What profit have workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to mortals to be busied about. God has made everything appropriate to its time, but has put the timeless into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. I recognized that there is nothing better than to rejoice and to do well during life. Moreover, that all can eat and drink and enjoy the good of all their toil—this is a gift of God. I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever; there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Thus has God done that he may be revered. What now is has already been; what is to be, already is: God retrieves what has gone by.
-- Ecclesiastes 3:9-15
Popes are an interesting lot and John is no different. He was a man caught between two worlds; not just the world of politics and the world of Faith, but within each of those worlds as well. He practiced intolerance early in his career, supporting the anti-pope and was forgiven and eventually elected Pope.
In the West Theodoric the Ostrogoth was an Arian, while many of his subjects were Catholic. In the East, Justin was Orthodox while many of his subjects were Arian. In the West they looked to the East; in the East to the West. In the East the Arians appealed to Theodoric for help and Theodoric sent John to appeal for justice from the persecution. He was received in honor and argued from love for those who believed something that he did not and Justin relented, with some minor caveats. Theodoric was more political and viewed his non-Arian subjects with suspicion as possibly more loyal to the East. John's success and warm welcome in the East also raised his suspicions. Ironically, the love that John proclaimed brought relief in the East but persecution and his death in the West. His life and martyrdom are an example of the merits and perils of tolerance.
When a few days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea on a visit to Festus. Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man here left in custody by Felix. When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation. I answered them that it was not Roman practice to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge. So when (they) came together here, I made no delay; the next day I took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in. His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”
-- Acts 25:13-21
Help me to journey beyond the familiar
and into the unknown.
Give me the faith to leave old ways
and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the mysteries, I trust You
to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know
that my times, even now, are in Your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven,
and somehow, make my obedience count for You.”
I am not sure how many garden statues of Isidore are confused for Francis but I feel like it is a significant number (along with Fiacre - he is also holding a shovel but down not up). It probably does not help that so many of both are so poorly made as to be indistinguishable. Both are noted for their piety and humility so it is probably fine to have either one watching over your flower bed. In your garden though, it might make a difference.
Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness”. In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people.
-- Apostolic Exhortation GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE 6, Pope Francis
If you think about it, we are all replacement apostles. The use of lots to select Matthias speaks to the work of the Spirit in selecting us for what we need to do. We must also ask did "Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus" (Acts 1:23) stop being called just because the lot did not fall in his favor? It matters not because we probably know as much about him as we do about Matthias, which means both men lived out their call to holiness in simple grace and humility. So it is for us. Those of us called to "greatness" must not find pride or pleasure in it; those of us called to "lesser duties" must also find no shame or displeasure in it. It is our job to "become with us a witness to his resurrection.” (22b)
"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.
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.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."
-- John 15:9-17
We all have stories that affect us. For reasons which I cannot explain (or even seek explanation), Fr. Damien's story touched me at an early age after I read it and has affected me my whole life. There is then, something to be said for reading the lives of even those who are not saints, especially to the young.
I find my consolation in the only companion of mine who never leaves me, that is, our divine Savior in the holy Eucharist.
It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation. Without the Blessed Sacrament, a situation like mine would not be sustainable. But with the Lord at my side, well then! I continue to be always happy and content. With this gaiety of heart and a smile on my lips, I work with zeal for the good of the poor unfortunate lepers, and little by little, without much fuss, good is done.
-- Letter to his Brother, 1881
How often do we give our lives over to God? That is to say, how often do we attribute events in our lives to God and the intercession of the saints such that we then live like we believe that happened and allow it to guide our life choices?
Dearly beloved, those days which intervened between the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension did not pass by in uneventful leisure, but great mysteries were confirmed within them and deep truths were revealed.
In those days the fear of death was removed with all its terrors, and the immortality not only of the soul but also of the flesh was established. During that time the Holy Spirit is poured upon all the Apostles through the Lord’s breathing upon them, and to the blessed Apostle Peter, set above the rest, the keys of the kingdom are entrusted and the care of the Lord’s flock.
