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?

Old as I am?

First Saturday and Feast of Saint Junipero Serra, Apostle of California

We’ve been reading about Abraham and his wife Sarah the past few days, and now we get to the point in their story where the Holy Trinity visits them and announces that, as promised, Abraham will have an heir by his wife. To the human mind, this is inconceivable—laughable—at their advanced age. But for God, all things are possible.

Fast forward to the Gospel reading: we have a centurion, not even Jewish, whose faith Jesus says is the greatest in all of Israel. This centurion knows not only that Jesus can heal his servant but also that Jesus need not touch the sick body. Quite a contrast with Sarah.

Questions of the Day

  • What would Jesus say about the size of your faith?
  •  Do you laugh at or fear those deep desires God has placed in your heart—the ones that seem so impossible? The ones, that if fulfilled, would have you sobbing on the ground with happiness and incredulity at the awesomeness, the mercy, the tenderness, and the care of the Almightyness of God?
  • Do you say “I am too old?” or “I am too weak?” or “I lack the strength?” or “this is impossible?”
  • Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Genesis 18:1–15

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth of Mamre,
as Abraham sat in the entrance of his tent,
while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby.
When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;
and bowing to the ground, he said:
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor,
please do not go on past your servant.
Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,
and then rest yourselves under the tree.
Now that you have come this close to your servant,
let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;
and afterward you may go on your way.”
The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah,
“Quick, three measures of fine flour!
Knead it and make rolls.”
He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer,
and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.
Then Abraham got some curds and milk,
as well as the steer that had been prepared,
and set these before them;
and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
He replied, “There in the tent.”
One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah will then have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years,
and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.
So Sarah laughed to herself and said,
“Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old,
am I still to have sexual pleasure?”
But the LORD said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say,
‘Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’
Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?
At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you,
and Sarah will have a son.”
Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But he replied, “Yes you did.”

Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:46–47, 48–49, 50 and 53, 54–55

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

“For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

“He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

“He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

Gospel: Matthew 8:5–17

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,
but the children of the Kingdom
will be driven out into the outer darkness,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion,
“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

Prayer for Restoration of Health

O Sacred Heart of Jesus
I come to ask You for the gift of restored health
that I may serve you more faithfully
and love You more sincerely than in the past.
I want to be well and strong
if it is Your Will
and redounds to Your glory.

If on the other hand it is Your Will
that my sickness continue,
I want to bear it with patience.
If in Your Divine wisdom
I am to be restored to health and strength,
I will strive to show my gratitude
by a constant and faithful service rendered to You.

— #1164, New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book

Prayer to Love God More Than Health

Almighty God, You gave me health, and I forgot You.
You take it away, and I return to You.
How gracious You are to take away the gifts
that I allowed to come between You and me.
Take away everything that hinders my union with You.
Everything is Yours—
dispense comforts, success, and health
in accord with my real good.
Take away all the things
that displace my possession of You
so that I may be wholly Yours for time and eternity.

— #1165, New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book

Glorify the Lord with me

Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul
The crown of righteousness awaits

Today the Church celebrates the lives of Saints Peter and Paul, men chosen by God, shaped by God, surrendered to the will of God, and who sacrificed all to spread the Gospel. They accomplished their work not in their own strength or by their own wit. Rather, it was through the gift and power of the Holy Spirit that all was accomplished. Before Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded for the faith, both had miraculous rescues by an angel of the Lord. In Acts 12, we read that Peter was freed from prison. Not part of our readings today, but also in Acts (18:9–11), Paul was reassured in a dream that God was with him and had many men in Corinth, and that he should stay and continue to speak in spite of the opposition he faced. The crown of righteousness that these men have received awaits us.

Scriptures of the Day

Early Church: Acts 12:1–11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

Psalm: 34:2–3, 4–5, 6–7, 8–9

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Epistle: Timothy 4:6–8, 17–18

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13–19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Prayer

Through the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul, may we compete well in the daily battle against all that imprisons us in fear or pulls us away from the love of God. May all Christians persecuted for their faith experience the presence of God in their soul, and may God sustain them in their trials with his peace and the hope of eternal glory.

Related

Video of the Day: Long Ride Home with Bear Woznick Episode 4
On the road with God: fighting the fight, keeping the faith, winning the race

Quotes of the Day

Do not question God. There is a reason for everything. We’ve got to keep the faith. — A father to his daughter after their business burned down and when the mom was sick with cancer — business owner, Long Ride Home episode 4

When we heard the overcoming story and felt their love for each other and for God, their joy in the Lord became our strength. — Bear Woznick, LRH, episode 4

Apart from the cross, there is no Christ, but apart from the cross, there can be no Christian either. — Pope Francis homily for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 2017

Questions of the Day

  • What can two men do?
  • Are you keeping the faith as you run the race?
  • What is it that pulls you away from the love of God?
  • When are you tempted to give up and lose hope?
  • Who do you say Jesus is?

