Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
MONDAY, February 1st Mk. 5: 1-20 “Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.”
- Today’s Gospel is a dramatic story of a man possessed by an unclean spirit named Legion, for there were many of them.
- They pleaded with Jesus to let them enter a large herd of swine on the hillside. He agreed and a herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned.
- Then we read some of the saddest words spoken in the Gospels: “The people came out to see what had happened. Then they began to beg him to leave their district.”
- What about us? Have we ever begged Jesus to leave us? Perhaps when we suffered trials, troubles, illness, even the death of a loved one?
- The cross is an enigma, a mystery that can only be explained by faith. The cross entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, and the cross redeemed the world through the obedience of the “new Adam” and the “new Eve”, Jesus and Mary.
- Every day we make our own choices. To carry the cross of disobedience that leads to death, for sin bears its own suffering in this life and for eternity! Or to carry the cross of obedience that leads to life, and life eternal. It is called salvific suffering, because joined to the suffering of Jesus and Mary, we secure not only our eternal salvation but the salvation of other souls as well!
LEARNING TO OFFER UP OUR SACRIFICES & SUFFERINGS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Our short life on earth has infinite value. We have both great dignity and eternal destiny. Our dignity? We are sons and daughters of God through the Sacrament of Baptism. Our destiny? We are all pilgrims on a journey heading towards our eternal homeland and that is Heaven.
VALUE OF SUFFERING. Of immense value for the human person in the eyes of God is that of suffering. However, suffering in and of itself, separated from a supernatural perspective, has no real value. If you like, suffering either makes us better or bitter.
ANGELS LOOKING DOWN ON HUMANITY. In the Diary of Saint Faustina, the angels view the human person with a holy envy and for two reasons. First, the human person is capable of receiving the incredible Gift of the most Holy Eucharist—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus in Holy Communion. The angels in heaven will never have this extraordinary privilege. Also, the angels cannot suffer. The angels understand that suffering, if viewed and accepted properly, has infinite value and can be most pleasing to God. In fact, Jesus, the Incarnate Word, chose the path of suffering as the means by which the salvation of the world would be consummated.
OUR LADY OF FATIMA’S MESSAGE. Our Lady of Fatima told the three children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta to pray and offer sacrifices for sinners. Our Lady expressed with sadness that many souls are lost because not enough generous souls offer prayers and sacrifices for the salvation of poor sinners. Another name for sacrifice is that of accepting willingly some form of suffering. This message of Our Lady of Fatima can be applied to ourselves in our specific state of life and our own sufferings. Nobody in the world can avoid the reality of suffering.
OFFER IT UP! These three short words sum up the entire message: offer it up! When God, in His infinite Wisdom, decides to visit you with some form of suffering, it is of enormous importance to accept the suffering given from the loving and providential Hands of God and offer it up. Remember, suffering can either make us better or bitter. Suffering can either save souls or be wasted!
HOW TO OFFER UP OUR SUFFERINGS? When we are suffering, let us strive to unite our suffering to the Cross—to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. This is sometimes called the Paschal Mystery of Christ. United with Jesus in our lives, actions, and especially our sufferings, there is infinite value.
OFFERING IN UNION WITH THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS. Jesus died once on the cross on Calvary about 2000 years ago. Jesus dies no more! However, it must be said that every time the priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, what happened on Calvary 2000 years ago is renewed and made present. In a real way, in every Mass Jesus offers Himself as the spotless Victim to the Father for the salvation of the world. Pope Saint John Paul II adds that in every Mass, as it happened on Calvary, Mary is present in a mystical but very real way!
START NOW TO OFFER YOUR SUFFERINGS. Therefore, let us no longer waste these golden opportunities that God offers us when we undergo any form of suffering, and start to unite our sufferings with Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Better yet, in union with Mary, place your sufferings first in the hands of Mary and then in her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. Then ask Mary to deposit these sufferings on the altar where the Mass is celebrated to be joined to the sufferings of Christ. Living this style of life will transform even your smallest sufferings into an infinite reservoir of abundant graces.