It was during that time that the Lord joined the two disciples as a companion on the way, and, to sweep away all the clouds of uncertainty forever, reproached them for the slowness of their timid and trembling hearts. Their enlightened hearts catch the flame of faith, and lukewarm as they have been, they are made to burn while the Lord unfolds the Scriptures. In the breaking of bread also their eyes are opened as they eat with him. How much more blessed is that opening of their eyes, to the glorification of their nature, than the time when our first parents’ eyes were opened to the disastrous consequences of their transgression.
Dearly beloved, through all this time which elapsed between the Lord’s Resurrection and Ascension, God’s Providence had this in end in sight, to teach his own people and impress upon their eyes and their hearts that the Lord Jesus Christ had risen, risen as truly as he had been born and had suffered and died.
Hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been both bewildered at his death on the cross and backward in believing his Resurrection, were so strengthened by the clearness of the truth that when the Lord entered the heights of heaven, not only were they affected with no sadness, but were even filled with great joy.
-- From a sermon of Leo the Great
Today's readings just seemed very appropriate.
Then Peter responded,
"Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?"
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:46b-48)
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.
In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.
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.
You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another." (John 15:9-17)
So many feasts of the apostles are lumped into the Easter Season - fitting of course as they give everything for the message so real and important to them.
In this crowd, it is James we know the most about; related to Jude and Jesus, and head of the Church in Jerusalem, we know of his martyrdom. Philip's fate is lost in obscurity. What we know so well from the Gospels is that Philip often seemed to miss the point of things and we get Jesus' almost exasperated responses. But it is Philip's role to bring the Greek believers to Jesus and for that we celebrate him.
Brothers in the Lord, it is only the happy coincidence of the transfer of the relics to Rome on the same day that brings their feasts together.
Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him,
"Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
-- John 14:6-9
The feast of Athanasius reminds us of the struggle against the easy way out that human rationality so often provides us. It also reminds us of the whole point of it. If God had wished to merely restore Creation then *poof* it would be done. But that is not how the Father, with the Son and the Spirit Created. Athanasius reminds us that the freewill we exercised is integral to Creation. The *poof* God provided was the exercise of freewill. Jesus chose to take on the "form of a slave" in order to freely exercise the will of the Father. Death has meaning. Every aspect of Creation has meaning. Nothing is chance or accident. Emmanuel (God with us) would have no meaning without this action.
As for death, today is appropriate, for we laid to rest a loved one. The last line sums up the truth and reality of the action of God that Athanasius defends.
The Word of God, ...[o]ut of his loving-kindness for us he came to us, and we see this in the way he revealed himself openly to us. Taking pity on mankind’s weakness, and moved by our corruption, he could not stand aside and see death have the mastery over us; he did not want creation to perish and his Father’s work in fashioning man to be in vain. He therefore took to himself a body, no different from our own, for he did not wish simply to be in a body or only to be seen.
If he had wanted simply to be seen, he could indeed have taken another, and nobler, body. Instead, he took our body in its reality....
The immortal Son of God, united with all men by likeness of nature, thus fulfilled all justice in restoring mankind to immortality by the promise of the resurrection.
The corruption of death no longer holds any power over mankind, thanks to the Word, who has come to dwell among them through his one body.
-- From a discourse by Athanasius
To counteract bad culture is often necessary to take it on and over come it. The idea of Joseph the laborer as a true model for workers everywhere is an important teaching. This feast, like so many of our major feasts, falls on a day that is recognized by the prevailing culture and transforms it. This feast takes a flawed human understanding of work and transforms it into a correct view of humans and importance and the dignity of the work we do.
Man, created in God’s image, has been commissioned to master the earth and all it contains, and so rule the world in justice and holiness. He is to acknowledge God as the creator of all, and to see himself and the whole universe in relation to God, in order that all things may be subject to man, and God’s name be an object of wonder and praise over all the earth.
