Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Monday June 1st: Courageous prayer for a courageous life

Hope y'all enjoyed a lovely Canada day weekend, and that  everyone is also  enjoying the 'Genesis/  Matthew' readings...we'll be reading only those for the next 2  weeks, except on Sundays. Fun for the whole family!! And enjoy the Blessed figure ...an important missionary figure for the US.  due to weird formatting, I had to create a big space between this opening paragraph and the text. I apologize!

Feast Day:July 1
Born:24 November 1713 at Petra, Spanish Majorca
Died:28 August 1784
Beatified:25 September 1988 by Pope John Paul II

Born at Petra, Island of Majorca (Spanish Island in the Mediterranean), 24 November, 1713; died at Monterey, California, 28 August, 1784.
On 14 September, 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order with whom he would receive a degree of Doctor of Theology from the Lullian University at Palma ( Also located in the Mediterranean), where he also occupied the  chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico (1749).  At his own request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian Missions (in central Mexico). He served there for nine years, part of the time as superior, learned the language of the Pame Indians, and translated the catechism into their language (oh good...so the Jesuits weren't the only ones to practice inculturation!!).He became famous as a most fervent and effective preacher of missions. 
    In 1767 he was appointed superior of a band of fifteen Franciscans for the Indian Missions of Baja California. On the 14th of May, he established the Mission San Fernando de Velicatá, Lower California. He arrived at San Diego on 1 July, and on 16 July founded the first of the famous twenty-one California missions which accomplished the conversions of all the natives on the coast . Those established by Father Serra or during his administration were San Carlos (3 June, 1770); San Antonio (14 July, 1771. It's the only one in this list that is no longer a Church)); San Gabriel (8 September, 1771); San Luis Obispo (1 September, 1772); San Francisco de Asis (8 October, 1776); San Juan Capistrano (1 Nov. 1776); Santa Clara (12 January, 1777); San Buenaventura (31 March, 1782).His executive abilities has been especially noted by non-Catholic writers. The esteem in which his memory is held by all classes in California may be gathered from the fact that Mrs. Stanford, not a Catholic, had a granite monument erected to him at Monterey. A bronze statute of heroic size represents him as the apostolic preacher in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. In 1884 the Legislature of California passed a concurrent resolution making 29 August of that year, the centennial of Father Serra's burial, a legal holiday.  It's a comfort to read that last part, because during his lifetime, there were many problems with his ministry from the governor of the region, even court cases that challenged his work and zeal. 


I seem to be having problems with formatting today. If anyone has ideas how I can re-align the following text, do share your wisdom. In the meantime, let's put up with the ugly un centered text.

If you glance at the Gospel of the day you may think 'um dude, you put exactly the same text as Sunday in! We've had the same Gospel 2 days in a row." Uh dude...not the same Gospel, because Sunday was Luke and Yesterday was Matthew, but definitely the same Gospel story with similar text. So good observation if you picked that up! Perhaps in honor of Blessed Junipero, the readings reflect the freedom (there's that big word again!) one needs to let the Lord do great things in us so that we may do great things for the Lord, and the hardship that comes with obtaining that freedom.But to discuss  a slightly different theme, we could talk about the great Trust in God this story -both the Gospel story and the Blessed Junipero story- reflect. Trusting God, is another expression of tremendous freedom after all, and it's something we need to do if we're going to commit ourselves completely to this kind of life.

 Another thing we need for a radical life of following Jesus, is a courageous prayer, and Abraham demonstrates that perfectly in Monday's readings with his  conversation / prayer with  God.  Pope Francis picked up on it in his morning homily. It fascinated him how much tenacity Abraham has. He's almost 'haggling' with God, or negotiating with him.  But as Francis points out, it's also an expression of Abraham's courageous prayer. Abraham  (through this prayer) 'tries to convince the  Lord, with the Lord's own virtues...(Abraham) knew what he was asking for was impossible, but he also knew it was right" This sounds a little surreal, but it's a reflection of how well he knew God, and how intimate his relationship to God was. What's fascinating to me is that as 'tenacious' as Abraham is in his prayer, we also get an expression of that tenacity in God, through the Psalm. But the word used is not tenacious, but steadfast.
   Today's Psalm (which Francis asks everyone to pray with for 5 minutes everyday!) would be striking for anyone who firmly believes that there are 2 pictures of God in the Bible:  The Old Testament God, who is vengeful and destructive, and the God Jesus speaks of, who forgives those who repent and change their ways.  This picture is a naive one to begin with, Psalm 103 affirms how naive this is:

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever.He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities"

 This is a powerful reminder that God loves us above everything else, and that no amount of sin on our part will erase that love. Maybe this helps us understands a little better why Jesus is so radical with his words. He's almost saying to us " I have seen the goodness of the Lord, and my life can never be the same. I want to return to him as much as he's given to us." But of course, he's not quite saying that, since he's not only seen the goodness of the lord..he IS that goodness. He understands the heart of God with all his mind, body and soul. Consequently, he can not live a quiet peaceful life of adoration as many of us do.He needs to dedicate every ounce of his being to union with God. It's a model we can never fully live up to...but that should not deter anyone of us from trying!

Blessings on your Tuesday!

Genesis 18: 16 - 33

16Then the men set out from there, and they looked toward Sodom; and Abraham went with them to set them on their way.
17The LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
18seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him?
19No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him."
20Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomor'rah is great and their sin is very grave,
21I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know."
22So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD.
23Then Abraham drew near, and said, "Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
25Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
26And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27Abraham answered, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
28Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
29Again he spoke to him, and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it."
30Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."
31He said, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it."
32Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
33And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

Psalms 103: 1 - 4, 8 - 11

1Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.9He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever.10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities.11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

Matthew 8: 18 - 22

18Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side.
19And a scribe came up and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
20And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."
21Another of the disciples said to him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."
22But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."

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