Stay humble and persevere

These words from Sirach 2:3a,4-6a motivate me and re-direct my thoughts (from myself to others) when I am finding things difficult:

Cling to Him, do not leave Him,
[…]
Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.
For in fire gold is tested,
and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust in God, and he will help you…

This prayer helps me to grow in humility.

Oratio from lectio divina of Gospel for 14thSunOrdT-A

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 11:25-30:

Here is the fruit of my lectio/meditatio/contemplatio on this portion of Sacred Scripture:

Jesus, my heart swells with joy – and is greatly encouraged – to hear you publicly, exuberantly thanking our Father.  When I hear you proclaim our Father as “Lord of heaven and earth,” it greatly confirms my faith in Your divinity, for the Son of the “Lord” is Himself surely divine.  I am delighted to see that You were consoled in heart and mind that the will of the Father allowed only those of true grace-inspired littleness to perceive the sublime mystery of Your identity as Son and Your perfect communion with the Father.  Our Father wants to be known and loved, so He sent His perfect image, a perfect representation of Himself.  Help me, Jesus, to shed my pride and arrogance, that my heart may increase in simplicity, and my trust in You may never wane.

Jesus, the yoke of Your teaching and the way of life to which you call me is made so much lighter when I imitate Your meekness and humility.  Enable me to use the strength You have given me in a discerning, controlled manner, following Your example.  May I always be aware of my absolute dependence upon You, especially upon Your mercy.  I will indeed come to You frequently, Jesus, in the sacraments, in Your written word, in prayer, that Your yoke of discipleship may surely be lightened, joy-filled and attractive to others.

Oratio from lectio divina of Gospel for 13thSunOrdT-A

This Sunday’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 10:37-42.

Here is the fruit of my lectio/meditatio/contemplatio on this portion of Sacred Scripture:

Holy God, I praise You for Your supreme majesty.  You are deserving of all my love, my first love, my greatest love.  Aware of Your sovereignty and Your constant love for me, I desire to bestow my most intense self-giving love upon You above all – with all my heart, soul, strength and mind.

Jesus, I yearn to be a true, faithful disciple of Yours.  Your demands are severe, but my reward will be unending glory beholding Your Face.  Please fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit to enable me to seek and embrace the Father’s will each day.  Knowing You are always at my side, give me the grace to persevere through any humiliation, pain or suffering that might accompany it, that my life might indeed be conformed to Yours, following where You have already gone.  With Your grace, sustain my efforts to shed my selfishness and disordered passions.  Enable me to eagerly surrender all aspects of my life for your sake that I may attain the eternal glory of Your resurrection.

Thank You for granting me Your authority to engage in the mission to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven.  May the Holy Spirit open the hearts of those with whom I share the Father’s plan, that it may be a blessing for them.  May I hospitably and joyfully welcome into my heart and home those disciples on mission for You who are sacrificing their time and using their gifts to share Your words and Your healing love with me.  Remind me, Jesus, that when I encounter them I also encounter You.

Our duty to proclaim Jesus

Today’s Gospel Reading at Mass (Mt 10:26-33) is a segment of the instructions which Jesus gave to His Apostles (ref Mt 10:1,5) just prior to sending them out on their first missionary expedition.  It concludes with Mt 10:32-33

So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

What does Jesus mean by “acknowledge me”?  CCC n. 1816 teaches us (quoting these exact verses) (emboldened text is my emphasis added):

The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

In Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) n. 120, Pope Francis describes our duty to acknowledge Jesus before others (emboldened text is my emphasis added):

In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”….So what are we waiting for?

Any parish that is not engaging in a substantial amount of evangelization, and whose parishoners themselves are not “actively engaged in evangelization” is failing to heed the demand of Jesus and His Church echoed by Pope Francis.  On the vigil of Pentecost (June 3rd), Abp Vigneron inaugurated his extraordinarily innovative plan — entitled Unleash the Gospel — to have each parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit become a parish of missionary disciples.

For the latest teaching of the US Bishops on being missionary disciples, you can read this booklet that they published last month.

Saintly snippets about Sunday’s Gospel

PJPII_prayingIn the latter half of this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear an impassioned call from Jesus.  In order to steep myself in the promise contained in this call, I sought out the preaching of St John Paul II.  Here are some of the occasions when the sainted pontiff made reference to this call and promise of Jesus:

Following the call prepares me to proclaim the Good News:

5. Jesus Christ says to all men and women: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you” (Mt. 11:28). But Christ does not invite us to come to him for some empty consolation. He renews us and strengthens us to go forth to share with others the salvation he has brought. He tells his Apostles: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mk. 16: 15). Christ – the one sent by the Father – now sends others forth: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 20: 21).

These words remind us that the work of evangelization is at the heart of the Church’s mission in the world. The Church began through evangelization–and she is ceaselessly renewed through evangelization. In every time and place the preaching of the Gospel must be the Church’s first duty,

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/1993/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19930810_stadio-kingston_en.html

I should not expect a life of comfort and ease:

4. Once when Jesus was addressing a large crowd, he said to them: “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matth. 11, 28-29). These words are intended for all of us, but they have a particular significance for the sick and elderly, for whoever feels “overburdened”. We note, with consolation, Jesus’ promise that our souls will find rest – not our bodies but our souls. Jesus does not promise to remove all physical suffering from our lives during our earthly pilgrimage, but he does promise to refresh our spirits, to lift up our hearts, to give rest to our souls. Come to the Lord, then, with your weariness and pain, your burdens and sorrows, and “you will find rest for your souls”. For Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the shepherd who leads his sheep to green pastures of consolation, to fresh waters of peace.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1984/september/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19840915_malati-anziani_en.html

A shout-out to the Blessed Sacrament and the priests who bring it to us:

Always, but especially at moments of confusion and anguish, when life and the world itself seem to collapse, do not forget the words of Jesus: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mt 11:28-30).

Do not forget that Jesus willed to remain present, personally and really, in the Eucharist, an immense mystery but a sure reality, in order to materialize authentically this individual and salvific love of his! Do not forget that Jesus willed to come to meet you by means of his ministers, the Priests!

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1979/march/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19790311_giovani-san-basilio_en.html

Only my relationship with God will sustain me:

It is true that, when one goes through difficult times, the support of science can be of great help, but nothing can replace an ardent, personal and confident faith that is open to the Lord, who said, “Come to me, all you labour and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest” (Mt 11,28).

The indispensable source of energy and renewal, when frailty and weakness increase, is the encounter with the living Christ, Lord of the Covenant. This is why you must develop an intense spiritual life and open your soul to the Word of life. In the depths of the heart the voice of God must be heard, even if at times it seems to be silent, in reality it resounds continually in the heart and accompanies us along the path that can have its burden of sorrow as happened to the two travellers of Emmaus.

Special care must be shown to young spouses so that they do not surrender in the face of problems and conflicts. Prayer, frequent recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation, spiritual direction, must never be abandoned with the idea that one can replace them with other techniques of human and psychological support. We must never forget what is essential, namely, to live in the family under the tender and merciful gaze of God.

The richness of the sacramental life, in the life of the family, that participates in the Eucharist every Sunday (cf. Dies Domini, n. 81) is undoubtedly the best antidote for confronting and overcoming obstacles and tensions.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2002/october/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20021018_pc-family_en.html