Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Jerome Emiliani, February 9,2017

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Jerome Emiliani, February 9,2017

In the Church’s art, Jerome Emiliani carries the ball and chain with which he was fettered as a prisoner of war near Treviso, Italy, in 1508 A.D. From the dungeon he asked Mary for help, and he escaped soon after. He lived from that time in a spirit of thanksgiving. After serving as mayor of Treviso, he returned to his native Venice, where he began to attend to the needs of abandoned children. Jerome found them food and clothes, and taught them the Faith through a question-and-answer style catechism. He helped prostitutes, incurables, and the impoverished. In 1531 A.D. he founded the Clerks Regular of Somascha, who continued his work among the poor.

From the beginning of time, God has acted to reverse the loneliness that represents the consummate curse to the human race – an experience analogue to hell. God first tries to offset Adam’s loneliness by giving him various animals. To the woman today who is not afraid to compare herself to “the dogs under the table,” Jesus gives the miracle of the new life of her daughter.


Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, Just like the Greek woman, a Syrophoenician by birth, all we need is a scrap, not a full meal. Lord, turn us to gold, our spouse to a fruitful vine, our children, be like olive plants. May we all be blessed to sit down at the banquet table of the Father in His heavenly kingdom. In Your Mighty Name, we pray. Amen.

Reading 1
Gn 2:18-25

The LORD God said:
“It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a suitable partner for him.”
So the LORD God formed out of the ground
various wild animals and various birds of the air,
and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them;
whatever the man called each of them would be its name.
The man gave names to all the cattle,
all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals;
but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,
and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs
and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman
the rib that he had taken from the man.
When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of “her man’ this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (see 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Mk 7:24-30

Jesus went to the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.
She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth,
and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.
For it is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied and said to him,
“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed
and the demon gone.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – The Syro-Phoenician woman’s faith

‘He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”’

The gospel scene for today may somehow bother quite a number of people. Why was the Syro-Phoenician woman compared to the dogs under a family table? Jesus was only trying to convey that the first and foremost concern of every man is to feed his family, in His case the Jewish nation. The woman being Syro-Phoenician and not Jewish therefore did not belong to God’s chosen people. Even with this statement, the woman was not offended but had the faith and the perseverance to claim His blessings even if she and her family were being compared to dogs partaking of children’s scraps under the table. She did not come strongly to defend her race against Jesus but kept a humble and persistent heart.

Her attitude towards Jesus was one of complete submission to Him as God of all Who will not set her aside. She must have considered that if she is this close to God, then she also has a right to the crumbs. I was moved by the attitude of the Syro-Phoenician woman towards Jesus as it was totally different and an exact contrast to that of the Pharisees who were, neither willing to acknowledge Jesus as God, nor even to fellowship with Him at the table of truth.  They found it difficult to associate with Jesus much more have faith in Him.

The woman’s persistence paid off.  Jesus delivered her daughter from the devil. With her persistent faith, Jesus said to her: ‘”The demon has already left your daughter.” When she got home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.’ We have an all-inclusive God. Faith and humility, patience and perseverance can only bring us to partake of God’s table of grace.


This brings into our hearts that we as Christians should be bold with our faith.  We should be patient in bringing our concerns to God and with expectant faith consider all as done in the Name of our Lord. In the same light, Jesus wants us to open our hearts of compassion and mercy to every man and treat everyone as a child of God without concern for social status, color, race and religion.

Heavenly Father, help me when I am desperate. Come to my rescue when I call on You. Be patient with me when I am hopeless as I may lose my composure and reserve and be rude with my persistence. Help me to see You in others who may be different from me. In your grace and blessings, I am fully dependent.  In Jesus, I am complete as I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – Invited to sit at the Lord ’s Table

In today’s gospel we see Jesus move out of the territory ruled by Herod and into Tyre, a mixed district consisting of both Greeks and Jews. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is a man of his time and place. He saw the descendants of Abraham as chosen by God above all others.

The Syro-Phoenician woman is unique among all the figures in the four Gospels. She is the only one who wins an argument with Jesus. At first he refuses her request to drive the demon out of her daughter. He tells her that he has come first and foremost to the children of Abraham. The woman grovels to the level of comparing herself to a dog that might eat the scraps from the table of the children of Abraham. She falls at the feet of the Lord. Jesus is truly moved by this. He grants the woman’s request.

The woman who begs for healing from the Lord serves as a good model for us as we move into Lent and begin our journey to Easter. We might do well to model ourselves after the persistence and faith of the woman who wins her argument with Jesus.

Some of the people of the covenant in the first century were so arrogant that they dismissed all pagans as unworthy of God’s attention. Gifted as we are in the new covenant, we need to remember that we are made worthy because of the Paschal Mystery in which we were plunged at baptism. We are made worthy because of Christ.

