Readings & Reflections: Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time & St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, November 20,2017
“Terrible affliction was upon Israel” when they attempted to concoct their own happiness by abandoning their faithfulness to the covenant and following their own misguided ideas and plans. The blind man, on the other hand, does just the opposite: he appeals to Jesus’ fidelity to the covenant – he calls him “Son of David.” Only such fidelity is the source of miraculous events. Faith saves us.
“Lord, may I never fail to recognize my need for your grace. Help me to take advantage of the opportunities you give me to seek your presence daily and to listen attentively to your word.” Amen.
[From the descendants of Alexander’s officers]
there sprang a sinful offshoot, Antiochus Epiphanes,
son of King Antiochus, once a hostage at Rome.
He became king in the year one hundred and thirty seven
of the kingdom of the Greeks.
In those days there appeared in Israel
men who were breakers of the law,
and they seduced many people, saying:
“Let us go and make an alliance with the Gentiles all around us;
since we separated from them, many evils have come upon us.”
The proposal was agreeable;
some from among the people promptly went to the king,
and he authorized them to introduce the way of living
of the Gentiles.
Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem
according to the Gentile custom.
They covered over the mark of their circumcision
and abandoned the holy covenant;
they allied themselves with the Gentiles
and sold themselves to wrongdoing.
Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,
each abandoning his particular customs.
All the Gentiles conformed to the command of the king,
and many children of Israel were in favor of his religion;
they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
On the fifteenth day of the month Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-five,
the king erected the horrible abomination
upon the altar of burnt offerings
and in the surrounding cities of Judah they built pagan altars.
They also burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets.
Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt.
Whoever was found with a scroll of the covenant,
and whoever observed the law,
was condemned to death by royal decree.
But many in Israel were determined
and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean;
they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food
or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die.
Terrible affliction was upon Israel.
The word of the Lord. Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:53, 61, 134, 150, 155, 158
R. (see 88) Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Indignation seizes me because of the wicked
who forsake your law.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Though the snares of the wicked are twined about me,
your law I have not forgotten.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands. Redeem me from the oppression of men,
that I may keep your precepts.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
I am attacked by malicious persecutors
who are far from your law.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
Far from sinners is salvation,
because they seek not your statutes.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
I beheld the apostates with loathing,
because they kept not to your promise.
R. Give me life, O Lord, and I will do your commands.
As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening.
They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
The people walking in front rebuked him,
telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me!”
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him;
and when he came near, Jesus asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
He immediately received his sight
and followed him, giving glory to God.
When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Please let me see
Vision is one gift from God which I have always treasured. It has given me the chance to appreciate the beauty of our Lord’s creation. Vision has opened the way for me to see my world, my life, what makes it work and what makes it fail.
As in the past, my prayer has always been for our Lord to sustain and strengthen my gift of vision. As I have aged through the years, it is quite sad to note that ‘though God’s wisdom has somehow been poured into my heart and mind, my physical vision on the other hand has not been perfect. In the same light, because my life has not been exactly the model to follow as sin has periodically taken control of my circumstances, my spiritual vision likewise has become hazy and I could not see through beyond my present world.
Most often, what I see is no one else-me and myself. When my life starts to crumble because of sin, I feel helpless as I stagger through darkness and I could not face my life and the future that awaits me. Each day has not only been an exercise in survival but one of futility.
Today I our Lord approached me with His Word as He asks: “What do you want me to do for you?” My response to Him is my usual, and exactly the same as that of the blind man, ” Lord, please let me see.” Amidst my sin and my shortcomings, I beg our Lord to give me a glimpse of His true will for me-the life, work and ministry He wants for me. I continue to ask Him not only to shed light into my darkened life but to give me the courage to make painful and difficult decisions, to carry them out, sustain them and do them all for Him.
As I hope to serve and not be served, I ask our Lord that I may see beyond myself, my likes and dislikes, my preferences and what I want to do. I ask Him to give me the spiritual vision that will enable me to transcend the brokenness and sinfulness of those around me but love them and treat them the way He has loved me beyond compare. I hope and pray that He leads me along the right path and that He brings His light into my faint vision. I trust that He will never fail me and He will give me the strength to stand for what is right in His eyes. Because I am special to our Lord, He will heal me and make me whole as He removes my spiritual blindness and the pain caused by my very own sins.
