Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Tax Collector and the Publican.

"Let a neighbor praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger and not your own lips."  (Proverbs 27:20).

"Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

"The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

"But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be ­merciful to me a sinner.’

"I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  (Luke 18: 9 - 14).

Sunday, October 23rd of the 30th week of Ordinary Time.

"O God, be merciful to me a sinner." The attitude and prayer of the Tax Collector becomes our example of the type of prayer that justifies and the prayer that is heard by God. Here is what the Church teaches on the Prayer of Humility:

"The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable:

"God, be merciful to me a sinner!"

"It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that "we receive from him whatever we ask."

"Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer." (CCC 2631).

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions, " (Psalm 51: 3) cried King David after his sins of adultery, cover up and murder.

The prayer of David was heard by God and David went home justified. The Lord hears the cry of the poor and the humble.

Because of the great mercy of God, God gave the Church Baptism as the great Sacrament of Reconciliation and Regeneration. Baptism wipes out our sins and the record of our sins.

Does Baptism remove concupiscence, our ingrained tendency to certain sins? It does not. What then happens to sins that are committed after Baptism? Jesus Christ gave the Church the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession, Penance) to deal with this crisis and stubbornness of sin.

Those who are humble like the Tax Collector are justified by this Sacrament and enjoy the mercy and peace of God.

10. 23 Steadfast devotion to the Holy Rosary breaks the habit of sin. I confirm this teaching of St Louis Marie de Monfort.

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Friday, October 21, 2022

The Feast of St John Paul II, Pope.

"As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live." (St John Paul II).

"And he [Jesus] told them this parable:

“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’

"He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13: 1... 9).

Saturday 22nd October 2022 of 29th Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of Pope St John Paul II. (1920 - 2005). Polish. First non-Italian Pope in 455 years.  Beatified May 1, 2011 and canonized April 27, 2014. All by Pope Francis.  John Paul was an accomplished writer. He traveled all over the world to promote understanding between nations and between different cultures and religions.  He and President Ronald Regan contributed to the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

John Paul II wrote many important encyclicals. His enduring legacy is the Catechism of the Catholic Church which he promulgated in 1992.

Our key Scripture is the Parable of the barren Fig Tree. This is an allegory for the People of Israel. God wants a good return on His investment in Israel, the Church and in you and me.

How do we bear much fruit? Remain in Jesus.  What is the principle of productivity?  Abide in Christ.  How do we abide in Christ?

We live in Christ through the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a holy exchange of gift. Through it, Jesus shares with us His divine life. Another word for God's divine life in us is sanctifying grace.

Our fruitfulness depends therefore on this dynamic relationship with Christ living in us.
"Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit."  (John 15: 14, 15).

Fruitfulness is not addiction to activity.  It is believing God. It is knowing the will of God for you and doing it. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. He will accomplish the work.

"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).

10. 22  “To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and His mother.” (St John Paul II).

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Thursday, October 20, 2022

The ominous signs of the times cry for action.

"Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes asks us to try to interpret the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel." (CNA)

"Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain—and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot—and so it is.

"You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

"If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison.

"I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.” (Luke 12:   54 - 59).

Friday 21 October 2022 of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time.

What are the Signs of the Times today? Consider a few of these:

1. Divisions in the Body of Christ.
2. Fragmentation of the Catholic Church into conservatives and liberals.
3. Climate change.
4. The war in Ukraine.
5. Rise in migration and refugees worldwide.
6. Global inflation.

Jesus says "You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"

What can we do about these signs?
If you are in litigation and you decide that the outcome will not be favorable to you, you sue for peace. "If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate, make an effort to settle the matter on the way; otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the constable, and the constable throw you into prison."

Let us hurry to do something about these grim signs of the times.
If you hear His voice today, harden not your hearts. Do not say: I have tomorrow. I will make peace with God tomorrow.  "You fool, this night, you face your Judge."

