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TODAY’S PSALM (PSALM 138)

(Week 26 of the year: Friday)

R. Lead me, O Lord, in the path of life eternal.

1. O Lord, you search me and you know me,
you know my resting and my rising,
you discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
all my ways lie open to you. (R.)

2. O where can I go from your spirit,
or where can I flee from your face?
If I climb the heavens, you are there.
If I lie in the grave, you are there. (R.)

3. If I take the wings of the dawn
and dwell at the sea’s furthest end,
even there your hand would lead me,
your right hand would hold me fast. (R.)

4. For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation. (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and loving in all his deeds.
Alleluia!

 
 

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23rd MARCH, GOSPEL READING (JOHN 4:5-15, 19-26, 39-42)

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL

Jesus came to the Samaritan town called Sychar, near the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, Jacob’s well is there, and Jesus, tired by the journey, sat straight down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” – Jews, in fact, do not associate with Samaritans.

Jesus replied, “If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you ‘Give me a drink’, you would have been the one to ask, and he would have given you living water.” “You have no bucket, sir,” she answered, “and the well is deep: how could you get this living water? Are you a greater man than our father Jacob who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his sons and his cattle?”

Jesus replied, “Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life.” “Sir,” said the woman, “give me some of that water, so that I may never get thirsty and never have to come here again to draw water.” Jesus said, “Go, call your husband, and come back here.” The woman answered, “I have no husband.” And Jesus replied, “You are right to say, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you said is true.” The woman then said to him, “I see you are a prophet, sir. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, while you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for salvation comes from the Jews. But the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah – that is, Christ – is coming; and when he comes he will tell us everything.” “I who am speaking to you,” said Jesus, “I am he.” Many Samaritans of that town believed in him on the strength of the woman’s testimony, so, when the Samaritans came up to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed for two days, and when he spoke to them many more came to believe; and they said to the woman, “Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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VAINGLORY, FLATTERY, POPULARITY: “WHAT A SAD BARGAIN, SELLING THE REWARD OF THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM FOR THE WIND OF A HUMAN MOUTH!”

HOW TO BE CLEANSED OF THE LEPROSY OF SIN ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL

(Part I “The Meaning of ‘Leper’ and ‘Infected With Leprosy’ in the Gospels” was posted on this blog on January 14 2014.)

“ON THE THREE VIRTUES, WITHOUT WHICH NO-ONE IS CLEANSED FROM THE LEPROSY OF SIN

‘And behold, a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean’ [Mt 8:2]. Note that the three words ‘came’, ‘adore’ and ‘said: Lord, if thou wilt’ denote contrition, confession and faith, which are very needful for every sinner. First he should ‘come’ by contrition, ‘Come from Libanus’ [Cant 4:8], from the false glamour of worldly vanity.

OVERCOMING WORLDLY VANITY

‘He that heareth, let him say: Come’ [Apoc 22:17]. He who hears ‘the whisper of a gentle breeze’ [3 (1) Kg 19:12] in his mind, by inward inspiration, should say to the sinner ‘come’, by contrition. As Isaiah says:

‘If you seek: return, come’ [Is 21:12]

So, ‘the leper came and adored him’. Behold the humility of confession, expressed more clearly by Mark, who says:

‘He came to him, beseeching him; and kneeling down said to him: If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean’ [Mk 1:40].

In this way, the sinner, when he comes to confession, should kneel before the priest, the representative of Jesus Christ, who has given him the power of binding and loosing. The one confessing should have such faith in his office that he may say to him, ‘Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean’, and absolve me from my sins.

There follows: ‘And stretching forth his hand he touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean’ [Mt 8:3]. He speaks in the imperative mood, ‘his hand turned and as of gold, full of hyacinths [Cant 5:14], and at its touch the tongue of the dumb is loosed, the ruler’s daughter is raised, the leper is cleansed of his leprosy. ‘My hand has made all these things’ [Is 66:2]. The hand bestows reward: so stretch out your hand, Lord, to bestow reward, that hand which was stretched out by the nail on the Cross. Touch the leper: whatever you touch will be cleansed and healed. Luke says:

‘When he had touched his ear, he healed him’ [Lk 22:51].

He stretched out his hand and bestowed the gift of cleansing, saying:

‘I will: be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed’ [Mt 8:3].

‘He hath done all things whatsoever he would’ [Ps 113b:3]. For him, there is no gap between will and deed. Every day, the Lord does this same thing in the soul of the sinner, by the office of the priest; who should have these three things in himself, ‘to stretch out’, ‘to touch’, ‘to will’. He stretches out his hand when he pours out his prayer to the Lord for the sinner, and afflicts himself out of compassion for him. He touches, when he comforts the sinner and promises him pardon. He has the will to cleanse, when he absolves him from his sins. This is the threefold work of a shepherd, of which the Lord spoke to Peter: ‘Feed, feed, feed’ [Jn 21:15-17].

