Readings & Reflections: Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Giles Mary of St. Joseph, February 13,2017
The murderous Cain is banned from the soil to become a restless wanderer on the earth. To prevent others from killing Cain on sight, the Lord puts a mark on him – a protective sign. The “sign from heaven” that the Pharisees seek has already been given in the Incarnation. The flesh of Christ in our midst is the sign that saves us from our murderous ways.
By the time you had encountered the Pharisees as described in today’s gospel, You had already performed various miracles and works of power. Yet the Pharisees were not satisfied, but seemed to want something more, something on a grander scale. Lord today, we have, at times, given You the same response to all the goodness You have blessed our lives. We continue to reject You with our unbelief and our repeated sinfulness. Lord, forgive us for our ambivalent and weakened faith and bless us with a heart like Yours which is overflowing with unconditional love and commitment. Allow us to respond only with total faith and belief in the Good News. Enable us to repent, and believe in the gospel. We know Lord that even in the face of your rejection, Your heart will not rest in drawing us closer to the Father and His flock and until we all positively respond to the love You continue to gives us. In Your Name, we pray. Amen.
Gn 4:1-15, 25
The man had relations with his wife Eve,
and she conceived and bore Cain, saying,
“I have produced a man with the help of the LORD.”
Next she bore his brother Abel.
Abel became a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the soil.
In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD
from the fruit of the soil,
while Abel, for his part,
brought one of the best firstlings of his flock.
The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,
but on Cain and his offering he did not.
Cain greatly resented this and was crestfallen.
So the LORD said to Cain:
“Why are you so resentful and crestfallen.
If you do well, you can hold up your head;
but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door:
his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master.”
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.”
When they were in the field,
Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
He answered, “I do not know.
Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The LORD then said: “What have you done!
Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!
Therefore you shall be banned from the soil
that opened its mouth to receive
your brother’s blood from your hand.
If you till the soil, it shall no longer give you its produce.
You shall become a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Cain said to the LORD: “My punishment is too great to bear.
Since you have now banished me from the soil,
and I must avoid your presence
and become a restless wanderer on the earth,
anyone may kill me at sight.”
“Not so!” the LORD said to him.
“If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold.”
So the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight.
Adam again had relations with his wife,
and she gave birth to a son whom she called Seth.
“God has granted me more offspring in place of Abel,” she said,
“because Cain slew him.”
The word of the Lord.
Ps 50:1 and 8, 16bc-17, 20-21
R. (14a) Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“You sit speaking against your brother;
against your mother’s son you spread rumors.
When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Seeking a sign
“Why does this generation seek a sign?”
This was the question posed by Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees in today’s gospel. Amidst what Jesus has taught the people of His time and the countless miracles He allowed them to experience while in His midst, the people of who opposed Jesus still had the courage to ask for more signs.
Today, most of us ask this question from God whenever we are in a fix and have to make up our minds on issues affecting our daily lives. “Give me some signs that this is from You. Otherwise I will have to seriously think about it, even drop it.” This is a very typical response of someone who does not want to believe or does not have faith. This is a response of someone who has difficulty in following the will of our Lord especially if it means some adjustments in life, when it means giving up our comfort zones in order to be with our Lord. Quite often we have likened God to a friend, an acquaintance or a co-worker, even a close or distant relations. We require that He proves Himself otherwise we will not follow.
This is God’s reality among His people. Even after giving up His divinity, coming to be one of us and dying for our sins on the cross, we still require Him to prove His point. We have actually made a slave out of our God, sad and painful as it may be to accept. As a parent, as a spouse and as a sibling we all know how it painful it is when those close to us lose faith in the goodness that flows from within us. A lot of times we risk our name and all we got just to show those close to us how much we love them and how good our intentions are. We always try to give our loved ones a sign to live by.
The problem with the Pharisees was they chose to be blind to Jesus. Showing them signs would be like showing the blind more pictures. Have we realized how our God feels whenever we require Him to prove His point and His will for us?
