This is my body

Jesus said, “This is my Body… This is my Blood” (Mk 14:22, 24).

Similar sayings are in Luke and Matthew, but not in John – where the Last Supper scene describes the washing of the Apostles’ feet. The discourse on Holy Communion in John, however, is found in Chapter Six, starting at verse 35 and intensifying from verse 48 onwards.

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).

“In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).

“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn 6:55).

The above are Jesus’ teachings in the synagogue at Capernaum. Below are the reactions from some of his listeners. “After hearing it, many of his followers said, ‘This is intolerable language! How could anyone accept it?’… After this many of his disciples went away and accompanied him no more” (Jn 6:60, 66).

Many Christians interpret Jesus’ sayings literally. The disciples in the above Gospel passage certainly did. It was the reason they left him.

While they were walking off, a most astounding thing happened. Jesus did not shout out after them in panic: “Wait. Stop. Please don’t go. I am sorry. I used the wrong words. I was only speaking in symbols. I don’t mean what you think I was saying. You don’t eat me – you eat bread and drink wine.” No! He let them go. He was speaking literally!!! He meant what he said. This was the sacrament of his limitless love, the food that would lead to life everlasting, and one tangible way he chose to keep his promise: “I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:20).

He asserted, “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day” (Jn 6:54).

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person” (Jn 6:56).

“As the living Father sent me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will also draw life from me” (Jn 6:57).

************

Jesus sometimes identifies himself (or someone else, e.g., John the Baptist or St. Paul, identifies him) as an entity like the lamb of God, or the good shepherd, or light, love, peace, the resurrection, etc. An example is seen in the gospel according to John where Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). This is different from saying, “I show the way, I proclaim the truth, I give life.” Jesus is telling us that to find the way we have to walk along him; to know the truth we need to know him; to have life we must live in him.

So, when he says, “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:35), what do you think he wants you to do?

 

At Cana in Galilee, the first time a description of Jesus at a banquet was recorded, he changed water into wine. At the upper room in Bethany, the last time a description of Jesus at a banquet on earth was chronicled, Jesus changed wine into his own blood. At Calvary, on the cross, as he died, he was pierced on the side, and his blood poured forth into the world for the redemption of those who wanted it.

At the Last Supper, he had also taken a cup and, after giving thanks, handed it to the disciples saying: “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. From now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of my Father.” (Mt 26:27-29)

If you want to be present at the final banquet, the one in Heaven, do as Jesus commanded.

 

(The above Biblical quotations are taken from the New Jerusalem Bible.)

Mother Mary

Please examine the gospel passage below and keep these three questions at the back of your mind as you read it. In the narrative, what was the final result? Who received directives from Jesus and immediately did what they were told? Who initiated the proceedings?

 

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (Jn 2:1-11, NIV)

 

Jesus’ answer to his mother meant: “Why do you involve me? What has this got to do with me? My hour has not yet come, has it? Did you not tell me at age twelve when you found me at the temple in Jerusalem that I should live quietly at home in Nazareth?”

Besides, at the temple in Jerusalem, the teachers who heard the young lad speak were astounded by his answers and his understanding; but there was no indication that he could perform miracles.

Jesus’ order to the servants: “Fill the jars with water.” To the servants, that must have seemed rather irrational. At what part of the wedding feast did this happen: at the beginning, or the middle, or towards the end? Obviously it was towards the end; otherwise the wine would not have run out. Even the steward retorted to the bridegroom: “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” The water was for ritual-washing at the guests’ arrivals. Nobody else was going to arrive anymore. Why should all the jars be filled?

But the servants did everything as Jesus instructed them, and filled the six jars to the brim.

Then they followed more instructions: draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet to drink.

What a surprise it turned out to be; and what blessings for everyone: the wine-steward, the groom, the bride, the guests, and, especially, the servants.

 

What was the final result? It revealed Jesus’ glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Who received directives from Jesus, and immediately did as they were told? The blessed servants!

The lesson we can learn from the story is: when Jesus tells you to do something, do it! Yes, listen to him, but don’t stop there. Heed his instructions and act on them. It will surely lead to faith in God, to revelation of his glory, and to the blessing of everyone.

The blessedness of Jesus’ followers is measured by how obediently they carry out the word of the Lord, not by how impressively they perform rituals in the sight of people or how busy they are involved in spiritual activities, not by how frequently they come up with pious remarks or how nice-sounding are the prayers they say, not by how much theology they know or how many religious conferences they attend, not by how popular they can become or how many famous people they are associated with.

