Our Holy Lady of the Day:
Doctor of the Church
Patron Saint of: Fire prevention
and of Italy
Born during the black plague, she was the 21st of 25 children. Her first mystical experiences occurred from the age of 6, where she could see Guardian angels as clearly as she could see the ones they protected. She became a Dominican Tertiary at 16, and continued to have visions of Jesus, Mary and the Saints. She became a Doctor of the Church partly because, although not formally educated, she wrote many treatises an letters entitled "a dialogue" which are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Church. Her early pious activities in Siena attracted a group of followers, both women and men, with whom she began traveling throughout northern and central Italy advocating reform of the clergy and the launch of a new crusade and advising people that repentance and renewal could be done through "the total love for God."She was also vocal in requesting that the papacy come back to Rome from its displacement in France. During the period of the Western Schism of 1378 she was an adherent of Pope Urban VI, who summoned her to Rome, at his court and tried to convince nobles and cardinals of his legitimacy. She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430.
She remains a greatly respected figure for her spiritual writings, and political boldness to "speak truth to power"— it being exceptional for a woman, in her time period, to have had such influence in politics and on world history.
The inability to do this is precisely the struggle the disciples face today. As we see in the book of Acts, up to this point, they were doing rather well. Yes, they received much persecution from Jews and Gentiles, but when that happens, they simply move on to another city and still manage to touch hearts and minds. But in today's readings...a twist. The people react so strongly to the miracles they perform that they begin to see them as Greek Gods...much to the horror of Paul and Barnabas. Suddenly, all the pretty words they've used and that have worked every where else they've gone can't seem to do much for this people. In short, this particular episode of evangelization is a complete failure! It's hard to truly understand why, but one suggestion is that their mission became one of conversion, instead of one of love. Paul would eventually learn how central love needs to be to his ministry, but he had to go through his errors first.
This discipleship business is complicated. We see even Jesus' own disciple -Judah, not Iscariot, is mentioned in our Gospel passage of today!- ask the question that many have probably asked: if Jesus' message of love was so important to the entire world, then why was it manifested to only a few people? I can imagine Jesus musing over this question for a short while, and then looking up to his followers who were already with the Spirit even before Pentecost came upon them, realized that the answer was simply that the rest of the world was not ready. These men and women - the disciples and the women who followed him- were ready, and proved it by offering their entire lives to following and learning from him. But they would have much learning to do. Even though they were able to respond to the Holy Spirit's invitation to follow Jesus, the Spirit was not within them yet. When that would happen, they would be really ready to bring this message to the ends of the earth. But it was not Jesus' mission to do this. His mission was to lay the foundations of love, and allow the love story between God and His people to enter it's new chapter, a new, revolutionary, life altering chapter. This is Why Jesus often tells his disciples " If you love me, and if you hear god's will for you, you will do great things, far greater than the ones you see me do". This does not mean that we are called to great things, but that we are called bring God's greatness to the world in all its brightness. As the Psalm says today " Not to us O Lord, but to thy name give glory".
|5||When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to molest them and to stone them,|
|6||they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycao'nia, and to the surrounding country;|
|7||and there they preached the gospel.|
|8||Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked.|
|9||He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,|
|10||said in a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he sprang up and walked.|
|11||And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycao'nian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"|
|12||Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes.|
|13||And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people.|
|14||But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying,|
|15||"Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.|
|16||In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways;|
|17||yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."|
|18||With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.|
Psalms 115: 1 - 4, 15 - 16
|1||Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to thy name give glory, for the sake of thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness!|
|2||Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?"|
|3||Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.|
|4||Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.|
|15||May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth!|
|16||The heavens are the LORD's heavens, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.|