From SFS Bible Diary
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St Joseph of Cupertino, O.F.M. Conv. (1603 –1663) was an Italian Conventual Franciscan friar who is honoured as a Christian mystic. He was said to have been remarkably unclever, but prone to miraculous levitation (flying) and intense ecstatic visions that left him gaping. His father having died before his birth, however, the family home was seized to settle the large debts he had left, and his mother was forced to give birth to him in a stable. He is the patron of Aviators, Flying & Studying
Reflection: Faith is compared to an obedience of a soldier. It’s not that god commands and we obey. As every family has some norms which makes the family function effec¬tively and every army has got some discipline which remain as it strength, so does the kingdom of God has some moral principles laid down by the Jesus himself. Of course as some naughty children and disobedient soldiers find those norms difficult, at times we may also feel such norms of God as difficult and we go against it. Faith is trusting in the words of Jesus, the assurance he gives as the aftermath of obeying him.
St Januarius was the bishop of Benevento and together with his companions he suffered martyrdom, in the persecution of Diocletian at Naples. The faithful gather three times a year in Naples Cathedral to witness the liquefaction of what is claimed to be a sample of his blood kept in a sealed glass ampoule. He is the patron of blood banks
Reflection: Compassion is a powerful quality which makes people to feel for the other. Here in the gospel passage the compassion of Jesus is giving life to an individual who lost and life for a mother who lost her only son. The very fact that people praised god at the end shows that only God can give life for the other and no one else. Here the people are acknowledging the work of God through Jesus.
Not only giving life but any work of compassion is divine. Feeling for the other is a must to extend our hand to the other. Like Jesus we get lot of opportunity in our life to be compassionate. And let us inculcate that superior quality from Jesus.
St. Andrew Kim is the first native Korean priest. He was tortured and beheaded in 1846. St. Paul Choñg Hasang was a Korean Catholic lay leader who defended the faith, and reunited the Christians. He was martyred in 1839.
Reflection: Jesus gives a powerful message to the parents and all the people who divert the teachings of the kingdom of god and its principles according to their think¬ing Pattern. We see the theology and other sciences evolve but the teaching of kingdom of God remains relevant even today. Nobody in the world has the right to tamper it to ones convenience. That is why even today church stands against the world on many moral issues. Beware my dear fellow Christians of the false teachers and interpreters of the scriptures. For us what teachings of Jesus should be the ultimate.
St Matthew was born at Capernaum in Galilee. He was a tax collector. As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek. He wrote his gospel in the Hebrew language, and tradition has it that he preached the faith in the East.
Reflection: In a small documentary film on Jesus, there is this scene. Matthew is at work in the tax office. Jesus walks in there with a small bag hanging from his shoulder. Matthew asks him, “Is there anything to declare?” “I have come to declare the love of the Father” says Jesus. Mathew is at a loss for a moment. Then, looking strangely at the Lord, he says in a matter of fact way, “Love is not taxable; you may go!” But, of course, Jesus did not come to go alone; he came to invite Matthew, and Matthew went with him. Matthew’s conversion provided an example of penance and forgiveness to many tax collectors and sinners. Jesus attended to sick people – sick not so much physically but spiritually. He attended to sinners, with kindness and compassion. In so doing Jesus became the very sacrament of reconciliation for their sakes and in their midst, forgiving their sins and calling them back to God. One of the most important messages Jesus brought to our world is ‘You are loved by God, unconditionally, as you are.’ In our world today, if we are convinced that we too are called to be like Jesus, we need to be the sacrament of love and reconciliation among people, especially among sinners. For, people might question us as they questioned Jesus: Why do you associate with sinners? And if questioned, will our answer echo Jesus’ sentiment when he said: “What I want is mercy and not sacrifice” ?
Saint Thomas of Villanova (1488-1555) is a Spanish Augustinian monk and archbishop who lived a life of austerity in order to provide for the spiritual and material needs of his people. He was born in Fuentellana, Spain. His father was a miller who regularly distributed food and provisions to the poor, as did his mother.
