Readings & Reflections: Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Claude de la Colombiere, February 15,2017
The “plucked-off olive leaf” was the sign of the existence in the world of a living tree, which meant that the flood waters were receding and that life on earth could begin again. When Jesus heals the blind man, the first thing he sees is “people looking like trees and walking.” He glimpses what we will see on Good Friday: the man Jesus carrying his cross as if he were a tree walking. The sign of that tree is the promise of New Life on earth.
Dear Jesus, In today’s gospel reading, we witnessed how You healed the blind man. Lord, in our spiritual journey, we realize that we, too, need to be healed from our blindness regarding your true Lordship in our lives. Lord amidst our imperfections and our inclination to sin, bless us that we may be healed from our own blindness regarding who You are in our lives and what it means to follow You as your disciple. In your Mighty Name, we pray. Amen.
Gn 8:6-13, 20-22
At the end of forty days Noah opened the hatch he had made in the ark, and he sent out a raven, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. It flew back and forth until the waters dried off from the earth. Then he sent out a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth. But the dove could find no place to alight and perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water all over the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark. He waited seven days more and again sent the dove out from the ark. In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had lessened on the earth. He waited still another seven days and then released the dove once more; and this time it did not come back.
In the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water began to dry up on the earth. Noah then removed the covering of the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up. Noah built an altar to the LORD, and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the LORD smelled the sweet odor, he said to himself: “Never again will I doom the earth because of man since the desires of man(s heart are evil from the start; nor will I ever again strike down all living beings, as I have done. As long as the earth lasts, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
The word of the Lord.
Ps 116:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
R. (17a) To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked,
“Do you see anything?” Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.
Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Jesus healed a blind person
Today’s gospel scenario shows that Jesus healed a blind person. He had to lay His hands on the blind man twice before the man was completely healed and was able to see. This brings us to the question of how we are with our spiritual efforts. Do we persevere with our good deeds? Do we patiently act on God’s word or do we set it aside if our situation becomes a bit difficult? Do we give people a second chance or set them aside instantaneously as soon as they fail to live up to our standards?
An old friend once shared his life with me and how the Lord brought him into His fold. Despite his very beautiful childhood, having grown up in a wealthy and well-endowed family and his education in an exclusive Catholic boys school, which culminated in a top Ivy league business school, the young man never gave God some space in His heart. He proceeded with life recklessly and was not very much guided by any moral values in his career. His love life was likewise the same. His only dream was to amass wealth apart from his family and to win every woman’s heart. His quest for fame, power and fortune filled his eart. They all displaced God.
One day, he fell seriously ill and was about to die. Through his prayers and the intercessions of those close to him, God relented and gave Him a new life. His faith in our Lord saved him from sure death-death not only of the body but also of the soul.
Like the blind man in today’s gospel reading, this man was touched by Jesus twice…the very first time in his early childhood but shrugged off God out of His life. The second time around, God did not relent. He could now see life in a more clear way. This young man is now firmly guided by the norms and values of a Christian as he conducts his business as Chief Financial Officer of big conglomerate. He has given his life to the Lord by being one of the pillars of a spiritual community that seeks to renew Christians and bring others closer to the Lord.
But like the blind man, this man also needed to “go home” to his loved ones, to his family and friends to proclaim God’s goodness and love. As he was overwhelmed by God’s love, he needed to “go home” to let his experience settle in his heart, to nourish and nurture His new found relationship. He needed to share God with the world now that his heart is rooted in God’s word and work.
‘Jesus sent the man whom He healed of blindness, with the admonition, “Do not even go into the village.” Instead of skipping town and following Jesus’ admonition, “Do not even go into the village.” he ran back to his village to proclaim God’s victory in his life. God’s love and healing mercies took a strong hold of this man’s heart that there was nothing that could stop Him from bringing the Good News to all men!
Let us pray to God that He touches us deep in our souls and gives us not only the Virtue of doing His will but the Wisdom of knowing it and the Strength of living by it.
Apply God’s word to one’s daily life- family, work and community. When we allow God’s love to take hold of our life, we are able to share Christ with others.
Heavenly Father, let me ponder on your love and goodness. Let me feel your mighty presence in all that I do. Bless me all the days of my life and let your Word and Work to take root deep down in my heart so that I may be a faithful doer of your Word. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – The blind man
Here’s a story of a blind man who lived in a small house surrounded by a large garden. He spent all of his free moments in the garden, which he cultivated very carefully despite his handicap. Whether it was spring, summer, or fall, his garden was a riot of colors.
“Tell me,” asked a pedestrian who admired all this floral beauty, “Why do you raise all these flowers which you cannot even see, can you?” “No I can’t; I have no idea what they even look like.” “Why do you raise a garden at all, then?” The blind man said, “I’ll give you four reasons: first, I like gardening; second, I can touch my flowers; third, I can smell their perfume; and the fourth reason is YOU!” “Me? Why you don’t even know me.” “No; but I knew that one day you would come by… and take pleasure in my flowers… and that would give me the opportunity to chat with you about them.”
