Tag Archives: received

“Let’s ‘Gather’ And Get The ‘Flock’ Out Of Here!” – John 10:11-18†


Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today’s Content:

 

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Today in Catholic History
  • ·        Quote or Joke
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer
  • ·        Catholic Apologetics
  • ·        A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • ·        Reflection on part of  the OFS Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

My third son made his Confirmation in the Catholic Church today.  I am so proud of him.  I pray he, and all my children, find a love, trust, and hope for our faith.

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Today in Catholic History:

 

†   1380 – Death of Catherine of Siena, Italian saint (b. 1347)
†   1429 – Joan of Arc arrives to relieve the Siege of Orléans
†   1670 – Pope Clemens X elected
†   1863 – Birth of Maria Theresa Ledochowska, Polish-Austrian Catholic nun (d. 1922)
†   Feasts/Memorials: Saint Catherine of Siena; Saint Robert (d.1111); Saint Wilfred the Younger; Saint Peter of Verona; Saint Hugh of Cluny

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

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Joke of the Day:

 

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Today’s reflection: Jesus says that He is the “good shepherd” who knows His sheep.

 

(NAB John 10:11-18) 11 I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  12 A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.  13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.  14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.  16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.  17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.  I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.  This command I have received from my Father.”

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Gospel Reflection:

 

The fourth Sunday of Easter is also called “Good Shepherd” Sunday.  Unless we consider this 10th chapter in the greater context of John’s Gospel, we will miss the radical nature of the statement Jesus makes when He declares Himself to be the “Good Shepherd”.  Today’s reading follows Jesus’ healing of the man born blind and the rejection of this miracle by the Jewish Pharisees and leaders, who questioned Jesus’ authority to heal.  Jesus responds to this challenge by calling Himself the “Good Shepherd”.  In doing so, He criticized the Pharisees and the other Jewish leaders.  The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders became so angry that they attempt to stone and arrest Jesus (cf., John 10:31,39).  This controversy with the religious leaders will, from this point on, continue and grow in intensity until Jesus’ arrest and public death.

In today’s reading, Jesus describes His relationship with His followers as similar to the relationship between a “good shepherd” and His sheep.  As a good shepherd will risk and lay down his life in order to protect his sheep, Jesus willingly sacrifices Himself for the good and welfare of His sheep.  Jesus contrasts His actions of the “good shepherd” with the actions of the “hired shepherd” who abandons the sheep in the face of danger.  In today’s Gospel reading, we learn the Pharisees and the other religious leaders understand that Jesus is referring to them when He describes the “hired shepherds”. (he, he, he)

The “good shepherd” figure is allegorical (figurative or symbolic) in origin.  Jesus loved parables, and also loved using allegory to explain the unexplainable.  Like a parent trying to teach conceptual ideas to a toddler, He uses simple words to project a picture in our own minds of what He means to convey.  I believe that even with these simple teaching tools and tricks, there is no way we, as sinful human beings, can ever grasp the true meaning of what Jesus knows, and ties to express to His original audience, and to us.  Only after this existence on earth, when our permanent address changes for the last time (how’s that for allegory), will we truly, completely, and fully know what He knows, and wants to impart to us.  I can sum up my eagerness and desire for the true meaning of Jesus’ “Words” as a present sitting under a tree, anticipating the day it can be opened and revealed to me.  All I can do is have faith, have hope, and have trust!  (And, I do!  I believe in the Gospel of Jesus and in the Jesus of the Gospel!)  

There is truly so much hidden – – in the words of today’s reading.  John loves to use what I call “word gems” to get across a meaning so rich, and having so many layers.  Thus, I truly believe he satiates every bible scholars, and every casual reader’s, interest in delving into the Holy Scriptures.  For this purpose, I will be looking at each sentence individually and sometimes even words individually, in order to peel away as many layers as possible for this short Gospel reflection.  So, hang-on – – for it’s going to be a fun ride perusing both Old and New Testaments, and pursuing the meaning and understanding of both Old and New COVENANTS of our magnificent Lord, Creator, and “Good Shepherd”.

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In the very first verse of today’s reading, Jesus says:

I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).

Jesus, through John, is referring to two “word gems” in the Old Testament book of Isaiah; and at what John would write, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in the last book of the Holy Bible, The Revelation of Jesus Christ:

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11);

And,

For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17).

Jesus Christ is OUR true and loving shepherd, always watching over and caring for us, His flock.  He “laid down His life for us”, and gathers His flock, STILL TODAY, leading ALL to His heavenly pasture.  (The Holy Eucharist Worship??)

The actions of the “good shepherd” are based upon the relationship between the shepherd and each of His sheep.  This IS the core difference between the “good shepherd” and the “hired shepherd”.  The “good shepherd” knows (and cares for) every sheep, every lamb, personally, uniquely, and intimately; therefore he acts out of love.  For Him, this is never simply “part of a job” – – it is “love-in-action”.  This “love-in-action” is truly at the heart of His identity.  Just as the sheep are known by the “Good Shepherd”, so too God the Father knows Jesus, AND, Jesus knows God the Father.  There is an essential unity between the Father and the Son made clearer in John’s understanding of who, and what, Jesus truly was then, and still is today.  The freedom with which Jesus acts when He lays down His life is rooted in the loving unity He shares with His Father.  (That “loving unity” has a title: the Holy Spirit!)