In our brokenness and in our bruised state, our vision becomes not only hazy but blinded. Our hearts are hardened and we become so stubborn in our ways. Although we say, we are all Christian disciples we find it hard to accept the will of our Lord. We turn away from Him and opt to go with what is convenient, what passes away, what is momentary and even lustful.
God message for us today is never to look for signs for He has given enough signs. He has His Word for us to stand, to live by and guide us. He has given us His life, His love and all that we need to reach our true home. God has all the answers inscribed in our hearts if we only open up to the Spirit. Jesus is the ANSWER and He more than satisfies what our hearts need.
Let us be reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 12: 39-42: “An evil and unfaithful age is eager for a sign! No sign will be given. At judgment everyone will rise with the present generation and be the ones to condemn the world. At the preaching of Jonah, people reformed their lives. People came from the farthest corner of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. Yet we have ONE Who is greater than Jonah and Solomon here.”
Isn’t this enough assurance, enough sign, enough answer from our GOD?
Isn’t Jesus nailed on the Cross more than sufficient? Believe and live!!!
Allow the Spirit to lead us in life. Total and unconditional surrender to God and His will is the way of every disciple.
Heavenly father, perfect my faith so that when my circumstances become difficult I may continue to hang on be your loyal follower. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – No sign shall be given to this generation
Are you good at reading signs? Signs tell us what is coming ahead. The people of Jesus’ time expected that the coming of the Messiah would be accompanied by extraordinary signs and wonders. The religious leaders tested Jesus to see if he had a genuine sign from heaven to back his claim to be the Messiah. False messiahs in the past had made extraordinary claims to attract their followers, such as claiming that they could cleave the Jordan River in two or cause the walls of Jerusalem to fall.
What makes us blind-sighted to God’s presence and power in our lives?
Jesus knew the hearts of those who came to test him. They were more interested in seeking signs to prove that they were right and Jesus was wrong. Jesus revealed the true intention of their heart – they came to argue with him and to test him (Mark 8:11) because they did not believe that he spoke in the name of his Father in heaven. They wanted to discredit his claim to be the true Messiah and Savior. They unfortunately were blind-sighted to the truth of Jesus’ message that the Father had sent him, the only begotten Son, to set them free from sin, Satan, and death. No miracle of Jesus would convince them because their hearts were full of self-seeking pride and glory for themselves.
Simeon had prophesied at Jesus’ birth that he was “destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed”(Luke 2:34-35). Jesus gave the Pharisees no sign except himself and the ultimate proof of his divinity when he overcame death and rose victorious from the tomb on the third day.We also need no further proof than the witness of Jesus who fulfilled what Moses and the prophets had foretold would take place when the Messiah came to redeem his people.
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who came from the Father in heaven to set us free from the power of sin, Satan, and death. His death on the cross atones for all of our sins and opens for us the floodgates of God’s merciful love and healing forgiveness. He alone can set us free from guilt, condemnation, pride, and fear. He alone can give us abundant life, peace, and joy through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus gives us “listening ears” and “eyes of faith” to recognize his presence in our lives
The Lord reveals himself and makes his presence known to us in many ways – in his “word” (the good news he came to give us) and in the “breaking of the bread” in the Eucharist (he is theBread of Life), in his church – the Body of Christ, and in his creation (he is the Word who created all things). And even in the daily circumstances of our lives the Lord Jesus continues to speak to us and guide us. If we seek the Lord Jesus, we will surely find him. And we can be confident that he will give us whatever we need to carry out his will for our lives. Most of all the Lord Jesus assures us of his daily presence with us and the promise that he will never leave us. Theresa of Avila’s prayer book contained a bookmark which she wrote: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices. Is God enough for you?
“Lord Jesus, may I always recognize your saving presence in my life and never forget your promises when I encounter trials and difficulties. Give me a faith that never wavers, a hope that never fades, and a love that never grows cold.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/feb13.htm
Reflection 3 – Sailing away from arguments
Have you ever tried to help someone who would not listen to what you were really saying? They only heard what they wanted to hear, if anything at all. Usually, it’s something that gives them an excuse to disbelieve you.
