The Sower by Jean Francois Millet
In our Gospel today Jesus is telling the parable of the “Sower and the Seed” to the crowd. Most of us are quite familiar with the story. The Sower is Christ. The seed is the Good News. And the soils are the minds and hearts of each of us.
SAINT JOACHIM and SAINT ANNE
Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
These names are given to the mother and father of the Blessed Virgin by a tradition dating back to the second century. By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. We get the oldest story from a document called the Gospel of James, though this document is not a historical source, nor the Word of God. The legend told in this document says that after years of childlessness, an angel appeared to tell Anne and Joachim that they would have a child. Anne promised to dedicate this child to God (much the way that Samuel was dedicated by his mother Hannah -- Anne -- in 1 Kings).
2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Matthew 20:20-28
Every saint’s feast day is actually a celebration of the life and mission of the whole Church that is made present in that person’s journey. The Feasts of the Apostles and of Mary are most especially days that the whole Church can ask the question “How does this person’s life challenge me to be more authentic in participating in Jesus’ work?” Or maybe we want to think on the back side of the question and ask “From what patterns of evil or sin did this person need to be saved in order to follow Jesus? Are they anything like my own ambition or greed or weakness?”
Holiness: A Path Travelled Together
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:3)
I would like to begin by thanking the General Secretariat of the Union for the opportunity given to me and God for the gift of life which He gives me day by day and for having given me Christian parents who from my infancy have guided me on my way and through the precepts of the Lord.
How I became part of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.
Since every call is a vocation from the Lord with a specific purpose, and we only have to say to the Lord, “See, I have come to do your will, O God”, my call to the Union of Catholic Apostolate began in Luanda on September 24th 2008, when I made my first journey to Rome on a Sabena/Brussels flight via Brussels to begin my studies in Rome. At that time, my family had just come to know a priest friend from the missions who was in Rome, Fr. Paul Bacchelett; who was able to host me for just two months in Via dei Falegnami and enrol me in the Angelicum University.
Saint Birgitta was the daughter of Uppland's Lagman, Birger Petersson and his wife, Ingeborg, who was a member of the same clan as the reigning family. Birgitta's family was pious; her father went to confession every Friday and made long and arduous pilgrimages as far away as the Holy Land.
Birgitta's mother died, leaving Birgitta, ten years old, Katharine, nine and a newborn baby boy, Israel. The children were sent to their maternal aunt for further education and care. It seems that as a young child, Birgitta had a dream-vision of The Man of Sorrows. This dream was very vivid. Birgitta asked Him who had done that to Him. His answer: 'All those who despise my love.' The memory of this dream never left Birgitta and may have even left an indelible mark on her sub-conscious. As was usual during the Middle Ages, Birgitta was married when she was 13 years old to a young man, Ulf Gudmarsson with whom she had eight children, four daughters and four sons, all of them survived infancy, and that was very rare at that time.
John 20:1-2, 11-18
Modern Scripture scholarship has exposed a remarkably false tradition about Mary of Magdala. For many centuries Mary has been confused with the unnamed “sinful woman” who anointed Jesus’ feet in the home of the Pharisee (Luke 7) and was assumed to have been a prostitute. In fact, Mary is named in the Gospel of Luke in Chapter 8 as the woman from whom Jesus drove seven demons. Knowing today that all kinds of illnesses were ascribed to demonic possession, it is possible that Mary of Magdala was a woman with a very serious illness (mental or physical) who was healed by Jesus. Mary is attested to in all four of the Gospels as one of the women who supported the itinerant preaching of Jesus out of her personal wealth, and like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was greatly honored in the early Church. She has been called the Apostle to the apostles (first witness to the witnesses) based on the text from John’s Gospel that identifies her as the first person to whom Jesus revealed himself after the Resurrection.
Psalm 15:2-3, 5
“You are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is needed.” But what is that one thing?
Some would say that the one thing that Martha needs – and by extension all busy people – is time. In other words, Jesus is saying slow down Martha and smell the roses. In your busyness you are missing out on life. The problem is not so much that you’re busy, but that you’re frazzled. People, after all, have different capacities for work, but Martha had clearly exceeded hers. I think that that is a message that might resonate with our world of two-career marriages, three-car families, soccer moms, sixty hour work weeks, fast food, and all the rest. It is busy Martha, not contemplative Mary, that most of us identify with. I think that we all see the need for times when we should slow down in order to be rather than to do. We all recognize the need for more quality time in our lives – with spouses, parents, children, and friends. This is not a bad interpretation, but I’m not sure that this is what Jesus meant.
Psalm 136:1, 23-24, 10-12, 13-15
Exodus 12:37-42 “…This was a night of vigil for the Lord, as he led them out of the land of Egypt…”
Psalm 136: 1, 10-15 & 23-24 “…Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever; Who remembered us in our abjection,…And freed us from our foes, for his mercy endures forever…”
Matthew 12: 14-21 “…I shall place my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles...”
Let us Praise and Thank God in this moment, for today’s readings remind us of how much he loves each of us, beyond our comprehension.
Psalm 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18
One of the many ways to enter the richness of the Scripture presented in today’s Ordinary-Time liturgy is to consider the seeming purposes of God for laws or commands. Another entry point that invites pondering is the role of ritual and memory for long term relationships.
The first reading from Exodus describes both the liberation of the Israelites from the reign of the false god, Pharoah, and the command of God that the Israelites remember their liberation specifically in a ritual meal context (even the menu is provided by law) that enables those who engage in the meal and know the story of liberation to remember it in such a way as to enter the original event and its saving context. With any law or ritual comes the risk, however, that the purpose of the remembering will be forgotten or the original salvation will be forgotten and it becomes “empty ritual” or law for its own sake rather than as a means of formation and liberation.
Exodus 3:11-20; Matthew 11:28-30
"This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you."
"The Lord remembers his covenant for ever."
"Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."
I have to confess, that I sometimes find some aspects of life to be "burdensome." And there are those days when I feel "weary." I tell myself that it is no big deal. I know so many people who have to face burdens and relentless challenges I don't yet know. And whenever I'm tempted to some measure of self-pity, I'm reminded of the millions of people on this earth who live in unspeakable hardship.