Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time & Blessed William Carter, January 11,2018

Readings & Reflections: Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time & Blessed William Carter, January 11,2018

Beaten Israel asks, “Why has the Lord permitted us to be defeated?” The leper probably asked himself the same question. But if he had not been “defeated” by leprosy, he never would have attracted the attention and the pity of Jesus. “Our woe and oppression” disposes us to God’s mercy.

AMDG+

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, You have guided us directly through our consciences!  You have invited us to listen and to respond to your call yet we have been cold and indifferent. Lord God, give us the grace to soften our hearts and enable us to re-arrange our busy schedules and priorities to include regular rhythms of withdrawal and retreat from activity to be in silence and solitude with You. Amen.

Reading 1
1 Sm 4:1-11

The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel.
Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer,
while the Philistines camped at Aphek.
The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel.
After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines,
who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield.
When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said,
“Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today
by the Philistines?
Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh
that it may go into battle among us
and save us from the grasp of our enemies.”

So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there
the ark of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim.
The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God.
When the ark of the LORD arrived in the camp,
all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth resounded.
The Philistines, hearing the noise of shouting, asked,
“What can this loud shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?”
On learning that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp,
the Philistines were frightened.
They said, “Gods have come to their camp.”
They said also, “Woe to us! This has never happened before. Woe to us!
Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods?
These are the gods that struck the Egyptians
with various plagues and with pestilence.
Take courage and be manly, Philistines;
otherwise you will become slaves to the Hebrews,
as they were your slaves.
So fight manfully!”
The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated;
every man fled to his own tent.
It was a disastrous defeat,
in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.
The ark of God was captured,
and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were among the dead.

The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25

R. (27b) Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Yet now you have cast us off and put us in disgrace,
and you go not forth with our armies.
You have let us be driven back by our foes;
those who hated us plundered us at will.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
You made us the reproach of our neighbors,
the mockery and the scorn of those around us.
You made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.
Why do you hide your face,
forgetting our woe and our oppression?
For our souls are bowed down to the dust,
our bodies are pressed to the earth.
R. Redeem us, Lord, because of your mercy.

Gospel
Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection 1 – Be made clean  

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Today’s gospel scene brings to our hearts the depth of Christ’s love for all of us. It revealed to everyone that we have a God in Christ Who is truly authentic in His desire to care for all of us. He showed everyone how unconventional loving and caring should be among His people. That our love for our neighbor should never be fixed within the confines of a designed framework or program but one that extends to what is difficult to do, one that needs our total commitment, one that is almost impossible to pursue.

By what Jesus witnessed to us, He exhorts every believer to love one’s neighbor with the kind of love that is not only true and deep but one that will be enough to move one into action, one that flows into mercy and compassion. He wants us to love our neighbor as He did, without any reservation and totally selfless, a love that totally considers the present need and predicament of our neighbor.

Jesus healed a leper by touching him, a very meaningful act of love and compassion on a man who by law was barred from ever touching anyone again. To be near a leper was beyond peoples’ minds then, and even today. Lepers have practically been banished from society that no one would even dare come close to them, not even within reasonable distance. With their sores, dirty and contaminated bodies, lepers are the last persons man would want to touch.

To touch a leper is quite unthinkable up to this present time, yet the first thing Jesus did was to touch him. Jesus touched him, healed him and made him whole. Even before Jesus could respond to the plea of the leper, Jesus Who was moved with pity, stretched out his hand, touched the leper and said: “I do will it. Be cured.” That is the kind of love Jesus has for us, one that flows into mercy and compassion, one that is authentic enough to make Him accept death on the Cross-for the salvific benefit of sinners and not the righteous.

Today, let us follow the great example of Jesus by showing love and compassion to someone we find hard to relate to, not only because of their physical deficiencies but also due to what we have perceived as their sinfulness and brokenness.

What do we do when we see a man encounter adverse situations… when his words and actions do not seem to fit a Christian? Do we show him our love and minister to him? Do we walk with him in Christ and try our very best to restore him and bring him closer to our Lord? Or do we make his life even worst by back biting on him and destroying his image within God’s flock? Or do we remain indifferent to him and rationalize our actions by saying I have better things to do for my family and community, than involve myself with such person?

In relationships within community, family and office is there a “leper” God wants us to touch with our loving care, understanding and compassion? Have we taken a ten-foot pole to shield ourselves …to ensure that we are at a safe distance from the person? What about the pastoral care we have always talked about?