ON ETERNAL LIFE, THE ONLY REWARD EXPECTED

There follows: ‘And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man’ [Mt 8:4]. This is not the manner of speaking of those who blow their own trumpet when they do anything good, whose left hand knows all too well what their right hand is doing [cf. Mt 6:3]. They as it were ‘prostitute their daughter’, against the prohibition of Moses, who said:

‘Make not thy daughter a common strumpet’ [Lev 19:29].

Your ‘daughter’ is your action, and you prostitute it when you sell it to the world’s brothel for the coin of vainglory.

What a sad bargain, selling the reward of the heavenly kingdom for the wind of a human mouth!

‘See thou tell no man’: do not show what is yours to anyone. Are not God and your conscience enough for you, brother? What have you in common with the tongue of man? It condemns what it should praise, it praises what it should condemn. It casts the just man into the depths of hell, it raises the wicked to the throne of God and of the Lamb. ‘See thou tell no man.’ So Ecclesiasticus says:

‘Give no issue to thy water, no, not a little’ [Ecclus 25:34].

And Isaiah:

‘My secret to myself, my secret to myself’ [Is 24:16].

And at the word of Eliseus:

‘The woman went, and shut the door upon her, and upon her sons’ [4 (2)Kg 4:5].

And Matthew:
‘Having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret’ [Mt 6:6].

And Luke:

‘Remove not from house to house’ [Lk 10:7].

So, ‘see thou tell no man.’ Nature sets a double gate in front of the tongue, the teeth and the lips, lest the harlot who loves publicity goes out into the street, ‘talkative and wandering, not bearing to be quiet’ [Prov 7:10-11]. Close your teeth, press your lips together, lest the harlot goes out to the brothel; as Ecclesiasticus says:

‘Do not give a wicked woman liberty to gad abroad’ [Ecclus 25:34].

Then you will fulfil the command: ‘See thou tell no man.’

There follows: ‘But go, show thyself to the priests’ [Mt 8:4]. These three words and their meaning are explained in the Gospel of the ten lepers: ‘When Jesus was going to Jerusalem’ [Pentecost XIV].

ON THE TWO-FOLD OFFERING WHICH EVERY PENITENT SHOULD MAKE FOR HIS CLEANSING

There follows: ‘And offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them’ [Mt 8:4].

Leviticus says:

And the Lord ‘spoke to Moses: This is the rite of a leper, when he is to be cleansed. He shall be brought to the priest: who, going out of the camp, when he shall find that the leprosy is cleansed, shall command him that is to be purified, to offer for himself two living sparrows, which it is lawful to eat, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And he shall command one of the sparrows to be immolated in an earthen vessel over living waters. But the other that is alive he shall dip, with the cedar wood, and the scarlet and the hyssop, in the blood of the sparrow that is immolated: wherewith he shall sprinkle him that is to be cleansed seven times, that he may be rightly purified. And he shall let go the living sparrow, that it may fly into the field… And he shall take (or offer) two lambs without blemish, and an ewe of a year old without blemish, and three tenths of flour tempered with oil for a sacrifice, and a sextuary of oil apart… but if he be poor; and his hand cannot find the things aforesaid: he shall take a lamb for an offering for trespass, and a tenth of flour tempered with oil for a sacrifice, and a sextuary of oil: and two turtle doves or two young pigeons, of which one may be for sin, the other for a holocaust. And he shall offer them… to the priest, at the door of the tabernacle of the testimony before the Lord.’ [Lev 14:1-7, 10, 21-23].

Let us see what is the moral significance of all this.

… The ‘two living sparrows’ are the body and spirit [of the very pious] who can say with the Apostle: ‘I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me’ [Gal 2:20]. He offers these sparrows to the Lord for his cleansing. So it says in Judges:

‘O you that of your own good will offered yourselves to danger, bless the Lord; you that ride upon fair asses, and you that sit in judgement, and walk in the way’ [Jg 5:9-10].

The ‘fair asses’ are the bodies [of the very pious] who bear the burden and heat of the day, and who like asses should feed on raw and rough food. Ecclesiasticus says:

‘Fodder and a wand and a burden are for an ass: bread and correction and work for a slave’ [Ecclus 33:25]

that is, for a religious who ‘sits in judgement’ when he is under obedience to a superior, and ‘walks in the way’ Jeremiah speaks of:

‘This is the good way, and walk you in it’ [Jer 6:16]

that Way who himself says: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ [Jn 14:6].