 

Live in the presence of the Lord

Feast Days of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Mother of Perpetual Help.jpg

Scriptures of the Day

Psalm: 15:2–3A, 3BC–4AB, 5

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 7:6, 12–14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

Questions of the Day

  • If you die today, do you believe that you will go to Heaven or Purgatory? Or have you not given the afterlife much thought?
  • Look around at the road you are on. Is it broad and leading to destruction, or does it lead to life?

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

 

The gift of the one man Jesus Christ

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid, especially of other men. He commands them to proclaim on the housetops what they have heard whispered (Jesus’ private instruction or the whispers of the Holy Spirit).  In the OT reading, the whispers Jeremiah speaks of belong to men, angry whispers, which can cause fear. This is the very fear Jesus tells us not to worry about. The number of hairs on our head are known by God. Our lives, our faith, our love is prized by God above all other things he has made.

Loving God, living the faith will cause contention. Those who oppose God will oppose us and our ways. For Christians in Muslim countries, it may cost them their lives, or everything but loss of life. In the United States, we have minor verbal attacks on and lawsuits against those who promote and live Christian values. (And during the Obama administration, efforts were made to curb religious freedom.) Praying the psalm turns us to the one who is our help: the Lord. “See you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive!”

It is sin that causes the angry whispers of men. And sin leads to death. If there is anything to fear, it would be that we offend God and cut ourselves off from Him. Yet, our sins have a remedy: “the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflows for the many,” as Saint Paul says in his letter to the Romans.

Question of the Day

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid to acknowledge Christ and his teachings in secular America?

What has Christ done for you? What grace has he given you? How has he healed you? What would you like Christ to do for you?

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Jeremiah 20:10–13

Jeremiah said:
“I hear the whisperings of many:
‘Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!’
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.’
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
for he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!”

Psalm: 69:8–10, 14, 17, 33–35

For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my children,
Because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness;
in your great mercy turn toward me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!”
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Epistle: Romans 5:12–15

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—
for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world,
though sin is not accounted when there is no law.
But death reigned from Adam to Moses,
even over those who did not sin
after the pattern of the trespass of Adam,
who is the type of the one who was to come.

But the gift is not like the transgression.
For if by the transgression of the one the many died,
how much more did the grace of God
and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
overflow for the many.

Gospel: Matthew 10:26–33

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
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.”

Related

For the life of the world

Solemnity of Corpus Christi

Today the Church celebrates the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. In the Old Testament reading Moses tells the people that man lives not just by bread, but also by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The manna in the desert is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. This Living Bread is unlike other food. Food we eat and absorb for health and strength of body. When we eat the Living Bread, however, rather than our bodies transforming it as food, Jesus transforms us into himself, into his body. We are unable to ascend to God on our own, and so, in the most profound humility, Jesus has humbled himself to come to us as man and also as the Living Bread. Let us bow and kneel as we ponder such a great mystery of the God who loves us so dearly as to come under such a guise and who does so that we may be healed, strengthened, and nourished as we journey through this valley of tears.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Manna from heaven: Deuteronomy 8:2–3, 14B–16A

Moses said to the people:
“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

“Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers.”

Responsorial Psalm: 147:12–13, 14–15, 19–20

Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Epistle: One body in Christ: 1 Corinthians 10:16–17

Brothers and sisters:
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

Gospel: Living Bread: John 6:51–58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Mini Homily with the Bishop: Be Filled With Eucharistic Wonder

Question of the Day

Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you—for you alone?
He burns with the desire to come into your heart. — Saint Therese of Lisieux

Quotes of the Day

Corpus Christi reminds us first of all of this: that being Christian means coming together from all parts of the world to be in the presence of the one Lord and to become one with him and in him. …

With the gift of himself in the Eucharist the Lord Jesus sets us free from our “paralysis,” he helps us up and enables us to proceed, that is, he makes us take a step ahead and then another step, and thus sets us going with the power of the Bread of Life. — Pope Benedict XVI, homily May 22, 2008

Do not say that you have no time. Rather, acknowledge that you do not love him enough. If you did, you would leave everything in order to visit him. — Jose Guadalupe Trevino (Mexican priest, born 1889, author of The Holy Eucharist)

Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament has his hands full of graces, and He is ready to bestow them on anyone who asks for them. — Saint Peter of Alcantara (Spanish priest, 1499–1562, confessor of Saint Teresa of Avila)

This fountain [the Blessed Sacrament] is a fountain of light, shedding abundant rays of truth. And beside it the angelic powers from on high have taken their stand, gazing on the beauty of its streams, since they perceive more clearly than we the power of what lies before us and its unapproachable dazzling rays. — Saint John Chrysostom (ordained priest after living as an anchorite for 12 years, born in Antioch, 344–407)

in our fragmented lives, the Lord comes to meet us with a loving “fragility”, which is the Eucharist.  In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life.  The Eucharist is the memorial of God’s love.  There, “[Christ’s] sufferings are remembered” (II Vespers, antiphon for the Magnificat) and we recall God’s love for us, which gives us strength and support on our journey.  This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.  The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit.  When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love.  — Pope Francis’ homily for Corpus Christi 2017

Pray

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