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The first “word gem” verse (John 10:11) reveals the qualities of the “good shepherd”.  Verse 12 reveals the character of a hireling: someone just “doing the job”, without loving or caring for his “flock”.  It also relates to what happens when we trust anyone other than the “good shepherd”: Jesus, the Messiah.  This “bad shepherd” allegory refers to the “Oracle of the Worthless Shepherd” narratives found in the earlier book of Zechariah:

Ah! my worthless shepherd who forsakes the flock!  May the sword fall upon his arm and upon his right eye; His arm will surely wither, and his right eye surely go blind!” (Zechariah 11:17).

Zechariah goes into great detail about the three shepherds and the destruction of Jerusalem.  Please read the entire parable (cf., Zechariah 11:4-17) to learn more.

In our reading today, Jesus is truly the “good shepherd”!  We can be good shepherds as well, by simply following His model of humility and dedication to The “Word”.  Jesus gave us the commandment:

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13);

John reiterates this command in His first epistle:

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16).

Jesus promised a happy life without end.  Death would not be the end; but instead, the beginning.  We would know the glory of His everlasting life.  Jesus, as the “good shepherd”, promised a life which was secure.  Nothing will snatch us out of His hand, not even sorrow and death, since He is everlasting life itself.  Our lives are forever truly safe in His hands.  (That’s even better than Allstate.)

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So what does Jesus mean by saying the following in today’s reading:

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.”? (John 10:16)

I believe His reference to “other sheep” is a reference to both the “Gentiles” and to “God’s dispersed children” of John 11:

He [Caiaphas, the high priest] prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God” (John 11:51-52).

These “dispersed children” were (and still are) destined to be gathered into “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic” Church.  These four adjectives are understood to be the four “pillars” of the Catholic (Universal) Church.  It seems these “dispersed children” were at odds with the first century community of the beloved disciple, John – – and may still be, TODAY, at odds with the “eternal” and true “universal” Church – – the Catholic Church.

Jesus is the shepherd gathering all that have strayed back into one flock.  Remember, from a historical view of first-century Israel, the twelve tribes of Israel had split and separated into two distinct “tribes” related to the main “places” of the “Promised Land”.  Jesus came to gather ALL the “tribes”, composed of ten tribes of the north called Israel, and two major tribes of the south called Judah, along with all other Gentiles, thus making a new and glorious “flock”.  This thought of Jesus Christ gathering everyone is foretold by several Old Testament prophets:

Others will I gather to them besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:8);

I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have banished them and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply.” (Jeremiah 23:3);

I will appoint one shepherd over them to pasture them, my servant David; he shall pasture them and be their shepherd.” (Ezekiel 34:23);

David my servant shall be king over them; they shall all have one shepherd.  They shall walk in my ordinances, observe my statutes, and keep them.” (Ezekiel 37:24);

And,

“I will gather you, Jacob, each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in its pasture; the noise of the people will resound.” (Micah 2:12).

In this context of being the “Good Shepherd”, Jesus also refers to others with whom He desires to share a personal, unique, and intimate relationship.  John truly understood the eventual inclusion of the Gentiles into the Christian community.  Our modern ears may hear relate part of today’s Gospel as a reference to Christian unity in today’s world.  The work of ecumenism (a movement promoting unity between different Christian churches and groups) is to restore unity among all Christians so that we form “one flock” under “one shepherd”, as God the Father desires.

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Jesus came to gather His “flock” knowing that, as a “good shepherd”, He would have to put His own human life in harm’s way to gather and to protect each and every one of His charge’s, ALL of God’s creations.  Jesus, however, came not only to give His life for others, but also to show that our life can be sanctified, made Holy – – “taken up again” – – through the “love” of God the “Father”:

By this ‘will,’ we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10).

John , in today’s reading, reports Jesus as saying:

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my ownI have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.” (John 10:18)

Within a short period of time, Jesus again will be saying a similar phrase to Pilate, at His trial on false (but true?) charges:

Jesus answered [Pilate], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:11)

In verse 18, the “power to take it up again”, is a statement which contrasts the role of God the Father as THE capable and competent source and cause of Jesus’ (and ours – eventual) resurrection from the dead to a whole NEW form of eternal life.   This power is testified to by Peter, as Luke reports, in Acts:

God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.”  (Acts) 2:24;

And again:

“All of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.” (Acts 4:10).

And, as Paul proclaims to the Roman Christian community that Jesus was:

“…established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4);

Concerning the power of Jesus’ “free choice” to lay down His life as an act of personal love and obedience, John felt compelled to add Jesus saying:

This command I have received from my Father.” (John 10:18)

Jesus was truly doing the “will” of His Father.  Hmm, I wonder whether I can follow His “will” to such an end – – and NEW beginning!!

