August 1, 2016

Alphonsus Liguori

August 1, 2016:  St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor

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Pope Francis
To priests and religious:   You hold in your heart a personal page of the book of God’s mercy:  the story of your calling, the voice of the love that attracted you, transformed your life, and led you to leave everything and follow him.  The Gospel of God’s Mercy is an open book we're called to write in the same style, by our own works of mercy.  Jesus wants hearts open and tender towards the weak.  Open your doors and live out God's Mercy.
Krakow Stations of the Cross:  Where is God, if evil is present in our world, if people are hungry, thirsty, homeless, exiles, and refugees?  Where, when innocent persons suffer from violence, terrorism, and war, when disease breaks the bonds of affection, when children are exploited, when people are in anguish?  Jesus’ answer: “God is in them.”  Jesus suffers in them and deeply identifies with each one.  Jesus identified with those in pain and anguish by agreeing to tread the way to Calvary.  He surrendered himself to the Father, taking on the wounds of all humanity, embraced everyone's nakedness, hunger, thirst, loneliness, pain, and death.  
By following him, we realize the importance of imitating him through the works of mercy.  They open us to God’s mercy and help us appreciate that without mercy we can do nothing.  We're called to serve the crucified Jesus, touching him in the marginalized, the disadvantaged, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, the sick, the unemployed, the persecuted, refugees, and migrants. We must welcome outcasts who suffer physically and sinners who suffer spiritually.
Don't live halfway; spend your life serving the poor and vulnerable, imitating Christ who gave himself completely for us.  Our only response in the face of evil is self-giving service in imitation of Christ.  Unless we live to serve, our lives serve no good purpose, and we deny Christ.
The Lord wants to make you into a concrete response to human need, a sign of his merciful love.  For this, he shows you the way of personal commitment and sacrifice, the Way of the Cross, the way of God's life, the way of following Jesus to the end, in everyday life.  It doesn't fear failure, ostracism, or solitude.
The Way of the Cross alone defeats sin, evil, and death; it leads to the light of Christ’s resurrection and opens the horizons of new life.  It's the way of hope.  Take it up and give hope to humanity....  More
Read
  • Jer 28:1-17  Hananiah told me before priests and people:  “God says, ‘I'll break the yoke of the king of Babylon and return the king of Judah and exiles.’”  Jeremiah:  "A prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as authentic only when his prediction is fulfilled."  Then Hananiah took and broke the yoke from Jeremiah's neck, saying, “God says:  ‘I'll break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’”  Later, God told Jeremiah to tell him: "God says:  'By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron one I'll place on the necks of the nations serving Nebuchadnezzar.'  The Lord didn't send you.  This year you'll die, because you preached rebellion against God."  That year, Hananiah died.
'Loaves and fishes' from today's readings
  • Ps 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102  "Lord, teach me your statutes."  Take not the word of truth from my mouth.  Sinners wait to destroy me, but I pay heed to your decrees.
  • Mt 14:13-21  When Jesus saw the crowd, his heart was moved, and he cured their sick.  Disciples / Jesus:  "Let the crowds go buy food." / “Give them food yourselves.” / “We only have five loaves and two fish.” / “Bring them to me.”  He took, blessed, and broke them and gave them to the disciples to give out.   All 5,000 men, plus women and children, ate and were satisfied, and twelve full baskets were left over.
Reflect
    • Creighton:  The feeding gospel reminds me that God will always take care of me.  The river of the journey of life, with twists, turns, and rapids as well as smooth stretches, leads to God.  When I live like God wants me to, I feel like I'm swimming with the current and trust God is taking care of me; when I'm not, I feel like I'm swimming against it and have no peace....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Stretching exercises":  The disciples want Jesus to fix the problem according to their plan, but Jesus wants them to fix it according to his:  multiplying the loaves and fish.  He stretched their faith, then the food.  If we open up to Jesus, he'll multiply our faith.
      St. Alphonsus Liguori
    • Passionist:  Jeremiah lived in hard times, with Israel on the brink of invasion.  He warned Israel to repent, earning scorn.  Self-appointed 'prophet' Hananiah told them what they wanted to hear:  no need to fear or change.  But Jeremiah exposed him as a false prophet.  Today we hear claims about how to solve the world’s problems, but like Jeremiah, we should be wary of answers that don't require us to change or sacrifice.  The message of Jesus’ feeding of the multitudes is that Jesus gives us true, nourishing food; the story recalls the manna in the desert and anticipates the Eucharist.  Jesus teaches that our mission is to feed the hungry, reach out to others, entrust ourselves to God’s providence, and live in hope.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes":  Many were drawn to Jesus because they were hungry for God.  Jesus' message and miracles stirred hope that God was acting to set people free and bring them the blessings of his kingdom.  Jesus never disappointed those who sought him.  When he and his disciples discovered the crowd gathered, he welcomed them, spoke God's word, and healed many of them.  Later, he commanded his disciples to feed them, likely to test their faith and give them a sign of God's intervention and favor.  He blessed the little they had, distributed it to all, and satisfied them; and the leftovers show God's generosity.  The feeding recalled the manna in the wilderness and foreshadowed the heavenly bread Jesus would pass on at the Last Supper.  Jesus claimed, as only God can, that he's the true bread of heaven that satisfies our deepest hunger. The miracle prefigures the Eucharist that sustains us on our journey to the kingdom.  God multiplies what we have so we may bring his blessing to others.  The miracle shows God's generosity and kindness.  God gives more than we need so we'll have something to share with those who lack what they need.
    Dress legend
    • 'Hand' tie pin:  Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter (gospel)
    • 'Polka' tie:  Pope Francis is back from World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland (shhh; the polka is really from Bohemia)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  The prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as sent by the Lord when his prediction is fulfilled. (1st reading)
    • 'Heart' pin:  "Let my heart be perfect in your statutes" (psalm); Jesus' heart was moved with pity (gospel)
    • 'Boat' tie bar:  Jesus withdrew in a boat (gospel)
    • 'Feet' pin:  The crowds followed him on foot (gospel)
    • 'Wheat' and 'fish' pins:  5 loaves, 2 fish (gospel)
    • Suspenders with clocks:  chronology in 1st reading
    • White shirt:  color of St. Alphonsus day