‘“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert… Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God. Encourage yourselves daily while it is still “today,” so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.”

Lord have mercy on me if I have not been faithful to your word whenever I encounter a leper in my daily interactions at work and in community… if I have been cold and indifferent to them. Forgive me for taking another road whenever a leper comes my day. Give me the grace, the strength and the courage to touch with your love those I have seen and considered as the “lepers” in my life. Open my heart and make me your vessel in bringing your love to them.

Direction  

Our love and compassion for our neighbor should go beyond our words and be evidenced in our actions.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the grace to find ways to express love and compassion on those who are hurting and are in need of your healing touch. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Reflection 2 – The Lord Jesus can make me clean

Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus’ time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.

The Lord Jesus has power to touch our wounds and make us whole
This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean – not only physically but spiritually as well.

We, too, can bring Christ’s healing power and merciful love to others
How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2018/jan11.htm

Reflection 3 – The Untouchables

Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him. –Mark 1:41

Of all diseases, leprosy is the only one singled out by the law of Moses and linked with sin. It’s not that having leprosy was sinful, nor was it the result of sin. Rather, the disease was seen as a graphic symbol of sin. If we could see sin, it would look something like leprosy.

In Mark 1 we read about a leper who fell on his knees before Jesus and made his request: “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (v.40). It’s the first instance in the Gospels of a plain request for healing—touching and profound in its simplicity.

Jesus was “moved with compassion” (v.41). People normally felt sympathy for the sick and troubled, but not for lepers. Because they were considered in those days as “unclean” both ceremonially and physically (Leviticus 13:45; 22:4), they were repulsive in every way to most people, who stayed as far away from them as possible. Nevertheless, Jesus was “willing” to reach out to this desperate, disease-ridden man and actually touch him! At that very moment the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Why did Jesus touch this man? He could have healed him just by saying, “Be cleansed.” But His touch illustrated His great compassion.

Jesus loves sinners. Do we?    — David H. Roper

Jesus taught when He lived on this earth
How to show love to the lost;
So don’t be afraid to give a kind touch,
No matter how much it may cost. —Carbaugh

To love sinners is to be like Jesus (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).

Reflection 4 – Who are the lepers today?

Of all diseases, leprosy is the only one singled out by the Law of Moses and linked with sin. It’s not that having leprosy was sinful, nor was it the result of sin. Rather, the disease was seen as a graphic symbol of sin. If we could see sin, it would look something like leprosy.

In the gospel today the leper knelt down and begged Jesus, “If you want to, you can make me clean” (Mk 1:40). Jesus was “moved with compassion” (Mk 1:41). People normally felt sympathy for the sick and troubled, but not for lepers. Because they were considered in those days as “unclean” both ceremonially and physically (Lev. 13:45; 22:4), they were repulsive in every way to most people, who stayed as far away from them as possible. Nevertheless, Jesus was “willing” to reach out to this desperate, disease-ridden man and actually touch him. At that moment the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. Then He told him to show himself to the priest of the temple to be cleared of his leprosy and be admitted once more to public worship (Mk 1:43-44). What lesson can we get from this story?

Let’s look at ourselves in the leper. We can ask whether we are willing to let our spiritual leprosy of being separated from public worship, the ugly mark of pride and selfishness be cleaned in our encounter with Christ the Savior. The leper in the gospel took the risk of approaching Christ, violating the law seeking not only to be cleaned but a new life living in the community. Are we prepared to take up the risk of breaking with laws and customs that would keep us from Christ? Do we have the courage to reject pride, selfishness and complacency? Until self-satisfaction dies we cannot live out the sacrificial love of Christ. St. Paul is our example of this sacrificial love of Christ and says, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me” (Gal. 2:20). As St. Paul points out to us that we are to have within us the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5). Do we see, think, and love as Christ?

Let’s invite the unchurch to be reunited into our Parish community and celebrate this new life in Christ in the Eucharist and pray for healing, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” And Jesus gives His healing power in us who humbly beg for it.

Reflection 5 – The compassionate God 

The great news we have received is that God is a compassionate God. The great call we have heard is to live a compassionate life. The great task we have given is to walk the compassionate way.

