See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah, fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The LORD will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, Though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.Woe to the bloody city, all lies, full of plunder, whose looting never stops! The crack of the whip, the rumbling sounds of wheels; horses a-gallop, chariots bounding, Cavalry charging, the flame of the sword, the flash of the spear, the many slain, the heaping corpses, the endless bodies to stumble upon! I will cast filth upon you, disgrace you and put you to shame; Till everyone who sees you runs from you, saying, “Nineveh is destroyed; who can pity her? Where can one find any to console her?”
DEUTERONOMY 32:35-36, 39, 41
R. (39c) It is I who deal death and give life.
Close at hand is the day of their disaster, and their doom is rushing upon them! Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people; on his servants he shall have pity. R.
“Learn then that I, I alone, am God, and there is no god besides me. It is I who bring both death and life, I who inflict wounds and heal them.” R.
I will sharpen my flashing sword, and my hand shall lay hold of my quiver, “With vengeance I will repay my foes and requite those who hate me.” R.
Alleluia MATTHEW 5:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MT 16:24-28
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, AUGUST 7TH Mt. 16:24-28 “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
PART 1: Points of Reflection on today’s Scripture Verse…
PART 2: Taking Up Our Cross and Following Jesus by St. John Henry Newman
PART 3: POWER OF THE CROSS – Contemplation by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
PART 1… Points of Reflection
Taking up one’s crossand following Jesus can be seen as docility and obedience to the will of God in all that He permits to happen each day, each moment of our life. Doing His will, not our will! Isn’t that what Jesus said in the Garden of Olives— “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but your will be done.” (Lk. 22:42)
We can do this if we truly believe that God is good and that His hand is guiding, purifying, and saving us by means of everything that happens in our life. God wills good, but He permits evil to bring about an even greater good. One that wouldn’t exist without the evil. So that we will look back and thank God even for the evil that befell us. (Augustine and Aquinas) Do you think Ignatius of Loyola, looking back on his life, thanked God for the cannon ball that shattered his legs in the Battle of Pamplona? Without the cannon ball we wouldn’t have the saint or the Spiritual Exercises or Discernment of Spirits!
Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it can be described as pouring oneself out as a libation for the good of others—remembering that charity begins at home! We only find ourself when we give ourself away! We only discover who we are when we see who we become to others. We celebrated the Feast Day of St. John Vianney, Cure of Ars on Tuesday. One of the most selfless saints in the Catholic Church, he was named Patron of Parish Priests worldwide by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
This is living out the two greatest commandments: 1) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mk. 12:30-31) At the Last Supper Jesus said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (Jn.13:34)
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jer. 29:11) Always remembering our future is our eternal home; this life is only the journey on the way.
St. Ignatius loved Our Lady under the title Santa Maria della Strada or Our Lady of the Way. Let us think about Mary when the Angel appeared and asked her to be the Mother of God. She had a question, how can this be since I am a virgin? God had already asked for her promise of total virginity. Once the Angel said it would be by the Power of the Holy Spirit, Mary gave her unconditional Yes. If we are to be saved, and take many other souls with us, our Yes must also be unconditional.
PART 2: Taking up our cross and following Jesus… by St. John Henry Newman (+1890)
There is an inward world into which they enter who come near to Christ. If they have drunk of Christ’s cup and tasted the Bread of His Table in sincerity, it is not with them as in time past.
A change has come over them, unknown indeed to themselves, except in its effects, but they have a portion in destinies to which other men are strangers, and, as having destinies, they have conflicts also. They drank what looked like draught (drink) of this world, but it associated them in hopes and fears, trials and purposes, above this world.
They came as for a blessing, and they have found a work. They are soldiers of Christ’s army; they fight against things seen and unseen. To their surprise, as time goes on, they find that their lot is changed. They find that in one shape or other adversity happens to them. If they refuse to afflict themselves, God afflicts them. One blow falls, they are startled; it passes over, it is well; they expect nothing more.
