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Weeks 681-690

 
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 683: The Lord’s Healing: A reflection on the Gospel of Mark (Mark 5:21-43)

 

21 When Jesus had crossed again [in the boat] to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. 22 One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” 24 He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

25 There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.

28 She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” 29 Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” 31 But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

 

35 While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” 36 Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” 37 He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 f So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.”

 

40 And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. 41 He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” 42 The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. [At that] they were utterly astounded. 43 He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

“God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living”. God did not make death nor evil, but they are all too present in our daily lives. To the point that many people state that they do not believe in God because death and evil are so present in our world.

Jesus was certainly aware of this fact and that is why he insisted so much in healing and
resuscitating people in the Gospels. When Jesus performed a miracle, the people witnessing it were aware that Jesus was not simply a thaumaturge, a miracle-worker. They knew that Jesus was contradicting that apparently insurmountable law of human life - that nothing can be stronger than evil and death. 

When Jesus healed a person, it was evident that he was also forgiving that person, strengthening his/ her faith and reaffirming the imminence of God’s law of love and life.
That is clear in the two stories we have just heard. The hemorrhage that woman suffered for so many years was certainly seen by the people as a punishment for her sins. And the death of Jairus’ young daughter was probably regarded the same way. When Jesus healed the former and resurrected the latter, he was proclaiming that God’s justice is imperishable, that love is stronger than death and that our faith can save our lives.

But even more than that, Jesus was teaching us that we, too, have this same power. We, too, can convey life and goodness, in a transformative way, for all those around us. How? Forgiving those who offended us. Each one of us brings the marks of death and evil imprinted by others in our lives. We all have witnessed and lived difficult – and sometimes, even horrible – moments in our lives. But death and evil should not have the last word. 

Forgiveness is a true miracle – and that is why it is so demanding, difficult and consuming. Forgiveness contradicts the apparently omnipresent law of evil and death in the world. I am not saying that we should simply ignore and “forget” the evil done against us – that is not forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process which demands truth, sincerity and patience – much patience. But it works. The price of our forgiveness was Jesus’ crucifixion. The price of the forgiveness we grant to those that offended us is Jesus’ and our crucifixion. It cannot be easy. But it transforms our lives.

Forgiveness is a miracle because it transforms the one who grants it and the one who receives it. The one granting it experiences the peace and relief of unloading a huge burden – of anger, resentment and guilt. The one being forgiven experiences a huge blessing: he knows that such grace can only come from God and he experiences love, freedom and the release of all shame. That is why Saint Isaac, the Syrian, said that “he who forgives his neighbor is greater than he who resuscitates a corpse. Because he who resuscitates a corpse conveys the corporal life to someone who will die again, while he who forgives
his neighbor conveys the immortal life to his brother’s soul”. This is a huge miracle and we all received the power, by our Baptism, to do it.

I know it is not easy. It was not easy for Jesus. As I said, Jesus’ love and holy life made him deserve death – and all the evil in the world. That is how we were forgiven. But we can take one step at a time, trying to acknowledge the evil that was made against us, talking about it with someone we trust and trying to wish good for those who hurt us. If we do not do that, we will continue to suffer under the burden of evil and death, with our hearts being torn by anger, resentment and pain. And that is not God’s loving will for us. He did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. He wants us to have life, and to have it more abundantly.  May this Eucharist renew in our hearts our miraculous power to grant forgiveness, goodness and life to all those in our lives.

Fr. Gabriel Vecchi

 

Prayer: “Lord Jesus you come to heal our wounded and troubled hearts, I beg you to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg you, in a particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg you to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused throughout my life. Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them all on your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech you – by the merits of the great, open wound in your heart – to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You came to forgive the afflicted of heart, Please, heal my own heart. Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer you my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble. Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me authentic witness to your Resurrection, Your victory over sin and death, your living presence among us. AMEN”

Quote from a Saint: "The Cross will not crush you; if its weight makes you stagger, its power will also sustain you." -St Padre Pio

Questions for reflection:

  1. Reflect on the two healings in the reading and that Jesus healed both in body and soul. Had you ever considered these to be more than just physical healings? Does reflecting on this change how you understand these encounters?

