Weeks 481-490

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 481: Restore, Repair, Renew: Reflection on Am 9: 11-15

 

“On that day I will raise up the fallen hut of David; I will wall up its breaches, raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old,

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all nations claimed in my name— oracle of the LORD, the one who does this. Yes, days are coming—oracle of the LORD—

When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps and the vintager, the sower of the seed;

The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes, and all the hills shall run with it.

I will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities,

Plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits.

I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked

From the land I have given them—the LORD, your God, has spoken.” -Amos 9:11-15 NAB

 

 

Restoration. Repairing. Renewing. That’s what this passage is about. Amos is saying this to a divided country. Israel has split into two kingdoms and their split is going to cause their demise because divided, they cannot stand against their enemies. First the North will fall to Assyria, then both the North and South will fall to Babylon. This is the penalty the people will pay for indulging their idolatry despite warning after warning after warning from the prophets. And yet, the Lord gives Amos this word of comfort: when all that is done and the people finally repent, I will restore what they have lost.

 

Well, wait a minute Father. Wasn’t Amos wrong? It didn’t happen. After the Davidic dynasty falls to Babylon it NEVER rises again. Yes it does, in Jesus Christ. What Amos is foretelling here is the rise of the Church. God restored David’s kingdom, because Jesus Christ is a descendant of King David. God renewed Israel by renewing the covenant, a new and better covenant, that gave us access to eternal life. God repaired creation by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that atoned for the sins of humanity.

 

And this mission of Jesus Christ- to restore, repair, and renew- has now been passed onto us, the Church. How do we accomplish this? Jesus makes it clear that we cannot restore, repair, or renew without the proper tools. You don’t put new wine in old wineskins do you? Of course not! Why not? Because the acidity of the new wine will eat through the old skins and cause them to burst! Then you lose the wine AND the skins. You don’t tear a piece of cloth from a new cloak to patch an old do you? NO! Why not? Because you ruin the new cloak by tearing it, and when you sew that cloth on the old cloak it will just make the tear bigger because the new cloth hasn’t shrunk yet.

 

So if we want to restore, repair and renew, we need the proper tools. That means restoring, repairing and renewing ourselves first. We can’t fix someone else if we’re broken. So how do we restore ourselves? The Eucharist. The Eucharist strengthens us to do the Lord’s will. How do we repair ourselves? Confession. Confession heals the wounds we inflict on our souls through sin. How do we renew ourselves? Prayer and praise of God. Prayer and praise energize us and gives us a sense of purpose. Prayer and praise excite us to do the work of God. Once we do this we’re ready to restore, repair and renew others.

 

How do we restore others? Charity. Charity is more than throwing money at causes. Charity is lifting others up in dignity. That restores people. How do we repair others? Forgive them. We all have someone we can forgive. We all have someone we have a hard time forgiving. But if we come seeking the Lord’s forgiveness in the confessional, we have no right to withhold that forgiveness from anyone else. How do we renew others? By sharing our faith with them. Evangelizing renews people. Sharing the Lord with others gives them a brand new start on life.

 

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has kept his promises to us. He has restored, repaired and renewed us. Now we have to keep our promise to him and do the same for others; for this IS the promise of every confirmed Catholic. Blessed Be God forever.

-Father Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

God “gives Himself as prize and reward: He is the refreshment of holy souls, the ransom of those in captivity. ‘The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him’ (Lam. 3.25). What will He be then to those who gain His presence? But here is a paradox, that no one can seek the Lord who has not already found Him. It is Thy will, O God, to be found that Thou mayest be sought, to be sought that Thou mayest the more truly be found. But though Thou canst be sought and found, Thou canst not be forestalled. For if we say, ‘Early shall my prayer come before Thee’ (Ps. 88.13), yet doubtless all prayer would be lukewarm unless it was animated by Thine inspiration.”

-St. Bernard of Clairvaux

 

Prayer

 

O HOLY SPIRIT, CREATOR, be propitious to the Catholic Church; and by thy heavenly power make it strong and secure against the attacks of its enemies; and renew in charity and grace the spirit of thy servants, whom Thou hast anointed, that they may glorify Thee and the FATHER and his only begotten SON, JESUS CHRIST, our LORD. Amen. -Raccolta 39

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. What divisions in our society need repair right now?