Another comes, they wonder; “Why is this?” they ask. They think that the first should be their security against the second; they bear it, however, and it passes too.
Then a third comes; they almost murmur; they have not yet mastered the great doctrine that endurance is their portion.
O simple soul, is it not the law of your being to endure since you came to Christ? Why come you but to endure? Why did you taste His heavenly feast but that it might work in you? Why did you kneel beneath His hand but that He might leave on you the print of His wounds?
Why wonder then that one sorrow does not buy off the next? Does one drop of rain absorb the second? Does the storm cease because it has begun? Understand your place in God’s Kingdom, and rejoice, not complain, that in your day you have your lot with prophets and Apostles! End of Reflection by Blessed John Henry Newman
PART 3: POWER OF THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST—Contemplation By Fr. Ed. Broom, OMV
Let us meditate upon what the saints have said about the power of the cross and then spend time in silence and meditate upon the crucifix, the most eloquent symbol of love in the entire world. With Saint Francis of Assisi who bore the wounds of Christ in his body through the mystical grace of the stigmata, let us pray with all of our heart: “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
WHAT SOME OF THE SAINTS HAVE SAID ABOUT THE CROSS…
“It is not the finest wood that feeds the fire of Divine love, but the wood of the cross.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent.” (St. John of the Cross)
“The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily must cast off all things and use the cross as his cane. In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.” (St. John of the Cross)
“The Passion of Christ is the greatest and most stupendous work of Divine Love. The greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love.” (St. Paul of the Cross)
“O cherished cross! Through thee my most bitter trials are replete with graces.” (St. Paul of the Cross)
“Our Savior’s passion raises men and women from the depths, lifts them up from the earth, and sets them in the heights.” (St. Maximus of Turin)
Now let us enter into our own meditation/contemplation on the Mystery of the Holy Cross as we lift our gaze to a graphic crucifix and peer into the five deep wounds of Jesus, who loved me so much that He was crucified, suffered and died for me. How great is the love of God for me!!!
1. CRUCIFIX ON THE WALL OF THE BEDROOMS IN YOUR HOME. It is highly recommended that all of your bedrooms have a crucifix on the wall. A crucifix has a Corpus—meaning, the Body of Christ nailed to the wood of the cross. The cross without the Corpus of Christ almost deprives the cross of its real meaning: Jesus suffered and died on the cross; His Body hung on the cross for three long hours, from 12 noon to 3:00 pm, for our salvation!
2. CONTEMPLATE THE CROSS. Get into the habit before retiring every night of spending at least a few moments in silence contemplating, looking deeply at the cross and He who died on the cross for love of you—the Savior, Jesus Christ, and offer Him your immense love and gratitude. Contemplation is a form of prayer in which we think deeply with our mind and love immensely with our heart for the immense love that Jesus has not just for all, but for me individually.
3. RECALL TO MIND THE WORDS JESUS SAID ON THE CROSS. A very salutary and sanctifying practice is to call to mind the seven last words (phrases) that Jesus pronounced from the cross. Take these words into your mind and your heart. Ven. Fulton J. Sheen asserts that from the pulpit of the cross, Jesus preached His last and best homily. Let us be attentive students and listeners. (Listed below)
4. MEMORIZE THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF JESUS, THE MOST ELOQUENT PREACHER:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. (23:34)
Amen, I say to you: today you will be with me in Paradise. (Lk. 23:43)
Woman behold thy son; son behold thy Mother. (Jn. 19:26-27)
I thirst. (Jn. 19:28)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mt. 27:46)
It is finished. (Jn. 19:30)
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Lk. 23:46)
5. IMITATE THE SAINTS AND KISS THE WOUNDS OF CHRIST. Prayer is not simply a cerebral, that is, a merely intellectual function. Prayer involves the whole person. St. Francis and many of the saints would express their love for their crucified Savior by kissing Jesus’ five wounds on the crucifix. You do the same! By doing so, you are manifesting the heartfelt love that you have for Jesus. Every one of those open wounds that Jesus endured – the nails that perforated His hands and His feet, the lance that entered His side and pierced His Heart causing blood and water to gush forth, were for love of you and for your eternal salvation. How great is the love of the crucified Savior for you and how great His desire for the salvation of your immortal soul!