  2. Have you ever been in the position of the hemorrhaging woman or Jairus, where you were desperate for God’s healing? Did you receive the healing that you wanted or did God have a different plan? How did this effect your faith?

  3. Have you or someone you know experienced the healing power of God? If it was a physical healing was there a spiritual component?

  4. How well do you deal with the problems of evil and death in your life? Do you look to Jesus to help you overcome any fear or the sense of unease that may accompany them?

  5. Are you a forgiving person?

  6. Do you find that forgiving others is difficult for you? What is the most difficult part?

  7. When you forgive others, do you feel the healing power of that act of forgiveness?

  8. How did you feel when you were forgiven for something that you did? How did you feel before you were forgiven?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 682: “I thirst” : A reflection on the Gospel of Mark (Mark 4:26-34)

26 He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land 27 and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.

28 Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

29 And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

30 He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? 31 It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.

32 But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. 34 Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

 In the Gospels Jesus is often addressed as “Rabbi” or “Teacher” because he took many opportunities to teach, often in parables to the crowds, and great crowd sat that, and often giving instructions to His disciples in private as today’s Gospel reports. A question arises: What was behind all this teaching about the Kingdom? I believe His purpose, His motive can be summed up in two words, “I thirst.”

 

 If you recall when Jesus was near death on the cross, He cried out, “I thirst” and sour wine mixed with myrrh was offered to Him. However, there is much, much more to His thirst and it goes far beyond a sip of sour wine. His thirst is for you, for me, for all; His thirst is for our eternal salvation. His thirst is that we live in relationship with Him and through Him with the

Father and the Holy Spirit. His thirst is so great that it overshadows our lives here and now and for all eternity. There is no moment in which the Lord does not thirst for us individually or call us by name.

Jesus once proclaimed, “I can only do what I see the Father doing.” Therefore, Jesus’ thirst, His yearning reveals to us our Father’s yearning. To realize this, to recognize this, to respond to this Divine Yearning is what it means to be known as a Christian, as a Catholic. Surely, it is an overwhelming grace to know with certainty that my God yearns for me – my failings, my sins never defeat God though they may defeat us in our response or, at least diminish our response. Jesus taught, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Only by the Spirit’s grace can you, can I, can anyone live yearning for God, seeking His will, living faith to the full. We need strength, desire, steadfastness, commitment – will power is never enough. To yearn for God has to come from God; there is no other source.

 

In the Gospel we heard Jesus’ parable about the mustard seed - the smallest of seeds once sown which becomes the largest of plants. I believe there is something about the Holy Eucharist in this parable. The smallest of seeds, this mustard seed, has a spark of life within it and it needs its proper environment, good soil, rain and sunshine. The consecrated host, small in size of almost no nutritional value, has not a spark but rather the fullness of

life within it, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Him we do not see yet the Lord is truly present and yearns for His proper environment, the good soil of our hearts, our depths - we hold, touch the very Person of our Lord - we believe this because He Himself assured us.

 

The seed grows into a tree so that birds fill the branches and nest in its shade; in a way the tree welcomes them. The Holy Eucharist taken and consumed expands our faith, our hope, our charity - the Lord Jesus with the Father and the Holy Spirit dwell within us and we are moved to be receptive, welcoming of others through charity. The Lord yearns to give us Himself in the Holy Eucharist - we will hear His words at the Consecration of this Mass - “Take and eat”... “Take and drink”. We can imagine the Lord saying with passion,

 

“Please! Receive Me, receive My love for your present and your eternal life.”

Today, each of us can say and say with absolute certainty: “I saw, I held with faith, I consumed the Lord’s yearning for me.” May profound gratitude mark our lives!

 

Fr. John Denburger

Prayer: “As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?”—Psalm 42 (RSVCE)

 

Quote from a Saint: “Not only [that] He loves you, even more—He longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy. Even if you are not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes—He is the one who always accepts you.” – Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 

Questions for reflection:

  1. Have you ever thought of yourself as a student of Jesus? Do you want to be more like Him and to live like He did?

  2. Have you ever given much thought to Jesus’ teachings on the Kingdom of God and what he was trying to convey to his followers about it? Do you have a favorite teaching on the Kingdom?