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To conclude, the words Jesus spoke then upset many of the Jewish leaders.  Some asked, “How could He speak with the same authority which God spoke and claim to be equal with God?” The Pharisees probably thought He must either be insane or divine.    We too are faced with the same choice today.  Either Jesus IS who He claims to be – – the divine Son of God and Savior of the world – – or the world’s greatest persuader of untruths!  

We cannot be indifferent to His claim of authority.  For those who accept Him as Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ offers the peace and security of unending, peaceful, life and joy with His (and ours) God the Father.  Do you have and know the peace and security of a life fully submitted to Jesus?  Do you listen attentively to the voice and “Word” of the “Good Shepherd”?  Let’s “gather” and get the “flock” out of here!

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Reflection Prayer:

Prayer for Generosity

St. Ignatius of Loyola

“Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.  Amen.”

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 Catholic Apologetics:

 

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 that 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, Lying on of hands or 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.

Praying to the Saints

“‘And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not God of the dead, but of the living …’” (Mark 12:26-27) RSV.

“And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?  He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living …” (Mark 12:26-27) KJV.

**

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely . . .” (Hebrews 12:1) RSV.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us …” (Hebrews 12:1) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ.  What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time.

She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person.  Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband.  Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation.

She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity.  Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious.  An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life.  Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs.  Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ.  She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374.

Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope.  She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope

In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides.  Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church.  She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony.  She died surrounded by her “children.”

Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church.  In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy.  Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970.  Her spiritual testament is found in The Dialogue.

Comment:

Though she lived her life in a faith experience and spirituality far different from that of our own time, Catherine of Siena stands as a companion with us on the Christian journey in her undivided effort to invite the Lord to take flesh in her own life.  Events which might make us wince or chuckle or even yawn fill her biographies: a mystical experience at six, childhood betrothal to Christ, stories of harsh asceticism, her frequent ecstatic visions.  Still, Catherine lived in an age which did not know the rapid change of 21st-century mobile America.  The value of her life for us today lies in her recognition of holiness as a goal to be sought over the course of a lifetime.

Quote:

Catherine’s book Dialogue contains four treatises—her testament of faith to the spiritual world.  She wrote, “No one should judge that he has greater perfection because he performs great penances and gives himself in excess to the staying of the body than he who does less, inasmuch as neither virtue nor merit consists therein; for otherwise he would be an evil case, who for some legitimate reason was unable to do actual penance.  Merit consists in the virtue of love alone, flavored with the light of true discretion without which the soul is worth nothing.”

Patron Saint of Europe & Italy

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)

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Prologue to the
Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) Rule:


 
Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance

In the name of the Lord!

Chapter 1

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).

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“Jesus is King Over Sinners, Thieves, And The Dredge of Society! Which One Are You?!” – Luke 23:35-43†


 

Today is
“The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King”

 

 

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States.  I wish to thank all of you for reading this blog, and sharing my profound and growing faith I have in our Magnificent and Glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Get your Advent Wreath out and cleaned up and ready to go for next week.

  

  

    

Today in Catholic History:


    
†   235 – St Anterus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   496 – Death of Pope St Gelasius I
†   695 – Pope Sergius names Willibrord as archbishop Clemens of Friezen
†   1567 – Birth of Anne de Xainctonge, Founder of the Society of the Sisters of Saint Ursula of the Blessed Virgin, French saint (d. 1621)
†   1854 – Birth of Benedict XV, [Giacomo PGB marques della Chiessa], 258th Pope (1914-22)
†   1964 – Pope Paul VI signs 3rd sitting of 2nd Vatican council

(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:

 

…Jesus did far more than give us an example of heroic meekness and patience. He made meekness and nonviolence the signs of true greatness.  Greatness will no longer consist in lifting oneself up above others, above the crowd, but in the abasing of oneself to serve and lift others up.”  – Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M., CAP; Beatitudes: Eight Steps to Happiness, Servant Books 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being crucified under the title “King of the Jews.”

 

35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.”  36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”  40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?  41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”  42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  (NAB Luke 23:35-43)

 

All three readings at today’s Mass focus on “kingship.”  Not the kingship our world has traditionally understood, but one that comes from suffering, persecution, and death rather than a kingship of power, greed, and wealth.  History is filled with kings whose reign was characterized by selfishness, narcissism, and bloodshed.  These kings dealt with other areas and individuals, even in their own kingdom, with a greedy and sadistic brutality.

The Catholic Church ends our “liturgical year” with the celebration of the “Feast of Christ the King.”  Today’s Gospel proclaims and demonstrates a grand mystery of our faith.  In this moment of Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, and crucifixion, He is revealed as our “King” and “Savior!”

Luke’s Gospel is loaded with surprising “paradigm shifts!”  A paradigm shift is much more than two coins totaling twenty cents moving around in your pocket.  A paradigm shift is a change in basic assumptions one has, such as a change in beliefs, traditions, and actions.