This commission extends to even the most ordinary activities of everyday life. Where men and women, in the course of gaining a livelihood for themselves and their families, offer appropriate service to society, they can be confident that their personal efforts promote the work of the Creator, confer benefit on their fellowmen, and help to realize God’s plan in history.
So far from thinking that the achievements gained by man’s abilities and strength are in opposition to God’s power, or that man with his intelligence is in some sense a rival to his Creator, Christians are, on the contrary, convinced that the triumphs of the human race are a sign of God’s greatness and the effect of his wonderful providence.
The more the power of men increases, the wider is the scope of their responsibilities, as individuals and as communities.
It is clear, then, that the Christian message does not deflect men from the building up of the world, or encourage them to neglect the good of their fellowmen, but rather places on them a stricter obligation to work for these objectives.
Human activity, to be sure, takes its significance from its relationship to man. Just as it proceeds from man, so it is ordered toward man. For when a man works he not only alters things and society, he develops himself as well. He learns much, he cultivates his resources, he goes outside of himself and beyond himself. Rightly understood this kind of growth is of greater value than any external riches which can be garnered. A man is more precious for what he is than for what he has. Similarly, all that men do to obtain greater justice, wider brotherhood, a more humane disposition of social relationships has greater worth than technical advances. For these advances can supply the material for human progress, but of themselves alone they can never actually bring it about.
Hence, the norm of human activity is this: that in accord with the divine plan and will, it harmonize with the genuine good of the human race, and that it allow men as individuals and as members of society to pursue their total vocation and fulfill it.
-- Gaudium et Spes, 34-35, Vatican II
I have heard it said that people who have attended parochial schools never hear about Jesus. This to me is an odd complaint. Our job is not to proselytize as some may believe but to bring Christ's love and justice into the world - we are evangelizers. Often this means going into hostile environments to serve the people of God. We are vilified and castigated for just being Catholic, regardless of what we say. That fact, that even without preaching we can be seen as Catholic, is a powerful witness to the world. It is the badge of honor of many missionaries, Robert and William included.
In many places evangelization begins with education, to which missionary work dedicates much time and effort, like the merciful vine-dresser of the Gospel, patiently waiting for fruit after years of slow cultivation; in this way they bring forth a new people able to evangelize, who will take the Gospel to those places where it otherwise would not have been thought possible. The Church can also be defined as 'mother' for those who will one day have faith in Christ. I hope, therefore, that the holy people of God will continue to exercise this maternal service of mercy, which helps those who do not yet know the Lord to encounter and love Him. Faith is God’s gift and not the result of proselytizing; rather it grows thanks to the faith and charity of evangelizers who witness to Christ. As they travel through the streets of the world, the disciples of Jesus need to have a love without limits, the same measure of love that our Lord has for all people. We proclaim the most beautiful and greatest gifts that He has given us: His life and His love.
-- Pope Francis, Message for World Mission Sunday, May 16, 2016
It is tradition that the author of the Gospel of Mark was "John Mark" of the Scriptures. He and his family appear to have been followers early on:
When he [Peter] realized this [that he had been released from Herod's prison], he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who is called Mark, where there were many people gathered in prayer. (Acts 12:12)
After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission, they returned to Jerusalem, taking with them John, who is called Mark. (Acts 12:25)
Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions; if he comes to you, receive him)... (Colossians 4:10)
When they arrived in Salamis, they [Paul and Barnabas] proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. They had John also as their assistant. (Acts 13:5)
After some time, Paul said to Barnabas, “Come, let us make a return visit to see how the brothers are getting on in all the cities where we proclaimed the word of the Lord.” Barnabas wanted to take with them also John, who was called Mark, but Paul insisted that they should not take with them someone who had deserted them at Pamphylia and who had not continued with them in their work. So sharp was their disagreement that they separated. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. (Acts 15:36-39)
It is speculated that Mark openly marked his shame in his youthful inability to hang by mentioning this small fact:
Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. (Mark 14:51-52)
It appears that eventually he managed later to he find his mettle and found Paul's forgiveness in the earlier confident forgiveness of Barnabas:
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as well as Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers. (Philemon 1:23-24)
Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:11)
It also appears that he lived long enough to follow Peter and Paul to Rome then produce a Gospel that became not just the foundation for Matthew and Luke, but the foundation of the Church in Rome.
