READINGS for 2007-08-21
“If I may ask, why has all this happened to us if the Lord is with us?” – Judges 6:13
The following are some things I’ve seen happen to my community members, or people who “have Jesus” in their lives...
The son of one of our elders fell into drugs.
Recently one of our members lost his business.
Long-time couple servants went through a divorce.
A friend of mine in our singles ministry had a stroke at a young age.
A youth member failed the board exam.
My mom had breast cancer and a tumor in her uterus. She had to undergo an operation and had them removed.
Some people might look at these people and say, “I thought they knew the Lord... why do those things still happen to them?”
The answer is that Jesus didn’t come to take away the troubles in life. But He did come so that we wouldn’t have to face them on our own. These people I mentioned got through their situations. They survived. They emerged victorious. Their prayers were eventually answered. They were healed.
They weren’t spared from what everyone else goes through. The difference is they knew they weren’t alone. George G.
Going through a trial? Imagine how it would be if you didn’t know the Lord.
Thank You for the trials that make me stronger.
The story of Gideon and his insistence upon receiving signs from the Lord before acting illustrates another stage through which our faith should grow. We ought to know and believe that the Word of God is enough for us to act. He has demonstrated the power and truth of His Word without failure throughout history. Why should we allow ourselves to have any doubts now? While asking for a sign may not be sinful in itself, it often indicates a weakness of faith and a certain unwillingness to trust in the Lord’s Word.
11 The angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to save it from the Midianites, 12 the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, O champion!” 13 “My lord,” Gideon said to him, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers told us when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ For now the LORD has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian.” 14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.” 15 But he answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the meanest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.” 16 “I shall be with you,” the LORD said to him, “and you will cut down Midian to the last man.” 17 He answered him, “If I find favor with you, give me a sign that you are speaking with me. 18 Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you and bring out my offering and set it before you.” He answered, “I will await your return.” 19 So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and an ephah of flour in the form of unleavened cakes. Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, he brought them out to him under the terebinth and presented them. 20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unleavened cakes and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth.” When he had done so, 21 the angel of the LORD stretched out the tip of the staff he held, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Thereupon a fire came up from the rock which consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the angel of the LORD disappeared from sight. 22 Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the LORD, said, “Alas, Lord GOD, that I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” 23 The LORD answered him, “Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.” 24 So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD and called it Yahweh-shalom.
P S A L M
Psalm 85:9, 11-12, 13-14
R: The Lord speaks of peace to his people.
8  I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD — for he proclaims peace. To his people, and to his faithful ones, and to those who put in him their hope. (R) 10  Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. 11  Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. (R) 12  The LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. 13  Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps. (R)
G O S P E L
Again Jesus warns us of the dangers of wealth. Wealth in itself is not evil. It is the way it can consume a person that is sinful. Following on from the story of the rich young man, this saying astonishes those who hear it as they believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing and to hear Jesus speak of it as a danger to faith dumbfounds them. One way to try to avoid wealth becoming a hindrance to our faith is to place it at the service of the Gospel. God has been generous to you. Now it is your time to exercise the ministry of generosity towards the Church and others.
23 Jesus said to his disciples,“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
think: God has been generous to you, now it is your time to exercise the ministry of generosity towards the Church and others.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Lamentations 3-5
GETTING TO KNOW THE SAINTS
Gamaliel of the first century was one of the great teachers of the Mosaic Law. He was called Rabban, a title given by the rabbinical circles as a form to honor the teacher.
He was a Pharisee during the time of Jesus. But according to an ancient tradition, he converted into Christianity ahead of Saint Paul. He was actually the one responsible in teaching the saint about the law in Jerusalem.
Gamaliel advised the Sanhedrin not to refute the will of God by secretly killing Peter and the Apostles. He was an eloquent speaker that the body released them, only with flogging as their form of punishment.
Saint Gamaliel s remains were buried in his estate, 20 miles outside Jerusalem. This was found together with the relics of Saint Stephen and his sons, Saints Abibas and Nicodemus.
Saint John Gualbert
John Gualbert of the late 10th century was born in Florence, Italy.
When he and his father learned about the death of John s brother Hugh, the two thought of avenging his death. So one Good Friday, when John met his brother s assailant in a narrow passageway, the man thought of killing the latter. Without hesitation, John drew his sword and headed towards him. His brother s murderer fell on his knees and begged for forgiveness. With all his might, John dropped his sword and embraced him.
John saw a monastery church. He went in and knelt before the crucifix. To his amazement, Christ on the cross bowed His head. John immediately felt the Lord forgive him for all his sins. Such was the effect on him that the man went to the abbot of the monastery and asked if he could join them. His father was so furious upon learning about what happened that he threatened to burn down the whole monastery if his son would not come out. The monks didn t know what to do. John resolved the issue by cutting off his hair and borrowing a habit from one of the monks. When his father saw him, his heart softened that he allowed him to stay.
Years later, John began his own community of monks. He cared for the poor who came to the monastery gate. The Lord blessed him with the gift of wisdom that even Pope Leo IX sought for his advice.
Saint John died on July 12, 1073 and was canonized in 1193 by Pope Celestine III.
THE CURSE OF BEING RICH
Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit in the heading I gave to this reflection, but I am not totally in jest! With riches or wealth comes great responsibility. We cannot pretend to think that we deserve riches and wealth no matter how hard we might have worked for it without giving credence to the fact that without God’s blessing we would be as poor as the poorest person we know! Everything, down to the last scrap of clothing we own to cover our nakedness is a gift from God to us. The question any rich person must ask themselves is, “What is God’s will for the riches He has given to me? How am I supposed to use this wealth in the service of those who have so little?” These questions and the answers to them take on greater significance the more there is a great disparity in the way wealth is distributed in the place where you live.
For the Jews wealth is a direct sign of one’s holiness and God’s subsequent blessing. Jesus debunks this view quite clearly when He challenges the notion that the rich will find an easy path to heaven. Each of us must ask ourselves what this means for our own response to God. I am not saying that it is wrong to be rich, far from it. I am saying that wealth brings with it enormous responsibility to the point that in many cases it may well be better to dispose of the wealth in a good way and live simply rather than risk the seductions and sin that often quickly follow wealth.
The critical point of our earthly pilgrimage is to develop a faith and trust relationship with God. The primary problem with wealth is that it always threatens to become the master and not the servant of our lives. If it can be kept in control there is no problem and it is quite all right to enjoy the benefits of wealth provided such enjoyments do not create a scandal in relation to comparative lifestyles. I recently read about a wedding that cost $50 million. There is no way that this can be justified when there is the level of suffering that still exists in the world today. It is simply sinful in terms of selfishness and ostentation in the first place, not to mention all the rest. Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: How do I use the resources I have at my disposal to build the Kingdom of God? Do I need to make changes in this area of my life? If so, what am I going to do?
Holy Spirit, help me to learn to trust more in the providence of God for without this trust I am never going to know the gift of salvation in all its fullness.
St. Paternus, martyr, pray for us.
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