The Lord himself will fight for you

Question of the Day

What victory does the Lord want to win for you today?
How can we glorify God?

Avanti!

In the Gospel reading today men demand signs of Jesus. Still today, men want proofs. But if they got them, they would most likely try to rationalize the sign and remain obstinate in disbelief. As Father Abraham told the rich man who merited eternal hellfire: if your brothers don’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe a man rising from the dead. (Luke 16:19–31)

In the OT reading, the Israelites are complaining to Moses, looking back to their past and claiming that their former enslavement is preferable to the current situation. The circumstance seems impossible: the Red Sea ahead and Pharaoh’s army in pursuit behind. Moses encourages the people, but then himself turns to God. God asks Moses “why are you crying out to me? Go forward!”

As with the Israelites, God is in our midst, ready to act. God has given and does give proofs—but not in response to our incredulity and at our demand. We, like the Israelites, are afraid, preferring the familiar comfort of slavery to sin. When Jesus healed the ten lepers, it was not an instantaneous sign. They were healed “on the way.” In doing what Jesus asked them to do, in trust, in going forward, they realized the healing had taken place. So there is the stillness of trust, but also the action of obedience and moving forward.

Fear and comfort keep us behind. Trust not only launches us forward but is the prerequisite for God to do what only he can do: split the sea, make a way, and conquer our enemies. What other sign do you want?

For us to sing the responsorial psalm and claim “the Lord is a warrior!” we must first acknowledge our weakness—be it our powerlessness over a sin that seems to have conquered us or an external oppression. As Saint Paul said, when he is weak, he is strong (2 Corinthians 12). This paradox is possible only in and with Jesus Christ.

Sometimes the greatest challenge in our life is to be patient with ourselves, to be present to the current situation, and to be still and in humble trust wait for the Lord to win the victory.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Exodus 14:5–18

When it was reported to the king of Egypt
that the people had fled,
Pharaoh and his servants changed their minds about them.
They exclaimed, “What have we done!
Why, we have released Israel from our service!”
So Pharaoh made his chariots ready and mustered his soldiers—
six hundred first-class chariots
and all the other chariots of Egypt, with warriors on them all.
So obstinate had the LORD made Pharaoh
that he pursued the children of Israel
even while they were marching away in triumph.
The Egyptians, then, pursued them;
Pharaoh’s whole army, his horses, chariots and charioteers,
caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea,
at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up
and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them.
In great fright they cried out to the LORD.
And they complained to Moses,
“Were there no burial places in Egypt
that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert?
Why did you do this to us?
Why did you bring us out of Egypt?
Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said,
‘Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians’?
Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians
than to die in the desert.”
But Moses answered the people,
“Fear not! Stand your ground,
and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.
These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.
The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two,
that the children of Israel may pass through it on dry land.
But I will make the Egyptians so obstinate
that they will go in after them.
Then I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army,
his chariots and charioteers.
The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD,
when I receive glory through Pharaoh
and his chariots and charioteers.”

Responsorial Psalm: Exodus 15:1BC–2, 3–4, 5–6

I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The LORD is a warrior,
LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O LORD, has shattered the enemy.
R. Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.

Gospel: Matthew 12:38–42

Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
He said to them in reply,
“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it
except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,
so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth
three days and three nights.
At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.
At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and there is something greater than Solomon here.”

I will send you; I will be with you

Question of the Day

To whom has God sent you?

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Exodus 3:1–6, 9–12

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your father,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
The cry of the children of Israel has reached me,
and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh
and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
He answered, “I will be with you;
and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you:
when you bring my people out of Egypt,
you will worship God on this very mountain.”

Responsorial Psalm: 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Gospel: Matthew 11:25–27

At that time Jesus exclaimed:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

I will be with you.

Both the OT and NT readings today speak of God revealing himself. How easy it would be to read Exodus and say, that was Moses. God revealed himself to Moses, but he would not do that for me. God had a special mission for Moses, but he does not have one for me.

In the case of Moses, God reveals himself in an extraordinary way: a bush aflame that does not burn. But who is Moses at this point in the story? He’s tending his father-in-law’s sheep — they are not even his own sheep. He had fled Pharaoh’s house, where he grew up with all the world could offer, because he killed an Egyptian. Put on Pharaoh’s Most Wanted List, Moses is now a man in hiding, no longer able to live among his own people or Pharaoh’s court. This is the man God chooses.

