REFLECTION ON THE DAILY GOSPEL 28 SEPTEMBER 2013

Today’s Gospel is a short one, at least in terms of words. But, like life, often the smallest verses have the greatest meaning and mystery associated with them. Let us read it again.

While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

So what does all that mean? Right from the top, the disciples continued to be amazed at the miracles that Jesus is working.

Luke has just finished describing the healing of a boy possessed by a demon and they are in awe. Coming off the transfiguration, where Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah, this only brings them closer to believing in him.

However, Jesus shakes them by repeating for a second time his forthcoming passion. They do not understand what he is talking about.

They are also a little stunned because he has warned them about the conditions for discipleship a few verses earlier.

Then he said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

If you were a disciple at that time it sounds like there is a lot of suffering to come, and they were not sure if they could handle it.

We know now that Jesus was taking about eternal life after the resurrection. But at the time the apostles would not have understood this as the resurrection was still to come along with the Holy Spirit that would breadth the grace of God into them and their missions.

So basically they were scared to question him on this further.

We have some of the same reactions in life ourselves. When we are faced with challenges, do we sometimes just turn a “deaf ear” to them.

Hoping they will go away, like a debt collector, a bad cold or even worst. Sometimes it is more serious than that, such as our relationships with others.

We might neglect them or hope that the other person will apologize first. Waiting to do something is a decision too. Something we often forget.

Jesus knew what was coming, and he was facing up to it fully, and trying to get the disciples to do the same.

He knew in advance the trials that were going to befall them after his crucifixion and resurrection. And the disciples they did not want to be reminded that “they have to pick up their cross as well”.

It takes a lot of strength to face up to death. At the time, the apostles knew that Jesus was a special man, but most (with the exception of Peter) had not make the full connection. That Jesus was God and that He was the Messiah.

That revelation was to come later for them, even after the resurrection, the disciples were still basically scared for their own lives, and it wasn’t until Pentecost, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit in the Upper room that they truly had “knowledge and understanding” of God and his plan for their lives.

So what seems like a few small words in today’s Gospel balloons out to the mystery of the Trinity and the wondrous power and awesome love God has for us.

Giving us His son in death and resurrection, giving us new life every time the sacrifice is made. Each time we partake of the Eucharist we are once again renewed with untold graces. These are the infused graces that reach into the deepest elements of our soul. Refreshing and enriching our faith and love for Jesus.

When we see the importance of time in Salvation history in Jesus’s ministry from his crucifixion and resurrection, we get a perspective of God’s long-term plan and love for us.

Before time began, there was ALWAYS the three persons of the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is eternal, so our own concept of time is irrelevant. God was, is and always will be as the Catechism states. CCC 205 “He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.”

So I will repeat … God the Father was always there, so was God the Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

All of this preplanned by God, by God the Father in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, God the Son in the New Testament and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity.

So the amazing mystery of the Trinity is bound up in these few warning lines to the disciples in the Gospel today.

Now we have more than 2000 years of tradition and celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to help us live out our faith with fidelity.

We have the truth of his presence in the Eucharist nourishing our souls, and we have the gifts and presence of the Holy Spirit to support and sustain us through the times when we have our own Cross to bear.

At the end of the day, it all returns to God’s intention for us. His saving grace, his unlimited love.

We can meditate on this call to us in his short poem called Love Sustains.

 

Love; a life sustaining grace,

Not visible, but obvious,

inexpensive, yet priceless,

unlimited, though often withheld.

Sustain your life today. Love someone.

REFLECTION ON THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 27 SEPTEMBER 2013

Today is the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. When Vincent was a young priest in France, a friend of his–St. Francis De Sales said of him, “here is the holiest man in all France”.

The impact that one person can have on others should not be hard to understand. But somehow it is.

It all started with Jesus, his mission and twelve others called to his work. From Him and those twelve, we now have more than 2 billion Christians in the world and more than 1.3 billion Catholics in that number.

Not a bad multiplying factor from twelve, for the mathematicians out there, that is about 166 million percent increase.

Despite all this power, we continue to underestimate the effect on just one individual on others’ lives. St. Vincent de Paul did not just save many lives in his time, through his own selfless example, and encouraging those with riches to give up their wealth for the good of the poor; But his real concern was saving souls.

The power of humility in every act he conducted is an inspiration to us, but often we take the position of gazing in awe at others works in the world and its community, and neglect our own personal call to do God’s work. While none of us is St. Vincent, we can participate in his work. Just this week I had the opportunity to ask the St. Vincent De Paul society in my parish in Westford, to help a woman that was in need. Telephone calls were exchanged and within a few days, the help that she so desperately needed was being coordinated.