10. 21 Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful, Pray for us O Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Feast of St Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists.

“The more deeply the cross penetrates, the better; the more deprived of consolation that your suffering is, the purer it will be; the more creatures oppose us, the more closely shall we be united to God.” (St Paul of the Cross).

"Jesus said to his disciples:

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!

"There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!

"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:  49 - 53).

Thursday 20th October 2022 of the 29th Week  of Ordinary Time is the feast of St Paul of the Cross. (1694 - 1775). Italian. Priest, mystic, Founder of the Passionists. The charism of St Paul of the Cross is a profound understanding of the mystery of the Cross and translating this understanding into a plan of life. The Passionists founded by St Paul of the Cross were noted for a life of evangelical poverty and mortification. They are great Retreat Masters.  “Bury yourselves in the heart of Jesus crucified, desiring nothing else but to lead all men to follow his will in all things.” Wrote St Paul of the Cross.

Some people think that the Gospel of today from Luke 12: 49 - 53 is a hyperbole, that is, great exaggeration. Do you think so? Then look at a Crucifix. Is Jesus nailed to the Cross wearing a crown of thorns a hyperbole?

Jesus proclaimed: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" Jesus said in another passage that the purpose of His life is to proclaim the truth. If you belong to the truth, you will listen to His voice. He further said. If you do not belong to the truth, you will oppose Him.

Falsehood always opposes the truth. Cain murdered Abel. Esau hated his brother Jacob and would have killed him if he had the opportunity. The brothers of Joseph sold him into slavery. Judas, intimate companion of Jesus betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver. This tug of War still plays out relentlessly in families everywhere. Do not be afraid of those who oppose you because you have responded to the call of Jesus. Be rather afraid of failing to acknowledge Jesus before men. Jesus wants us to love our families and friends but never make idols of them.

Do you remember how David slew Goliath? Now see what weapons God has given us for the inevitable struggle of the present time:
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10: 4 - 5).

Our God is a consuming fire!

10. 20 “As she was the way by which Jesus first came to us, [Mary] will again be the way by which he will come to us the second time though not in the same manner.” (St Louis Marie de Monfort).

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Feast of Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf and Companion Martyrs.

"In the face of extreme suffering and hardship, these brave French [Jesuits] met violent deaths while serving God and the Church in remote areas of eastern Canada and New York state. They became known as the North American Martyrs." (Simply Catholic).

"Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

"Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

"And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?

"Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.

"But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful.

"That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”  (Luke 12: 39 - 48).

Wednesday 19th October 2022 of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time is  the feast of the North American Martyrs: John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and companions. All French and all of the Society of Jesus. Eight in all, six priests and two lay brothers. They labored day and night under harsh conditions with almost the certainty of martyrdom to bring Jesus Christ to the Native Americans. In faith these martyrs believed Jesus that He came to found an everlasting Kingdom of peace, joy and happiness for ever and ever.

It is God's will for all people to be saved.. "That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely." If you know that it is God's will for all to be saved and you do nothing, your judgment will be very severe.

"You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Now that you know this, you will be blessed if you do it.

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

10. 18 "Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination." (15th Promise of the Blessed Virgin Mary to devotees of the Rosary).

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Monday, October 17, 2022

The Feast of St Luke the Evangelist.

"[Evangelization] is not something optional, but the very vocation of the People of God, a duty that corresponds to it by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ himself."
(Pope Benedict XVI)

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings of peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation!"  (Isaiah 52: 7 - Entrance Antiphon on the Feast of St Luke).

Such beautiful feet are those of St Luke the Evangelist whose feast we celebrate today, 18th October 2022 of the 29th week of Ordinary Time.

St Luke writes in the Gospel of today:  

“The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.

"He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

"Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.

"Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.

"Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.

"Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves payment. Do not move about from one house to another.

"Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you."  (Luke 10: 1 - 9).