Reflection: Women in Jewish society at the time of Jesus were given a very inferior position. They were classed with children and slaves as not fully adult, and so incapable of being entrusted with civic or religious responsibility. Women could not become disciples of a Jewish rabbi, nor did a rabbi speak to a woman in the street. Jesus did not pay the least attention to such widely accepted prejudices. Several women took Jesus’ words and attitude as a call to freedom. They even joined the circle of his intimate followers and became witnesses and supporters of his ministry. Later they would be the honored witnesses of his death and resurrection. Here we have a fundamental testimony to the freedom which the Gospel brings to people in different cultures. In Indian society even today, women by and large, are regarded as socially inferior, and often are shabbily treated by the men folk. This social prejudice is often practiced even in Church circles. The Gospel message goes counter to such cultural traditions. The Gospel must be a leaven in society and in the Church. We are introduced to some of the people who worked behind the scenes to help fund Jesus’ preaching journeys: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and “many other women”
St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), (1887-1968) the Italian Franciscan priest is better known as “Padre Pio” and known for his suffering, humility and miracles. Shortly after his priestly ordination in 1910, he received the Stigmata.
Reflection: It is wonderful to watch how the Americans follow the speech by the American president, regardless of what president it is. As soon as the president gives a speech or lays down a policy measure that he is proposing, the twenty four hour new stations go abuzz with responses to the presidents’ ideas. When we go through these channels we find various political perspectives. When some considers President’s speech as masterful work of oratory skill and brilliant policies that would be so wonderful for the country, the others considers it as a one of the worst and most diabolical things that ever heard. Then we begin to wonder is the same speech all these people listen to. Finally we conclude it has not much to do with the speech or the speaker but it has to do much with the listener. It is the perspective of the listener that causes the vastly different responses. Jesus’ words would have very different effects on different hearers but that had everything to do with the soil, or the heart that the seeds of that word landed on. It wasn’t that Jesus was preaching different things in different places or that God had pre-determined that some people would not be able to have the privilege of responding to the gospel.
Reflection: Many are surprised at this parable. They find it unfair to give the same reward to everyone without taking into account the labour and sacrifices of everyone. Without doubt, Jesus wanted to shock us and shatter the idea we obstinately cling to, that we have merits that God must recognize. But the parable reveals to us that God is not debtor to anyone of us. The passage describes the state of the visible church, and explains the declaration that the last shall be first, and the first last, in its various references. Till we are hired into the service of God, we are standing all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state of drudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. The market-place is the world, and from that we are called by the gospel.
In its essence this parable cautions us about the ninth and tenth commandment. In a very real sense this parable is about coveting. Though the word covet may not have been so obvious here but it does fit both the emphasis of Jesus’ teaching and the overarching emphasis in Matthew’s Gospel. We covet what God chooses to give to others. In relationship, one believer to another, covetousness is a problem. The point here isn’t necessarily that other folks receive blessings from God that we don’t -- that they get more or better or lovelier gifts from God. The problem is that they get the same as us; and they don’t deserve it. They are less worthy, or later arrivals, or just plain worse sinners. They don’t deserve the same as we get, do they? The scandal of this parable is that we are all equal recipients of God’s gifts. The scandal of our faith is that we are often covetous and jealous when God’s gifts of forgiveness and life are given to other in equal measure.
St Vincent Strambi (1745- 1824) was the son of a pharmacist, and was born at Civitavecchia, Italy. He resisted his parents’ wish that he become a diocesan priest, but joined the Passionists in 1768 after attending a retreat given by St. Paul of the Cross. Vincent became a professor of theology, was made provincial in 1781, and in 1801, was appointed bishop of Macera and Tolentino.
Reflection: Jesus the light illumines every person and brings joy to the world. No force on earth can hide the radiance of this light. The manifestation of this light seems to follow a paradoxical path because Jesus says, “any one who has, more be given; and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away”. When it rains, it pours. God is never stingy with His gifts and blessings. He will give all that we need and even more. God’s grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace. Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God’s kingdom. In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception. Let us share our blessings, like a lamp that lights all those around us.