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Archive for September 5th, 2016

In 1994, Mother Teresa visited the United States.  This quote is from the speech she gave at the National Prayer Breakfast.  In attendance were President and Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore and Tipper Gore. At the end of the speech she received a standing ovation from the audience…except from the President and his party.  In this quote she cited Elizabeth:

And God loved the world so much that he gave His Son. God gave His Son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth – leapt with joy.

While still in the womb of Mary, Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist, who leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth. And as if that were not enough – as if it were not enough that God the Son should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb – Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love.

He died for you and for me, and for that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street – not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, of everywhere. Our Sisters serve these people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us. Jesus gave His life to love us, and He tells us very clearly, “Love as I have loved you.”

Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good for us – to save us from our selfishness and sin. He gave up everything to do the Father’s will, to show us that we, too, must be willing to give everything to do God’s will, to love one another as He loves each of us.

St. John says you are a liar if you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live?

Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to me.”

I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and, maybe, forgotten them. I saw that in the home these old people had everything: good food, comfortable place, television – everything. But everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on his face.

I turned to Sister and I asked, “Why do these people, who have every comfort here – why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?” (I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people. Even the dying ones smile.) And Sister said, “This is the way it is, nearly every day. They are expecting that a son or daughter will come visit them.

See, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our family we have someone who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we willing to give until it hurts, in order to be with our families? Or do we put our own interests first?

I was surprised in the West to see so many boys and girls given to drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that when those in the West have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: “Because there was no one in the family to receive them.”

Our children depend on us for everything: their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation. But often father and mother are so busy that they have no time for their children, or perhaps they are not even married, or have given up on their marriage. So the children go to the streets, and get involved in drugs, or other things.

We are talking of love of the child, which is where love and peace must begin.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere: “Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved. This is the only way that our children are the only hope for the future. As other people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says, “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of My hand.” We are carved in the palm of His hand – that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception, and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

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Prayer of the Day

O God, who alone knits all infants in the womb, You chose improbable servants—old and childless—to conceive and parent the forerunner of Christ and, in so doing, demonstrated again Your strength in weakness. Grant us, who are as unlikely and unworthy as Zechariah and Elizabeth, the opportunity to love and serve You according to Your good and gracious will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

About Zechariah and Elizabeth:  Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Zechariah, a priest in the Jerusalem temple, was greeted by the angel Gabriel, who announced that Zechariah and Elizabeth would become parents of a son. Initially, Zechariah did not believe Gabriel’s announcement because of their old age. For his disbelief, Zechariah became unable to speak. After their son was born,Elizabeth named their son John.  Zechariah conformed his wife’s choice, and his ability to speak was restored.  In response, he sang the Benedictus, a magnificent summary of God’s promises in the Old Testament and prediction of John’s work as forerunner to Jesus (Luke 1: 68-79). Zechariah and Elizabeth are remembered as examples of faithfulness and piety. (Modified from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection:  Today’s Commemoration of Zechariah and Elizabeth is on the United States’ Labor Day. Elizabeth in her old age gave birth to John:  she surely did labor!  We know Zechariah served as , “a priest before God”(St. Luke 1: 8) but I do not think that was a paying job.  He probably had another job or vocation.  We know for instance that Joseph was a carpenter but his occupation is not essential to the Biblical narrative. We know these saints by something far more important than their employment.

When we meet someone, one of the usual first question is: “So, what do you do for a living?” As important as jobs, labor and vocations are, they are finally supportive of our real labors:  maintaining marriage, family, house and home.  “What do you do for a living?”  I am a Father, a husband.  This is my life before God.  This is my priestly duty, my lot. So if I were, say, an accountant, that would be a supporting vocation to my living.  Critics have noted that in the old TV show, “Leave It to Beaver”, we never find out what Ward, the father of the Cleaver family, does for a job.  It seems the critics take umbrage with that but it tells us that is not crucial. The sitcom was about a family, even more the Bible! And   Zechariah and Elizabeth are remembered for their faith and service before God, as people of faith, a father and a mother,  not their net worth.

Zechariah’s Song, the Benedictus (The first word in the psalm in Latin, “Blessed”) is prayed every day in Matins and Morning Prayer.  It is included below.  As John paved the way for the coming of Jesus the Christ, so by the Lord’s promise fulfilled to Zechariah, we each and every day in prayer, in the Benedictus, prepare our selves for the work of the Messiah in our vocations. Zechariah prophesied.  Matins is good way to begin the work day, every day we labor.

St. Luke 1

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
   for He has visited and redeemed His people
69and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of His servant David,
70 as He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies
   and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
   and to remember His holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
 74that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77to give knowledge of salvation to his people
    in the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God,
   whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (St. Luke 1)

 

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