The first reading today shows that when we step out and answer his call, God’s promises do not go unanswered.

That our treasure will be delivered. “Greater will the future glory of this house … and in this place I will give you peace

We can trust in those promises, first in our faith, but then in our actions. Treasure indeed.

Aside from the religious communities founded by St. Vincent, in 2012 the St. Vincent de Paul society gave 11 million service hours, provided 627,000 home visits, 27,000 prison visits and gave out $767 million in services to those in need. St. Vincent must be smiling a big one in delight at this work inspired by his leadership, love of God and humility.

St. Vincent never forgot what drove him onward in his spirituality. His deep love of Jesus kept his focused and guided on the pilgrimage that was his life.

As the Psalmist in 43 this morning describes, “Your light and your fidelity” are a pair of divine attributes that will be guides for all of us on our own journeys. Ones that lead us back to our own Jerusalem and to God’s peaceful presence within us.

Don’t you know what it is like when you meet someone who is truly peaceful and holy? There is a reason that everyone wanted to be in the presence of Mother Theresa of Calcutta. She radiated the peace and love of God. There was so much of it inside her; it streamed out for all to see. How beautiful is that.

Something similar seems to be going on with Pope Francis. Not a week goes by that he does something again that brings the mission of the Church to the headlines. He is working hard to show that mercy and love are at the center of Christ’s message to us, and therefore our message must be the same.

That is not to say that we should not be bold in our own missions whatever they are, however, I think we have all had the experiences where we try and argue someone into the Church. It seems that Pope Francis, St. Vincent and the readings are all speaking the same message at a time that we need it most.

Here are a few words from St. Vincent that speak volumes to our situation in the world today.

“Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this [choice] without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because He sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust.

Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires” (from the letters of St. Vincent de Paul).

So St. Vincent, like the prophet Haggai wants us to rebuild the temple for the Lord. The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem was a sign of the end of exile for God’s chosen people in Babylon, and God’s promises renewed.

Jesus reminds us that His role in rebuilding the temple of God will be done by His sacrifice and our following the new law given to us in the New Testament reading today.

That is one of a loving and merciful God, where we are drawn like those first 12 apostles to vigorous love Him and do his work, no matter what that means to us personally.

Does all of this seem like it is above our pay grade? Is all this holiness something for someone else? Can we really get that close to God?

I think we already have the answer to that question.

It is answered every moment that we celebrate the Eucharist as we are this morning together. We know of this love and we want to share it intimately with Him.

St. Vincent celebrated his first Mass as a priest in a small wooden shed of a chapel without any of his family or friends present. But he did have his most important friend present. The one he wanted to be closest to in every way in his life. Jesus Christ. By maintaining that closeness in his activities, no goal was too much, no task too large, any number of “No ways” were politely ignored as he continued to try and move others positions in life from selfishness to helping others.

It is sometimes described that Saints are above us all because “they just are”. They seem to be operating on a different plane, where they do not get tempted or disturbed by the “other guy”. Of course we know that this is not true, in fact many describe in detail the way they are tormented greatly in their journeys moving closer to God.

So this holiness is often thought of “them being holy” and they have no will to “do bad” or sin ever again. It certainly looks that way from the outside.

However, the real reason is that they are now operating with Christ inside them. It is Christ’s will that is helping them govern their actions, they are not just thinking “what would Jesus do” but rather are aligned with Him.

Imagine Jesus being a part of our fully formed conscience and will. This is why saints and saintly prayerful people appear to be at such peace in the world.

We can detect this just by meeting someone, often without saying anything to them.

A glance at their face, demeanor and you can feel God radiating from them. This spillage is the grace of God, and is available to us all. We just have to stay on the path outlined this morning in the readings and set by the example of St. Vincent.

Help build his temple in the world around us, take the pilgrimage with light and fidelity at our side. Trust him in the deepest levels of our heart. And recognize that He has already made the ultimate sacrifice to show us the way.

One we can know and love by partaking of his presence this morning in the Eucharist.

Let us aspire to sainthood, not for the glory of ourselves, but to set bar as high as we can make it. Like St. Vincent we can have that moment with God alone, basking in his glorious presence, in those moments when we know he has touched us deeply.

THE DAILY GOSPEL AND READINGS 2 SEPTEMBER 2013

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 431

Reading 1 1 Thes 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

Responsorial Psalm PS 96:1 and 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13

R. (13b) The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Gospel Lk 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.