This blind man’s joyful spirit was inviting people around through his flowers and sharing the feelings of the heart’s goodness. He gave everyone around a glimpse of God’s loving character.
When a man who had been born blind was healed by Jesus, he too had the opportunity to show others a glimpse of who God is (Jn 9:1-41). Neighbors asked, “How were your eyes opened?”(Jn 9:10). He told them about Jesus. When Pharisees questioned him, he told them how Jesus had given him sight, and concluded, “If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing”(Jn 9:33).
We may wonder how we can show other what God is like. God can be clearly seen in the way we handle life’s difficulties, such as problems at work or home, or perhaps a serious illness. We can share with others how He is comforting us – and let them know that the Lord care for them too.
Who in your life needs to see the love of God? Allow the Lord to touch you with his grace and power that you walk in the light of his redeeming truth and love. St. Jerome wrote on the significance of this healing for us: “Christ laid his hands upon his eyes that he might see all things clearly, so through visible things he might understand things invisible, which the eye has not seen, that after the film of sin is removed, he might clearly behold the state of his soul with the eye of a clean heart.”
“Lord Jesus, restore my sight to your revelation and to your healing presence. Help me to walk according to your truth and to not stumble in the darkness of sin. May I help others find your healing light and saving presence.”
Reflection 3 – The blind man was restored, and saw everything clearly
What’s worse than physical blindness? A mind and heart darkened by sin, unbelief, and prideful rejection of God’s light and truth. Jesus came to set people free from the blinding darkness of sin, deception, and the lies of Satan and he offered them new abundant life and freedom to walk in his way of love, truth, and holiness. Wherever Jesus went he proclaimed the kingdom of God, and many people drew near to hear, see, and touch the power which came from him to heal and restore people to wholeness of life.
The gift of faith dispels the darkness of sin and unbelief
When Jesus came to Bethsaida, the fishing village of Andrew, Peter, James, and John, a blind man was brought to Jesus by some of his friends. Without their help he could not have found the one who could restore his sight and make him whole. Jesus understood the fears and hopes of this blind man and his friends who begged him to touch the blind so he could be restored. The blind in a special way perceive the power of touch.
Why did Jesus first lead the blind man away from the village (Mark 8:23)? Jesus very likely wanted to remove him from the distraction of bystanders and unbelieving skeptics. We know from the Gospel accounts written by Luke and Matthew that Jesus had strong words of rebuke for the inhabitants of Bethsaida:
“Woe to you Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you… You shall be brought down to Hades” (Luke 10:13, Matthew 11:21).
Jesus identifies with our weaknesses and strengthens us in faith
Jesus showed considerateness in bringing the blind man to a place away from the skeptics and gawkers who might dampen his faith and trust in Jesus. Then Jesus did something quite remarkable and unexpected. Mark says that Jesus “spit on his eyes, and laid his hands upon him” (Mark 8:23). Jesus physically identified with the blind man’s incurable condition both to show his personal compassion for him and to also awaken faith in him. Jesus then asks the man, “Do you see anything?” The blind man begins to recognize that he can now see a little bit – but his sight is very blurry. So Jesus lays his hands on him a second time to strengthen his faith so he can receive a complete healing. Mark records in three short phrases the dramatic healing which occurred to the blind man: “He looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.” His sight was restored in stages as he responded in faith to Jesus’ healing touch and words.
Jesus gives us “eyes of faith” to recognize the truth of his word
Jerome, an early church bible scholar (347-420 AD), explains the spiritual significance of this healing not only for the blind man but for us as well:
“Christ laid his hands upon his eyes that he might see all things clearly, so through visible things he might understand things invisible, which the eye has not seen, that after the film of sin is removed, he might clearly behold the state of his soul with the eye of a clean heart.”
Sinful pride and the refusal to repent of wrongdoing easily lead to deception and spiritual blindness which rob people of faith and trust in God’s merciful pardon and healing forgiveness. Jesus is the true light that opens our eyes and hearts to the truth of his word and the power of his love to heal, restore, and make us whole.
Removing blind-spots that cloud our vision of the Lord and his power at work in our lives
Are there any blind-spots in your life that cloud your vision of the Lord Jesus and his kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit? Ask the Lord Jesus to increase your faith and trust in him so that you may recognize his voice more clearly as you listen to his word and allow him to transform you more and more through the work and grace of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.
“Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the revelation of your healing presence and saving word. Help me to walk in the truth and power of your love and to not stumble in the darkness of sin and unbelief. Use me to help others find your healing light and saving presence as well.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2017/feb15.htm
Reflection 4 – Learning To See
Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God. –Romans 6:11
In his book An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks tells about a man named Virgil. Blind from early childhood, Virgil underwent surgery decades later and regained the ability to see.