[The very pious] should also offer the ‘cedar wood’ of poverty, the ‘scarlet’ of charity and the ‘hyssop’ of humility. The tall cedar of poverty, whose scent puts to flight the serpents of avarice and robbery, is joined to the hyssop of humility, which drives out the swelling of the lungs by means of the scarlet of a twofold charity. One of the sparrows (that is, the body) he shall sacrifice, so as to say with the Apostle:

‘The world is crucified to me, and I to the world’ [Gal 6:14]

and:

‘I am even now ready to be sacrificed’ [2 Tim 4:6].

‘In an earthen vessel’, for as the Apostle says:

‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels’ [2 Cor 4:7]

‘over living waters’, namely compunction and tears, which are ‘living’ when they are poured out upon ‘the upper and the nether watery ground’ [Jos 15:19; Jg 1:15], of which Zechariah says:

‘In that day living waters shall go out from Jerusalem’

(the heart of the penitent),

‘half of them to the east sea’

(the ‘upper watery ground’)

‘and half of them to the last sea’

(the ‘nether watery ground’) [Zech 14:8].

The ‘east sea’ is bitterness for the splendour of eternal life; the ‘last sea’ is bitterness for the sins committed by oneself, for our earthly exile, and for the sins of one’s neighbour. So [the very pious should] ‘immolate the sparrow in an earthen vessel over living waters’, by crucifying his body with its vices and desires, and pondering in bitterness of spirit the frailty of life and the downfall of our exile.

There follows: ‘But the other that is alive’, etc. The living sparrow is the spirit, which he should dip, along with the cedar-wood of poverty, the scarlet of charity and the hyssop of humility, in the blood of the sparrow (the body) which has been sacrificed on the altar of penitence. The affliction and discipline of the body (represented as ‘blood’) cleanses and sanctifies the spirit, so that it flies on the wings of contemplation, with those other virtues we have mentioned, to the field of heaven.

There follows: ‘And he shall take two lambs without blemish’, etc. The two lambs stand for meekness of soul and body; the ewe for a simple and pure intention in all one’s work; the three-tenths of flour for the threefold obedience of [superiors, equals and inferiors]; and the sextuary of oil for the six works of mercy. This is the offering which every [very pious person] should offer for the cleansing of his own sin.

There follows: ‘But if he be poor’, etc. The lamb represents innocence of life, the tenth part of the flour the perfection of eternal charity, the sextuary of oil the six works of mercy (as before), the two turtle-doves or pigeons the two-fold sighing which the sinner should emit for things done and left undone. This is the offering which [other good folk still living in the world] should make to the Lord – namely, to live innocently, to love their neighbour, to do works of mercy and to be sorry for sins of commission and omission. So let us say: ‘Go, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.'”
– St Anthony of Padua

 
 

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10th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (1 JOHN 5:5-13)

THE SPIRIT, THE WATER AND THE BLOOD.

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only,
but with water and blood,
with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth –
so that there are three witnesses,
the Spirit, the water and the blood,
and all three of them agree.

We accept the testimony of human witnesses,
but God’s testimony is much greater,
and this is God’s testimony,
given as evidence for his Son.
Everybody who believes in the Son of God
has this testimony inside him;
and anyone who will not believe God
is making God out to be a liar,
because he has not trusted
the testimony God has given about his Son.
This is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life
and this life is in his Son;
anyone who has the Son has life,
anyone who does not have the Son does not have life.
I have written all this to you
so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God
may be sure that you have eternal life.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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MEDITATION FOR TUESDAY – ON MORTAL SIN. “IF I WAS IN A CRITICAL CONDITION AND I’D HAVE TO CHOOSE WHETHER I’D SEE THE DOCTOR OR THE PRIEST, I’D SEE THE PRIEST. DEFINITELY.”

PLEASE DO NOT DELAY TO GO TO THE PRIEST TO CONFESSION. THE PRIEST IS ONE IN AN UNBROKEN LINE THROUGH ALL THE GENERATIONS OF THOSE WHOM JESUS OFFICIALLY GAVE THE POWER TO FORGIVE SINS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT (SUCCESSION IN THE HOLY APOSTOLIC CATHOLIC CHURCH, THE ONE AND ONLY CHURCH JESUS HIMSELF FOUNDED.) – Some people say, “All sins will be forgiven and the punishment for all our sins we commit by our free will after we ‘accept Jesus as Saviour’ is waived…in spite of us deciding FOR sin and AGAINST God every time we envy, become angry, harbour resentment, pass by a beggar we see without giving etc. etc. – Jesus says that only those count as His friends and go to Heaven who KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.