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!” (Lk 11:28, NIV)

 

Who initiated the proceedings at Cana that led to the first of the signs through which Jesus revealed his glory, and caused his disciples to believe in him?

It was Mother Mary!

Her purpose: draw attention to her Son and to obey him.

That was her vocation; it still is today.

And her command will always be: Do whatever Jesus tells you!

 

Notice that the good servants in the story obeyed not only Jesus, but his Mother too.

 

 

Acknowledgments

In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.

Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

In this work, Scripture excerpts marked NAB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION copyright © 2011, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

Mother Mary novena

One good way to prepare for a Marian event is to spend a few minutes each of nine days some time prior to the occasion by meditating on the gospel readings provided below. These are all the passages in the four gospels that mention Mary (or Jesus’ mother).

They will help you get to know her better and learn much from her. Notice how quiet she is, how humble, and simple: no fanfare or boasting after God’s momentous Annunciation through his archangel Gabriel, or when shepherds reported the glorious apparition of angels at Jesus’ birth, or after the presentation in the temple in the presence of prophets, or when visited by wise visionaries from the east. Mary’s Song, filled with profound spiritual wisdom, was spoken in the hearing of just one person, Elizabeth. At the wedding feast in Cana she acted behind the scenes to alert Jesus concerning the shortage of wine – allowing Jesus to be glorified, not herself. Superficiality finds no place in this exemplary saint par excellence.

Everyone should learn from Mother Mary. Those who crave to be noticed and admired at every social function and religious gathering, should learn from her. Those who pride themselves for their exceptional talents and accomplishments, their superior knowledge and personality, should learn from her. Those who are puffed-up by the gift of the gab, who broadcast their pious utterances and cute remarks for the sake of fame and recognition, should learn from her.

In honour of Mary’s position as the Mother God, you may also use this novena to ask her intercession for prayer requests. She is full of grace, but does not keep them for herself. She will give them to you and, as a loving mother, will ask for more graces from God on your behalf.

At the end of each meditation, please answer the question(s) in a thoughtful way.

 

Day 1

Genealogy

“This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, … Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, … Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.” (Mt 1:1–16, NIV)

The annunciation

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;

and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,

and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever;

and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her,

‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;

therefore the child to be born will be called holy,

the Son of God.

     And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’” (Lk 1:26–37, RSV)

“Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her.” (Lk 1:38, NJB)

 

Questions:

When God called you to do something, what was your habitual response?

At what stage was your reply: “You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said”?

How much do you believe this: “For with God nothing will be impossible”?

 

Day 2

The visitation

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!’

Mary’s Song

And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.’ Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” (Lk 1:39-56, NIV)

 

Questions:

What would it take for you to acknowledge a sacred gift from God and accept it with heartfelt gratitude, saying: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant”?

How does one “fear” God? [Please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_God, and Mt 10:28, Heb 10:26 – 31, and 2 Thes 1:5–10.]

The following sentences show what happens to the proud, the powerful and the rich: “he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones … but has sent the rich away empty.” Which sentences in Mary’s Song describe God’s mercy towards the humble, and the hungry, and those who fear the Lord?

In what ways are you rich: money, talents, knowledge, position of influence, friends, popularity, …?

How would you live in genuine humility so that the Mighty One will show you his mercy and do great things for you, and through you?

 

Day 3

Joseph takes Mary as his wife

“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child

and bear a son,

and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”’ When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Mt 1:18–24, NAB)

The birth of Jesus

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:1–7, NAB)

The shepherds

“Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

‘Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to those on

whom his favor rests.’

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.” (Lk 2:8–20, NAB)

 

Question:

How do the following proclamations impact your outlook on this sinful world? One: Joseph is told that Mary’s son, Jesus, “will save his people from their sins.” Two: the angel said to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”

 

Day 4

The presentation in the temple

“When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,’ and to offer the sacrifice of ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,’ in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

‘Now, Master, you may let your servant go

in peace, according to your word,

for my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and glory for your people Israel.’

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’ There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Lk 2:22–38, NAB)

 

Questions:

What insights have you learned from Simeon’s prayer: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation”?

If you ask God in faith for a miracle, what does it take for you to start conducting yourself as though the miracle will surely happen?

 

Day 5

The wise men

“After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem,

in the land of Judah,

you are by no means the least

among the leaders of Judah,

for from you will come a leader

who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared and sent them on to Bethlehem with the words, ‘Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And suddenly the star they had seen rising went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were given a warning in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.” (Mt 2:1–12, NJB)

The escape to Egypt

“After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’

So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

I called my son out of Egypt.