  2. What wounds in your own soul need repair right now?

  3. Why is it important to renew, refresh, and repair yourself in your spiritual journey?

  4. How does praise of God renew us?

  5. How does the Eucharist refresh us?

  6. How does confession repair us?

  7. What else do you do to refresh, renew, and repair on your spiritual journey?

  8. How can we renew, refresh, and repair others?

  9. What is the difference between “throwing money at causes” and true charity?

  10. What are some examples from the lives of saints of true charity?

  11. What graces do we receive in Confirmation to help us renew, refresh, and repair others?

  12. How does renewing, refreshing, and repairing ourselves and others give glory to God?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 482: Hate Evil and Love Good: Reflection on Amos 5:7,10-15

 

“Woe to those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness to the ground,

They hate those who reprove at the gate and abhor those who speak with integrity;

Therefore, because you tax the destitute and exact from them levies of grain,

Though you have built houses of hewn stone, you shall not live in them;

 

Though you have planted choice vineyards, you shall not drink their wine.

Yes, I know how many are your crimes, how grievous your sins:

Oppressing the just, accepting bribes, turning away the needy at the gate.

(Therefore at this time the wise are struck dumb for it is an evil time.)

Seek good and not evil, that you may live;

Then truly the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you as you claim. Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate; Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:7,10-15 NAB

 

I love the prophet Amos because he’s very meat and potatoes. There’s very little fluff or symbolism in the prophet Amos. He’s very straightforward. He just bluntly tells it as it is, and I like that. I respect that. “Hate evil and love good,” Amos tells us. Hate, as I have said before, is not simply finding something distasteful. Hate is not avoiding something. Hate is actively seeking its demise. If I hate you, I’m not satisfied with just not having to deal with you. If I hate you, I want to see you ruined. If I hate you, I want to see you destroyed. And if I hate you, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that happens. That’s hate, and that’s why as Christians we are not allowed to hate anything except evil.

 

Evil is the only thing we are allowed to hate, and it should be noted, that NEVER applies to a person. People say this all the time. “She is just pure evil!” That’s wrong. “Those Moslems are all evil!” That’s wrong. “Pro-abortion people are evil!” No. That’s one of those things a Christian should NEVER say about another person. We are all made in the image and likeness of God, and God always creates good things, so, as misled or misguided a person may be, no matter if they have done EVIL things, no PERSON, STRICTLY speaking, IS evil. ALL people have the potential for doing good. Therefore, no person can be evil because evil, by its definition, is completely void of good, and every person has the potential to do good.

 

So no Christian ever has an excuse for hating someone, and no Christian has an excuse for labeling people “evil”. But every Christian should hate evil, and so every Christian should be doing everything in their power to destroy evil. How do we do that? By praying against evil and loving what is good.

 

Whenever I pray the 3rd glorious mystery of the rosary, ‘the descent of the Holy Spirit,’ I ask the Blessed Mother to pray that her spouse, the Holy Spirit, descends anew upon creation to destroy all evil. This should be a regular intention for all of us. But that isn’t enough. We also have to love what is good. Loving something means more than promoting it, although it does include that.

 

I have told you many, many times what love is. Love begins when we want what’s best for another. It grows when we’re willing to do what’s best for another, but love reaches perfection when we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves for what is good for another. So, if we love what is good, that means we have to be willing to sacrifice ourselves for what is good.

 

You see, my brothers and sisters, our problem is that too many people are lukewarm in their approach to God. They don’t really HATE evil. They tolerate it. They may find evil distasteful, but they’re really not interested in actively opposing it. And too many people don’t LOVE what is good. They LIKE good. But they’re not willing to sacrifice themselves for what is good. This is why evil flourishes in the world. And if we want to quell the spread of evil, then actively opposing its spread while sacrificing ourselves for the good is the only way to do it. And blessed be God forever. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

 

“True love rises above creation and is steeped in God. Such love extends its arms in loving embrace and prays for all, suffers for all, wishes well to all and desires the happiness of all- because God wills it!” - St. Maximilian Kolbe

 

Prayer

 

Jesus, Mary, I love you, save souls. -Prayer given by Jesus to Servant of God, Sr. Consolata Betrone

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Sometimes the truth is challenging. How do you respond to those who “reprove at the gate”or who “speak with integrity”?