The Master of the harvest, God the Father sent Jesus to preach the Good News. Jesus trained and sent Apostles to spread the Gospel.  Luke was commissioned to preach the word and author the Gospel according to St Luke and Acts of the Apostles. A few words on the profile of St Luke is in order here.

According to Tradition, St Luke is a Gentile physician. When he heard the Good News, he abandoned his medical practice and attached himself to St Paul as his traveling companion. He demonstrated a thorough ability for research and a keen eye to detail in his subjects.  He showed a preferential option for the poor, women and sinners. Without St Luke, our knowledge of the life and work of Jesus Christ would be poorer.  Examples of unique Lukan content:

1. The Infancy Narrative from the Annunciation to the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 1 - 2).
2. Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37).
3. The Publican and the Pharisee. (Lk 18: 13 ).
4. The Parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15: 11 - 32).
5. The forgiveness of the Good Thief from the Cross. (Lk 23:40... ).

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few."  (Luke 10: 2).  It was so in the beginning. It is still so today.
So many people in our communities no longer consider themselves members of any Church and live lives far removed from the Gospel of Christ. How do we reach these people? This is the challenge for you and me. Whatever answer you have, consider Prayer as the first tool.

10. 18 “If families give Our Lady fifteen minutes a day by reciting the Rosary, I assure them that their homes will become, by God’s grace, peaceful places."
"The family that prays together stays together." (Father Patrick Peyton).

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Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Feast of St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr.

"Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips, and the world in your heart." (St Ignatius of Antioch).

"Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”

"Jesus replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

"Then he told them a parable.

“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.

"He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’

"But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’

"Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”  (Luke 12:  13 -  21).

Monday 17th October 2022 of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time is the feast of a giant of our faith: St Ignatius of Antioch. (+ 107). Syrian. Bishop and Martyr. Ordained Bishop by St Peter himself. Father of the Church. Ground to pieces by wild beasts under the persecution of Emperor Trajan.

Why is St Ignatius of Antioch pivotal in the history of the Church? Anyone ordained Bishop by the Apostle Peter has a claim to fame. But for St Ignatius of Antioch, there are other reasons. During his journey from Antioch to Rome under heavy armed guards, Ignatius composed seven extraordinary letters. These letters are the earliest authoritative teaching on the Eucharist, the hierarchy of the Church, etc.

Ignatius was torn to pieces by the iron teeth of wild beasts because he acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior before Emperor Trajan.

Our key Scripture for today is the self congratulatory words of the foolish rich man whose land produced abundant harvest. He did not give thanks to God. He did not share his bounty with the poor.  He received a jolting message from God who is our Divine Providence:

"You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" (Luke 12: 20).

From the beginning of salvation history, God has taught man to trust in Him for all his needs. Below are a few relevant Scriptures:

#1. Gather the manna you need for one day.  The next day, "I the Lord Your God will supply fresh manna for the new day." (Cf Exodus 16: 21 - 35).
Hoarding is idolatry. Deal with your insecurity with prayer.

#2. "Give us today the food we need."  (Matthew 6: 11).
God who is our Providence knows exactly what we need and when we need it.

#3.  "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."  (Matthew 6 : 34).
God says: My Name is: I AM. My Name is not I WAS. My Name is not I WILL BE.
Learn from God's Name that He is always Emmanuel, God with you always. He is in control everywhere, in everything and always. Do not be fooled by what you consider accidents or coincidences.

Jesus promises that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His holiness, God who knows what we need and when we need it will never fail to provide adequately for us.

Do not allow wealth to be a snare for you.  Rather make your wealth the trusting of God's promises. God wants His faithful promises to be our protection and armor in every situation. (Cf Psalm 94: 4). Not even a single one of them has failed.

Below is St Ignatius of Antioch in his own words:

“Let me be food for the wild beasts for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.” (St Ignatius of Antioch).

10. 17  “The Rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother.” (St Louis Marie de Monfort).

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