  3. Have you ever meditated on Jesus’ words “I thirst”? If not, bring you Bible with you to your next prayer session and refamiliarize yourself with the “I thirst” in the context that it was written. Then allow the Lord to speak to you.

  4. God yearns for you-- is this reciprocal? Why or why not?

  5. Do you try to “live your faith to the full?” If so, what does that look like? If not, what would that look like? How can you make steps towards living it to the full?

  6. Do you feel like you depend upon God’s grace to do all things? In what ways do you depend on His grace?

  7. What do you think about the concept that the Eucharist is like a mustard seed in our lives? Are you willing to let this mustard seed be planted in your soul by the Sower?

  8. Do you yearn for the Eucharist or has receiving Communion become routine? What do you do maintain your respect and enthusiasm for the Eucharist? What are some things that you can start doing to spark that fire or maintain the flame?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 681: Securing our hold on the spiritual and letting go of the physical : A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 6 : 19-23)

 

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.

20 But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.

 

21 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

 

22“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;

 

23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.

 

Recently in my reading I came across something that stayed with me: “Renunciation is not giving up the good things of this life but accepting that they go away.” In this view, renunciation is not about willpower but acceptance and surrender. The monk, who is characterized by renunciation, comes to be seen not as a spiritual athlete, but under the aspect of mourning.

 

Jesus speaks of worldly treasures that moth and decay can destroy. Pleasure, power, wealth, status, achievement, anything we can grow attached to fades away before long. Only the spiritual transformation brought about by grace endures. “The grass withers and the flower fades but the word of the Lord remains…”

Just as the eye is the “lamp” of the body the spirit is the lamp of the human person. It needs to be placed on the lampstand of the heart to give light to every facet of our experience, our memories, sensations and thoughts; and to all the dimensions of our daily lives, from the banal to the most exalted.

Essential to developing the life of the spirit is the sustained practice of stillness and silence. As our body grows still the turbulent swirl of passions, obsessions and memories emerges into view. As we attend and get close to these passing thoughts and impulses we grow in self-knowledge and become more grounded. With patience, in silence, we find that they settle and like Elijah we hear the “still, small voice” after the storm and crashing rocks.

As contemplative monks we need to practice and not merely talk about stillness and silence. When we do, all the different aspects of our lives fall into right perspective. It grows easier not to cling to what we can see is fading away. We see clearly there is in fact nothing to hold onto. While this may be alarming it can also bring a sense of exhilaration. All is grass that withers and flowers that fade, but the word of grace God speaks through our conversion endures.

-Fr. Isaac Slater

 

Prayer: “I weave a silence onto my lips. I weave a silence into my mind. I weave a silence within my heart. I close my ears to distractions. I close my eyes to attractions. I close my heart to temptations. Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm. Still me, O Lord. Keep me from harm. Let all tumult within me cease. Enfold me, Lord, in your peace. Amen.”-- Prayer for Stillness (Prayer from the Celtic Tradition)

Quote from a Saint: “Silence is the doorkeeper of the interior life.”--St. Josemaria Escriva

Questions for reflection:

  1. Are there things that you have had to renounce as you have grown in your life as a Christian? Did giving those things up help to free you to love God more?

  2. Are there things in your life that you need to renounce? Have you taken a close look at your life to know if there are things that need to be renounced?

  3. How are you at accepting the will of God in your life? Are you open to His leading or do you resist it? If so, why?

  4. How much are you attached to the things that decay? What are the hardest types of things to detach from?

  5. Are you actively trying to improve your spiritual fitness? Do you spend time with the Lord in adoration? Do you practice times of silent prayer during the day?

  6. Have you placed the Spirit on the “lampstand of your heart” to allow its rays to illuminate all the areas of your life? What does that look like in your life?

  7. How attentive are you to your interior life? Do you monitor your thought life? Do you intentionally spend time in silence, especially when it gets uncomfortable, or do you become bored? Much like physical exercise you need to push through the uncomfortable and persevere in order to experience improvement.

  8. Do you ruthlessly weed out the things that distract from God in your life, like excessive cellphone usage, having background sounds (like the television or music playing at all times) or endlessly scrolling on your phone?

  9. Does the idea that “there is nothing to hold onto” make you uncomfortable or unsettled? Why or why not?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

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