As I soak myself in His Word and allow His peace to permeate my heart I wish that the very words that I can utter back to our Lord is not what I want but what He wants for me. I continue to pray that He will bless me with His grace to say… “Lord, your will and not mine” or better still that I may respond with the very question He has earlier asked me today, “What do you want me to do for you?” so that this gracious response will be a way to set me free, empower and impel me to serve God and others more than what I am doing today.
For those who of us who are willing to see and to be led by our Lord, there will certainly be unending Light and Life through the power of the Spirit. If we open our lives to Jesus, He will not only give us a larger vision of life and of our destiny but He has promised to remain with us always. He will be there to pick us up when we stumble, making sure we don’t lose our way. And if we nurture and care for such vision, it will change the way we see, the way we live and the way we respond to God’s Word. We will be like “a tree planted near running water that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers!”
Pray that our vision of love and service may be a way to perfect our Christian servanthood.
Heavenly Father, when night time falls on me for a prolonged period, give me the courage to ask for help and lead me always to your light and your bright shining morning where your mercies are always new. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – What do you want me to do for you?
Have you ever encountered a special moment of grace, a once in a life-time opportunity you knew you could not pass up? Such a moment came for a blind and destitute man who heard that Jesus was passing by. The Gospel of Mark identifies this man as Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). This blind man was determined to get near the one person who could meet his need. He knew who Jesus was and had heard of his fame for healing, but until now had no means of making contact with the Son of David, a clear reference and title for the Messiah.
Faith and persistence is rewarded
It took raw courage and bold persistence for Bartimaeus to get the attention of Jesus over the din of a noisy throng who crowded around Jesus as he made his way out of town. Why was the crowd annoyed with the blind man’s persistent shouts? He was disturbing their peace and interrupting their conversation with Jesus. It was common for a rabbi to teach as he walked with others. Jesus was on his way to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem and a band of pilgrims followed him. When the crowd tried to silence the blind man he overpowered them with his loud emotional outburst and thus caught the attention of Jesus.
This incident reveals something important about how God interacts with us. The blind man was determined to get Jesus’ attention and he was persistent in the face of opposition. Jesus could have ignored or scolded him because he was interrupting his talk and disturbing his audience. Jesus showed that acting was more important than talking. This man was in desperate need and Jesus was ready not only to empathize with his suffering but to relieve it as well.
The blind man recognized Jesus with eyes of faith
A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more. Jesus commends Bartimaeus for recognizing who he is with the eyes of faith and grants him physical sight as well. Do you recognize your need for God’s healing grace and do you seek Jesus out, like Bartimaeus, with persistent faith and trust in his goodness and mercy?
Bartimaeus was not only grateful for the gift of faith and the gift of physical sight, but for the opportunity to now follow Jesus as one of his disciples. Luke tells us that he immediately followed Jesus and gave glory to God. The crowd also gave praise to God when they saw this double miracle of spiritual and physical vision. Cyril of Alexandria, a 5th century church father, comments on this double vision:
Now that he was delivered from his blindness, did he neglect the duty of loving Christ? He certainly did not. It says, “He followed him, offering him glory like to God.” He was set free from double blindness. Not only did he escape from the blindness of the body but also from that of the mind and heart. He would not have glorified him as God, had he not possessed spiritual vision. He became the means of others giving Christ glory, for it says that all the people gave glory to God.(Commentary on Luke, Homily 126)
Do you give glory to God for giving you the “eyes of faith” to recognize him as your Lord and Healer?
Sometimes, I dare to write what some readers don’t want to reflect upon, and they scold me. And there are times when I dare to point out anti-evangelization behaviors (which grieve Jesus greatly) that some priests and other leaders in our Church don’t realize they are doing. But if they don’t want to face an uncomfortable truth about themselves, they dismiss me as inferior. One time I saw a priest post in his blog something that sounded very condemning and judgmental. Unable to keep silent about it, I posted a comment that brought to light a bigger picture. And what happened? He judged me as “not a real Catholic”.
However, my ministry is not about limiting myself to only messages that will win compliments from everyone.
I certainly would prefer to write only what’s “safe”, tickling everyone’s spiritual ears so that I can receive plenty of accolades. Indeed I have given in to that temptation, but today’s first reading has challenged me down through the years, reminding me that being a Christian sometimes means being misunderstood, disbelieved, and persecuted.
