Saturday, August 21, 2021

They heard about the Bread of life and did not believe.

"As a result of this, [Bread of life talk] many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6: 60 - 69).

Sunday 22nd August 2021, in the 21th Week in Ordinary Time.

Jesus had probably said some provocative things in His ministry but for many of His disciples, the Bread of life Discourse was the limit of their tolerance. "I am the bread of life. I am the living bread. You must eat My flesh and drink My blood."  What does Jesus mean? Are we cannibals? Many of His disciples decided to leave Him and regretted the time they invested in the enterprise.

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”

Think about this: How many people left the true Church because of the Child Abuse crisis? How many people left because they disagreed with their Bishop's teaching or regulations and decided to leave the Church to spurn the Bishop? Or left for some other petty reasons?

What will happen in the Church today to make you decide: "I have had enough. I am quitting."
Sacred Scripture says that those who leave the true Church never really belonged to the Church.
"They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number." (1 John 2: 19).

The truth of the Gospel is the fire that purifies and tests the caliber of the metal.  The "me too's" were found wanting.

At the challenge of Jesus to the Twelve, Peter replied: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
If today you have not come to believe and are convinced that Jesus is true God and true Man and that He is what He claims to be: the Bread of life, the Light of the world, the Way, the Truth and the Life, why are you still in the Church?

"My Eucharistic presence meets with coldness, with indifference, and with a chilling ingratitude, even on the part of My priests and of consecrated souls. They fail to recognize in the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist the pearl of great price, the treasure once hidden in the field but now offered freely to all who would partake of its inexhaustible riches." (IN SINU JESU page 215).

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Friday, August 20, 2021

The Feast of Pope St Pius X.

"Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example." (Matthew 23: 1 - 3).

Saturday 21st August 2021, 20th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Pius X (1835 - 1914). Italian. Pope. The Church and the world owe St Pius X a great deal for these innovations that we take for granted today: Frequent Holy Communion, renewed emphasis on the Catechism, children receiving Holy Communion from an early age. Reform of seminaries.  For his work on the Eucharist, he is called the Pope of the Eucharist. He defended stoutly the integrity of the Catholic faith against modernist heresies.
His papal motto: "To restore all things in Christ" became truly his magnificent obsession. “I was born poor, I lived poor, I die poor” was his final word. He died brokenhearted because he could not avert the First World War that started in 1914.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus upbraided the scribes and the Pharisees. Why? They teach correct Doctrine but leave the practice of what they teach to their followers.
Who are the equivalent of the scribes and Pharisees today?
They are the Bishops and Abbots who received teaching authority directly from Christ. They have helpers in priests, theologians and catechists.

Church Father and Doctor of the Church St John Chrysostom teaches that the Bishops and their assistants must be respected because they hold apostolic office no matter their failings.

We may think that a Bishop is in error with regard to one doctrine or the other. But who are we to criticize him when his Boss says:
"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10: 16).

All things success and failure work together for good to those who love God. God makes everything beautiful in the fullness of time. Trust in the merciful, mighty and mysterious Plan of God.

We all will be judged on the Last by our obedience and humility.

Jesus concludes His teaching for today with these words:
"The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 11 - 12).

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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Feast of St Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church.

"But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried." (Ruth 1: 16 - 17).

Friday 20th August 2021, in the 20th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 - 1153). French. Abbot and Doctor of the Church.

St Bernard was a Cistercian monk who is well known in the history of the Church.  A man of great zeal for the Church. Renowned theologian and orator. Represented the Pope as an ambassador for the Crusade. Among peers, he was a towering giant. Both intellectually and spiritually. He was immensely learned, holy, cultivated, gentle, a great teacher and a highly effective preacher.  I remember Bernard best because of the Memorare Prayer that he left the Church. The Memorare is one of the most popular prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary recited by many Catholics daily. (Remember O Most Blessed Virgin Mary that never was it known. ..)

Our key Scripture for today are the brave words of Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi.  Unknown to Ruth, she had been chosen by God to be the great grandmother of King David and to become one of the three women in the Genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Who is Ruth?  Ruth was a Moabite woman married to the son of Naomi. Ruth's husband died. Naomi decided to go back to Bethlehem since her husband and two sons had died. She released her two daughters-in-law from any obligations towards her. Orpah, the other daughter-in-law left and went back to her people. Ruth refused to to leave Naomi.

“Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried."

This is a very popular Scripture in weddings for obvious reasons.  Who would not like to have the like of Ruth as a daughter-in-law?

What can we learn from the character of Ruth?
A spirit of sacrifice, hard work, loyalty and faithfulness. Although a stranger to the monotheistic religion of Israel, she no doubt fulfilled the ancient law enunciated by Jesus in our Gospel of today: "You shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself." (Cf Matthew 22: 34 - 40).

The Memorare Prayer: (Attributed to St Bernard of Clairvaux).

"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me."

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Feast of St John Eudes, Priest and Religious Founder.

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son."  (Matthew 22: 2).

Thursday 19th August 2021, 20th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St John Eudes (1601 - 1680).

St John Eudes was a French priest and a gifted preacher. John took a private vow of chastity at the age of 14 and was ordained a priest at 25.  He became a great and talented preacher of the Gospel and an eminent evangelist. St John Eudes had great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He founded the Society of Jesus and Mary (Eudists).  He later founded the Order of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge for ex prostitutes. He was declared by Pope Leo XIII as “father, doctor, and apostle of the liturgical cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.”

Our Gospel of today is the Parable of the Wedding Feast. Remember that the Church is the seed of the Kingdom of God on earth.  Remember too that the wedding feast here is an analogy for the Eucharist and the King here is Jesus.