Jesus stirs the proverbial “pot” by proclaiming throughout His entire teaching ministry that the poor are rich, that sinners find salvation, and that the Kingdom of God is found in our midst.  But here, – – while Jesus is dying a horrible death on the cross, – – we witness probably the greatest paradigm shift of all.  We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, – – who, through faith, – – reveals to us that HE IS the King and Savior of all as Isaiah had foreseen seven to eight centuries before Jesus Christ (Isaiah 52:14 – 15; 53:2-17).  A beautiful quirk of fate is that the inscription placed above Jesus’ head on the cross, as a description of His “crime”, placed there to humiliate and mock Him and His followers, actually contains the most profoundly TRUE fact of faith!!  Instead of a crown of jewels, Jesus chooses to instead wear a crown of thorns as a symbol of His reign.

The last half of this Gospel reading, verses 39 – 43, is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  Jesus’ short sentence to the penitent thief reveals Luke’s understanding, and his firm belief, that the destiny of all Christians is “to be with Jesus.” 

In a special, short moment of his life, the “penitent thief” was saved by his spontaneous belief of Jesus’ innocence, righteousness, and His special nature as Messiah.  As the Temple leaders and Roman soldiers laughed at, heckled, and taunted Jesus, a thief crucified by His side recognized Jesus as the “Messiah” and “King of the Jews”.  In doing so, this penitent “sinner” found salvation through Jesus’ life and “soon-to-be” death.  Three separate events happened nearly simultaneously in this poor criminals’ heart, body and soul: events that saved him.

First, he admonished the other sinner, on the other side of Jesus for mocking Jesus.  Second, in front of all present, he confessed his own faults, crimes, and sins.  Finally, this suffering man, (whose name has come to be known as “Dismas”) asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus would reign as King over all of us.  For Dismas, his cross was only a transition, a door, or gate into God’s glory and eternal life in paradise that very afternoon.  He had a “true” faith that began instantly to produce real supernatural effects in himself and in others present who were witnessing this event.

Jesus IS “King”; but not the kind of king we, or His Jewish brethren, expected, imagined, or thought possible.  He held no “political” office.  He did not lead an army.  He was not a dictator who demanded a suppressed liberty or blind obedience.  And, He never used fear, force, or guilt to maintain His rule. 

So, how does Jesus rule from heaven even today?  The answer is quite simple and poetic: Jesus rules with “love!  Jesus’ kingship is different from all others, not in power, but in nature and manner.  His kingship is fortified with love and righteousness.  Jesus’ love, His divine love, has conquered, restored, and inspired millions of people including me and you.  Jesus’ divine love has sustained and converted a multitude of saints and sinners!  Jesus’ love for all of us has literally changed history!  Do you plant the seed of love in others? Do you spread love to those around you as our King Jesus shows us?

His divinity was hidden from many people in His hometown, in the Temple, and possibly even among some of His “followers”.  It seems only those who had the belief of faith in the divinely human Jesus were able to see Jesus the “Messiah.”  

Many of us today still struggle to recognize Jesus as the King: the “Messiah, the Savior and Liberator of all people, and for all people.  Today’s Gospel reading invites us to recognize that Jesus Christ, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior for and of all of us.  Jesus is at once the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) and the “firstborn of all creation!” (Colossians 1:15)

I know I am the “king” of my house.  I claim to “wearing the pants” in my family.  (But my wife tells me which ones to put on!)  Seriously, most of us have never been personally exposed to true “royalty” such as a “king”.  Due to today’s media, most of us DO have some sense of what being “royalty” means.  Royalty is depicted as having control and power over the “subjects” of their kingdom.  We also know “subjects” are prone to give royalty their individual loyalty, faithfulness, and reverence.

Jesus is a “King” in a way that is dramatically different from our traditional understandings of royalty.  Christ’s rule reaches to all places, people, and times.  Jesus manifests his sovereign rule through His death on the Cross, resurrection, and ascension into glory, by which He offers salvation to all.

What does it mean to be a king?  What does it mean to be a “subject” to a king?  How did the people of His time respond to Jesus being nailed to the cross?  How do YOU respond to Jesus being nailed to the cross?  Do we have the faith that Dismas had while he died on the cross next to Jesus?  Finally, how do you recognize and honor Jesus Christ – – the KING?! (Your King?!)

Christmas is literally right around the corner.  With the celebration of the “birth” of Jesus happening in just a few weeks, why are we having a Gospel reading about the end of Jesus’ human life? (Good question, Eh?)  The answer is because today is the end of the Church Liturgical Year.  Through our King’s death on the cross, a new Advent of never ending paradise is opened for all of us.  Today is a great day to start anew, to dedicate yourself to His love and mercy, and to convert from your secular ways.  Following Jesus, our KING, entails living differently than what the rest of society expects and even encourages.  Enter His kingdom and live eternally – Let Him be your KING! 

 

  

Thanksgiving for the Blessings of the Past Year

 

“O God, the beginning and the end of all things, who is always the same, and whose years do not fail, we now, at the close of another year kneel in adoration before You, and offer You our deepest thanks for the Fatherly care with which You have watched over us during the past year, for the many times You have protected us from evils of soul and body, and for the numberless blessings, both temporal and spiritual, which You have showered upon us.  May it please You to accept the homage of our grateful hearts which we offer You in union with the infinite thanksgiving of Your divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with lives with You and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.”

(Adapted from prayer found at
http://www.yenra.com/catholic/prayers)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

   

   

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Feast of the Presentation of Mary

 

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary’s birth, we read of Mary’s presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless.

Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Comment:

It is sometimes difficult for modern Westerners to appreciate a feast like this. The Eastern Church, however, was quite open to this feast and even somewhat insistent about celebrating it. Even though the feast has no basis in history, it stresses an important truth about Mary: From the beginning of her life, she was dedicated to God. She herself became a greater temple than any made by hands. God came to dwell in her in a marvelous manner and sanctified her for her unique role in God’s saving work. At the same time, the magnificence of Mary enriches her children. They, too, are temples of God and sanctified in order that they might enjoy and share in God’s saving work.

Quote:

“Hail, holy throne of God, divine sanctuary, house of glory, jewel most fair, chosen treasure house, and mercy seat for the whole world, heaven showing forth the glory of God. Purest Virgin, worthy of all praise, sanctuary dedicated to God and raised above all human condition, virgin soil, unplowed field, flourishing vine, fountain pouring out waters, virgin bearing a child, mother without knowing man, hidden treasure of innocence, ornament of sanctity, by your most acceptable prayers, strong with the authority of motherhood, to our Lord and God, Creator of all, your Son who was born of you without a father, steer the ship of the Church and bring it to a quiet harbor” (adapted from a homily by St. Germanus on the Presentation of the Mother of God).

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 21 & 22 of 26:

 

21.     On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.

 

22.     The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.

“Oh, Oh, Look At Me, I Am Doing This for God! Nani-Nani Boo-Boo! ” – Mt 6:1-6, 16-18†


 Today in Catholic History:

† 1161 – Birth of Pope Innocent III (d. 1216)
† 1216 – Death of Pope Innocent III (on his 55th birthday)
† 1846 – The Papal conclave of 1846 concludes. Pope Pius IX is elected pope, beginning the longest reign in the history of the papacy (not counting St. Peter).
† 1955 – Pope Pius XII excommunicates Juan Perón.
† Liturgical Feasts: Saint Benno; Saint John Regis, patron of medical social workers; Saints Julitta and Quiricus; Saint Lutgart of Tongeren (died 1246, patron saint of the Flemish National Movement)

Quote or Joke of the Day:
    

A disciple once complained, “You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us.” The master replied, “How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and chewed it up for you before giving it to you?” – Anonymous
   

Today’s reflection is a warning against doing good in order to be seen.

 

Jesus said to His Disciples, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.  When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.  (NAB Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)

 

Listen to the “nuance” of Jesus’ words when He says “Don’t do this.”  He is warning against doing good in order to be seen, and then gives three examples: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting.  In each, the conduct of the “hypocrites” is contrasted with what Jesus demands from His followers.  All three of these spiritual acts (per Jesus) are suppose to be part of a personal relationship we have with God, and should not be made public with the sin of pride.  There are many aspects of our family life that are not made public, and the same should be true of some of our “spiritual life” practices as well.

The hypocrites that Jesus is talking about in this Gospel reading are the Scribes and Pharisees.  The designation “hypocrite” reflects an attitude towards some discontents of Jesus resulting from the many controversies during the time of His ministry.  The Scribes and Pharisees have received their reward in that they desired praise, and thus received what they were looking for by drawing attention to themselves.  Jesus just gave them what they wanted; a short time (relatively) of fame and possibly even fortune, in exchange for eternity separated from God.  Are we Scribes and Pharisees in how we treat are prayer lives, and in how we contribute to our parishes and dioceses?

Our faith has to be one of humility and reverence.  This is ESSENTIAL.  We are giving a gift to God, and thus it is for Him alone.  Who goes to a party and yells out “I gave that to Him, I gave that to Him; Nani-Nani Boo-Boo!”  Only a brat does!  We should have the innocence of a child, but not necessarily the behaviors.

Our gift to God is done as a tribute to the love and mercy He has given to us.  His bouquet of graces has endowed us with many fortunes and gifts in life.  Jesus does not boast about His actions.  As a matter of fact, I have found that Jesus usually works in small and mysterious ways; behind the scenes.  If Jesus is working stealthily, and we are to follow in His footsteps, then it should be obvious that boasting about deeds and bringing attention to our activities is certainly not what He wants of us.

Though we are not required to give 10% of our income to the church, as other church groups call tithing; we are required to support the church “as our status in life” allows.  Yes, this is one of six chief requirements for being a Catholic in full union with the church.  (The others are to attend and possibly even assist at Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; fasting and abstaining on required days; confessing our sins at least once a year; receiving Holy Communion during the Easter time; and observing the laws of the Church concerning marriage.)

The almsgiving Jesus is talking about does not necessarily mean MONEY.  Yes, the rent and utilities have to be paid, so please give as you are able.  Supporting your church certainly entails placing money into the collection basket, but it is much more than that.  Do your children go to the parish school, if available?  If not, do they attend the parish school of religion?  Do you volunteer to help out at the school/parish picnic?  Do you attend church functions: i.e., sports, socials, men’s club, Vincent DePaul Society, etc.?  Do you assist at the weekly Masses as a server, Scripture reader, Greeter, Usher, or Eucharistic Minister?  This list continues: as you can see, there is a lot of potential for involvement in church and parish life. 

