The Price Of Righteousness: Mark 6:14-30


King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

I’ve often thought, would I have become a Christian, if I’d known what all it entailed? The short answer is yes, because I haven’t renounced my faith or turned away from God. But there are times (like now) when I seriously think of throwing in the towel for the seeming injustices in my life, yet Peter’s words hauntingly return to me, “To whom shall we go?” [Jn. 6:68]

John the Baptist followed God. He did and said all that God had given him to say and do. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who He was, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) With all the righteousness and truth in his life, he suffered the death of a criminal.

It seems John had not only been “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). He pointed out the specific sin of Herod and Herodias, “It is not lawful for you to have your brothers wife.

You can not tell the story of Christianity without recounting the deaths of those who told the truth….. and died.

God gives us His Spirit for strength in this journey, I know that, and yet I feel abandoned, though I know I’m not.

When John the Baptist was in prison we see that he sent some of his disciples to Jesus, to ask Him, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?

We all have bouts with doubts in our faith, but this is starting to take a toll on me. Please pray for me my brothers and sisters.

Keep the faith.

Amen.

Do You Not Yet Have Faith? :Mark 4:35-41


On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Jesus and his disciples now leave the region of Galilee and head for Gerasene. In between their departure and their arrivial, they face a violent squall that brings fear to their hearts.

We all have storms  in our lives, but how many of us would describe them as violent squalls? St. Mark, in describing the storm this way, really conjures up in our imagination, the intensity and fierceness of the storm. Would you describe any storm  in your life as a violent squall? Think on it for a moment; Has any storm in your life, caused you to hear the Savior say, “Do you not yet have faith?” When things in our lives become so intense, it can be very tempting  to question God, to deny our faith and to resist the truth.

The wind was fierce, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Does that sound familiar? You feel as if you are sinking. You know Jesus is with you, but He’s asleep! “He has no idea what’s going on! He doesn’t understand how I feel, the fear that is within me. I feel as if I’m going to die!”

In an allegorical interpretation of this passage of Sacred Scripture, St. Bede the Venerable  states (In Lucan 31) that Jesus’ sleep signifes His death, and absense that strikes fear  in the heart of the disciples. Beaten by the waves of doubt, they are finally comforted when Christ awakens from the grave to put down the devil and strip him of the power of death.

Isn’t that just what fear  does to us, too? It makes us lose sight of what’s most important  in our lives. I mean, we say we trust (have faith) in God for our eternal salvation and, yet we don’t seem to be able to  trust Him in our simple everyday needs . My brothers and sisters in Christ, this ought not to be ! And I preach this to myself, as well as you my brothers and sisters!

If I believe that God created the earth and all that dwells in it. That He sent His only begotten Son  to die for and redeem mankind, then why do I act  as if His provisions for me and my family are beyond His control?

Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Is this our cry today, as well? Can you imagine what the LORD GOD must think, when we utter such blasphemy? How it must break His heart to see His children  doubt these little things (at least, little things to Him…right?).

Again, we must maintain our perspective; which should be God centered . If we allow ourselves to become more concerned with our pleasure/comfort or even what we think  we need, then our faith/obedience will wane,  thus effecting our spiritual growth and weakening our faith . Isn’t that just what the storm  did here?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it so well:

IV. “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
 

 

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Give us“: The trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful. “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” He gives to all the living “their food in due season.” Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.
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“Give us” also expresses the covenant. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. But this “us” also recognizes him as the Father of all men and we pray to him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings.
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Our bread“: The Father who gives us life cannot but give us the nourishment life requires—all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father’s providence. He is not inviting us to idleness, but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God:

To those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he has promised to give all else besides. Since everything indeed belongs to God, he who possesses God wants for nothing, if he himself is not found wanting before God.

So this week, let us exercise our faith ! Strengthening it, so it grows and can withstand any and all  attacks, that come it’s way. And as it strengthens and becomes stronger, it won’t just be able to withstand attacks, it will be able to defeat and conquer  these attacks.

Please, feel free to share how you exercise your faith; to build it up and strengthen it. It will benefit us all.

Blessings to you all this week, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Vatican declares Knights of Columbus founder “venerable”


New Haven, CT – March 16, 2008   Pope Benedict XVI Saturday approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The pope’s declaration significantly advances the priest’s process toward sainthood and gives the parish priest the distinction of “Venerable Servant of God.” If canonized, Fr. McGivney would be the first American born priest to be so honored.