The King cries out: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast." (Matthew 22: 4).

A heart-felt invitation is issued to the friends of the King.  See what happens:

"Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them."  (Matthew 22: 5 - 6).

Not only did many of the invited guests reject the invitation contemptuously but to add grave insult to injury, some guests mistreated the messengers and killed them. The chosen and invited guests have proved themselves very unworthy of the great honor done to them.

Sunday is the day Christians are asked to leave work and worldly past times and come and worship the Lord.  How sad it is to read that less than 30% accept the invitation to keep sacred the Sabbath Day. What is going on?

"I have created you for My love, and My love alone can satisfy the desires of your heart. Enter, then, the wound in My side and, penetrating even into My Heart, drink deeply of the springs of love that will refresh and delight your soul and wash you in preparation for the wedding of your soul with Me, for I am the Bridegroom of your soul, your Saviour from all that would defile you, and your God who is love and mercy now and unto the ages of ages." (IN SINU JESU page 162)

"Many are invited, but few are chosen.”  (Matthew 22: 14).
Lord Jesus, may we be among the ones who are chosen.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

No Unemployment in the Kingdom of God.

"Why have you been standing here idle all day? You go into my vineyard too.”  (Matthew 20: 6 – 7).

Wednesday 18th August 2021, in the 20th Week in Ordinary Time. 

The owner of the vineyard needs laborers for his vineyard. Hour after hour, he hires men from the labor market for his vineyard. Even at 5 pm, an hour to the end of the work day, he said to a few men he found at the labor center, "Why have you been standing here idle all day? You go into my vineyard too.”

The Church on earth is the seed of the Kingdom of God. In this Kingdom, there is no unemployment. There is work for everyone in the Vineyard. The Owner of the Vineyard is an equal opportunity Employer. He will be fair and generous. But do not be surprised and bitter if every worker is paid the same. Why were the late workers paid first?

God's mighty and merciful Providence can be very mysterious to us. 
"The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.”  The Church is the vineyard of the Lord. (Isaiah 5: 7).

At the end of the parable, the Master asked the disgruntled workers:
"What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?" (Matthew 20: 14 - 15).

Since the Parable of the Vineyard is an allegory for the Church today, we may wonder:
Look at the harvest! Where are the workers?
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9: 37 - 38).

"I am the source of all fruitfulness in the vineyard that is My Church. Apart from Me, you can do nothing. Come to Me, then. Remain with Me. Act for Me, guided by My Holy Spirit, and return to Me with thanksgiving. This is the secret of a priestly life that will be pleasing to Me, will build up My Church, and will glorify My Father." (IN SINU JESU page 103).

"May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our mind, so that we can see what hope his call holds for us." (Ephesians 1: 17, 18).

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Monday, August 16, 2021

If God is with you, the mission is accomplished.

“Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26).

Tuesday 17th August 2021, in the 20th Week in Ordinary Time. 

In today's Gospel (Matthew 19: 23 - 30), Jesus uttered a revelation and a prophecy found all over Sacred Scripture which is foundational to the life of faith. A few examples:

#1. For God all things are possible. (Jesus). 
#2. for nothing will be impossible for God.” Angel Gabriel to Mary. (Luke 1: 37).
#3. "The Lord turned to him [Gideon] and said, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.” (Judges 6: 14). Angel to Gideon. First Reading today. 

What is the take away from today's Scripture? A lesson in God's pervasive power and sovereignty. God's Divine Providence is mighty but also merciful. 

When God gives you a job to do, the one thing you want to hear is:  "I am with you."
If God is with you, the mission is accomplished. Therefore look for the signs of the Presence of Emmanuel in: joy, peace, tranquility and confidence. This is the internal testimony of the Presence of Emmanuel who has chosen, called and anointed you for service. 
Mary responded to such a moment thus: "Be it done to me according to Your word." 
St Paul responded: 
"Therefore, since we do hold and engage in this ministry by the mercy of God [granting us favor, benefits, opportunities, and especially salvation], we do not get discouraged (spiritless and despondent with fear) or become faint with weariness and exhaustion." (2 Corinthians 4: 1 AMPC) 

"Give Me the first place in your heart and in your life, and I will provide for you in every circumstance. I will not allow you or those with whom you share this life to want for anything. My providence is wholly at the disposal of My merciful love. Trust then in My merciful love and you will see the wonders that I will accomplish for you." (IN SINU JESU page 100).

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Sunday, August 15, 2021

Feast of St Stephen of Hungary.

"Jesus said to him [the rich young man], “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions." (Matthew 19: 21).

Monday 16th August 2021, in the 20th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Stephen of Hungary. Born in 969 and died on August 15th 1038). Monarch.
St Stephen was crowned king of Hungary on Christmas day 1001 by Emperor Otto III by the permission of Pope Sylvester II.  Stephen earned his greatness in Christian history by founding monasteries and organizing dioceses thereby transforming Hungary into a Christian nation. St Stephen and his wife Blessed Gisela were the parents of St. Emeric.

St Stephen is the patron saint of: Hungary, kings, bricklayers and masons.

Jesus said to the rich young man: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions."

Why? Because he thought the mandate of Jesus was impossible. He was thinking of his own strength.
St Augustine struggled against chastity until one day he realized that he could be chaste only through the power of Jesus Christ.

Without Christ, we can do nothing. I can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives me strength. Amen.

"Be faithful to all that I have asked of you. Trust Me to do for you and in you those things that, of yourself, you cannot do.  I will give you strength and energy, not only for your soul, but also for your body. Thus will you be able to correspond actively to My designs on your life." IN SINU JESU page 82).

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