The problem I see in our church family today is a mentality of “If I don’t do it, someone else will!”  It is the rare person or family in the parish that volunteers in the parish family today.  The problem this creates is one of a burn-out factor for the person or family.  One person doing everything, wears them out!

 In today’s society, we are permeated by a “me first” behavior and attitude.  Because it is not a priority, a large percentage of Catholics do not go to Mass on a weekly basis; and when they do go (usually only at Easter and Christmas time), mass cannot go fast enough for them.  These same people more than likely will receive the Eucharist without receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior; not realizing (or just not caring) that they are committing another grave sin in doing so.   Not surprisingly, I have truly seen more than half the people attending Mass leave during “communion” time.  I wonder if they realize that the only person to leave the “last meal” early was Judas Iscariot!  It seems like a lot of Catholics want to keep the “Jude Man” company for eternity, in a very warm environment

I have taught 6th grade PSR (parish school of religion for public school children) for the past two years.  I am amazed at the attitude of parents in regards to the importance of a good Catholic basic education, and in their own faith practices. 

I once had a student (6th grade mind you) that whispered to me proudly, while sitting in the pew awaiting for our first mass of the school year to start, “I think I have been here twice before!”  I felt so sorry for the injustice this child had been dealt by his parents.  Another time, two students were brought to my PSR class three weeks into the semester.  The parent said she had not been notified about the start date.  After reminding her that it had been in the bulletin every week of the summer, she responded, “Well that would require me going to mass to get a bulletin!”  Do you believe these parents are doing everything they can to support the parish: financially, or even though their talents and prayers?  Let me answer for you: NO!!

I love to hear people say they are fasting or abstaining by not eating meat on Friday’s during lent, when you know they are VEGETARIANS all year round!  Fasting and abstinence is important practice in our faith, and should not be taken lightly.  Fasting and abstaining is a way to show God (and ourselves) that we are serious about our relationship with Him, and of our wanting to develop a deeper fellowship with Him.  By voluntarily avoiding something, we are taking our eyes off the things of this world, so that we can focus far better on Christ.

The current rules for Catholics require fasting only on Ash Wednesday, and on Good Friday; and abstaining on each Friday of Lent as well.  Anyone over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 should eat only one full meal on fast days, although they can also have small amounts of food in the morning and the evening.  All adult Catholics are required to refrain from something on the “abstinence” days.  You don’t have to stop there: the Catholic Church continues to encourage the faithful to observe a stricter fasting and abstinence habit (preferably year-round), as long as it is not to an extreme point that can be physically, spiritually, or mentally harmful to the individual.

Trivia time:  The English word “breakfast,” means a meal that breaks the fast.  Interestingly, I did not realize the only fast prescribed in the Mosaic law was that for the “Day of Atonement,” known today by a more popular term: “Yom Kippur” (see Lev 16:31), but the practice of regular fasting (according to the Didache) was common in later Judaism.

It would have been fun to be a “fly on the wall” when Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees that “they have received their reward!”  I wonder if He could hold back that coy little smile that says, “You guys are idiots.  Get off your high-horses.”

The statements about a reward found in this Gospel reading illustrate an authentic component of Christian moral teaching for the early Church, and continuing for Catholics today as well.  Possibly to underline the difference between the Christian idea of “reward,” and that of the hypocrites; Jesus used two different Greek verbs (unknown to me: Hey, I’m not a theologian) to express the rewarding of His disciples, versus that of the hypocrites.

So, what DO we do now?  Pray in quiet: and be open to God talking to you.  How often do you talk to God as you would talk to your biological father? We have two ears and one tongue; and God gave them to us in this ratio on purpose.  Give Him time to talk to you.  Another possibility, if you never tried it; go to Eucharistic Adoration.  Realistically, you probably won’t last an entire hour at first, so start with 10 – 15 minutes, and build up to it over some time.  It will become a treasured and wonderful experience if you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.

When you look in a mirror, do you see Jesus looking back at you?  To see Jesus in others, I believe you need to see Jesus in yourself.  When in the light of Christ, which means doing what Catholics are suppose to do, “be happy.”  If uncertain if you are in the light of Christ, reread this reflection.  After all, doing what you are supposed to do will necessitate seeing Jesus in everyone; regardless of their social-economic status.  How can anyone, other than Satan, be gloomy doing what God wants us to do for others, for His Church on Earth, and for Him?

We no longer wear sackcloth and ashes as a sign of repentance for our sins.  Fasting is a form of prayer, and should be done without any fanfare, and with a smile on your face.  Look at the “hunger pains” you may have as a prayer of gratitude for being closer to our Lord.

Let me add another pet peeve that I witness every year: ashes on forehead, which are typically received on “Ash Wednesday.”  Ashes remind us of our mortality and are an outward sign of our sinfulness on the first day of Lent.  It is not supposed to be a smudge, but instead a cross drawn on the forehead.  However, some of the clergy (like Deacon Dave and Father Syd) at my parish must have failed liturgical art in the seminary.