SUFFERINGS THAT CAN BE OFFERED TO JESUS THROUGH MARY IN THE MASS.
Our Lady of Fatima, when asked by the children what they should offer to God, responded “everything”. Make your lives a holocaust, a living sacrifice of atonement, reparation, and praise. We will offer a few concrete suggestions on what we can offer to God through the Heart of Mary.
1. THE INCLEMENT WEATHER. We would all prefer sunny days with the birds chirping their melodies and the fragrant aroma of flowers in full bloom. But this is not always the case. The bitter cold, the rain, the sleet, and the powerful winds characterize the real weather forecast many days. Instead of complaining about the weather, accept it, then thank God and unite it to Jesus on the cross.
2. HEALTH CONDITIONS. As a result of Original Sin all of humanity suffers weakening health, sicknesses, at times diseases, as well as viruses. This too is inescapable! Why not unite your own physical health condition, your suffering, to Jesus on the cross. The value of this offering is infinite!
3. PANDEMIC: CORONAVIRUS (COVID). A world-wide pandemic as such is unique in the history of the world. Instead of wasting this universal suffering, why not unite it to the cross of Jesus on Calvary in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Of most special interest should be those who are in their last stages of life and are about to breathe forth their spirit to the Eternal Father. May their sufferings be a sacrifice pleasing to God for the salvation of souls, including their own!
4. FAMILY SUFFERINGS. Many fervent and prayerful Moms and Dads suffer excruciating pains as they see the children they raised as Catholics, having received all the Sacraments, unfortunately wander from the fold and abandon the faith. Despite the invitations, exhortations, and bitter tears of their parents, still the children live oblivious of God, as if He did not even exist. In this case more than ever, Moms and Dads should not fall into discouragement, much less despair. On the contrary, parents should deposit their sufferings and their wandering children on the altar of the Mass where Jesus offers His wounds to the Eternal Father, and the Father is well-pleased! Saint Monica prayed for Augustine until he was 31 years of age—patience!!!
5. SPIRITUAL DRYNESS. Anybody who takes their spiritual life seriously will eventually encounter dryness or aridity, most specifically, in their prayer life. This is called the dry-desert experience. Instead of abandoning the struggle, throwing in the towel and calling it quits, hang in there and pray just the same. Indeed, this can entail great suffering, but a spiritual suffering very efficacious and pleasing to God. Unite your spiritual dryness with Jesus in His Agony in the Garden and place it on the altar of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus experienced an intense state of desolation. Nonetheless, He prayed all the more intensely and fervently! He is our Model!
6. THE DEATH OF LOVED ONES. Sometimes when confronted with the death of our loved ones, our faith and hope can be shaken. In this critical moment, how very important it is to place our loved ones who have passed from this world to the next on the altar, on the cross in the Mass, and beg for their eternal salvation. “It is not important a long life, but a holy life.” (Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis) Acceptance and conformity to God’s providential will is our only sure solution. We should not question why God took their life, but what we can do in the present for their soul, as well as our own!
7. UPSET PLANS ON A DAILY BASIS. None of us rejoice over people and circumstances interrupting our schedule, our plans, our well thought-out projects! However, whether we like it or not, our plans and projects will meet with frequent interruptions. Instead of losing our calm and composure, why not simply accept the contradictions and unite them to Jesus’ Cross of Contradiction. Place them on the cross of Calvary in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. So that the work you fail to accomplish may work to save souls!
In conclusion, my friends in Jesus and Mary, suffering is a human reality that nobody can avoid. Whether we are believers or non-believers, practicing Catholics or atheists, great contemplative mystics or had-core materialists, suffering is part of the human condition. But remember the short maxim: “Suffering either makes you better or bitter.” Bitter, if one suffers for the mere sake of suffering! Better, sanctified and growing in holiness, when we unite our suffering with the suffering of Jesus on the cross in Holy Mass.
Therefore, starting today call to mind the sufferings of your life. Place these precious jewels in the hands and Heart of Mary. She will deposit them on the altar of the cross of Calvary. Your suffering united to Jesus and Mary’s suffering will indeed have infinite value for the salvation of souls in time and for all eternity!
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA