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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

"Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources." Lk 8:2-3

Of the 98 Korean martyrs who Blessed John Paul II canonized in 1984, more than half were lay women, among them Anna Park Agi. Abandoned in prison by her husband and son who could not endure the torture imposed on them, Anna was steadfast. Even when her husband and son visited her, imploring her to remember her children and family, Anna refused to renounce her faith and begged her son and husband to return to the faith even if it meant a new imprisonment.

Women like Anna, even if they are not as well known or celebrated as Andrew Kim and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, who wrote and preached publicly in defense of the faith, continue to offer us a great challenge. How many people, especially women without the freedom to peach, continue to offer us an example of fidelity and courage despite the limitations imposed on them by the society and the church!

Today, thank of and pray in gratitude for a woman who has encouraged you in faith.

Who are the people without loud voices to whom you need to listen more?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Love is not what you Think

"Love is patient, love is kind." 1 Cor 13:4

Often when a liturgical scriptural reading is from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians our spirits drift to the passage we have heard so many times at weddings. Love is patient, kind, does not hold grudges, and we affirm what we hear, but it hardly reflects the the fullness of what Paul wants to say to the Corinthians. 

In fact, Paul castigates the Corinthians for many of the their practices, the worst of which was the failure of the more affluent Corinthians to share their pre Eucharist meal with the poorer members of their community. Paul is scandalized by their behavior and lets them know it.

It can be difficult for adults to hear or accept correction, even when we need it. Americans can be especially resistive to anyone suggesting that their lives are less than exemplary, but all of us need to reflect upon our behavior. At times we can attack the messenger, a reaction that is both a disservice to someone trying to help us, and decidedly unchristian.

Today, ask someone to help you reflect on your unexamined reactions that injure others.

Can you remember a time that a friend challenged you to change and helped you?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Great Souls

"The body is one, though it has many parts." 1 Cor 12:12

Often I find myself praying in gratitude for the people I have met along the way, especially people who could easily have walked away from faith because their journey was so difficult. Many of these people are the cornerstones of our parishes and faith communities, but many others are from the developing world where their contact with parishes as we know them is limited. Strong in their faith, these powerful and committed believers continue to study, reflect and celebrate the mysteries of faith despite their poverty. They are, for me, contemporary heroes because they understand that the body is one, but has many parts. I not only admire them, try to emulate them.

St Paul regularly boasts about the believers who came to faith through his ministry. Never claiming them for himself, but for Christ, Paul reminds them that they "have the mind of Christ," and it will sustain them. Knowing how difficult it is to live their faith when few support them, Paul holds up the glory of their witness to Christ as an example for all to follow.

Today, boast about someone others ignore.

What helps you endure in faith on a daily basis?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Authentic Humility

"The centurion sent friends to tell him, 'Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.'" Lk 7 6-7

Most humble people have been humbled. Born into wealth or privilege, circumstances conspired against them and they lost everything. The proud complain or curse God; the humble realize that everything they had was a gift and not something they earned or deserved. The proud do almost anything to reclaim what they believe is theirs by divine right. The humble echo the Japanese proverb: When my house burned down, I could finally see the sunrise.

Remarkably, the centurion in the today's Gospel is not asking Jesus to help him but to heal his servant, and Jesus, obviously moved, is willing to respond to the centurion's request. But the centurion becomes an icon of humility for the ages when he acknowledges Jesus' power to heal without touch or physical presence. Not wanting Jesus to risk the condemnation of the rabbis for entering his house, the centurion asks Jesus only to speak a word of healing.

Today, be grateful for all of life no matter how humbling.

What keeps you from humbly acknowledging your weaknesses?