In the NT reading, Jesus tells us that God reveals himself to the childlike. Moses certainly must have been humbled. God knew the right timing. What Moses had to go through, how many prayers he had to say as he did his daily work. Very often our failures are our greatest assets. Too much worldly success/diversion/ entertainment can prevent us from being humble and available for God’s plans. The bush might be burning, but we are too preoccupied to notice.

The very thing the devil wants to do is sever your relationship with God. He does this in a variety of ways, such as worldly allurements, but especially by getting you to doubt—to doubt God’s love, God’s Word, his care, his presence, and your worth. The devil loves to divert you from your path of glory. How easy it is to drift away from God after committing a grave sin (or having been gravely sinned against). How easy to think that God wants nothing to do with an incredible sinner like me. Much harder it is to approach God through the ordinary means he provides in his Church (sacrament of reconciliation and Eucharist) robed in humility, gratitude, and sorrow for spurning such love.

The truth is that God desires to reveal himself to you; he wants not just an encounter, but an intimate relationship, so intimate, that he dwells within you and is with you always and everywhere. God is ready for that encounter right here, right now, exactly as you are. Do you believe that? Do you seek that encounter? Do you prepare for that encounter? And then… God desires to send you. In fact, he already has sent you—to your particular family, circle of friends and influence, your workplace, your nation.

Jesus says, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will move mountains. Our post-Christian culture is bleeding to death. People are blind and deaf and don’t even know it. They are enslaved by entertainment and experiences and things. Their souls groan, but they’ve gotten used to it. They live as if God does not exist, let alone care. Why would they pray? Who would hear and respond?

Evil reigns when good men do nothing. God called Moses. But now, today, he is calling all his baptized children. You don’t have to go to China or India. You just have to go to work or a family gathering or the school board meeting. Your mission field is where you are. As God promised Moses, so he promises us: “I will be with you.”

We are not alone; we do not go forth alone. We do nothing good by ourselves. The prerequisites are not money or physical strength or youth or political power. The prerequisites are humility and childlike trust and love.

Sometimes the mission is simple: encounter God. Because an encounter with God is transforming. May every man be able to pray Psalm 103 and say “God has pardoned my iniquities; he has healed my ills; redeemed my life from destruction; bless the Lord, O my soul! All my being, bless the Lord!” That sort of transformation is witness enough and often qualifies as a mountain moved.

Everywhere and only, humility

Question of the Day
Have you thanked God for this failure already?

Quote of the Day
The most sensitive musical instrument is the human soul. The next… is the human voice. One must purify the soul until it begins to sound. — Arvo Part

Video of the Day
Music is my friend

Listen

Scriptures of the Day
God’s Creative Word

Beautiful readings to day for meditating on ourselves as a landscape.

In the OT reading, God’s Word is compared to nourishing water in the form of rain and snow. They come from Heaven to Earth, achieve their ends, and return a harvest to God. Our minds and hearts are the soil, sometimes hard as stone, rejecting God, other times thirsting and soaking up God’s Word, which is always abundantly available.

God’s Word is not just the scripture. The seed is also Jesus, Word made flesh, in the Eucharist. Every time we receive communion, a seed is cast.

When we do receive God’s Word, and it begins to bear fruit, we are likely to respond with a song, a song about the majesty and awesomeness of God, about the things He has done. Yet, as Saint Paul indicates in his letter to the Romans, life is not always a bowl of sweet berries. Gardening requires a lot of work, but also hope, patience, and perseverance. In this field of time, we work: tilling and preparing soil, planting, watering and fertilizing, and waiting on God, who causes the growth. And, of course, the pruning. Some of the “work” is ours to do; much is God’s.  As long as we remain in time, the full harvest is yet to come.