Here is a story. After the war, there was a German prison camp in Latvia. An old woman used to give bread to the starving men there whenever she had a chance. One day she was caught and brought to the Russian camp commander. He confronted her harshly and shouted, “Is it true that you give food to these Germans?” The women said very calmly, “Not food I give but bread I do.” Do you know that is absolutely forbidden? But no one can forbid anyone from helping unfortunate people in dire need.” Does that mean that you’re going to keep on giving these prisoners bread?” The commander wanted to know. The old lady responded, “Comrade Commander, please pay attention to me for once. When the German armies invaded our land and lord it over us, Russian prisoners were brought here to work. They suffered severe hunger, and I give them bread. After them the Jews were brought here. They were starving, and so I gave them bread. Now the German prisoners are here starving and I will give them bread. And if by some misfortunes you, comrade commander, should one day be a prisoner here and suffer starvation, I would also give you bread.” With this the woman turned around and left. The commander never took action against her. Both the woman and the commander were moved with compassion.

In the Gospel the lepers were considered an outcast of society and lived outside the city but with the compassion of Jesus, he returned them to live with the community by healing their sickness. Jesus advocated the rule of the community not a separation and withdrawal but compassion which calls for creating a community that is inclusive and tears down what separates and creates division among the people. His healing had only one aim: to create a community in which life giving relationships would guarantee the fullness of life to everyone and put an end to all discrimination.

It was out of His compassion that healing emerged. He did not cure to prove, to impress, or to convince. His cures were the natural expression of his being our God. The mystery of God’s love is not that he takes our pains away, but he first wants to share them with us. Out of this divine solidarity comes new life. Jesus being moved in the center of his being by human pain is indeed a movement towards a new life. The great mystery is not the cures, but the infinite compassion which is their source. Here is an experience of healing. “I experienced a great inner healing as a result of attending the post abortion retreat. I highly recommend this retreat to anyone who has left the void and shame of the abortion experience. It is wonderful way to forgive yourself, find the unconditional love of Christ and grieve the loss of your little child.” This is one experience of how God healed her by attending the retreat. He continues to heal us until now. God is compassionate. In fellowship with Jesus Christ, we are called to be compassionate as our Father is compassionate. We are called to imitate the healing and compassionate Jesus. We can heal as Jesus did by our cares for others. Do we try to be sensitive to the suffering of others?

Reflection 6 – How to win battles without using God as a weapon

Why were the Israelites defeated in today’s first reading? And why did God allow the Holy Ark of the Covenant to be captured?

The Israelites had failed to discern and follow God’s will. They thought that having the Ark in their possession guaranteed a victory for them. We make the same mistake when we use the Bible or Church documents (today’s Ark of the Covenant) to prove our point in arguments or when we use it as a weapon to judge and condemn morally erring people.

Have you ever wanted to use Church Law to force others into attending Mass, warning them about mortal sin and eternal damnation? We have only the best of intentions, right? But this is no better than the ploy some Protestants use to “save” Catholics when they quote from our Church’s teachings — out of context — to claim that we’re going to hell.

To win a battle, we cannot use apologetics; it’s a tool for explaining Church teachings to someone who’s already interested in hearing the explanation. Testimonies and a faith well lived is the first explanation of our faith. These show the truth and prepare others to hear the truth.

Before defending any truth, we must first pray and discern if the time is right to speak up. Unless the Holy Spirit has first prepared the hearer to recognize the truth that we speak, we’re only wasting our breath. We can do more harm than good. We’re carrying the ark into battle without the Lord’s protection.

If you want to promote change in others, first pray for insights about their inner motivations: What makes them do what they do? How is sin motivating them to continue sinning? And why? Listen for the Lord’s inspiration on how to meet some of their needs, thus giving them the gift of Christ before mentioning the name of Christ. Watch for the Lord to lay the groundwork — their soil must be tilled and fertilized. Your prayers will help wither the weeds as the Gardener does his work.

During this preparation time, speak the truth silently but loudly in the way you live. Although this might seem to be too little, it’s much more effective than verbally trying to force others to change. Wait for the Lord’s “go ahead, speak up now.” Until he provides the words to speak, the truth will only cause arguments and failure.

When people are ready to hear the truth, they ask questions or show a desire to find help for an inner struggle. This is your cue. You are now in a position of ministry. You can take the ark onto the battlefield and sit down with the enemy and open it together to look at the truth that it holds.

Isn’t that how God converted you? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2018-01-11

Reflection 7 – The Leper’s Humble Plea

The leper is clearly recognizable, marked from a distance. He is an outcast and thus one who doubly suffers. He is lonely, avoided by men, and his affliction is painful and oppressive. But he has faith: he breaks through the barricades of his loneliness; he steps forward and makes his request: If you will, you can set me free from my disease. There is only one condition: you must will it, you must be anxious to do it, you must intend to do something with me.

