From SFS Bible Diary
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Fidelis of Sigmaringen, O.F.M. Cap. (1577 - 1622), was a Capuchin friar who was a major figure in the Counter-Reformation, and was murdered by his opponents at Seewis im Prättigau, now part of Switzerland. He was born Mark Roy in Sigmaringen, a town in modern-day Germany. After earning the degree of Doctor of Law, he practiced law as an advocate in Alsace where he came to be known as the ‘poor man’s lawyer’. Upon entering the Capuchin order, he wasgiven the name Fidelis.
Reflection: There is a big difference between fleshly birth and spiritual birth, or a fleshly mind-set and spiritual mind-set. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”. For example, during Jesus’ time, if someone had a problem in knowing how to keep God’s commandments; s/he would take the question to a teacher of the law. “Should I take care of my father and mother in their old age, or should I give my money to God”? The teachers would study the question for a solution. Their answer was, “Your gift to God cancels out your need to take care of your parents”. Nicodemus, as a Pharisee and teacher of the law, brings a fleshly question to Jesus. But Jesus gives an answer (not a fleshly one) directly inviting him to ‘be born from above’. Apostles Peter and John – simple, ordinary, and uneducated men – show us the difference between flesh mind-set and Spirit mind-set.
St. Mark is traditionally considered as the author of the Gospel according to Mark. His symbol is the winged lion, one of the four living creatures, along with Matthew (man), Luke (calf), and John (eagle) of Revelation 4. Mark is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria.,/
Reflection: Today is the feast of St. Mark who went with St. Paul in his travels of preaching the Word. Mark today presents the most important mission, which Christ has placed on the shoulders of every baptized person. The mission is to preach the Good News to all the peoples to the ends of the earth. If the Apostles kept to themselves what they heard and saw and did not proclaim the salvation in the name of Jesus Christ for fear of those who persecuted them, there would have been no Church. It is surprising that the Risen Lord entrusted himself and his mission into the hands of broken and sinful disciples. Today he commissions us, who are overpowered by brokenness and sinfulness, to continue his mission. Jesus accepts the dark areas of our humanity, our capacity for deceit, betrayal, greed, and power. He assures us that he will be present with us confirming his message through signs. Clothe yourself in humility for God’s mission!
St. Cletus (d. 91) was the third bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. Linus, He was pope for twelve years, from 76 to 89. The name “Cletus” in Ancient Greek means “one who has been called.”
Reflection: Regardless of what plans we may make, God has God’s own plans and God’s plans will win. The Apostles were in jail but the angel opened the door and brought them out and gave them the Lord’s instructions. But they were found again teaching in the temple. Most people who escape from jail flee to some place where they will not be caught again. The apostles did not flee but they boldly went back to the very place they were arrested. They did the very same thing they were arrested for. What we love shows what we prefer. The apostles did what they loved. We can love the darkness of sin or we can love the light of God’s truth. God gives us the freedom of choice. “God gave the children of Israel manna in the desert. They do not want it but set their heart on garlic and onions of Egypt. Our miserable nature always wants to have things its own way and not God’s way”. St. Francis de Sales
St. Zita (1212-1272) is an Italian saint, the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is often appealed to in order to help find lost keys. Throughout her life she laboured on behalf of the poor and suffering as well as criminals languishing in prisons.
Reflection: It is possible to be physically alive while being spiritually dead. When we choose against love, purity, and obedience to God’s will personified in Jesus, we are spiritually dead. Our choice against the spirit brings in the ‘wrath of God’. God wants only what is good and life – giving for you. The hurt and pain you experience, while living in selfishness, greed, anger, lust, un-forgiveness, and jealousy, is the voice of God calling you to come back to your true self and live in the spirit. Wrath is the expression of God’s love that longs for you. Peter and other apostles are now filled with the Spirit after their worst fall. They show us how to witness to our faith in Jesus Christ. “Better for us to obey God than men”, is a testimony of great boldness in the Spirit. “For our misery is as a throne to make manifest the sovereign goodness of Our Lord” St. Francis de Sales
St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922 – 1962) was an Italian pediatrician, wife and mother who is known for refusing both an abortion and a hysterectomy when she was pregnant, despite knowing that continuing with the pregnancy could result in her death. She is the patroness of mothers, physicians and unborn children.