6. LIKE MARCELINO TALK TO THE CRUCIFIED LORD. (Movie: Miracle of Marcelino – 1955 black and white version.) In this movie-classic, imitate the little orphan boy, Marcelino, and talk to the Lord Jesus from the depths of your heart. Use simple words, but words anointed with great love and passion, expressing your heartfelt gratitude for the Lord Jesus and all He did for you.
7. CONTEMPLATE THE CROSS AND CALVARY RELATED TO HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS. As you lift your gaze to Jesus hanging from the cross, call to mind the intimate relationship between Jesus crucified on Good Friday on Calvary and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Invisible as it is, and with the utmost depth of mystical meaning, every time an ordained priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, then Calvary and the crucified Lord Jesus is present. In every Mass, the fruits of the crucified Lord are available to all of humanity. Next time you go to Mass, contemplate the big Crucifix on the wall behind the priest who is celebrating Mass and remember that Calvary is present when the priest lifts up the Host and elevates the Chalice! O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!
8. JESUS’ OPEN ARMS ON THE CROSS. Contemplate now the open arms of Jesus as He hangs from the cross. There is depth of meaning here. Saint Augustine, giving a symbolic interpretation of the crucifix and the position of Jesus Body says: Jesus has His head bent to kiss us; His arms open to embrace us; and His heart open to receive us! Jesus’ open arms are symbolic of the arms of the Father of the Prodigal Son. The meaning? Despite the sad reality of our many sins, God always, in all times and on all occasions, has His arms wide-open to receive us—symbolic of forgiveness. As the Prophet Isaiah reminds us: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as the snow.” (Is. 1:18) In concrete, Jesus beckons us to return to Him with a sincere and contrite heart through the reception of the Sacrament of His Mercy, the Sacrament of Confession, and be renewed, reformed, and made anew!
9. JESUS’ BLOOD STAINED BODY AND GARMENTS. As you contemplate the blood-stained body of Jesus and the few garments, the virtue of purity and modesty should surge in your mind and heart. Both the stripping of Jesus, as well as the brutal scourging at the pillar were accepted willingly by Jesus to repair for the countless sins of impurity committed by all of humanity and by us individually. Our Lady of Fatima commented sadly that most souls are lost due to the sins against the 6th and 9th Commandments; that is to say, sins committed against the virtue of purity. May our contemplation of the lacerated and bloody Body of the Lord Jesus inspire within us a great desire for purity—in body, mind, thought, word, deed, desire and intention. Jesus taught us in the Beatitudes: Blessed are the pure of heart, they will see God. (Mt. 5:8)
10. THE CROSS AND CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS AND OURS… As you look up to the cross and contemplate Jesus with love recall His words: Anyone who wishes to be my follower must renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt. 16:24) Spend some quiet time in prayer before the Crucified Lord Jesus and open up the very depths of your heart, pour out your feelings and emotions with respect to your own crosses. Jesus desires to listen to you, to accompany you, and to really help you. He is not indifferent to the cries and supplications of your heart but desires to help you. What might be your cross or crosses? A health problem, an economic strait, a difficult relative, a rebellious son or daughter, a tense relationship with a spouse, a work conflict, a spiritual doubt, the loss of a loved one, the pain of a past deep wound, fear of the dark and ominous clouds of the future, the fear of suffering and of your own mortality and death. All of the above can be the subject of your colloquy with the crucified Lord Jesus. Our cross often is simply too heavy because we fail to invite Jesus to come and help us carry our cross. Invite Him. Listen to His words: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mt 11:28-30)
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