Herod was furious on realising that he had been fooled by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or less, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. Then were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice is heard in Ramah,

lamenting and weeping bitterly:

it is Rachel weeping for her children,

refusing to be comforted

because they are no more.” (Mt 2:13–18, NJB)

 

Questions:

On coming close to baby Jesus, the wise men were filled with joy and, “falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

What treasures will you bring to Jesus?

Here is a beautiful gift we can give to him after introspection and conversion. The wise men, cautioned not to go home retracing their former steps, took a far better route. Let’s ask ourselves: “What’s wrong with the way I have been going on? Why have I constantly thirsted for vain-glory and praise? Was that not pride? Was that not self-destructive in the long run? Didn’t I already know the warning: ‘For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’ (Mt 23:12, NIV)? What can I do to embark on a new path – the path of humility?”

 

Day 6

The return to Nazareth      

“After Herod’s death, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:

He will be called a Nazarene.” (Mt 2:19–23, NJB)

Finding Jesus in the Temple

“Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” (Lk 2:41–52, NAB)

 

Questions:

Jesus was the Son of God; why did he need to advance in wisdom? Wasn’t he wise already? Why did he have to obey Mary and Joseph? [Please check Phil 2:5–7. This is a very important passage in the Bible.]

If Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus, would they not also search for your children if they are lost? How will you express your belief in God’s love and care for you and your family?

As Jesus lived in obedience to Mother Mary, he advanced in wisdom and age and favour before God and man. How will you advance similarly through following her example of humility and trust in God?

 

Day 7

Cana

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’

‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”’

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside  and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples.” (Jn 2:1–12, NIV)

 

Questions:

Why did Mary initiate the action that started Jesus’ first public miracle? If Mary said nothing, wouldn’t Jesus have noticed the problem and performed the miracle anyway?

If Mary asks you to do whatever Jesus tells you, would you do it? Would you carry out everything Jesus tells you in the Gospel? When would you begin? How would you begin?

 

Day 8

The rejection of Jesus

“Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mk 6:1–6, NIV)

Jesus’ spiritual family

“Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ He replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.’” (Lk 8:19–21, NIV)

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’” (Lk 11:27–28, NIV)

This is your mother

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn 19:25–27, NJB)

 

Questions:

If Jesus tells you that Mary is your mother, would you take her into your own home immediately? For her to be your mother, you would have to “hear the word of God and obey it.”

How often would you read the word of God in the Gospel and put Jesus’ commands into practice?

Will you commit to doing that every day from now on?

 

Day 9

Please do the devotion: The Joys of Mary.

Please go to The Joys of Mary on our website.

The Joys of Mary

Traditionally, the Church contemplates Mother Mary’s sorrows. Here is an additional devotion based on her joys. You are invited to spend a minute or two, now and then, pondering one of her ecstatic moments, feeling the peace, the relief, the triumph, the surprise, the wonderment and the gratitude that she experienced.

1/. She is greeted by the Angel Gabriel: “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you…. Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”

2/. She is affirmed by Elizabeth who, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls her “the mother of my Lord.”

3/. She can no longer contain her exhilaration and bursts out in song, humbly admitting to Elizabeth: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked upon the lowliness of his handmaid. Behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

4/. The Lord’s angel tells Joseph in a dream to take Mary as his wife: what is conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. Their Son would save his people from their sins.

5/. Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem, city of ancestor David. They find a place to stay. Jesus is born. Mary is bathed in rapturous jubilation as she gazes upon her beautiful Son, pressing him ever so tenderly to her maternal heart.

6/. The angel of the Lord appears gloriously to shepherds to announce that the new-born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger in Bethlehem is the Saviour, Messiah and Lord. They come to tell Mary and Joseph. Mary treasures all these things and ponders them in her heart.

7/. At the presentation in the temple, Simeon, guided by the Holy Spirit, sees baby Jesus. Satisfied that he is the Christ, he prophesies about him. Also, the holy prophetess Anna thanks God and speaks of Jesus to many.

8/. Led by a star, wise men come with gifts from the East to adore Jesus – referring to him as the infant king of the Jews.

9/. The angel of the Lord alerts Joseph in a dream to get up, take the child and his mother, and depart for Egypt by night. They are to stay there until further notice. They escape slaughter by Herod. The three wise men likewise returned home unharmed.

10/. When Herod dies, the angel of the Lord tells Joseph in a dream to go with child and mother to Israel. Informed by the angel in another dream, Joseph withdraws to Galilee, settling in Nazareth. Again and again, Joseph proves to be guided by the Lord. Mary is very happy to have a totally trustworthy and holy husband.

11/. At age twelve, unknown to his parents, Jesus stays behind in Jerusalem after the customary days of celebrating the Passover feast, while Mary and Joseph travel homeward to Nazareth. After three days of anxious searching, they find him safe and sound in the temple conversing with the teachers. Mary is glad to hear Jesus say: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” She keeps this in her heart.

12/. Jesus lives obediently under his parents in Nazareth, and grows up a very good boy, increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

13/. Around the age of thirty, Jesus is baptized by John at the River Jordan. Immediately afterwards, the heavens open, and the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove. A voice from heaven is heard, certifying, “This is my beloved Son, with him I am well pleased.”

14/. Before beginning his ministry Jesus is publicly identified by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

15/. At the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee, prompted by his mother, Jesus works his first miracle, changing water into wine. It manifests his glory; and the disciples believe in him.

16/. In the power of the Spirit, Jesus goes about the Holy Land doing good, preaching, healing, performing miracles, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. His followers multiply in number.

17/. On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly. The people honour him, crying aloud: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

18/. At the Last Supper, Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist. Henceforth, he is physically present on earth with his Church.

19/. Jesus’ love is boundless. He does not hesitate to give his life as a ransom for his people; he allows himself to be humiliated, mistreated and crucified. From the cross, he tells his Father: “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” There is no bitterness.

20/. Jesus assures the repentant thief, “This day you will be with me in Paradise!” Mary is overjoyed to see her Son rescuing his people, for that was why he came into the world.

21/. Jesus does not forget his mother; to her and to the beloved disciple he says: “Woman, this is your son! … This is your mother!” And from that hour the disciple takes her into his own home.

22/. The Son of God is the only person who can redeem the world. Jesus does not appeal to his Father for legions of angels to call off his suffering and death. He exclaims: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

23/. With his last breath, Jesus declares: “It is fulfilled.” Seeing how Jesus died, the Roman centurion asserts: “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

24/. Jesus is placed in the tomb. He suffers no more. He descends to the dead to free the holy souls.

25/. On the third day Jesus rises after his holy death. He is vindicated in glory. The bodies of many righteous people who died are raised, and coming out of the tombs they appear in Jerusalem.

26/. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, and to his friends and disciples. He spends forty wonderful days with them in Galilee.

27/. Jesus is taken up to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God.

28/. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes in power upon Mary and the disciples. Thousands are converted.

29/. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples go about the country and beyond, doing good, preaching, healing, performing miracles, and proclaiming the Kingdom of God and the sacred and imperishable good news of eternal salvation.

30/. When the course of her earthly life is completed, Mary is taken up body and soul into Heaven.

31/. Mary is exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things.

32/. In Heaven, the Mother of God continues to care for her children. Throughout the centuries, countless miracles are attributed to her manifold intercession. At various times, God sends her to appear on earth to guide the Church.

33/. At this very moment, as you bring her into your heart and speak with her, she is joyful beyond words.

 

Questions:

What are some good and bad episodes which happened in your own life?

How would you turn your moans and groans into shouts of joy and triumph?

Go ahead and find the silver lining which exists in each adverse occasion.

 

 

Consecration

Dearest Mother Mary, you have guided and looked after Jesus from the instant of his conception to the hour of his death. Under your care, he advanced in wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and man. I humbly ask you to similarly guide and look after me, my family and loved ones, and all your people.

In complete faith and trust, I solemnly consecrate myself and all of us to your Holy and Immaculate Heart, O beautiful Mother, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Acknowledgments
In this work, the initials RSV indicate that the Scripture quotations are from the REVISED STANDARD VERSION BIBLE, Second Catholic Edition, copyright © 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Any passage designated NJB is an excerpt from THE NEW JERUSALEM BIBLE, copyright © 1998 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted by permission.
Texts followed by the letters NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In this work, Scripture excerpts marked NAB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN BIBLE REVISED EDITION copyright © 2011, 1986, 1970, by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used with permission. All rights reserved.

Entrustment to Mary

God the Father
From the beginning, God the Father entrusted his Son to Mary.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.” (Lk 1:26-32, NJB)

Jesus
When he was twelve years old, well after the age of reason began for him, Jesus confirmed this entrustment by continuing to live in obedience to Mary and Joseph.

He went down with them then and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people. (Lk 2:51-52, NJB)

The Disciples
As part of his last will and testament, Jesus also entrusted his disciples to her.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (Jn 19:25-27, NJB)

In the gospel, when Jesus speaks to or about someone, he is not necessarily speaking to or about that person alone. Oftentimes he is addressing or referring to all his followers. For example, at the Last Supper, when he broke the bread and said, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Mt 26:26, NIV), he was not giving the instruction only to the twelve apostles gathered together in the upper room. When he commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39, NIV), by “neighbor” he meant much more than the person living next door.
In the pronouncement, “Woman, this is your son”, “this” beloved disciple represented all whom Mary would be invited to look after as son or daughter. Similarly, “This is your mother,” was an injunction for all to take Mary as mother.

How?
How do we go about taking Mary as our mother?
The following passage suggests the way.

Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Lk 8:19-21, NIV)

That is, we become Jesus’ brothers and sisters by listening to God’s word and carrying it out; and with Jesus as brother, his Mother is our mother too.

Entrustment to Mary is not done simply by uttering some formula. We must live and act according to what God says.
And what does he say? In the gospel, he speaks from the mountain of Transfiguration, directing us to Jesus: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Lk 9:35, RSV)

Mary’s statement at Cana completes the command: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5, NIV)

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible uses the same word: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” (Lk 8:21, RSV)

Your Mother
Entrustment to Mary was not an invention by some pious and sentimental soul. It was commanded by Jesus. He chose the most dramatic moment before his death on the cross to proclaim this integral part of God’s plan. He wanted all to come to Mary as her children; he wanted all to turn to her for guidance and protection; he wanted all to honour her, to cherish her, and to love her.

“This is your mother.” What did the disciple do when he heard Jesus say this? “And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” If you hear Jesus saying to you today, “This is your mother,” we hope that you, too, like a true and beloved disciple, will, from that hour, welcome her into your home, and into your heart.

Act of Consecration to Mary
Mother Mary, since Jesus from the cross gave you to me, I take you as my mother. And since Jesus gave me to you, please take me as your child. All that I am and have and do, I entrust entirely to your care.
I make this act of consecration with full knowledge and understanding that it entails commitment to a way of life, a way of life like that of Jesus at Nazareth, a way of life which he commands in the gospel. It is when your children become firmly dedicated to this life, it is when enough of your sons and daughters respond wholeheartedly to your call, it is when they listen to Jesus and do what he says, it is then that your Immaculate Heart will triumph, and an era of peace will begin to reign throughout the whole of Creation.

Jesus says

“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’” (Lk 13:24–27)

“Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.  Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!” (Mt 7:24–27)
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” (Mt 22:37–38) “If you love me you will obey my commands … Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me … Whoever loves me will keep my word.” (Jn 14:15, 21, 23)

“For if anyone in this sinful and adulterous generation is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mk 8:38)

*******

An argument also began between them about who should be reckoned the greatest; but he said to them, “Among the gentiles it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. With you this must not happen. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves.” (Lk 22:24-26)

“Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:26–28)

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Lk 18:10–14)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Blessed are the meek; they shall have the earth for their possession.

Blessed are those whose hearts are pure; they shall see God.

Blessed are you, when you suffer insults and persecution and calumnies of every kind for my sake. Exult and be glad, for you have a rich reward in heaven; in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.” (Mt 5: 3, 5, 8, 11–12)

“Alas for you when all speak well of you; that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.” (Lk 6: 26)

*******

“Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven.” (Mt 6:1)

“Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy.” (Lk 12:1) “They do all their deeds to be seen by others.” (Mt 23:5)

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:14–15)

“Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” (Mk 7:6–8)

“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?” (Jn 5:39–44)

“How can your words be good when you yourselves are evil? It is from the fullness of the heart that the mouth speaks. Good people from their store of good produce good; and evil people from their store of evil produce evil. I tell you this: every thoughtless word you speak you will have to account for on the day of judgement. For out of your own mouth you will be acquitted; out of your own mouth you will be condemned.” (Mt 12:34–37)

*******

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eyes are sound, you will have light for your whole body; if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be in darkness. If then the only light you have is darkness, how great a darkness that will be.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the first and love the second, or he will be devoted to the first and despise the second. You cannot serve God and Money.” (Mt 6:22–24)

“Beware! Be on your guard against greed of every kind, for even when someone has more than enough, his possessions do not give him life.” (Lk 12:15)

“Sell your possessions and give to charity. Provide for yourselves purses that do not wear out, and never-failing treasure in heaven, where no thief can get near it, no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Lk 12:33–34)

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:38)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.” (Mt 6:33-34)

*******

“It is not anyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?’ Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!” (Mt 7:21–23)