  2. Why are we allowed to hate only evil?

  3. What is the difference between liking good and loving the good?

  4. What is the difference between having a distaste for evil and hating evil?

  5. How does lukewarmness prevent us from hating evil and loving good?

  6. How does acting in justice show that you hate evil and love good?

  7. How do we love those who have committed evil acts?

  8. Why is it necessary for true love to “rise above creation”?

  9. How would you explain to someone who is unwilling to forgive?

  10. What prayers do you use most to fight evil?

  11. How can a simple prayer like the one given by Jesus to Sr. Consolata help you to grow in love for what is good?

  12. Consider your relationship with someone you love in light of this quote: “Love begins when we want what’s best for another. It grows when we’re willing to do what’s best for another, but love reaches perfection when we’re willing to sacrifice ourselves for what is good for another.” How does it measure up? Is your love for that person rightly ordered? Why or why not?

-Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 483: Speak, Lord. Your Servant is Listening : Reflection on Amos 7:12-15

 

“To Amos, Amaziah said: “Off with you, seer, flee to the land of Judah and there earn your bread by prophesying! But never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor do I belong to a company of prophets. I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores, but the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” -Amos 7:12-15

 

Do we respond to the Lord’s call? In this reading, the prophet Amos is accosted by Amaziah, a half pagan priest. I say half pagan, because he was NOT a Levitical priest. Amaziah is a priest appointed by King Jeroboam in the north. When the north of Israel broke with the southern Kingdom of Judah, Jeroboam basically began his own religion which mixed elements of Judaism with elements of paganism.

 

And so Amaziah, an invalid priest, tells Amos to leave Israel and go earn a living prophesying in Judah. And Amos answers him, “I was no prophet, nor did I belong to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel.”

 

So Amos was telling Amaziah, “Look, I didn’t ask for this job. I had a career as a shepherd and a gardener. It was the Lord who called me to leave all that behind and come here to preach to you, and try to show you the error of your ways.”

 

How many of us are willing to do what Amos did, and answer the call of the Lord? The Holy Spirit calls to us all the time, to do things and to not do things. Do we listen? Or do we just go about our merry lives and shut the Spirit out? Have you ever been somewhere and gotten the feeling that you should talk to a particular person? It could be a complete stranger! Do you listen to that instinct? Or do you ignore it? What is that is the Lord speaking to your heart, “Hey, this person needs a friendly voice right now.”? Even just a friendly smile and a “Good morning!” can go a long with some people.

 

Every day, we should be praying, “Lord, train me to listen to your promptings.” “Teach me to listen to your voice.” Or if you want a REALLY easy prayer to remember; “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

 

Why are so many people reluctant to pray these prayers? Because they are afraid that the Lord might do to them what he did to Amos- call them away from their nice comfortable niche, and do something crazy, like go evangelize people. Could happen. But don’t be afraid of that.

 

First of all, God is not going to ask you to do what you are not capable of doing. Second, you are capable of doing MORE than you give yourself credit for. Third, we are ALL called to the work of evangelization. Every single confirmed Catholic is an evangelist. But we’re all called to accomplish that end through a variety of different means because we all have been given different gifts.

 

Before I became a priest I was gifted in speaking, writing, and teaching. So the Lord turned me in a direction where those gifts could be used to evangelize others most effectively. It just happened to be the priesthood. What are your gifts? What are you good at? Because you can bet whatever that is, the Lord is calling you to use those gifts in some way that will touch souls, change hearts, and build up his Church. And you can be sure you will encounter an Amaziah or two who will try to discourage you and say, “Stop doing that!” Don’t let them discourage you. Work quietly for the Lord and carry on. -Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

 

Quote from a Saint

“My Jesus, obedience works miracles; help me to do our Mother’s will.” - Servant of God Sr. Benigna Consolata Order of the Visitation of the B.V.M

 

Prayer

 

Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen. -St. Francis of Assisi

 

Questions for Reflection

 

  1. Do you want to hear the Holy Spirit’s instructions, or do you resist them?

  2. What do you think is the biggest obstacle to responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

  3. What Amaziah’s have you encountered in your following of Christ? How did you respond?

  4. There were many false, hired prophets in the time of Amaziah. What characterizes a true vs. a false prophet?

  5. Why is it important for us to pray for the Lord to speak to us and guide us if He already wants to do this?

  6. How could praying for this every day help you in your spiritual life?

  7. What talents do you have that God has called upon you to use for His glory?

  8. Think of someone in your life or of a saint who has been an example of responding to the Holy Spirit.

  9. What is the difference between using your talents to glorify yourself and using your talents to touch souls?

  10. Our Lady is called “spouse of the Holy Spirit.” How is obedience to Our Lady also obedience to the Holy Spirit?

  11. What do you think of Sr. Benigna Consolata’s statement that “obedience works miracles”?

  12. How does Mary model a person responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

 

-Erin Wells

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