We have an advantage that the Syro-Phoenician woman did not. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ we need not beg for just the crumbs at the table. We have been invited to be seated as guests of honor, not because of our own merit, but because we are baptized in Christ, washed in the blood of the Lamb. If Jesus will feed “the dogs” imagine what he will do for us! (Source: Timothy J. Cronin. Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, February 11, 2010).

Reflection 3 – The demon has left your daughter

Do you ever feel “put-off” by the Lord? This passage describes the only occasion in which Jesus ministered outside of Jewish territory. (Tyre and Sidon were fifty miles north of Israel and still exist today in modern Lebanon.) A Gentile woman – an outsider who was not a member of the chosen people – puts Jesus on the spot by pleading with him to show mercy to her daughter who was tormented with an evil spirit. At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and this made his disciples feel embarrassed. Jesus very likely did this not to put the woman off, but rather to test her sincerity and to awaken faith in her.

The Lord shows mercy to those who seek him
What did Jesus mean by the expression “throwing bread to the dogs”? The Jews often spoke of the Gentiles with arrogance and insolence as “unclean dogs” since the Gentiles were excluded from God’s covenant and favor with Israel. For the Greeks the “dog” was a symbol of dishonor and was used to describe a shameless and audacious woman. Matthew’s Gospel records the expression do not give dogs what is holy (Matthew 7:6). Jesus, no doubt, spoke with a smile rather than with an insult because this woman immediately responds with wit and faith – “even the dogs eat the crumbs”.

Love conquers with persistent trust and faith
Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her persistent faith and for her affectionate love. She made the misery of her child her own and she was willing to suffer rebuff in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. No one who ever sought Jesus with faith – whether Jew or Gentile – was refused his help. Do you seek Jesus with expectant faith?

“Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May I trust you always and never doubt your loving care and mercy. Increase my faith in your saving help and deliver me from all evil and harm.” – Read the source:

Reflection 4 – The One Who Could Not Be Hidden

He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. —Mark 7:24

Attar of Roses, a fragrant oil, is one of the most valuable products of Bulgaria and is heavily taxed for export. A tourist, unwilling to pay the duty, sought to evade customs by concealing two vials of the precious fluid in his suitcase. Apparently a little of the perfume had spilled in his suitcase. By the time he reached the train station, the aroma was emanating from the luggage, declaring the presence of the hidden treasure. The authorities immediately knew what the man had done and confiscated the costly souvenirs.

The Lord Jesus could not be hidden either. Crowds were constantly mobbing Him to hear His words of wisdom, to benefit from His deeds of mercy, and to derive help from His loving compassion.

After He ascended to His Father, Jesus’ influence continued in the lives of His disciples. The populace “realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Their deportment and their attitude marked them as His true followers.

Are you living completely for Jesus? Is the love of Christ so obvious in your life that those who know you realize that you are a follower of the One who “could not be hidden”? (Mark 7:24). If so, the world will readily see that you are on God’s side. Your influence cannot be hidden.
Henry G. Bosch

When we’ve been alone with Jesus,
Learning from Him day by day,
Others soon will sense the difference
As we walk along life’s way. —Hess

You cannot hide your influence (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 5 – When your prayers hit a brick wall

I’ve always enjoyed the story in today’s Gospel passage because of the Greek woman’s response to Jesus in the face of an impossibility. She’s a sign of hope for all of us when we’re up against a wall and there seems to be no door through it. Her persistence and her confidence in Jesus, who was known to be a barrier-breaker, are traits that we should copy.

At first, Jesus seemed to be saying “no” to the woman’s prayer request. And for good reason (according to the culture of the day), for she was not Jewish, and everyone “knew” that non-Jews were second-rate. Not only that, but she was a woman! “Inferior” to Jesus in not just one but two ways!

However, Jesus had already begun to teach that the kingdom of God surpasses all human limitations. He was already treating women with equal dignity, raising them to the same level of importance as men. He had already preached about new wineskins. He had already broken Sabbath laws in order to minister to people, breaking from old traditions that were used without compassion. So why did he say no to this desperate mother?

Think about the barriers that you seem to be up against. When it seems like our prayers are hitting a hard wall, it’s time to assess why. Is Jesus really saying no? Did he put up the wall? Sometimes he does, but only for our protection, because it would be harmful for us to proceed ahead with our plans.

At other times, Jesus wants to help us break through the barriers, but we just stand there staring at the thick bricks, feeling their roughness, and that’s all we think about. We need to be like the Greek woman who found a clever way around her obstacle. We have to try a new direction, a different tactic, or a deeper reason for getting our prayers answered. Jesus wanted to test her persistence, for her sake. He does the same with us.

Today’s first reading speaks of the permanence of the unitive bond of marriage. When we’re up against a wall in marriage and it seems like our unity is being dissolved, it’s God’s intention to keep the marriage together. If he joined the husband and wife together, then the two have indeed become one. No wall, no division in that relationship is stronger than God. But the husband and wife must both choose to “cling” to each other, especially when it feels like healing is impossible. They cling to each other as they wait at the wall for Jesus to lead them into a breakthrough.

