From SFS Bible Diary
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St. Isidore (1070-1130) was born at Madrid, Spain. For the greater part of his lifehe was employed as a laborer on a farm outside the city. Many marvelous happenings accompanied his lifelong work in the fields and continued long after his holy death. He was favored with celestial visions and, it is said, the angels sometimes helped him in his work in the fields. He is the patron saint of farmers.
Reflection: We should not be surprised if we cannot comprehend the whole mystery of our redemption. In the Gospel selection for today, we hear another disciple who is puzzled ask: “Lord, what is this all about?” Do not be surprised if sometimes we ask the same question. The disciples could not understand Jesus’ relationship with the Father. They were puzzled that this relationship, which is grounded in love, should be lived in love. And how can love be evidenced by keeping Jesus’ commandments? Perhaps we are puzzled, too. For those who are distressed by doubts, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit continues to teach us today, and continues to remind us of what Jesus has said. The dynamic inner love of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – continues to sustain us and invite us to live in love.
St. Simon Stock (1165-1265) was an Englishman who lived in the 13th century. He was prior general of the Carmelite religious order. The Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to him and given him the Carmelite habit, the Brown Scapular, with a promise that those who die wearing it will be saved.
Reflection: Jesus has riches that the world cannot comprehend. And when Jesus anticipated his death, he left his riches to his beloved disciples, and through the disci¬ples to us. So what gift can we anticipate? What can we inherit? “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you”. This inheritance is so important that we include it in the words of the Mass. This inheritance is so generously given that we do not hide it away in a strongbox. Openly and freely, we offer it to each other at Mass. What a precious and valuable gift to receive from Jesus! What a profound and dynamic gift to give to each other! And so, echoing Jesus himself, we turn to each other and say: “Peace be with you!”
Saint Giulia Salzano (1846-1929) was the founder of the Congregation of the Catechetical Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1905. She was a school teacher and catechist in Casoria, Naples. Salzano is noted for her personal devotion to the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Reflection: In the time of Jesus, most people lived by agriculture. And so Jesus’ talks are full of agricultural people: the shepherd, the vine-dresser, the day-labourer. Pruning means cutting away the excess growth, to bring richer fruit. I would like the Father to be my vine-dresser. I would like the Father to prune away the dead growth, the excess growth in all directions, the ineffective tendrils, so that I can be productive. I can identify some areas of my life which are like useless wood, or like a spray of growth without direction and purpose. These I would like the Father to prune away. I want to live and flourish and bear fruit, living richly and fruitfully from youth to old age. Jesus, true vine, may I remain in you and bear much fruit!
St. John I (470-526) was Pope from 13 August 523 to his death in 526. He was a native of Siena, in Italy. He is the first pope known to have visited Constantinople while in office.
Reflection: Say “yes” to joy! Say “yes” to love! Sing a new song of the wonders of God! We Christians share a faith which says “yes” to all that is good, all that is beautiful, all that is flourishing. This is God’s plan for us. So when we are seeking to live that plan, let us first think of “yes”. Of course, we have to say “no” to sin, to abuse, to racism, to selfishness, but that is not as important as saying “yes” to our living and loving God. Sometimes it can seem that Christians put the priority on “no”. Some Christians live with “no” on their lips. Let us change that to first say “yes”. Say “yes” to God’s glorious triumph, “yes” to the truth, “yes” to the joyful plan of God.
St. Celestine V (1215-1296), was Pope for five months from 5 July to 13 December 1294, when he resigned. He was also a monk and hermit who founded the order of the Celestines. He is the patron of bookbinders
Reflection: “Love one another as I have loved you.” St Francis de Sales gives us a way to understand the beauty of natural love, and how it can be concentrated through the purifying power of God’s love. Francis said: “Then, again, the natural love of our family, good manners, courtesy, affinity, sympathy, and kindliness will all be purified and reduced to the perfect obedience of the all-pure love of the divine good pleasure.” There is no contradiction between loving God and loving our neighbour. The contradictions come when our own desires distort our natural love, and when our own desires block the divine love that God wishes us to receive. This wondrous love can actually be seen in everyday virtues of family and community. Even little ways of being polite or gentle are the daily application of the magnificence of divine love.
St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) was an Italian Franciscan missionary priest. He is known as “the Apostle of Italy” for his efforts to revive the country’s Catholic faith during the 15th century. He is the patron of advertisers and public relations personnel. He is invoked against chest problem and gambling.
Reflection: You are invited! Our psalm today is an ancient invitation to enter the temple, singing and praising God. And although the Jewish people were conscious of being God’s chosen people, his flock, they also invited all the nations of the world to come before the Lord, singing for joy. This is still our invitation today. As God’s new chosen people, we know that our special choice is not to claim fame or power. Our special choice is so that God might be praised among all nations. The sign of our faithful service is gladness and joy. This psalm is regularly prayed, often in singing, by the lay people, religious, and clergy who pray each day the Divine Office. God is always faithful to us, and so we rejoice!
Reflection: What is love really like? Jesus described it like this: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” If we love Jesus without reserve, if we are not trying to manipulate Jesus to do our will, then it will be natural to do what Jesus wants. This won’t be a struggle to obey difficult rules: it will be a genuine desire to do and to be what our beloved wants. The world gives us both good and bad examples. We can follow the good example of parents who love without reserve, even when their children are difficult or burdened with sickness. We can avoid the example of those who say that they love, but are trying to manipulate, or who are worried about earthly signs of success, or who have all kinds of conditions attached to their love. A true lover wants the good of the beloved. But if we hold back from Jesus, or if we want our own will to be done, or if we are too worried what other people might think, then it will be a struggle to keep the commandments. Of course, our life is a pilgrimage, as we slowly learn to love fully and without reserve. On that pilgrimage we are not alone, we are accompa¬nied by the living Jesus. With St Francis de Sales, we can cry out joyfully: Live Jesus!
St Rita of Cascia (1381-1457) was an Italian widow and Augustinian nun. Rita was married at an early age. The marriage lasted for eighteen years, during which she is remembered for her Christian values as a model wife and mother. Upon the murder of her husband by another feuding family, she sought to dissuade her sons from revenge.She is patroness of abused wives and heartbroken women.
Reflection: Rita of Cascia lived in troubled times. Her town was divided by violence and feuds. Individuals, including her husband, were violent and abusive. But Rita came from a family who were peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers! When Rita married, she slowly and gently persuaded her husband to give up his abusive and violent ways. Then her husband was murdered in one of the towns’ feuds. These feuds fed on a chain of revenge. Her husband’s brother wished to avenge is his death, and sought to persuade Rita’s sons to join him in the vicious cycle of revenge. However, Rita wanted to break the cycle, and worked with both families to accept forgiveness and make peace. Jesus himself suffered violence and abuse, yet he brought love and for¬giveness. Jesus was the model peacemaker for Rita, and Jesus is still our model today.