But at first, like the blind man healed by Jesus outside Bethsaida (Mk. 8:22-26), Virgil had difficulty seeing. Although he could discern movement and color, he couldn’t put images together to make sense of them. For a time, his behavior was still the same as when he was sightless.
Sacks comments, “One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person. It is the interim, the limbo . . . that is so terrible.”
That comment echoes Paul’s teaching about burying our old, dead selves to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). It is a dramatic spiritual change that may bring a time of difficult adjustment. Ingrained habits and attitudes may hang on like withered leaves in autumn.
To overcome sin, we must remember that it is no longer our master (v.11), and we are to refuse to let it reign in our lives (v.12). Instead, we are to offer ourselves to God as “alive from the dead” (v.13). As we take these steps, our spiritual blindness will become a thing of the past, and we will learn to see Jesus more clearly. — Vernon C. Grounds
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound–
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see. –Newton
Sin blinds–but God’s grace restores sight (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).
Reflection 5 – Who is influencing your faith?
In today’s Gospel reading, why does Jesus lead the blind man away from the village to heal him? And why did he warn him not to go back into the village?
I think a clue to the answer is in how long it took him to receive his healing. Jesus gave him vision, but he only received it partially; Jesus had to pray for him a second time.
Have you ever “seen” something new, some new insight or answered prayer, which helped you grow in faith, but when you told others about it, their skepticism made you doubt it? We have to protect our minds from anything that hampers our belief in God’s love and his compassionate help.
When we share our good news, if it’s not accepted, it’s better to “leave that village” or at least change the subject. This is not anti-evangelization; we are not failing to be the witnesses that Christ commissioned us to be when we were baptized.
The blind man was probably too easily influenced by the doubts of the people around him. If he had trouble believing that a miracle would actually happen to him, it’s no wonder his healing came slowly. Jesus dealt with this by taking him by the hand and giving him private attention. Had Jesus prayed for him in front of the townsfolk, the man might have focused on them and their opinions, rather than on Jesus.
We need to be selective about the people we listen to and spend time with. In the business world, those most likely to succeed are people who make friends with those who are already successful. Psychological studies have shown that by surrounding ourselves with happy, upbeat people, our spirits are uplifted, and that we when we’re constantly with people who are depressed and pessimistic, we become like them. In Christianity, spending time with others who are strong in the faith will help us grow in the faith.
For this reason, it’s very important that whenever our churches offer parish retreats and other faith-building events, we should make it a top priority to attend – AND stay afterwards for the refreshments to socialize with others. We should also join Small Christian Communities (faith-sharing groups) to gain more faith-filled friendships.
When we spend time being influenced by truly Christian people and truly Christ-like attitudes, we open our hearts to the truth, the healings, and the answers to our prayers that we need. As we grow stronger in faith, we become the successful witnesses that Christ commissioned us to be. Then, the time and compassion we give to others will open their hearts for the truth and the miracles that Jesus wants to give to them (Source: Terry Modica, Good News Ministries http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-02-15).
Reflection 6 – St. Claude de la Colombière (1641-1682 A.D.)
This is a special day for the Jesuits, who claim today’s saint as one of their own. It’s also a special day for people who have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus—a devotion Claude de la Colombière promoted, along with his friend and spiritual companion, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The emphasis on God’s love for all was an antidote to the rigorous moralism of the Jansenists, who were popular at the time.
Claude showed remarkable preaching skills long before his ordination in 1675. Two months later he was made superior of a small Jesuit residence in Burgundy. It was there he first encountered Margaret Mary Alacoque. For many years after he served as her confessor.
He was next sent to England to serve as confessor to the Duchess of York. He preached by both words and by the example of his holy life, converting a number of Protestants. Tensions arose against Catholics and Claude, rumored to be part of a plot against the king, was imprisoned. He was ultimately banished, but by then his health had been ruined.
He died in 1682. Pope John Paul II canonized Claude de la Colombière in 1992.
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1889
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|ST. CLAUDE DE LA COLOMBIÈRE, S.J.|
|RELIGIOUS, PRIEST AND CONFESSOR|
|BORN||2 February 1641
Saint-Symphorien-d’Ozon,Dauphiné, Kingdom of France
|DIED||15 February 1682 (aged 41)
Paray-le-Monial, Duchy of Burgundy, Kingdom of France
|VENERATED IN||Catholic Church
(Society of Jesus)
|BEATIFIED||16 June 1929, Vatican City, byPope Pius XI|
|CANONIZED||21 May 1992, Vatican City, byPope John Paul II|
|MAJOR SHRINE||Jesuit Church,
Paray-le-Monial, Saône-et-Loire, France
|PATRONAGE||Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus|
St. Claude de la Colombière, S.J., was a Jesuit priest and the confessor of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, V.H.M. Hisfeast day is the day of his death, 15 February. He was a missionary and ascetical writer
He was born in 1641 in the city of Saint-Symphorien-d’Ozon, then in the ancient Province of Dauphiné, the third child of the notary Bertrand de la Colombière and of Margaret Coindat. The family soon moved to the nearby city of Vienne, where he began his education, before attending the Jesuit school in Lyon for his secondary studies.