“That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely.” (Lk 12:47)

“Salt is good, but if salt itself loses its taste, with what can its flavor be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.” (Lk 14:34-35)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes to make it bear even more.” (Jn 15:1–2)

“Remain in me, as I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch – and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt.” (Jn 15:4–6)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)

“The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” (Jn 12:35–36)

“I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day.” (Jn 12:46–48)

“So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of human beings, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.” (Mt 10:32–33)

*******

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (Jn 6: 60–64)

“The sower sows the word. With some the seed falls along the footpath; no sooner have they heard it than Satan comes and carries off the word which has been sown in them. With others the seed falls on rocky ground; as soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy, but it strikes no root in them; they have no staying-power, and when there is trouble or persecution on account of the word, they quickly lose faith. With others again the seed falls among thistles; they hear the word, but worldly cares and the false glamour of wealth and evil desires of all kinds come in and choke the word, and it proves barren. But there are some with whom the seed is sown on good soil; they accept the word when they hear it, and they bear fruit thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold.” (Mk 4:14-20)

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” (Mt 4:19)

Apart from Tradition, the Bible is not the Word of God

By Edmond Lo, M.T.S., catechist of the Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church

Unlike our Protestant counterparts who promote “Bible alone” (sola Scriptura), the Catholic Church teaches that the Bible cannot be properly understood without the teaching and guidance of the Church Magisterium, which does so following the Holy Tradition.

What is the Holy Tradition?

According to Vatican II, Tradition (from the Latin ‘traditio’ – ‘that which is handed down’) came from the preaching of the Gospel done by the apostles and other men associated with them, “who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit” (Dei Verbum, n.7).

In the words of Avery Dulles, S.J., a contemporary and well-respected mainstream Catholic theologian, “tradition involves a communal ‘sense of the faith’ aroused and continuously sustained in the Church by the Holy Spirit”; it is “grasped through familiarity or participation as a result of dwelling within the Church, taking part in its worship, and behaving according to its standards.” Tradition is “an organ of apprehension and transmission…the mode in which the Church perpetuates its faith and its very existence” (A. Dulles, The Craft of Theology, pp. 94 and 103).

Dulles contends that if “taken apart from the tradition in which it comes to the faithful, the Bible would no longer deserve to be called the word of God.”

Strong words, and yet so true!

There are many different ways to understand the teaching and events of the New Testament books. If you follow the Catholic tradition, you will see God as Trinitarian, for example. Similarly, you will find strong scriptural support for the Marian doctrines of Immaculate Conception and perpetual virginity. This is not the case at all if the Bible is read in the light of, say, the Jehovah Witnesses tradition, which disputes the divinity of Christ. Also, according to the traditions of many Protestant churches the Bible is understood to teach that Mary was not free from sins and had other children. Tradition is like eyeglasses: what you see is determined by what you wear!

But how could the Catholic Church claim that her tradition is the only tradition that has the authority and ability to properly interpret Scripture if hers is only one of many? Why are the Catholic “eyeglasses” necessarily better than all other eyeglasses? How could Catholic theologians such as Dulles be so “puffed up” as to claim that the Bible is no longer the word of God if taken apart from the Catholic tradition?

For one thing, of all the Christian denominational traditions, the Catholic tradition is one of a handful that was handed down to us directly from the apostles, who had first-hand experience in encountering the historical Christ.

More important, however, is the fact that of the few Christian traditions that can be traced back to the apostles (e.g. Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, etc.), the Catholic tradition is the only one that came down directly from Peter and Paul, the two glorious apostles of Christ, through two thousand years of continuous succession. The other traditions, while apostolic and originally part of the integral whole of the Petrine Church, had at one point or another branched out to progress and develop on their own, picking up characteristics and faith elements that are sometimes foreign to the Catholic faith.

According to Irenaeus, a second century and much-quoted saint, orthodox Christian faith is that which is believed in those apostolic churches, founded by the apostles. But among all the apostolic churches, he offered to produce only the line of succession “of the very great, the very ancient and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul” (Against the Heresies 3.3.2).

In concluding this article, let me leave you with this final thought: the Catholic tradition provides a certain approach, a sense of the faith, if you will, that Catholics adopt in reading and understanding the inspired Scriptures. It was based on this reading and understanding of the Christian faith as preached and proclaimed by the apostles, that the early Church determined the Canon of the Scripture, i.e. the official list of inspired books. Wouldn’t any attempt to read and understand the Scriptures apart from this original reading and understanding render the Scriptures unworthy of being considered the “inspired books” or word of God? Remember, the message or teaching is not the book as such, i.e. the Bible, which is but a stack of papers; it is the reading, the understanding, and the teaching derived there from.