Old Testament: Isaiah 55:10–11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm: 65

You have visited the land and watered it;
greatly have you enriched it.
God’s watercourses are filled;
you have prepared the grain.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Thus have you prepared the land: drenching its furrows,
breaking up its clods,
Softening it with showers,
blessing its yield.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

You have crowned the year with your bounty,
and your paths overflow with a rich harvest;
The untilled meadows overflow with it,
and rejoicing clothes the hills.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

The fields are garmented with flocks
and the valleys blanketed with grain.
They shout and sing for joy.
R. The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.

Epistle: Romans 8:18–23

Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Gospel: Matthew 13:1–23

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The disciples approached him and said,
“Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He said to them in reply,
“Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven
has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.
To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
This is why I speak to them in parables, because
they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.
Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says:
You shall indeed hear but not understand,
you shall indeed look but never see.
Gross is the heart of this people,
they will hardly hear with their ears,
they have closed their eyes,
lest they see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their hearts and be converted,
and I heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

“Hear then the parable of the sower.
The seed sown on the path is the one
who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it,
and the evil one comes and steals away
what was sown in his heart.
The seed sown on rocky ground
is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy.
But he has no root and lasts only for a time.
When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
he immediately falls away.
The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit.
But the seed sown on rich soil
is the one who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

I will provide for you and for your children

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure

As I sit with today’s readings I begin think about the right order of things: having a proper order of ourselves in relation to God, the temporal in relation to the eternal, ourselves in relation to our siblings (blood or through Christ), and even the place of suffering and trials during this fleeting life.

During his homily at Mass, my priest, taking his queue from the OT reading, emphasized peace among siblings, but I can’t help think about the case of Charlie Gard, where the right order of things seems to be, well, squished. We have doctors, hospital administrators, British judges, and EU judges, people in positions of power (and responsibility) overreaching their authority and denying a baby and his parents their rights—a problem we will see more and more of as people misunderstand “separation of church and state” and who, not understanding their true place, fail to ask as our patriarch Joseph did, “can I take the place of God?” Rather, they try to do just that. And in doing so, don’t say “I will provide for you and for your child.”

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is clear about several things:

  • if we follow him as disciples, we can expect to suffer as he did.
  • we ought to trust in the Father’s love and care and know our value.
  • we ought not fear men or any harm they may try to do or even successfully carry out, but to fear God, who made us and knows every hair on our head.
  • if we acknowledge Jesus, Son of God, before men, Jesus will acknowledge us before his Father in Heaven.

As we know from the book of Genesis, Joseph, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham and Sarah, suffered at the hands of his jealous brothers. He was almost killed, but after a plea by his eldest brother Reuben, Joseph was sold into slavery and taken down to Egypt. What not just man (but flesh and blood) planned for evil, God turned into a good for Joseph, and a life-saving blessing on those who wronged Joseph. Full of the gift of fear of the Lord, Joseph knows his place and understands his responsibility and accountability to God. He forgives and extends mercy to his brothers.

Joseph was wronged also while he was in Egypt. He lost his position, was thrown unjustly into jail, and then left there, forgotten by the one he helped set free. But Joseph endured his trial patiently and with trust, because he knew God. When we know who God is and who we are, we can joyfully sing Psalm 105 and to be glad, no matter how lowly we are.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict said recently when he met Pope Francis’ five newly elected cardinals: The Lord wins in the end. May the Lord also win your heart!

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Genesis 49

Jacob gave his sons this charge:
“Since I am about to be taken to my people,
bury me with my fathers in the cave that lies
in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
the cave in the field of Machpelah,
facing on Mamre, in the land of Canaan,
the field that Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite
for a burial ground.
There Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried,
and so are Isaac and his wife Rebekah,
and there, too, I buried Leah–
the field and the cave in it
that had been purchased from the Hittites.”

Now that their father was dead,
Joseph’s brothers became fearful and thought,
“Suppose Joseph has been nursing a grudge against us
and now plans to pay us back in full for all the wrong we did him!”
So they approached Joseph and said:
“Before your father died, he gave us these instructions:
‘You shall say to Joseph, Jacob begs you
to forgive the criminal wrongdoing of your brothers,
who treated you so cruelly.’
Please, therefore, forgive the crime that we,
the servants of your father’s God, committed.”
When they spoke these words to him, Joseph broke into tears.
Then his brothers proceeded to fling themselves down before him
and said, “Let us be your slaves!”
But Joseph replied to them:
“Have no fear. Can I take the place of God?
Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good,
to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.
Therefore have no fear.
I will provide for you and for your children.”
By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.