It’s so very frustrating, isn’t it? We want to do good for them, but they deafen their ears or they misconstrue our intent or they twist our meaning to suit their purposes.
When this happens, how do you feel? “Frustrated” yes, but that’s not all. There’s something icky about it. We feel torn between giving up and trying one more time. We pray for the other person, but we wish we could find the magic words that would finally break through whatever’s shrouding that person’s mind.
That’s probably how Jesus felt in today’s Gospel story. The Pharisees’ reason for requesting a sign was not motivated by a hope that Jesus was the Messiah. They were asking for an argument. If they truly wanted to believe in him, they would have been converted by the many previous signs they had already witnessed.
In this scripture, Jesus shows us what to do when people argue with us. If they’re not asking questions that would help them understand what we’ve said, they’re not interested in learning something new from us. Debating them is pointless and will only cause hurt and further division.
Like Jesus, we have to walk away from the argument. Our words are not helping them. The most caring thing we can do is to climb into our boats, like Jesus, and paddle to the other side of the sea to find people who are ready to listen — people who ask questions for the sake of discovering the truth, people who are humble enough to believe that they don’t have all the answers nor see the full picture.
It’s not easy to walk away from an argument when we’re trying to help. It hurts to see people continue to suffer from the lies and misconceptions they believe. That’s okay; we’re not supposed to like it — we care. But walking away is not quitting. We’ll continue to pray for their conversion to the truth, and we’ll show by our lives the truth of our words.
It might take many years and hard troubles before they’ll be ready to listen, but never despair. God wants to help them even more than you do, and he’s not finished with them. God will not allow them to die before they’re ready to spend eternity with him, because you are praying for them in the spirit of his love.
Remember, even some Pharisees became believers in Jesus. It was a Pharisee who donated his tomb to the crucified Lord. – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-02-13
Reflection 4 – Confidence vs. Seeking a Sign
“O God most loving, who are Love itself, how we wound you if we trust not in you with all our hearts! If, after the favors you have shown us, and more than all, after having died for us, we do not feel confidence in you, we must be worse that the very brutes. After all you have given us in the past, can we doubt your loving kindness in the future, or think that you will cease to protect those you have saved from hell? Will you leave your adopted sons to die of hunger, or cease to guide them aright in the path in which you do set them when they had wandered away? When we were estranged from you, you did give us many graces – will you then refuse them now when our only desire is to serve you? While we offended against you, you did follow after us when we fled from you; you did draw us to yourself, did cleanse us from our guilt, and giving to us your Holy Spirit, did fill our souls with joy, and bestow on us the kiss of peace.
“And wherefore did you do all this? Surely it was that we might believe that as for Christ’s sake you did reconcile us to yourself when we were among your enemies, much more surely, will you keep us for his sake, now that we are in the number of your friends.
“O my God and my mercy! After the countless favors you have shown us, permit not that we distrust you and question whether you do love us and intend to save us. More evident than the sun at midday is the witness borne by your works that you do cherish us and give us the hope of salvation. Let our hearts rely confidently on God even though we feel not the sweetness of his consolations” (Source: St. John of Avila, +1569, Magnificat, Vol. 16, No. 12, February 2015, pp. 255-256).
Reflection 5 – St. Giles Mary of St. Joseph (1729-1812 A.D.)
In the same year that a power-hungry Napoleon Bonaparte led his army into Russia, Giles Mary of St. Joseph ended a life of humble service to his Franciscan community and to the citizens of Naples.
Francesco was born in Taranto to very poor parents. His father’s death left the 18-year-old Francesco to care for the family. Having secured their future, he entered the Friars Minor at Galatone in 1754. For 53 years he served at St. Paschal’s Hospice in Naples in various roles, such as cook, porter or most often as official beggar for that community.
