READINGS for 2006-09-24

Didache | Companion | Sabbath



?If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.? ? Mark 9:35

I have observed that the easiest time for me to serve is when I have chosen to, or have prepared for a time of service. Such as giving a talk, sharing my testimony, assisting in a medical mission, facilitating a retreat.
    Serving becomes a lot easier when the eyes of approval and appreciation are upon me. Even without the compliment I know people can see what I am doing for Jesus. Their smiles are enough. The tears of repentance are like a whole years wages!
    On the other hand, I have observed that the most difficult moments to be a servant is when no one is watching. Such as, when one of my sons misbehaves. I am Dad and I have the right to raise my voice, or retort a cutting remark to let out my frustration. Yet I know he will learn more if I take the time to understand his side. To help him see why it is wrong. And to provide him with a positive alternative.
    I believe that when the chance for approval or applause is absent, or when our feelings go against our will, these are the most opportune times to serve and to love.
    ?Your Father who sees in secret will repay you? (Matthew 6:4) because He knows you are not doing it for the applause of others, your secret service, is done truly for Him. Marc L.

What secret service can you do for Him at home or at work today?

Lord, make me a servant, humble and meek.



Wisdom 2:12.17-20

It strikes me that the old saying, ?The devil makes work for idle hands? is without doubt true! This reading from the Book of Wisdom encapsulates such a truth. It seems to me that those who have the time to speak among themselves in such a way, thus indicating that they have nothing better to do, must indeed be doing very little if anything at all. This is so often the way with temptation. It comes into our lives when we are not otherwise occupied and seeks to engage us in conversation and then action. One of the best ways to avoid temptation is to ensure that we are occupied in doing worthwhile things.

12 ?Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us. He sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. 17 Let us see whether his words be true. Let us find out what will happen to him. 18 For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. 19 With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. 20 Let us condemn him to a shameful  death.For according to his own words, God will take care of him.?


Psalm 54:3-4, 5, 6-8

R: The Lord upholds my life.

1 [3] O God, by your name save me, and by your might defend my cause. 2 [4] O God, hear my prayer; hearken to the words of my mouth. (R) 3 [5] For haughty men have risen up against me, ruthless seek my life. They set not God before their eyes. (R) 4 [6] Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life. 5 [7] Turn back the evil upon my foes. In your faithfulness destroy them. 6 [8] Freely will I offer you sacrifice; I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness. (R)


James 3:16-4:3

There is a great difference between ambition and having a vision for one?s life. Ambition seems to be governed by one?s own desires alone whereas, a vision for one?s life implies that some sort of consultation process has taken place in terms of seeking out God?s will for one?s life and then putting it into action. The latter is by far the healthier dynamic to work with. Ambition is more easily prey to greed and self-interest while a vision for one?s life, as it comes from God, will always have the Kingdom of God at its center.

     16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. 8 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. 4: 1 Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? 2 You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. 3 You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.


Mark 9:30-37

What is true greatness in terms of the Kingdom of God? Greatness in the  Kingdom of God is determined by things such as obedience to God?s will, submission to the teachings and leaders of the Church, surrender of one?s life to the power of the Holy Spirit and so on. True greatness will be found in dying to one?s own desires and embracing God?s will for one?s life. This is what it means to live as a child of God and a citizen of His Kingdom. Let us pray for the grace to surrender all to Him.

30 They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. 31 He was teaching his disciples and telling them, ?The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.? 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. 33 They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, ?What were you arguing about on the way?? 34 But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. 35 Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, ?If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.? 36 Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, 37 ?Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me. And whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.?

my reflections
There is a great difference between ambition and having a vision for one?s life.



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  St. Veronica
  (first century)
?For I was hungry and you fed me. ?
  I was a prisoner and you visited me.? ? Matthew 25:35

According to pious legend, Veronica was a woman who encountered Christ as he labored under the weight of the cross on his way to Golgotha. Moved by compassion she wiped his face with her veil, which later, miraculously, bore the imprint of his features.
      There is no scriptural basis for the story of Veronica. Its earliest reference occurs in the so-called Gospel of Nicodemus from the fourth century. Although various theologians have tried to identify Veronica with other unnamed women in the Gospels, it is speculated
that her name is derived from the miracle itself: vera icon (true image).
      Over time interest settled on the miracle of the veil rather than on the act of charity that preceded it. At the height of the medieval obsession with relics of Christ?s passion (the True Cross, the Holy Thorn, the Holy Grail), there came to be many supposed candidates for Veronica?s veil. One of these has resided in St. Peter?s for many centuries, though the church now omits St.Veronica from the calendar of saints.
      In fact the story of Veronica contains no indication that she was a disciple of Jesus. She was simply a woman who responded compassionately to a man in pain and anguish, a convicted felon on his way to death. Veronica wiped his face with her veil. And in the miraculous image left behind he revealed his true identity.
      The story of Veronica remains a true icon ? an image of the divine mystery. We need not have lived two thousand years ago to replicate her act of devotion. Every man or woman in need is an occasion to discover the meaning of Christ?s words: ?Inasmuch as you did this to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.?



One of the things that we human beings find difficult is humility. It is therefore no surprise to discover that humility is one of the most important aspects of a holy life. Catherine of Siena goes as far as to say that it is humility that holds all the virtues together and makes them work coherently in the life of any person! Jesus affirms the need for humility in addressing His disciples. He paces a child before them and invites them to become as little children before God if they are going to be effective ministers.
    In a counseling situation, one of the first things I look for in the person is humility. If a person is not willing to humble himself or herself then they are going to find it next to impossible to deal with whatever problems they have come to me to talk about. Humility and honesty is necessary to build trust and openness.
    A true servant of God, minister of the Gospel, will never lose an opportunity to place himself or herself before God to be instructed in His ways. There ought to be no exception to this rule. Even the Pope attends retreats and has someone that comes in to preach to him regularly. If a priest or minister of the Gospel is not giving God this opportunity to continue to form him or her in His ways, then from where is that person gaining the material with which they are feeding the flock? In the busyness of our lives there is the danger that personal feeding and formation takes a second place to the point that it is altogether forgotten. This will usually be the beginning of a downhill slide in the quality of the preaching and teaching of that person.
    It is of paramount importance that anyone in leadership set time aside on a regular basis throughout the year to ?recharge their batteries? and allow God to continue the ongoing process of conversion in their lives. Humility is the grace that allows even leaders to admit that they need help and are not beyond the need for ongoing formation. There will always be the need for the teacher to be taught and the minister to be ministered to. Let us pray that we will all have the grace to remember that it is necessary for the first to become last once in a while. Fr. Steve T.

When was the last time that I had a personal retreat? When was the last time that I dliberately sought to increase the formation level in my life?

Holy Spirit, never allow me to tire of being taught the ways of God and His Kingdom. Let my heart be always open to formation so that I will never believe that I no longer need to be formed. I know that this is a lifelong process.

St. Gerard Sagredo, bishop martyr, pray for us.

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