Every time we sin we say to God: ‘Withdraw from me, I will not obey thee, I will not serve thee, I will not acknowledge thee as my Lord.’ Jesus died for the sins of men, to save those who are his friends, who keep his commandments. That we call Him ‘Lord, Lord’ and sin on is not enough to be saved, because your or my name is not written in the Gospel or St Paul’s letters, that we definitely qualify for Jesus Christ’s redemptive Work. It depends what we do by our FREE WILL. Jesus Christ’s redemptive Work does not take your or my FREE WILL away to COMMIT SIN or to choose to follow Jesus instead, to have faith in JESUS instead of FAITH IN SIN. The Sacrament of CONFESSION helps us to become less self-orientated and to sin less.

MEDITATIONS FOR EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

(From the writings of St Alfonsus Liguori.)

MEDITATION FOR TUESDAY.

On mortal sin.

“Consider that God has created you in order that you may love Him; but you have rebelled against Him with the worst ingratitude; you have treated Him as an enemy; you have despised His grace and His friendship. You knew that by your sins you would displease Him, and yet you have committed them. What does he, the man who commits sins? He turns his back on God; he loses respect for Him, he lifts his hand, if it may be said, to strike Him; he grieves the heart of his God. (Isaiah LXIII:10).

He who sins, says in fact to God: Withdraw from me, I will not obey thee, I will not serve thee, I will not acknowledge thee as my Lord, I will not have thee for my God; this pleasure, that worldly advantage, this gratification of my revenge [which may just be one single word or sentence or a thought] must be my God. So do you speak in your heart, whenever you prefer a creature to your God. St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi could not comprehend how a Christian, with his eyes open, could commit sin. And you who now are reading this, what do you say? How many mortal sins have you not already committed? (Examine yourself.)

My God! pardon me, and have mercy on me. I have offended thy infinite goodness; I hate my sins, I love thee, and repent of having offended thee, O my God, thou who art so infinitely lovely! (Arouse yourself to repentance, and make a firm resolution.)

II. Consider that in the moment when you are committing sin, God says to you: ‘My son! I am thy God, who have created thee from nothing, who have redeemed thee with My blood. I forbid thee, under pain of My displeasure, to commit these sins.’ But when you sin, you answer your God and say: ‘O Lord! I will not obey thee, I will procure for myself this satisfaction; it is of no importance to me, whether it pleases thee or not.’ Alas! O my God, more than once have I done this! (Examine yourself.) How was it possible for thee to bear with me so long? O that I had died before offending thee! I will never displease thee more: I will love thee, O infinite goodness! give me only the grace of perseverance! give me thy holy love! (Excite your heart to contrition, and make a firm resolution.)

III. Consider that when the number of sins exceed a certain limit, God abandons the sinner. ‘The Lord patiently expecteth, that when the day of judgment shall come, He may punish them with the fulness of their sins.’. (2 Mach. VI:14). When, then, my brethren, you are tempted again to sin, never more say: I will confess my sins afterwards. If God should let you die first, if He should entirely desert you, what would become of you for all eternity? Alas! how many in this way have been lost! They, too, hoped for pardon, but the hour of death came and they were lost. O tremble, for fear the same thing should befall you.

He deserves no mercy who takes advantage of the goodness of God to offend Him. God has already pardoned you so many sins. You have reason enough to fear that God will not forgive the next mortal sin you commit. Thank Him for having waited for you so kindly and so long, and make the firm resolution rather to suffer death than to comit sin again.

From this day forward always say: ‘O my God! I have often offended thee! I will not employ the remnant of my life in displeasing thee more; no, thou dost not merit such treatment as this. I will employ it only in loving thee, and in sorrow for the sins I have committed against thee. I repent of them with my whole heart. My Jesus, I am anxious to love thee; wilt thou give me strength and help me? Amen.’ (Excite in your soul a sorrow for sin, and make a firm resolution.)

 

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HAVE MERCY, LORD, ON ME (HYMN)

Have mercy, Lord, on me,
for you are ever kind;
let me, oppressed with loads of guilt,
your faithful mercy find.

Blot out my crying sins,
nor me in anger view;
create in me a heart that’s clean,
an upright mind renew.

The joy your favours give
let me again obtain,
and your free Spirit’s firm support
my fainting soul sustain.
– Tate and Brady, 1698

 

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TODAY’S BIBLE READING (2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-15)

HE WHO RAISED JESUS TO LIFE WILL RAISE US WITH JESUS IN OUR TURN, AND PUT US BY HIS SIDE AND YOU WITH US.

We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us. We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

But as we have the same spirit of faith that is mentioned in scripture – I believed, and therefore I spoke – we too believe and therefore we too speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus to life will raise us with Jesus in our turn, and put us by his side and you with us. You see, all this is for your benefit, so that the more grace is multiplied among people, the more thanksgiving there will be, to the glory of God.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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