READINGS for 2006-07-23
?But now, in Christ Jesus and by his blood, you who were once far off have come near.? ? Ephesians 2:13
I really enjoy going to mass at our church, Merciful Redeemer. It is an opportunity to see God?s Grace in this world.
Help us to see you in the different faces we encounter, O Lord.
Leaders carry with them a tremendous responsibility for the lives of others. They must never forget this or fail to live up to their duties. Such responsibility is so big that it is unlikely that someone would desire to be a leader if they realized the full extent of such responsibility. This is why humility is such an important character trait in good leaders. Without the virtue of humility, it is impossible to be a good leader. Let us pray that all of our leaders will grow in this virtue every day.
1 Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD. 2 Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. 3 I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. 4 I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the LORD. 5 Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: ?The LORD our justice.?
P S A L M
R: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; 3 he refreshes my soul. (R) He guides me in right paths for his name?s sake. 4 Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. (R) 5 You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (R) 6 Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. (R)
The shedding of blood is essential to the Jewish understanding of forgiveness of sins. The blood carries the life essence of the animal or person and is thus seen as the highest form of offering possible. That is, until Jesus, who also offers His blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, teaches us that the greatest sacrifice is obedience to His Father?s Will. No longer do we have to depend on bloody sacrifices in the Temple. Now we can each offer our own sacrifices in terms of being obedient to God?s call upon our lives.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, 15 abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
G O S P E L
It is so pitiful to watch a group of people wander aimlessly through life for want of a little direction. This is why personal reflection is so important. Unless we are in the habit of reflecting regularly upon the direction of our lives it is likely that we are going to come to a time when we do so and discover that we are totally unsatisfied with where we find ourselves. This is a tragedy that is quite easily avoided if we place our lives in the hands of God and regularly seek instructions from Him as to the direction we should be traveling.
30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, ?Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.? People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. 32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. 33 People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. 34 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
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?My name is Alban, and I worship and adore the living and true God, who created all things.?
St. Alban was a prominent citizen ? possibly a soldier ? who lived in Roman-occupied Britain sometime in the third century. According to the legend recounted in Bede?s history of the English church, Alban gave shelter to a priest fleeing persecution. Although Alban was a non-Christian, he was touched by the piety of his guest, and after several days he asked to receive instruction and to be baptized in the Christian faith. Aware that soldiers were in close pursuit, Alban contrived to assist the priest?s escape by exchanging clothes. When the soldiers arrived at his house they seized Alban, dressed in the priest?s cloak, and led him bound to the judge. Upon discovering his identity, the enraged judge declared, ?Since you have chosen to conceal a sacrilegious rebel rather than surrender him to my soldiers to pay the well-deserved penalty for his blasphemy against our gods, you shall undergo all the tortures due to him if you dare to abandon the practice of our religion.? Alban declared himself to be a Christian and willingly submitted to the judgment of the court. He was flogged and beheaded.
BEING FAITHFUL TO MY CALL
One of the faults of people that makes me angriest is when they do not live up to their responsibilities or take on responsibility for an aspect of a particular work. I am sure that others are equally annoyed with me when and if I do the same thing. The prophet Jeremiah is here prophesying precisely against this sort of a practice among the shepherds of the People of Israel. Of all the leaders in the world they should have known better as they have received their commission from God. They cannot excuse themselves by claiming that they did not know what to do ? they are just concerned with their own wealth and comfort.
Holy Spirit, help me to give all that I have to following God as faithfully as I can wherever He leads me. Help me to recognize my own limits and work within them and so be faithful to all the tasks I promise to fulfill.
St. Bridget of Sweden, widow, pray for us.
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