If you understand my concluding thought, you will understand the topic of this article.

Article on humility

(Taken from Magnificat Vol. XXXVIII, No. 4)

In the School of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Father John Gregory of the Trinity, O.D.M.

Our Lord expects us to have true humility, not just a show of humility. We sometimes imagine that humility consists in saying, “I am but dust and ashes, a nothing, a poor sinner”! Those are mere words. What God expects of us is humility of heart and meekness – for example, at moments when others tell us (or make us feel) that we are not worth very much. The willing acceptance of scorn is of infinitely greater value than any vain protestations. People have a very false idea of humility. They would like the servants of God to walk with lowered heads, and above all that they not bother anyone, but be weak and complacent in evil. No. If we serve God, we must be defenders of the rights of God, but not defenders of our own little personal rights. Yet at the same time that while we must make ourselves small before God and man, we have to be imposing and energetic when it is a matter of defending the rights of God. To remain silent in the face of what offends God is not humility. It is cowardice and treason.

Even though we must protest against the falsehoods circulating in the world, or against the errors of certain persons, we have to always do so with love in our hearts. There must never be any bitterness toward anyone whatsoever. It is in the school of Jesus, especially in prayer and not in books, that we will understand these things and receive the lights of God.

When we have humility, we seek only to please God. Little does it matter whether they canonize or condemn us, whether they say we are pleasant or detestable and anathema. That should leave us completely indifferent, as long as God is content. Humility makes us free, sets us above all human judgments. It gives us joy and peace of soul. Are we despised? Do we have the impression that we are being set aside, wrongly judged? It doesn’t matter; if we have the grace of God, it should suffice for us.

With humility, nothing saddens us. Even if the Pope himself were to blame you, you should not be sad if your conscience is at peace, if your only purpose is to please God. God permits misunderstandings of this sort. Any human being, even the holiest, can lack lights on certain matters at a given moment. There are cases of this in the lives of the saints.

For example, in good faith St. Alphonsus Liguori believed some serious accusations of infamous sins were supposedly committed by St. Gerard Majella, one of his religious. Saying not a word on his own behalf, St. Gerard accepted the harsh sanction that was inflicted upon him, maintaining his peace of soul because he knew that God had not been offended. He let himself be accused because the Redemptorist Rule states that one must not reply and defend oneself when under accusation. (Obviously, St. Gerard had taken that rule too literally; what the founder of the Redemptorist order meant was that the brothers should not justify themselves in trivial matters.)

So St. Gerard Majella did not defend himself. His conscience was at peace, so what could anything else matter to him. That is humility. He is not saying, “I am nothing…” but as soon as anyone wants to touch the little “nothing” he revolts and hits the ceiling. Like the saints, we must rise above all human considerations. I assure you, it is a grace of God to liberate oneself of all the opinions of others, even those of persons who live with us and whom we esteem the most. We must have only one desire: to please God in all things.

Yes, we have a very false idea of humility. For example, if you are in authority, you must not assign yourself the last place out of humility. In all simplicity, you must preside. If God entrusts you with a certain responsibility, you must accomplish it without human respect. If He asks you to speak, you must do so humbly, to obey God. I repeat: far too easily, we think that humility means letting everything take its course, lowering one’s head, and above all saying nothing.

What may seem to be humility is sometimes great pride. To remain silent because you realize that people do not listen to you very carefully and do not have a very high regard for you, is simply pride. Not to defend the rights of God out of human respect, or in order to avoid looking proud, is not humility but pride. It is humility to accept having others think of you as being proud. Oftentimes, those who defend the rights of God are thought of as proud. It is humility to place yourself above all human considerations and thoughts, in view of seeking God alone. Even if this attitude appears 100% proud, that is of little importance, as long as we sincerely seek to please God.

Nonetheless, we must never speak the truth with arrogance or in a spirit of argumentation or dissent, in order to have the upper hand. God does not want us to have the upper hand. He very simply wants us to make the truth known. He does not ask us to succeed, but to obey Him.

God asks us to sow the good seed, as Our Lord teaches us in the Gospel. “The kingdom of heaven is like one who sowed good seed in his field.”(1) We must sow the good seed of our good words and example. The rest is not in our province. If your neighbor turns a deaf ear, that is not your concern. You have done your duty, you have your merit before God. He is pleased: that should suffice.