Reflection: Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. This miracle reminds us of God providing manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under the leadership of Moses. It also indicates the true heavenly bread, which Jesus would offer his followers in the Eucharist. If we focus merely on the multiplication of five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish, then we miss what is perhaps the most important point of the Gospel. There are times we recognize our hunger, emptiness, and helplessness. We sometimes try to fill our empty and helpless moments with possessions, relationships, stuff, and other addictive behaviors. Only Jesus can fill the emptiness and hunger deep within us. Jesus makes a claim only God can make: “I myself am the bread of life”. The Church continues to give the bread of Jesus saying you eat the body of Christ and you become what you eat.
“Two kinds of people ought to receive the Eucharist often: the strong and the weak. The strong, lest they become weak, and the weak that they may become strong” St. Francis de Sales.
St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), was a tertiary of the Dominican Order and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome. Her protection is sought against fire, bodily ills and sexual temptation.
Reflection: In the first reading Luke tells us the story of a sudden and unexpected crisis that threatened to rip apart the early church. It was basically a problem of dis¬crimination. But the crisis became an opportunity when the apostles understood their calling from the Lord. “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables”. This is a clear statement of priorities. The Church starves spiritually when priests/ministers focus on anything other than Word of God and the Eucharist. Apostles teach us how to set priorities and say ‘no’ to the good in order to say ‘yes’ to the best. Storms and crises in life call us to set our priorities right and take Jesus into our boat. “Examine more than once every day, but at least evening and morning, whether your soul is in your hands or whether some passion or anxiety has robbed you of it”. St. Francis de Sales
Reflection: It is said that there are two kinds of people in the world, optimists and pessimists. The optimist is the person who believes that whatever happens, no matter how bad it is, it is for the best. The pessimist is the person to whom it has happened. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus seem to fit into the latter category. The death of Jesus on Good Friday is the worst possible thing that has happened to them which resulted in their loss of faith and end of hopes. Why did they go to Emmaus? Emmaus is perhaps the place where they can escape from the cruelty of life and forget their pain, fears, dashed hopes, and failures. Emmaus is whatever we do and wherever we go to make ourselves forget our bitterness, hurts, failures, troubles, and pain. But one thing we cannot escape from our Emmaus trip is life itself. The story of the disciples of Jesus teaches us that Jesus cares for our hopes and dreams. Jesus knew that they needed his presence as they were broken and shattered by his death. Jesus appears to them in the midst of walking along the road and at a meal. At the breaking of the Word and bread, their hearts and eyes were opened. His testimony about suffering, death, and resurrection began to make sense to them.
“My children, many invite me as do you, but few keep me, because many love me without my cross and very few let me set up in their hearts. … If you love me, it is only suffering that keeps me” (Mother Agnes of Jesus, O.C.D. was sister of St. Therese of Child Jesus)
St. Joseph the Worker. Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a much longer history. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Reflection: In the newspaper, we can read about some great new building. And the journalists will tell us about the astute entrepreneur who has financed the building, and the celebrity architect who has designed the building. But rarely will the newspapers tell us about the ordinary workers: the carpenters, the bricklayers, the electricians, and all who have laboured on the building. Yet Joseph, who was of the royal house of David, was a carpenter. Jesus is not found in the palace of a king, but in the home of a worker. Even today, there are people who would rather listen to a celebrity than listen to Jesus, there are people who would rather listen to an astute entrepreneur than listen to Jesus. Yet we find Jesus at the workbench of Joseph, where human work comes closer to our redemption. Listen to Jesus!