Prayer: Lord, through the merits of St. Mark, help us to write our own gospel and be unafraid to include the good with the bad all for your glory.
We often read the term "Counter-Reformation" as if the Church suddenly rose up in arms to fight the re-formers. In truth reformation is a constant process in the Church as is shown by its many saints over the millennia through that time and even to today. The Church seeks to reform but there are those who seek to re-form her in their own image. Like the need for reform, this is nothing new in the Church and still continues to this day.
The price of standing by her and trying to reform the Church is often resistance from both outside and inside the Church. A friend and I agreed years ago that, as Christ shows us, if they are not trying to kill you, you are not doing it right.
We have many accounts of the early martyrs, many of which are certainly more speculation than fact. For me, it is in reading the more modern accounts like this one or that of St. Kolbe which bring the older less reliable ones to new truth.
Finally, I have read that a Protestant offered Fidelis sanctuary, a statement to both men.
From Gruesch he went to preach at Seewis, where, with great energy, he exhorted the Catholics to constancy in the faith. After a Calvinist had discharged his musket at him in the Church, the Catholics entreated him to leave the place. He answered that death was his gain and his joy, and that he was ready to lay down his life in God's cause. On his road back to Gruesch, he met twenty Calvinist soldiers with a minister at their head. They called him a false prophet, and urged him to embrace their sect. He answered: "I am sent to you to confute, not to embrace your heresy. The Catholic religion is the faith of all ages, I fear not death." One of them beat him down to the ground by a stroke on the head with his backsword. Fidelis rose again on his knees, and stretching forth his arms in the form of a cross, said with a feeble voice "Pardon my enemies, O Lord: blinded by passion they know not what they do. Lord Jesus, have mercy on me. Mary, Mother of God, succor me!." Another sword stroke clove his skull, and he fell to the ground and lay in a pool of his own blood. The soldiers, not content with this, added many stab wounds to his body with their long knives, and hacked-off his left leg, as they said, to punish him for his many journeys into those parts to preach to them.
St. George and the Dragon is a strange but popular tale. We actually know very little about George but it has not stopped us from heaping accolades upon this martyr - as we should upon all martyrs for the Faith. We live the life of Christ on their merits.
Saint George was a man who abandoned one army for another: he gave up the rank of tribune to enlist as a soldier for Christ. Eager to encounter the enemy, he first stripped away his worldly wealth by giving all he had to the poor. Then, free and unencumbered, bearing the shield of faith, he plunged into the thick of the battle, an ardent soldier for Christ.
Clearly what he did serves to teach us a valuable lesson: if we are afraid to strip ourselves of our worldly possessions, then we are unfit to make a strong defense of the faith.
As for Saint George, he was consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit. Armed with the invincible standard of the cross, he did battle with an evil king and acquitted himself so well that, in vanquishing the king, he overcame the prince of all wicked spirits, and encouraged other soldiers of Christ to perform brave deeds in his cause...let us not only admire the courage of this fighter in heaven’s army but follow his example. Let us be inspired to strive for the reward of heavenly glory, keeping in mind his example, so that we will not be swayed from our path, though the world seduce us with its smiles or try to terrify us with naked threats of its trials and tribulations.
-- From a sermon on St. George by St. Peter Damian
With this light that is given to the eye of the intellect, Thomas Aquinas saw Me, wherefore he acquired the light of much science; also Augustine, Jerome, and the doctors, and my saints. They were illuminated by My Truth to know and understand My Truth in darkness.
By My Truth I mean the Holy Scripture, which seemed dark because it was not understood; not through any defect of the Scriptures, but of them who heard them, and did not understand them. Wherefore I sent this light to illuminate the blind and coarse understanding, uplifting the eye of the intellect to know the Truth....