Joseph remained in Egypt, together with his father’s family.
He lived a hundred and ten years.
He saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation,
and the children of Manasseh’s son Machir
were also born on Joseph’s knees.

Joseph said to his brothers: “I am about to die.
God will surely take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land
that he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Then, putting the sons of Israel under oath, he continued,
“When God thus takes care of you,
you must bring my bones up with you from this place.”
Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten.

Responsorial Psalm: 105

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!

Gospel: Matthew 10:24–33

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“No disciple is above his teacher,
no slave above his master.
It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher,
for the slave that he become like his master.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul,
how much more those of his household!
“Therefore do not be afraid of them.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Questions of the Day

  • Can I take the place of God?
  • Who is master of your household?

Prayer of the Day

In honor of our God-fearing and merciful patriarch Joseph featured in the OT reading, I chose a selection of prayers to Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus. And I chose these also because of the good St. Joseph has done for me in obtaining a great calm and peace of soul which has managed to conquer my easily agitated human nature and passionate and impulsive self!

Consecration to Saint Joseph

O, my beloved St. Joseph, adopt me as thy child, take care of my salvation, watch over me day and night, preserve me from the occasion of sin, obtain for me purity of soul and body! Through thy intercession with Jesus, grant me a spirit of sacrifice, of humility and self-denial, a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a sweet tender love for Mary, my mother. St. Joseph, be with me living, be with me dying, and obtain for me a favorable judgment from Jesus, my merciful Savior. Amen.

Prayer to St. Joseph by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance and expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O Patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity. Amen.

Intercession of St. Joseph, most loving of fathers and patron of departing souls

Oh St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having engaged here below your heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most loving of fathers. Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

Holy Cloak Novena

 

 

 

 

Faithful and inexhaustible love

Prayer of the Day: Pope Francis’ Intention for July
that our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith
rediscover the beauty of the Christian life

 

In today’s scripture, we see the faithful and inexhaustible love of God demonstrated when Jesus relieves two men who are possessed by demons. Not only are two men free, but the road becomes safe for all to travel. Rather than rejoice, the people of the town reject Jesus and the freedom he desires to give. Later on in scripture, however, we learn that this town does turn to and follow Jesus, and we can do the same. Jesus awaits each one of us, no matter for what reason or for how long we have rejected him. He desires no less than to set us free and bestow his love upon us.

Scripture of the Day: Matthew 8:28–34
in which the people of a town reject Jesus and ask him to leave

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
“If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”
And he said to them, “Go then!”
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

Question of the Day

Have you turned away from Jesus? Why?

The prince is the minister of God

Song of the Day

Quote of the Day
from On the Origin of Civil Power

7. There is no question here respecting forms of government, for there is no reason why the Church should not approve of the chief power being held by one man or by more, provided only it be just, and that it tend to the common advantage. Wherefore, so long as justice be respected, the people are not hindered from choosing for themselves that form of government which suits best either their own disposition, or the institutions and customs of their ancestors.(3)

8. But, as regards political power, the Church rightly teaches that it comes from God, for it finds this clearly testified in the sacred Scriptures and in the monuments of antiquity; besides, no other doctrine can be conceived which is more agreeable to reason, or more in accord with the safety of both princes and peoples.

9. In truth, that the source of human power is in God the books of the Old Testament in very many places clearly establish. “By me kings reign . . . by me princes rule, and the mighty decree justice.”(4) And in another place: “Give ear you that rule the people . . . for power is given you of the Lord and strength by the Most High.”(5) The same thing is contained in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: “Over every nation he bath set a ruler.”(6) These things, however, which they had learned of God, men were little by little untaught through heathen superstition, which even as it has corrupted the true aspect and often the very concept of things, so also it has corrupted the natural form and beauty of the chief power. Afterwards, when the Christian Gospel shed its light, vanity yielded to truth, and that noble and divine principle whence all authority flows began to shine forth. To the Roman governor, ostentatiously pretending that he had the power of releasing and of condemning, our Lord Jesus Christ answered: “Thou shouldst not have any power against me unless it were given thee from above.”(7) And St. Augustine, in explaining this passage, says: “Let us learn what He said, which also He taught by His Apostle, that there is no power but from God.”(8) The faithful voice of the Apostles, as an echo, repeats the doctrine and precepts of Jesus Christ. The teaching of Paul to the Romans, when subject to the authority of heathen princes, is lofty and full of gravity: “There is not power but from God,” from which, as from its cause, he draws this conclusion: “The prince is the minister of God.”(9)