“All of us who are members of the Knights of Columbus are profoundly grateful for this recognition of the holiness of our founder,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “The strength of the Knights of Columbus today is a testament to his timeless vision, his holiness and his ideals.”

Worried about the religious faith and financial stability of immigrant families, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus with the help of several men of St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven in 1882 to help strengthen the faith of the men of his parish and to provide financial assistance in the event of their death to the widows and orphans they left behind. He was also known for his tireless work among his parishioners.

Born in Waterbury, Conn., Aug. 12, 1852, Michael Joseph McGivney, was the first of Patrick and Mary (Lynch) McGivney’s 13 children, six of whom died in infancy or early childhood. His parents, natives of Ireland, had immigrated to the United States during the 19th century. Patrick was a molder in a Waterbury brass mill, where Michael himself worked for a brief time as a child to help support his family.

From an early age, however, he realized a calling to the Catholic priesthood. After studying in several seminaries, he was ordained in that Baltimore’s historic Cathedral by Cardinal James Gibbons Dec. 22, 1877. He took up his first assignment, as curate at St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, Conn., Jan. 2, 1878. Father McGivney was named pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. in 1884. He became seriously ill with pneumonia in January 1890, and died Aug. 14, 1890 at age 38.

The cause, or process, for Father McGivney’s sainthood, was opened by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, in December 1997. The cause was presented to the Vatican in 2000, where it has been under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. With the pope’s recent decree, and the authentication of a miracle at Father McGivney’s intercession, the priest could be beatified. A second miracle would be required for canonization.

Still maintaining its headquarters in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic Fraternal Organization with more than 1.7 million members in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Philippines, Guam and, most recently, Poland.

A New Forum


Check out an exciting new forum here.

Thanks Amber!

The Conduct Of Our Lives:I Peter 3:1-7


Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior. Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God. For this is also how the holy women who hoped in God once used to adorn themselves and were subordinate to their husbands; thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him “lord.” You are her children when you do what is good and fear no intimidation. Likewise, you husbands should live with your wives in understanding, showing honor to the weaker female sex, since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

The “likewise” that  Saint Peter uses here, reflects back on his command to slaves in the previous chapter.

In our study of the Domestic Church in August of 2006, we examined carefully the roles of both wives and husbands in Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Saint Peter says the same thing here, but gives different emphasis as to it’s result.  

Wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct. This word “conduct” is anastrophe in Greek and is also translated as behavior and conversation. Using the “conduct” or “behavior” definition, better explains this sense being won over without a word.Some people have given a proper title to this action, lifestyle evangelism, and rightly so. Our lifestyles should lead our (unbelieving) spouses (and others) to faith in Christ, if indeed we find ourselves in this situation. But what about those spouses who already believe? After all, Saint Peter was addressing wives who had converted to Christianity (most likely) after their marriages, for Saint Paul teaches us in II Corinthians 6:14, not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” So what about those who already believe? If the “behavior” of the believer can lead an unbeliever to faith in our Lord, how much more will our “behavior” lead our believing spouses into a deeper faith in our Lord? If we are willing to do this, will not our marriages be strengthened and our families be more solidified? Of course they would!

I will not get into the historical details of women’s dress and pagan worship in the first century, because what Saint Peter is really addressing is the hidden character of the heart. A gentle and calm disposition, is precious in the sight of God, like Sarah had with Abraham. Saint Peter says, you are her[Sarah’s] children when you do what is good. This is not a foreign concept for us Catholics- as Sarah can be called a “mother of obedient wives”- so Mary can be called all believers [or the Church’s] spiritual Mother. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches in paragraph 969 and 970:

“This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.”

“Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.” “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”

 

 Alright guys, it’s our turn!

We must show honor to our wives. That means showing them special esteem or respect and reverence. If we do this we are told that our prayers may not be hindered. This should inform us as to the importance of the Sacrament of Matrimony to our Father. If we do not respect our spouse, a visible sign of the unity of the Trinity, God will not hear our prayer. Is this not like Saint Paul’s description of prayer without love, “a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” (I Cor. 13:1)? Is your prayer life ineffective? Examine your relationship with your spouse. Are you showing her honor and respect? Are you treating her as a joint heir? It would do us all well, to take Saint Peters words to heart here.

So this week, let us (wives) be subordinate to our husbands, and men (husbands) let us honor and respect our wives. Let us test the truth of God’s word, that our conduct will lead others to (or deeper in) a faith walk with Jesus Christ. And that our conduct toward our spouses, will not only enhance our relationships with each other, but will find favor in God’s eye’s and He will receive our prayers.

Amen.