So you see that the eye of the intellect has received supernatural light, infused by grace, by which the doctors and saints knew light in darkness, and of darkness made light. The intellect was, before the Scriptures were formed, wherefore, from the intellect came science, because in seeing they discerned. It was thus that the holy prophets and fathers understood, who prophesied of the coming and death of My Son, and the Apostles, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, which gave them that supernatural light.
...when the eye of the intellect is ravished by the fire of My charity, in which charity it receives the supernatural light. With this light the souls in the unitive state love Me, because love follows the intellect, and the more it knows the more can it love. Thus the one feeds the other, and, with this light, they both arrive at the Eternal Vision of Me, where they see and taste Me, in Truth, the soul being separated from the body, as I told you when I spoke to you of the blissfulness that the soul received in Me.
-- Dialog, 11
CERTAIN brethren have often and earnestly entreated me to put in writing some thoughts that I had offered them in familiar conversation, regarding meditation on the Being of God, and on some other topics connected with this subject, under the form of a meditation on these themes. It is in accordance with their wish, rather than with my ability, that they have prescribed such a form for the writing of this meditation; in order that nothing in Scripture should be urged on the authority of Scripture itself, but that whatever the conclusion of independent investigation should declare to be true, should, in an unadorned style, with common proofs and with a simple argument, be briefly enforced by the cogency of reason, and plainly expounded in the light of truth. It was their wish also, that I should not disdain to meet such simple and almost foolish objections as occur to me.
This task I have long refused to undertake. And, reflecting on the matter, I have tried on many grounds to excuse myself; for the more they wanted this work to be adaptable to practical use, the more was what they enjoined on me difficult of execution. Overcome at last, however, both by the modest importunity of their entreaties and by the not contemptible sincerity of their zeal; and reluctant as I was because of the difficulty of my task and the weakness of my talent, I entered upon the work they asked for. But it is with pleasure inspired by their affection that, so far as I was able, I have prosecuted this work within the limits they set.
I was led to this undertaking in the hope that whatever I might accomplish would soon be overwhelmed with contempt, as by men disgusted with some worthless thing. For I know that in this book I have not so much satisfied those who entreated me, as put an end to the entreaties that followed me so urgently. Yet, somehow it fell out, contrary to my hope, that not only the brethren mentioned above, but several others, by making copies for their own use, condemned this writing to long remembrance. And, after frequent consideration, I have not been able to find that I have made in it any statement which is inconsistent with the writings of the Catholic Fathers, or especially with those of St. Augustine. Wherefore, if it shall appear to any man that I have offered in this work any thought that is either too novel or discordant with the truth, I ask him not to denounce me at once as one who boldly seizes upon new ideas, or as a maintainer of falsehood; but let him first read diligently Augustine’s books on the Trinity, and then judge my treatise in the light of those.
-- Preface to Monologium
Alphege was bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury during the Danish raids of the early 11th century. He had managed to quell the raids through artful diplomacy but with a change in Danish leadership that ended. He was captured in a raid and killed in frustration when he refused to be ransomed. I mention him today because over 100 years later Thomas a Becket commended his cause of reform against power to Alphege. One never knows the effect one has when one lives for Christ.
The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things. The Wisdom of God places these things at the service of man and when they receive God’s word they become the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, which have been nourished by the Eucharist, will be buried in the earth and will decay, but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up to the glory of God the Father. Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God’s power is shown most perfectly in weakness.
-- Against Heresies by Irenaeus
We often get in the way of God's will, but as always is the case, God's will reigns supreme. The nonsensical actions people do from ignorance, the best of intentions, or spite still do not stymie the will of God. There are always those who also manage to do the will of God no matter what the actions of others may be. Mother Blondin started from ignorance herself and was pursued by ignorance her whole life but still managed to be Christ to the world without a sense of moral outrage that could have been hers.
“There is more happiness in forgiving than in revenge.”
-- Mother Blondin
You will find that the reading of sacred scripture is a great and powerful remedy against bodily suffering and depression of mind. In my opinion, there is no other writing, no matter how eloquent and stylish it may be, that can bring such peace to our minds and so thoroughly dissolve our cares as sacred scripture can.
I speak from personal experience: for there have been times when I was beset with anxieties, the worst of which came from the experience of my own weakness, and if on such occasions I sought relief in the scriptures, the hopes and desires that led me there were never disappointed. The word of scripture proved to be a solid bulwark against my anxieties and a relief to my troubled spirit.
I have often wondered why the scriptures have this persuasive power, why they have such a powerful effect on those who listen to them, and why they lead us to the commitment of faith and not to the mere forming of opinion. This response of faith does not happen because of a reasoning process, because scripture does not offer one; and it is not a matter of literary style or artistic merit, because scripture does not use these devices; nor does it use soft words to persuade us.
The real reason that scripture has this persuasive power is that it comes from First Truth. Surely there can be no other explanation for such conviction. It seems as though scripture has an inherent authority that compels us to believe. But on what base does this authority rest? None of us has seen God preaching, writing, teaching —and yet we believe as though we had seen, and realize that what we read comes from the Holy Spirit. One reason for believing may well be that the truth contained in scripture is very solid truth, even though it is not as clear as we might wish. All truth has an inherent power to win our acceptance: the greater the truth, the greater its power. So why is it, then, that not all believe the good news? My reply is that not all are drawn by God. However, there is no point in arguing further. We believe in sacred scripture to the degree that we accept in our hearts God’s divine inspiration.
-- From the Treatise on Patience by Blessed Baptist Spagnoli
Today's Gospel reflects the simple humility of Bernadette, who for all the world could have profited from her visions. Her faith extends beyond the "signs" she saw and into the belief "in the one he sent."
After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.
The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks.
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
-- John 6:22-29
The arrangement of the names of Christ, however, is manifold: Lord, because He is Spirit; Word, because He is God; Son, because He is the only-begotten son of the Father; Man, because He was born of the Virgin; Priest, because He offered Himself as a sacrifice; Shepherd, because He is a guardian; Worm, because He rose again; Mountain, because He is strong; Way, because there is a straight path through Him to life; Lamb, because He suffered; Corner-Stone, because instruction is His; Teacher, because He demonstrates how to live; Sun, because He is the illuminator; Truth, because He is from the Father; Life, because He is the creator; Bread because He is flesh; Samaritan, because He is the merciful protector; Christ, because He is anointed; Jesus, because He is a mediator; Vine, because we are redeemed by His blood; Lion, because he is king; Rock, because He is firm; Flower, because He is the chosen one; Prophet, because He has revealed what is to come.
-- Decree attributed to Damascus
Martin is the patron of, among other things, mixed-race people. I think even after all this time that and the last line of John XXII's homily say everything we need to learn from this saint today.
He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.’
It is remarkable how even today his influence can still move us toward the things of heaven. Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, nor do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ’s footsteps and to obey God’s commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.
-- Homily on the Canonization of Martin de Porres, John XXIII
There is a chapel in the bowels of the Pontifical North American College in Rome dedicated to the North American Martyrs and they were the mascots for the soccer team whose colors were, appropriately, red, black, and blue. The stained glass window there depicts many of the men who traveled far to practice their vocation and their fate. The Jesuits who undertook the spread of the Gospel in hostile and untamed lands often encountered both reception and opposition. North America was not a unified land and even with abundant resources, territorial disputes were contentious. So it was too for the vineyard of Faith.
The success or failure of the martyrs of North America is not measured by the integration or overwhelming of cultures or suppression of Native peoples and beliefs, but in the witness of those martyrs. I live surrounded by their efforts.
"Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said, 'I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute' in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter."
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
-- Luke 11:47-54
In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father* about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.”
-- Luke 1:1-5