And he’s saying the same to you.
Listen to Jesus, “the one who holds the seven stars” (i.e., all the holy angels) and “walks among the seven golden lampstands” (i.e., the whole Church, all of us). He’s affirming you in these verses: “I know your deeds … your patience and endurance … that you don’t tolerate wickedness … that you are enduring hardships for me ….”
Now listen to what disappoints him: “You have lost the love you had at first.” Ouch.
Remember how boldly excited you used to get about the Faith? You were like the blind man who was healed in today’s Gospel reading, enthusiastically giving glory to God. But after raising a few eyebrows of disapproval on the faces around you, did you begin to restrain your zeal? I know I have. Ouch again.
There is nothing I write that I have not already faced personally. This is the reason for my zeal. The good news is: When we have wrestled with the truth and then allowed God to be the winner, the transformation that happens in us gives us zeal for sharing our discoveries, even when others disagree with us.
When we lose that confidence, we need to run back to God and let him comfort us. We need to give him the opportunity to build us up again so that we can go out into the world with renewed energy. Our zeal for running to God for comfort becomes zeal for sharing the truth despite persecution and rejection.
Well-lived Christianity is an adventure, because it’s a very daring road that we travel. To succeed, we must first pay attention to the wrestling matches we’ve been fighting and admit that God should be allowed to win.
Here’s an example of how that happens: What teachings of the Church do you disagree with? Dare to assume that there’s something about it that you don’t understand, then dare to ask the Holy Spirit to explain the truth to you. Dare to look deeper: How is this unlikeable teaching really based on love? How can it increase your holiness? God will enlighten you, perhaps immediately but more likely over time as he leads you on a journey of discovery.
God calls us to accountability. First, we must take the time and make the effort to learn what the Church really teaches and why. Then, we must dare to publicly stand firm in it.
Reflection 4 – How to be an effective minister of the Gospel
When we see people who could benefit from knowing Jesus but they ignore him, or who need his healing love but they don’t trust him, or who are suffering through trials but they’re blind to the help that Jesus offers, we want to help them. And to be an effective minister of the Gospel for them, we can learn from today’s Gospel reading.
1. Jesus did not tromp over to the blind man and tell him that he could be healed. The blind man had to go to Jesus. We have to wait for others to come to us or show readiness to receive us, rather than force our help upon them. To get their attention and invite them, we make it visible that Jesus is the reason for our own faith, and we teach them what Jesus is like by imitating him. However, they have to make their own steps toward Jesus. Meanwhile, we can pay attention to how we could imitate Jesus better and more often.
2. Because people were attracted to Jesus, the blind man heard the commotion and responded. In everything we do, if we are so full of Jesus that people are attracted to us (coming to us for help, for prayer, for encouragement, for insight, or for friendship), the “blind” ones will take notice and begin to wonder if we can help them, too.
3. The moment the blind man initiated his request for help, Jesus stopped what he was doing and gave the man his full attention. We have to be willing to give our time and full attention to others at the very moment that they’re ready to experience Jesus. We must not waste the opportunities they give us, even though this won’t be on our time schedule (ministry is rarely convenient, but always it is God’s perfect timing).
4. Only when the blind man “came near” to Jesus did he hear the invitation to receive healing. He heard: “What do you want me to do for you?” When you ask this question of those who are drawn to you, it’s Jesus who’s asking it through you. Their answer will tell you what they’re ready to receive from him.
5. When the man asked Jesus for sight, he received both a physical and a spiritual healing. Jesus affirmed him by pointing out that it was the man’s faith that had healed him. As we minister to others, we help them most effectively when we recognize and affirm the good that God is doing within them.
It’s impossible to force someone to change. We don’t make ministry happen; we can only participate in the ministry that God is already doing in their lives. To be successful, we must first notice where others are on their journey of faith. Then we invite them to seek what God wants to give them. If they take the next step into true faith, this faith will save them. – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-11-20
Reflection 5 – St. Rose Philippine Duchesne(1769-1852 A.D.)