In 1658, at the age of seventeen, Colombière entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Avignon. He did this despite what he recorded as “a terrible aversion for the life embraced”.When he completed the two-year novitiate, he started his higher studies in the same city. He was professed there and completed his studies. After this he spent the next five years of his Regency teaching grammar and literature at the same school.
Colombière was sent to Paris in 1666 to study theology at the College de Clermont. He was also assigned to be the tutor of the children of the Royal Minister of Finances, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. After completing his studies there, he wasordained a priest and initially assigned to teach at his former school in Lyon. He then was assigned to join the preaching team of the Jesuit community, through which he gained notice for the clarity and soundness of his sermons.
In 1674, after 15 years of life as a Jesuit, Colombière did his next period of probation known as the Tertianship, which was to prove decisive in his life. As a result of this experience of the Spiritual Exercises, he made a personal vow, as a means of attaining the utmost possible perfection, to observe faithfully the Rule and Constitutions of the Society under penalty of sin. Those who lived with him attested that this vow was kept with great exactitude.
The Sacred Heart
After professing the Fourth Vow of the Society at the end of the Tertianship on 2 February 1675, Colombière was appointed the Rector of the Jesuit community atParay-le-Monial, where he also became the spiritual director of the nuns of the Monastery of the Visitation located next to the church. In this way he came to know Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The curiosity of such a promising preacher having been assigned to this remote location has led to the supposition that his superiors had her in mind in making this assignment.
Alacoque had suffered greatly from the disbelief of the other nuns of her monastery, and felt isolated in her situation of having experienced a series of private revelations from Christ in which she felt she was being called to promote devotion to his Sacred Heart. When Colombière came to the community and began to hear the confessions of the nuns, she felt that she had finally found a priest in whom she could truly confide and opened up her heart to him. She later wrote that she saw that his spiritual gift “was that of bringing souls to God along the Gospel way of love and mercy which Christ revealed to us”. After speaking with her a number of times and after much prayer, as a result, he was convinced of the validity of her visions and became both her supporter and a zealous apostle of the devotion.
In 1676 Colombière was sent to England as preacher to Mary of Modena, then the Duchess of York, wife of the future King James II of England. He took up residence at the Court of St. James, where he still observed all his religious duties as a member of the Society. He was also as active a preacher and confessor in England as he had been in France. Although encountering many difficulties, he was able to guide Alacoque by letter.
Colombière’s zeal and the English climate soon combined to weaken his health and a pulmonary condition threatened to end his work in that country. In November 1678, while awaiting a recall to France, he was suddenly arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as being a part of the Popish Plot alleged by Titus Oatesagainst the English throne. Caught up in the anti-Catholic hysteria which resulted from this alleged plot, he was confined in severe conditions at the King’s Bench Prison, where his fragile health took a turn for the worse. He is quoted by the historian John Philipps Kenyon as having described the effects of the situation—in which over 20 Jesuits died—on the Society of Jesus, writing:
“The name of the Jesuit is hated above all else, even by priests both secular and regular, and by the Catholic laity as well, because it is said that the Jesuits have caused this raging storm, which is likely to overthrow the whole Catholic religion”.
Thanks to his position at the Royal Court and to the protection of the King of France, Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was expelled from Great Britain in 1679. He returned to France with his health ruined by his imprisonment.
Death and veneration
The last two years of Colombière’s life were spent at Lyon, where he was spiritual director to the Jesuit novices, and at Paray-le-Monial, where he returned to improve his health. He died on 15 February 1682, as a result of a severe hemorrage.
Colombière left a large number of writings, which, including his principal works, Pious Reflections, Meditations on the Passion, and Retreat and Spiritual Letters, were published under the title, Oeuvres du R.P. Claude de la Colombière (Avignon, 1832; Paris, 1864).
Colombière was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 16 June 1929, and canonized by Pope John Paul II on 31 May 1992. His relics are preserved in the Jesuit Church around the corner from the monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial.
- “Claude La Colombière, S.I.”. Vatican News Service. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
- “St. Claude de la Columbiere, SJ”, Ignatian Voices, Ignation spirituality
- “St. Claude La Colombière”, Catholic News Service
- “Ven. Claude de la Colombière”. Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Kenyon, John (1972). The Popish Plot. London: William Heinemann Ltd. p. 206. ISBN 978-0434388509.