These three disciplines (prayer, almsgiving, and fasting) go together as “spiritual gadgets” in our “Catholic tool chest.”  The Church calls us to practice all three together, often!  I think of these three practices of Catholic spirituality as blades on the “Papal Swiss Army Knife” of the Church.

“O Lord, In my prayers, make me a hungry child
that I may know solidarity with the poor.

In my fasting, make me an empty bowl
that you may fill the hollow space in me with love.

In my almsgiving, make me a grain of rice
that in the company of others,
my gifts may feed a starving world.

We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bl. Guy (Guido) Vignotelli

Born 1185 in Cortona, Italy.  He was known for his charities and recieved the Franciscan habit from Francis at Cortona in 1211.  Guy built a cell on a bridge near Cortona, was ordained, became famed for his holiness and miracles and died in the Cortona convent of the Franciscans.

Blessed Guy (Guido) Vignotelli, OFM Tert was born in Cortona, Italy, circa 1185, and died circa 1245.  After hearing a sermon by Saint Francis, the wealthy Guy invited Francis home for a meal.  At the end of the meal he asked to become a disciple.  He liquidated his goods and with Francis distributed the money among the poor.  Guy received the Franciscan habit of a tertiary from the order’s founder, was ordained a priest, built a cell on a bridge near Cortona, and lived there.  He became well known for his holiness and for his miracles, which were said to include resuscitating a girl who had drowned and multiplying food during a famine.  At age 60, Saint Francis appeared to him in a dream and foretold his death–the exact hour at which Guy died.

(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #16:

Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.

 

“I Believe in ???? !” – 1 Cor 15:1-8†


Today is the Feast of Sts. Phillip and James.  Philip was born in Bethsaida, and was a disciple of John the Baptist prior to following Jesus.  Philip is the Apostle that asked Jesus how they were going to get all the bread and fishes to feed the crowds on that countryside hill; and also asked Jesus to “show him God!” 

James (the lesser) was the son of Alpheus.  There were many James in the Bible, so be careful.  This James is listed four times in the New Testament, and needs to be distinguished from James “the Greater.”  He became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, wrote an epistle, and otherwise led an austere life.  Philip was martyred in the year 62.
   

Today in Catholic History:
† 1160 – Death of Peter Lombard, Italian scholar and bishop (b. c.1100)
† 1428 – Birth of Pedro González de Mendoza, Spanish cardinal and statesman (d. 1495)
† 1491 – Kongo monarch Nkuwu Nzinga is baptized by Portuguese missionaries, adopting the baptismal name of João I.
† 1606 – Death of Henry Garnet, English Jesuit (executed) (b. 1555)
† 1622 – Death of Pedro Páez, Spanish Jesuit missionary (b. 1564)
† 1679 – Death of James Sharp, English archbishop (assassinated) (b. 1613)
† 1758 – Death of Pope Benedict XIV (b. 1675)
† 2000 – Death of John Joseph Cardinal O’Connor, Catholic Archbishop of New York (b. 1920)
† Liturgical Feasts: Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross (the Invention of the True Cross), Saint Philip, Saint James “the Lesser,” Saint Alexander I, Saint Juvenal of Narni (d. 369), Saint Ansfrid (c. 1008), Antonia and Alexander (martyrs of 313), Black Madonna of Czestochowa Queen and Protector of Poland (since April 1, 1656); In the Eastern Orthodox Church: St Theodosius of Kiev; Syriac Orthodox Church: Abhai; Coptic Church: Saint Sarah
      

Today’s reflection is about Paul preaching on the Creed.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Heretics are to be converted by an example of humility and other virtues far more readily than by any external display or verbal battles. So let us arm ourselves with devout prayers and set off showing signs of genuine humility and go barefooted to combat Goliath. –ST. DOMINIC
    

Today’s Meditation:
    

Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand.  Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.  (NAB 1 Cor 15:1-8)

   

Paul the writer of this letter to the people of Corinth recalls the tradition, common ground, and starting point for this letter.  These verses are the fundamental content of all Christian preaching and belief for Paul.  The language by which Paul expresses the essence of the “gospel,” meaning good news, is not his own but is drawn from older creedal formulas. This credo highlights Jesus’ death for our sins (confirmed by his burial) and Jesus’ resurrection (confirmed by his appearances); and presents both of them as fulfillment of prophecy, and conforming Jesus’ passion to the scriptures.

Paul is calling these Christians his “brothers.” This is the same man that in the recent past had tried to have these same people killed as heretics.  The “Bible” was not a written document at this time; and everything was spread in the typical verbal fashion of the day.  The “gospel” Paul is exhorting is the “Good News” (its literal translation) that he preached.   

Through this “good news,” many were obviously converted and “saved.”  The next step for these Christians was maybe the hardest for them: to “hold fast to the word” Paul, and the others, preached.  The societal norms of that day condemned Christians as scourges and the “crazies” of the time.  Too bad this is happening again today, in this Country.

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”   We say these exact words at every mass.  These words are part of both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.  How often do we actually think about what these words are telling us?

Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve Apostles” who were hiding in a locked room, afraid of being killed; and with the uncertainty any group would have that had lost its leader without warning and preparation.  I think the pitiful thing is that Jesus had prepared them for their roles, and they just did not realize, and did not have truly trust in Jesus till this point.  Later, Jesus appears again to James, and the Apostles.  I believe this was the “stoking the fire” appearance.  After this appearance, the disciples were so on fire as to cause a conflagration that literally caught the entire world on fire towards Christianity.   

After appearing to the Apostles, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once.”  At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, most of these Christians were still living, and some had died in body, but living in divinity with Christ in heaven.  Can you picture the stories they told their grandchildren? 

Finally, Jesus appears to Saul (Paul) and literally scares the hell out of him!  (Sorry, I had to write this little pun/joke.)  Paul calls himself “abnormal.”  His use of this word to describe his life prior to conversion is humorous for me.  I myself, and most of my friends, think of me as abnormal (mentally at least), in a humorous and good way.  I also believe that as a sinner, and in no way even close to the goodness of Jesus, have to purposely convert myself on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

“I believe you definitely did die for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; and that you were buried and raised on the third day; that ascended to heaven; and is seated at the right hand of God.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bl. Arthur Bell, Henry Heath, John Woodcock, et al
   

Among the Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales, are found the Blessed Thomas Bullaker, Henry Heath, John Woodcock, Charles Meehan, all Franciscan priests. John Woodcock was born at Leyland, Lancashire, 1603; suffered at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. He was converted about 1622, and after studying at Saint-Omer for a year was admitted to the English College, Rome, 20 October, 1629. On 16 May, 1630, he joined the Capuchins in Paris, but soon afterwards transferred himself to the English Franciscans at Douai. He received the habit from the Venerable Henry Heath in 1631 and was professed by the Venerable Arthur Bell a year later. For some years he lived at Arras as chaplain to Mr. Sheldon. Late in 1643 he landed at Newcastle-on- Tyne, and was arrested on the first night he spent in Lancashire. After two years’ imprisonment in Lancaster Castle, he was condemned, on his own confession, for being a priest, together with two seculars, Edward Bamber and Thomas Whittaker, 6 August, 1646. When he was flung off the ladder the rope broke. Having been hanged a second time, he was cut down and disemboweled alive. The Franciscan nuns at Taunton possess an arm-bone of the martyr. (from Catholic Encyclopedia Online Edition © 2003 by K. Knight) – These martyrs have been beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
     

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.

“Paradoxes in Behavior & Attitudes” – Lk 6:20-25


Sunday morning and it is snowing again.  The quiet beauty outside my kitchen window is relaxing to me. 

 

I have been up all night with a very sick wife.  She either has a bad case of the flu, or food poisoning.  She is now dehydrated, dizzy, and muscles are hurting, but is refusing to go to ER for fluid replacement.  For being an ER nurse, she can be stubborn and a ‘royal’ pain at times.  PS. – I love my wife so much:  Happy Valentines Day Honey Buns.
 

Today, we are talking about the different versions of the “Beatitudes.” 

Bibile Study

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. — Angela Schwindt

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.  Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.  But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.  (NAB Lk 6:20-25)

 

I always thought the “Beatitudes” were the same in all the Gospels.  Surprisingly, they are not!  The end goals are the same: finding Jesus, and finding the way to Jesus in heaven and eternity.  Matthew has a conceptual approach to changing our attitudes towards others; and Luke, being a physician and analytical, was direct and realistic in his approach.  I am more attracted to Luke’s shorter and “you need to do this” approach to the Beatitudes.  In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching on the plains: intermingled with His people.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is above all around Him, on a mountain.  Jesus probably preached the Beatitudes many, many times during His ministry on earth.  Can you picture Jesus standing on a soapbox, on the corner of a busy intersection in Jerusalem, as well as in the Temple?

Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” is the counterpart to Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” found at Mt 5:1-7:27.  It is addressed to the disciples of Jesus, and, like the sermon in Matthew, it begins with beatitudes and ends with the parable of the two houses, later in Lk 6:46-49.  Almost all the words of Jesus reported by Luke are found in Matthew’s version, but Matthew includes sayings that were related to specifically Jewish Christian problems, and Luke’s audience was predominantly Gentile Christians.

 The introductory part of the Luke’s sermon consists of blessings and woes that address the paradoxes of the economic and social conditions of humanity (the poor–the rich; the hungry–the satisfied; those grieving–those laughing; the outcast–the socially acceptable).  In Matthew, the “Beatitudes” emphasized the religious and spiritual values taught by Jesus (“poor in spirit,” Matthew 5:5; “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6). 

In Luke’s sermon, “blessed” extols the condition of persons who are blessed by God.  The “woes” threaten God’s displeasure on individuals blinded by their situations that they do not recognize, and appreciate the real values of God’s kingdom.  In all the blessings and woes, the present situation or condition of the person, will be reversed in the future.

The path to follow in order to get to Christ should not have the goal of being a Fortune 500 company, or to be known to all the world as a celebrity.  We need to remember to seek God on our individual paths, and to ask for His help and guidance constantly.

“Lord, help me to understand, and believe, the Beatitudes of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel, and what they teach us.  Please help me to choose the path leading to you.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.