The sick man understands that his healing would be pure grace, but he believes in this grace. He believes, too, that the Lord can distribute it in plenitude. Through grace he could become, not half-clean, convalescent, but rather someone who no longer attracts attention, who has been freed of his infirmity. He believes this, and out of this faith arises his certainty. He begs because he believes.

In the place of this leper we can picture any other sufferer, someone who perhaps has no visible illness but is oppressed by a bad conscience, by his tepidity, by his sin, and he, too, knows: If you will, you can make me clean! He, too, has faith. Lastly, we ask ourselves: Do we have faith that the Lord can heal us of our spiritual leprosy? Do we have the humility, like this leper, to come and beseech him, “If you will, you can make me clean?” In sickness lies a particular grace. The sick person is helpless, dependent, broken open to God. He is ready to beg. And God can heal him. Grace can find a foothold in every humble plea (Source: Adrienne von Speyr, +1967, Magnificat, Vol. 17, No. 11, January 2016, pp. 183-184).

Reflection 8 – Blessed William Carter (d. 1584 A.D.)

Born in London, William Carter entered the printing business at an early age. For many years he served as apprentice to well-known Catholic printers, one of whom served a prison sentence for persisting in the Catholic faith. William himself served time in prison following his arrest for “printing lewd [i.e., Catholic] pamphlets” as well as possessing books upholding Catholicism.

But even more, he offended public officials by publishing works that aimed to keep Catholics firm in their faith. Officials who searched his house found various vestments and suspect books, and even managed to extract information from William’s distraught wife. Over the next 18 months William remained in prison, suffering torture and learning of his wife’s death.

He was eventually charged with printing and publishing the Treatise of Schisme, which allegedly incited violence by Catholics and which was said to have been written by a traitor and addressed to traitors. While William calmly placed his trust in God, the jury met for only 15 minutes before reaching a verdict of “guilty.” William, who made his final confession to a priest who was being tried alongside him, was hanged, drawn and quartered the following day: January 11, 1584.

He was beatified in 1987.

Comment:

It didn’t pay to be Catholic in Elizabeth I’s realm. In an age when religious diversity did not yet seem possible, it was high treason, and practicing the faith was dangerous. William gave his life for his efforts to encourage his brothers and sisters to keep up the struggle. These days, our brothers and sisters also need encouragement—not because their lives are at risk, but because many other factors besiege their faith. They look to us.

Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1257

SAINT OF THE DAY
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Carter_(martyr)
BLESSED WILLIAM CARTER
BORN 1548
LondonEngland
DIED 1584
Tyburn, London, England
VENERATED IN Roman Catholic Church
FEAST January 11

Blessed William Carter (c. 1548 – 11 January 1584) was a Roman Catholic English printer and martyr.

Biography[edit]

William was born in London, 1548; suffered for treason at Tyburn on 11 January 1584. Son of John Carter, a draper, and Agnes, his wife, he was apprenticed to John Cawood, queen’s printer, on Candlemas Day, 1563, for ten years, and afterwards acted as secretary to Nicholas Harpsfield, last Catholic archdeacon of Canterbury, then a prisoner.

On the latter’s death he married and set up a press on Tower Hill. Among other Catholic books he printed a new edition (1000 copies) of Dr. Gregory Martin‘s “A Treatise of Schisme”, in 1580, for which he was at once arrested and imprisoned in the Gatehouse. Before this he had been in the Poultry Compter — a small prison run by a Sheriffin the City of London — from 23 September to 28 October 1578. He was transferred to Tower of London, 1582, and paid for his own diet there down to midsummer, 1583.

Having been tortured on the rack, he was indicted at the Old Bailey— the central criminal court in England — on 10 January 1584, for having printed Dr. Martin’s book, in which was a paragraph where confidence was expressed that the Catholic Hope would triumph, and pious Judith would slay Holofernes. This was interpreted as an incitement to slay the Queen. He was executed on the following day.

At this time, with increasing tensions between Queen Elisabeth I of England and King Philip II of Spain, which would culminate with the sailing of the Spanish Armadafour years later, manifestations of Catholic faith in England were often interpreted as a treasonable taking the side of the Spanish enemy and punished accordingly.

Sources[edit]

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