10. The Fathers of the Church have taken great care to proclaim and propagate this very doctrine in which they had been instructed. “We do not attribute,” says St. Augustine, “the power of giving government and empires to any but the true God.”(10) On the same passage St. John Chrysostom says: “That there are kingdoms, and that some rule, while others are subject, and that none of these things is brought about by accident or rashly . . . is, I say, a work of divine wisdom.”(11) The same truth is testified by St. Gregory the Great, saying: “We confess that power is given from above to emperors and kings.”(12) Verily the holy doctors have undertaken to illustrate also the same precepts by the natural light of reason in such a way that they must appear to be altogether right and true, even to those who follow reason for their sole guide.

11. And, indeed, nature, or rather God who is the Author of nature, wills that man should live in a civil society; and this is clearly shown both by the faculty of language, the greatest medium of intercourse, and by numerous innate desires of the mind, and the many necessary things, and things of great importance, which men isolated cannot procure, but which they can procure when joined and associated with others. But now, a society can neither exist nor be conceived in which there is no one to govern the wills of individuals, in such a way as to make, as it were, one will out of many, and to impel them rightly and orderly to the common good; therefore, God has willed that in a civil society there should be some to rule the multitude. And this also is a powerful argument, that those by whose authority the State is administered must be able so to compel the citizens to obedience that it is clearly a sin in the latter not to obey. But no man has in himself or of himself the power of constraining the free will of others by fetters of authority of this kind. This power resides solely in God, the Creator and Legislator of all things; and it is necessary that those who exercise it should do it as having received it from God. “There is one lawgiver and judge, who is able to destroy and deliver.”(13)And this is clearly seen in every kind of power. That that which resides in priests comes from God is so acknowledged that among all nations they are recognized as, and called, the ministers of God. In like manner, the authority of fathers of families preserves a certain impressed image and form of the authority which is in God, “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.”(14) But in this way different kinds of authority have between them wonderful resemblances, since, whatever there is of government and authority, its origin is derived from one and the same Creator and Lord of the world, who is God.

— Pope Leo XIII, 1881

Scriptures of the Day

Authority Given From God: John 19:10–11

So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered [him], “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

Obedience in Authority: Romans 13:1–2, 5

Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves. …Therefore, it is necessary to be subject not only because of the wrath but also because of conscience.

Christian Citizens: 1 Peter 2:13–15

Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Seek Wisdom: Wisdom 6:3–8

Because authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels! Because, though you were ministers of his kingdom, you did not judge rightly, and did not keep the law, nor walk according to the will of God, Terribly and swiftly he shall come against you, because severe judgment awaits the exalted—For the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty shall be mightily put to the test. For the Ruler of all shows no partiality, nor does he fear greatness, Because he himself made the great as well as the small, and provides for all alike; but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.

Prayers of the Day
from USCCB

That we would be servants of our country, but God’s first.

That the Church will have the freedom to carry out her mission of service and mercy in the whole world.

That the Spirit of Wisdom would illumine our minds and open our hearts, as we seek to know the truth about God and to live in the fullness of that truth.

For our sisters and brothers in the Middle East; that through the intercession of the Apostles, who established these most ancient churches, Christians and all religious minorities would be freed from violent persecution.

That all Christians would have the courage to serve God with our whole lives and to live out our faith with boldness and compassion.

That the Lord would protect all migrants and refugees, and that all those who work with people on the move would be free to serve.

That the Holy Spirit would give all Christians the courage and humility to serve Christ by serving the vulnerable.

That nurses, doctors, therapists, and all ministers of healing would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in their imitation of Christ’s compassion and care for the sick.

That we would work to build a culture that recognizes and respects the dignity and freedom of all people.