Let us always have this spirit: to speak the truth with simplicity and without raising objections. Our zeal must never turn into argumentation and controversy. As soon as we persist in wanting to make our idea prevail, at once we separate from God, we fall into darkness. Let us not forget these words of the Holy Gospel: “Let your speech be, ‘Yes, yes,’ ‘No, no.’ Whatever is beyond these comes from the evil one.”(2) We avoid many problems by following this rule. Otherwise we want to win out, and sometimes the consequences are tragic. We go too far, we no longer see clearly, because we have separated from God.

If the dispositions of humility are not present in our soul, how can we expect to be enlightened by God? “God gives His grace to the humble and resists the proud.”(3) After all, what does it matter if a poor creature accuses us or places us in trouble? If we have sought to please God, what does all the rest matter to us?

You may be certain, my brothers and sisters, that by practising humility, patience and meekness, you will have the last word, because God will be with you. When God is present, we have the last word. Do you think anyone can prevent what God wills? “If God is with us, who will be against us?”(4) Let us always have the ambition of having God with us. This is all that counts.

(1) Matthew 13:24
(2) Matthew 5:37
(3) I Peter 5:5
(4) Romans 8:31

St. Gertrude’s prayer, with extension

On March 18th 2001, Mother Mary said to the visionary Mirjana in Medjugorje, “Today I call you to love and mercy. Give love to each other as your Father gives it to you. Be merciful – with the heart. Do good works, not letting them wait for you too long. Every mercy that comes from the heart brings you closer to my Son.”

Here is one way to carry out “not letting them wait for you too long.” When someone has died, do not delay until the funeral Mass to pray for him. Do it now. Pray for his family and friends also, both the living and the dead.

The first part of the following prayer was given by Jesus to St. Gertrude the Great of Germany; we are told Our Lord promised that 1000 souls would be released from Purgatory each time the prayer was said.

The second part is added personally because Our Lady of Medjugorje invites us to pray for the people mentioned. We can ask her to beg from Jesus that 1000 souls in each of the other categories will be saved too when we pray this way. If we keep ourselves in a state of grace (through Confession and Holy Communion), our prayers are very efficacious.

“Eternal Father, I offer you the most Precious Blood of your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners and unbelievers, for those who are far from you and those who do not know your love: everywhere, in the universal Church, in all homes and all families. Amen.”

By Andrew Yeung

Two prayers based on Jesus’ Gospel

The Holy Spirit comes to a person in special ways at Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Holy Communion, Marriage, Holy Orders, the Sacrament of the Healing of the Sick; he comes when we love God by keeping Jesus’ commandments; he comes when it is in his plan to do so; he comes when we ask our Father.

(1) Ask

The last point is supported by Jesus’ saying: “Ask and you will receive… If you, who are evil, know how to give to your children what is good, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:9, 13)

Let us be constantly reminded of the presence of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. He is an advocate who intercedes for us before the Father. He imperceptibly influences human beings and earthly events for the good of all. He defends, leads, guides, consoles. He brings wisdom and knowledge, counsel and understanding, fortitude and piety and reverence for God. He is the giver of life, healing, discernment, and many powers and gifts. From him come faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, truthfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Our Lady in Medjugorje has said that whoever possesses him to the full has everything.

We can ask our Father to give the Holy Spirit to ourselves in a particular situation, or to our loved ones, friends or enemies, to those who are difficult to get along with. Scripture assures us that he will give willingly, lavishly, and without reserve.

Here is a prayer that anyone can use:

“Dear Heavenly Father, in our present need, please give your Holy Spirit to (me, and/or name of another person or persons). I ask this in the name of Jesus. Praise you, good Father, and thank you for your generosity and mercy.”

(2) Pray to the Holy Spirit

Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.” (John 14:26)

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us all things, about God, about his purposes for us, about life, about truth, about our relationships, about our interests and tasks, about specific problems concerning ourselves, our work, our plans, our spouses, children, friends, relatives, colleagues, strangers…

Do not rely solely on human advice and help; always turn to God first, and trust him. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will lead you to the complete truth… and he will reveal to you the things to come.” (John 16:13)

Here is a simple prayer:

“Dear Holy Spirit, please reveal whatever is important to (me, and/or name of another person or persons), and especially at this time, teach us about (name the request). I ask this in Jesus’ name. Praise you, Lord, and thank you.”

Stay connected to the Lord. By these two short prayers, we can keep in conscious touch with God who lives in us at all times. May his peace be felt by those who keep him in their minds and hearts. May his peace come also to their families, parishes, work places, to whomever they meet and wherever they go.

“But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:26-27)