Born in Grenoble, France, of a family that was among the new rich, Philippine learned political skills from her father and a love of the poor from her mother. The dominant feature of her temperament was a strong and dauntless will, which became the material—and the battlefield—of her holiness. She entered the convent at 19 and remained despite their opposition. As the French Revolution broke, the convent was closed, and she began taking care of the poor and sick, opened a school for homeless children and risked her life helping priests in the underground.
When the situation cooled, she personally rented her old convent, now a shambles, and tried to revive its religious life. The spirit was gone, and soon there were only four nuns left. They joined the infant Society of the Sacred Heart, whose young superior, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, would be her lifelong friend. In a short time Philippine was a superior and supervisor of the novitiate and a school. But her ambition, since hearing tales of missionary work in Louisiana as a little girl, was to go to America and work among the Indians. At 49, she thought this would be her work. With four nuns, she spent 11 weeks at sea en route to New Orleans, and seven weeks more on the Mississippi to St. Louis. She then met one of the many disappointments of her life. The bishop had no place for them to live and work among Native Americans. Instead, he sent her to what she sadly called “the remotest village in the U.S.,” St. Charles, Missouri. With characteristic drive and courage, she founded the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi.
It was a mistake. Though she was as hardy as any of the pioneer women in the wagons rolling west, cold and hunger drove them out—to Florissant, Missouri, where she founded the first CatholicIndian school, adding others in the territory. “In her first decade in America, Mother Duchesne suffered practically every hardship the frontier had to offer, except the threat of Indian massacre—poor lodging, shortages of food, drinking water, fuel and money, forest fires and blazing chimneys, the vagaries of the Missouri climate, cramped living quarters and the privation of all privacy, and the crude manners of children reared in rough surroundings and with only the slightest training in courtesy” (Louise Callan, R.S.C.J., Philippine Duchesne).
Finally at 72, in poor health and retired, she got her lifelong wish. A mission was founded at Sugar Creek, Kansas, among the Potawatomi. She was taken along. Though she could not learn their language, they soon named her “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.” While others taught, she prayed. Legend has it that Native American children sneaked behind her as she knelt and sprinkled bits of paper on her habit, and came back hours later to find them undisturbed. She died in 1852 at the age of 83 and was canonized in 1988.
Divine grace channeled her iron will and determination into humility and selflessness, and to a desire not to be made superior. Still, even saints can get involved in silly situations. In an argument with her over a minor change in the sanctuary, a priest threatened to remove her tabernacle. She patiently let herself be criticized by younger nuns for not being progressive enough. For 31 years, she hewed to the line of a dauntless love and an unshakable observance of her religious vows.
She once said: “We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self…. The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves…. He who has Jesus has everything.”
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 hereto receive Saint of the Day in your email.
After surviving a bout of smallpox which left her slightly scarred, in 1781 Rose Duchesne and her cousin Josephine were sent to be educated in the Monastery of Sainte-Marie-d’en-Haut (known for the social status of its members), located on a mountainside near Grenoble, by the community of Visitandine nuns. When she began to show a strong attraction to the monastic life, her father withdrew her from the monastery school the following year and had her tutored with her cousins in the family home. In 1788 she made the decision to enter the Visitation of Holy Mary religious order, despite her family’s opposition. She convinced an aunt to accompany her on a visit to the monastery, where she immediately requested admission, leaving her aunt to return home without her and to tell her father what happened.
In 1792, however, revolutionaries shut down the monastery, during the French Revolution‘s Reign of Terror, and dispersed the nuns. Duchesne returned to her family where she lived at their country home, along with two aunts, who had been Visitandines at Romans-sur-Isère. She attempted to continue living the Rule of Life of her Order, while serving her family and those suffering from the Reign of Terror, including those imprisoned at the former monastery.
With the Catholic Church again able to operate openly in France under Napoleon, in 1801 Duchesne attempted to re-establish the Visitation monastery, acquiring the buildings from its new owner. The buildings were in shambles, having been used as a military barracks and prison. Though a few of the nuns and the Mother Superior did return temporarily, the nuns found that the austere living conditions was too much for them in their advanced years. Eventually Duchesne, now the Mother Superior of the house, was left with only three companions.
