Saturday, August 20, 2022

My son, accept your trials as discipline.


"Brothers and sisters, You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:

“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.” Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline? At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.

"So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed." (Hebrews 12: 5 - 7, 11 - 13).

Sunday August 21st of the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

My paper castle was tumbling right and left when I heard our Scripture for today (2nd Reading) on the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time many years ago. It was sweet music to my ears. I was happy because I knew for sure that somebody was aware of where I was and what I was suffering.

Whatever trial you may be going through at the moment, our Scripture for today is certainly a word of knowledge and comfort. A sage said: "Correct thought is the key to correct action." This is the great gift God bestows on us in His word: "The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword." (Hebrews 4: 12).

David is happy because the Lord disciplines him. The Apostle James writes: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1: 2 - 4).
"Those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines."

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Friday, August 19, 2022

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


"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. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen.

"They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.....

"Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23: 1 - 12).

Saturday 20th August 2022 of the  20th week of 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. Last but not the least, a great Marian devotee who gave us the Memorare.

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. ..).
St Bernard was a great miracle worker who brought relief to thousands through his intercessions. Bernard suffered from stomach cancer most of his life and died in 1153 at the age of 63.

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."

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 18, 2022

The Feast of St John Eudes, Priest and Founder.


“When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

"Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your ­neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 34 - 40).

Friday 19th August 2022 of the 20th Week of 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.”

In answer to the question of a Pharisee scholar as to the greatest commandment in the Book, Jesus answered with the short Gospel for today. Love God and love neighbor always, everywhere and in everything. Sounds a bit intimidating and impossible. If God asks us to do this, then it is possible.  For God will never ask us to do what is impossible. For  God "all things are possible."  All things are easy for God.

In the first Reading (Ezekiel 37: 1 - 14), the Lord says:  "I will put my spirit in you that you may come to life." (Ezekiel 37: 14). Yes, the Holy Spirit in us makes it possible for us to love God and neighbor. In Baptism, we receive the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit.  The very first of the twelve fruits of the Spirit is love. The Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of life. Without the Holy Spirit we are like the dried bones in the valley of Ezekiel's vision. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Liberty to always choose the best. And the best is love.

For the Christian, love of God and love of neighbor is the way of life. It is the beginning of eternal life here and all the way to eternity.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Wedding Feast is ready. We are waiting for you. Please come quickly.


"Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.

"A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ 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.

"The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.

"Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.

"But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22: 1 - 14).

Thursday 18th August 2022 of the 20th Week of Ordinary Time.

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 16, 2022

The harvest is abundant but where are the workers?


"Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

"Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off.

"And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard."   (Matthew 20: 1..... 16).

Wednesday 17th August 2022 of the 20th Week of 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 15, 2022

Feast of St Stephen of Hungary.


"Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”

"Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

"Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Matthew 19: 23 -  30).

Tuesday 16th August 2022 of the  20th Week of 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..

The rich young man who wanted eternal life and at the same time clung to all his material possessions was told to get rid of them and come and follow Jesus. That was too much for him. He walked away from the Pearl of great Price very sad.

In our Scripture for today, Jesus warns about the dangers of unbridled desire to be rich. To put it starkly, just as power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so does wealth corrupts and extreme riches corrupt extremely. For proof of this, let us head to the first Reading today from Ezekiel 28: 1 - 10. The prince of Tyre became haughty of heart because of the vast wealth he amassed by trading. He came to see himself as: “A god am I! I occupy a godly throne in the heart of the sea!” And his attitude about his wealth and kingdom is:
“Our own hand won the victory;
the Lord had nothing to do with it."

St Paul warns: "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." (1 Timothy 6: 9).
Do not despise the wisdom of the Scriptures on the lure of money. Some play lottery to get rich quick.  "Why do you play the lottery, my friend?" You may be surprised to receive an answer like this: "When I win millions of dollars, I will distribute half to the poor and use the balance to build homeless shelters." An ex taxi driver told me about some of his cabby friends who actually won millions from lottery. They all became homeless in a few years.

God knows what we need and when we need it. This is why Jesus gave us the shortcut to the good life in this great promise: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and the rest will be given to you."

God who is so faithful and true has never failed in his promises.

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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Solemnity of the Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Happy Feast of your Assumption into Heaven O Blessed Virgin Mother!

"Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order:

"Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereign­ty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for “he subjected everything under his feet." (1 Corinthians 15: 20 – 27)

Monday 15th August 2022 of the  20th Week in Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just as in  the Transfiguration of Jesus, Mary's Son confirms our hope of transformation at the general Resurrection. The Assumption of Mary reveals our hope and destiny.

In heaven, there is a hierarchy of merits. There is also a "proper order" (Order of glory) in the resurrection of the body:

1st. Christ
2nd. Mary
3rd. Then at the end of time, everyone who belongs to Christ.

It is God's plan and wisdom that Mary will be raised body and soul into heaven before the general resurrection of the body. This is an ancient belief of the Church. The Church made this teaching a doctrine of faith on 1st November 1950. Pope Pius XII in an Apostolic Constitution defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.  As it is bound on earth, so it is in heaven.

The Assumption of Mary fulfilled one of the prayer intentions of Jesus in the Last Supper:

"Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world." (John 17: 24).

The Blessed Virgin Mary is primus inter pares, ie first among equals in the order of privileges.  Mary our Mother goes before us. Where she is, there shall we be.

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