“Love God, love God” was his characteristic phrase as he gathered food for the friars and shared some of his bounty with the poor—all the while consoling the troubled and urging everyone to repent. The charity which he reflected on the streets of Naples was born in prayer and nurtured in the common life of the friars. The people whom Giles met on his begging rounds nicknamed him the “Consoler of Naples.” He was canonized in 1996.
People often become arrogant and power hungry when they try to live a lie, for example, when they forget their own sinfulness and ignore the gifts God has given to other people. Giles had a healthy sense of his own sinfulness—not paralyzing but not superficial either. He invited men and women to recognize their own gifts and to live out their dignity as people made in God’s divine image. Knowing someone like Giles can help us on our own spiritual journey.
In his homily at the canonization of Giles, Pope John Paul II said that the spiritual journey of Giles reflected “the humility of the Incarnation and the gratuitousness of the Eucharist” (L’Osservatore Romano 1996, volume 23, number 1).
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1290
SAINT OF THE DAY
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.
Egidio Maria of Saint Joseph
|Born||16 November 1729
Taranto, Apulia, Kingdom of Naples
|Died||7 February 1812 (aged 82)
Naples, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||5 February 1888, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Kingdom of Italy by Pope Leo XIII|
|Canonized||2 June 1996, Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
Saint Egidio Maria of Saint Joseph (16 November 1729 – 7 February 1812) – born Francesco Postillo – was an Italianprofessed religious from the Order of Friars Minor. Postillo became a Franciscan brother rather than as an ordained priest due to his lack of a proper education and so dedicated himself to the care of the poor and ill in southern Italian cities such as Taranto and Naples where he earned the moniker of the “Consoler of Naples”.
Pope Pius IX titled him as Venerable in 1868 and he was later beatified under Pope Leo XIII in 1888 before he was canonized under Pope John Paul II in 1996. His liturgical feast is celebrated on an annual basis on the date of his death.
Francesco Postillo was born in Taranto on 16 November 1729 to Cataldo Postillo and Grazia Procaccio; three siblings later followed him. He was baptized as Francesco Domenico Antonio Pasquale Postillo.
His father died in 1747 and this forced Postillo to seek work to provide for his widowed mother and siblings. For a brief period of time he worked as a rope maker. The lack of a personal education meant that he was unable to become a priest and served instead as a professed religious in the Order of Friars Minor in Naples. He applied to enter the order on 27 February 1754 and made his solemn profession of vows on 28 February 1755 at the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Galatone. He assumed the religious name of “Egidio of the Mother of God” but he later altered this instead to “Egidio Maria of Saint Joseph”.Postillo served as a porter and gatekeeper to his convent and worked as a cook at the convent in Squinzano while also working with lepers; he often travelled outside the confines of his convent to beg for alms and to aid those who were shunned and isolated. Postillo spent almost a week at a convent in Capuso near Bari in 1759 when he was assigned to the convent of San Pasquale in Chiaia near Naples.
The process for sainthood commenced in Naples in an informative process that Cardinal Filippo Giudice Caracciolo opened and later closed in 1843. Pope Pius IX named him as Venerable on 24 February 1868 after confirming that Postillo had lived a model life of heroic virtue and Pope Leo XIII later beatified the late religious on 5 February 1888 after the confirmation of two miracles attributed to his intercession. On 29 June 1919 the Archbishop of Taranto Orazio Mazzella named him as the patron of Taranto.
The third miracle – and the one that led to Postillo’s canonization – was investigated and received validation from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 2 October 1992 which led to a medical board approving it on 27 January 1994; theologians did likewise on 13 May 1994 as did the C.C.S. on 18 October 1994. Pope John Paul II approved the healing to be a miracle – the 1937 cure of Mrs. Angela Mignogna – on 15 December 1994 and canonized Postillo as a saint on 2 June 1996.
- List of canonisations by Pope John Paul II. Vatican Publishing House. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
- “Saint Giles Mary-of-Saint-Joseph”. Saints SQPN. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- “CANONIZATIONS from 16 June 1993 to 11 Oct 1998”. EWTN. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- “Saint Egidio Maria of Saint Joseph (Francesco Pontillo)”