(Source: St. Anthony Messenger website)
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #2:
  

The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.