The kingdom of God surpasses all human limitations. No prayer bounces off a brick wall forever. Find a new angle and keep hitting that wall with more prayers. And when you get tired, take a rest in the Father’s lap. You will reach the breakthrough you need. I guarantee it. I speak from experience. – Read the source:

Reflection 6 – St. Jerome Emiliani (1481?-1537 A.D.)

A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.

In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.

Around 1532 Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928 Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.


Very often in our lives it seems to take some kind of “imprisonment” to free us from the shackles of our self-centeredness. When we’re “caught” in some situation we don’t want to be in, we finally come to know the liberating power of Another. Only then can we become another for “the imprisoned” and “the orphaned” all around us.


“‘The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity; only rebels remain in the parched land’ (Psalm 68)…. We should not forget the growing number of persons who are often abandoned by their families and by the community: the old, orphans, the sick and all kinds of people who are rejected…. We must be prepared to take on new functions and new duties in every sector of human activity and especially in the sector of world society, if justice is really to be put into practice. Our action is to be directed above all at those men and nations which, because of various forms of oppression and because of the present character of our society, are silent, indeed voiceless, victims of injustice” (Justice in the World, 1971 World Synod of Bishops).

Patron Saint of: Orphans, abandoned children

Read the source:

Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Saint Jerome Emiliani
BORN 1486
DIED 8 February 1537
VENERATED IN Roman Catholic Church
BEATIFIED 1747 by Pope Benedict XIV
CANONIZED 1767 by Pope Clement XIII
FEAST 8 February
20 July (General Roman Calendar, 1769-1969)
PATRONAGE orphans and abandoned children

Gerolamo Emiliani (Italian: Gerolamo Emiliani also Jerome Aemilian, Hiëronymus Emiliani) (1486 – 8 February 1537), was an Italian humanitarian, founder of the Somaschi Fathers, and saint. He was canonized in 1767 and is thepatron saint of orphans.[1]


Jerome was born in Venice, the son of Angelo Emiliani (popularly called Miani) and Eleonore Mauroceni. His father died when he was a teenager and Jerome ran away at the age of 15 to join the army. In 1508, he participated in the defense of Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray. He was appointed governor of a fortress in the mountains of Treviso, and while defending his post was taken prisoner. His escape he attributed to the intercession of the Mother of God; and he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, in fulfillment of a vow, and left his chains as an offering.[2] He was then appointed podestà (Venetian magistrate) of Castelnuovo, but after a short time returned to Venice to supervise the education of his nephews. All his spare time was devoted to the study of theology and to works of charity. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1518.[1]

In the year of plague and famine (1528), he seemed to be everywhere and showed his zeal, especially for the orphans, whose number had so greatly increased. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense.[3] He rented a house for them near the church of St. Rose and, with the assistance of some pious laymen, ministered to their needs. To his charge was also committed the hospital for incurables, founded by St. Cajetan. In 1531 he went to Verona and induced the citizens to build a hospital; in Brescia, Bergamo, Milan and other places in northern Italy, he erected orphanages, for boys and for girls. At Bergamo,he also founded a hostel for repentant prostitutes.[4]

Congregation of Regular Clerics[edit]

Two priests, Alessandro Besuzio and Agostino Bariso, then joined him in his labors of charity, and in 1532 Gerolamo founded a religious society, the Congregation of Regular Clerics.[4] The motherhouse was at Somasca, a secluded North Italian hamlet in the Comune of Vercurago between Milan and Bergamo, after which the members became known as Somaschi. In the Rule of this Society, Gerolamo stated the principal work of the community was the care of orphans, poor and sick, and demanded that dwellings, food and clothing would bear the mark of religious poverty.[1] Devoted to the guardian angels, Emiliani entrusted the Company to the protection of the Virgin, the Holy Spirit and the Archangel Raphael.[5]

The Congregation was approved in 1540 by Pope Paul III, and the Order spread in Italy.[4]

During an epidemic, Jerome was assisting the sick when he contracted the plague. He died in Somasca, February 8, 1537.[6]


He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1747, and canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767.[3] The Office and Mass in his honor were approved eight years later. He was thus not included in the 1570 Tridentine Calendar. When inserted in the Roman Calendar in 1769, he was assigned the date of 20 July. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved his feast to the day of his death, 8 February.[7]


In 1928 Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.[3]

See also[edit]

  • Martinitt, Milan orphanage founded by Emiliani


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c “St. Jerome Emiliani”. Catholic Encyclopedia.
  2. Jump up^ “Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney – Events”.
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b c Foley O.F.M., Leonard. “St. Jerome Emiliani”, Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b c Guerin, Paul. Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints,(Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 8
  5. Jump up^ “Google Traduttore”.
  6. Jump up^ “St. Jerome Emiliani: A Different Kind of Saint”, Somascan Fathers and Brothers