While the restored Visitandine community was floundering, in northern France, Madeleine-Sophie Barat was founding the new Society of the Sacred Heart—whose members were long known as the “Madames of the Sacred Heart” from their use of that title, due to the hostility to religious communities which lingered in post-Revolutionary France. She wanted to establish a new foundation in Grenoble. Encouraged by her mentor, the Jesuit priest, Joseph Varin, to meet Duchesne, in 1804 she traveled there. Duchesne accepted Barat’s offer to merge the Visitation community into the Society of the Sacred Heart. The new congregation had a similar religious mission as that of the Visitandines, that of educating young women, but without being an enclosed religious order. The two women became immediate and lifelong friends.
During her childhood, Duchesne had heard many stories in her parish church from missionary priests of life in Louisiana, founded as a colony of New France, and had long felt a desire to serve the Native Americans who lived there. In 1817, William Dubourg, S.S., Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas, visited the convent in Paris. Bishop Dubourg was looking for a congregation of educators to help him evangelize the Indian and French children of his diocese.After meeting him, Duchesne immediately felt her old desire for missionary service revive and begged permission from Barat to serve in the bishop’s diocese.
In 1818, with Barat’s blessing, Duchesne headed out to the United States with four other Sisters of the Society. After ten weeks at sea, they arrived in New Orleans. To their shock, however, the bishop had made no provisions for housing them. After they had rested briefly with the Ursuline nuns, they took advantage of the newly established steamboat service up the Mississippi River to travel to St. Louis, and finally settled in St. Charles, in what was then the Missouri Territory, a journey of seven weeks. She was later to describe the location as “the remotest village in the U.S.”;nonetheless the community established a new Sacred Heart convent in a log cabin there, known as the Duquette Mansion, the first house of the Society ever built outside of France, the first in St. Charles County, Missouri, and the first free school west of the Mississippi. “Poverty and Christian heroism are here”, she wrote of the site, “and trials are the riches of priests in this land”. The following year Dubourg moved the community across the river to the town of Florissant, Missouri, where they opened a school and a novitiate.
The United States had purchased the area from France only fifteen years earlier, and settlers, many poor but others with money and slaves, were streaming in from the East Coast of the United States. Their new foundation faced many struggles, including lack of funds, inadequate housing, hunger and very cold weather, and the Sisters struggled to learn English. By 1828, the Society’s first five members in America had grown to six communities, operating several schools. Other foundations in Louisiana followed: at Grand Coteau, near Opelousas, at Natchitoches, at Baton Rouge, at New Orleans, and at Convent, Louisiana. In 1826 Pope Leo XII, through a decretum laudis, formally approved the Society of the Sacred Heart, recognizing their work. The Jesuits acquired the Sisters’ former school property in St. Charles in 1828, where they built a parish church, and asked the Sisters to return – to that same log cabin where they had lived, in fact, because it was still the biggest house in town – and conduct the parish school. The Sisters did so. In 1835 they built their first brick building.
In 1841 the Jesuits asked the Sisters to join them in a new mission with the Potawatomi tribe in eastern Kansas, along Sugar Creek. At age seventy-one, she was not among those initially selected for the trip. Father Verhaegen insisted, “She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us.”Unable to master their language, she was not able to teach, so she would spend long periods in prayer. The children named herQuahkahkanumad, which translates as Woman Who Prays Always. Inspired by stories about the famed Jesuit Pierre-Jean De Smet, she became determined to continue on and help Native Americans as far as the Rocky Mountains.
We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self…. The truest crosses are those we do not choose ourselves…. He who has Jesus has everything. (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne)
In 1842, after a year among the Potawatomi, it was clear that Duchesne’s health could not sustain the regime of village life and she returned to St Charles. She spent the last decade of her life living there in a tiny room under a stairway near the chapel. Toward the end of her life, she was very lonely, going blind, feeble, and yearned for letters from Mother Barat. She died on November 18, 1852, aged 83.
Initially buried in the convent cemetery, St. Rose’s remains were exhumed three years later and found to be intact. She was then reburied in a crypt within a small shrine on the convent grounds. The cause for Duchesne’s canonization was introduced in 1895. She was declared Venerable in 1909 by Pope Pius X and wasbeatified by Pope Pius XII in 1940. The Holy See ordered in 1951 that she be buried more suitably. Construction was begun on a larger shrine, and her remains were moved there on June 13 of the following year.Pope John Paul II canonized her on July 3, 1988.
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