Tuesday, September 23 ~ Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Holy Gospel: Luke 8:19-21
The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Have you given any thought to the real meaning of what it means to be Christian? While being a Christian involves doctrine, precepts, and commandments, it is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship with Christ built on trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity. God offers us the greatest of relationships – union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (ref. 1 John 4:8,16). God’s love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, and unstoppable. Nothing can deter him from ever leaving us, ignoring us, or treating us unkindly. God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love. Jesus is God’s love incarnate — God’s love made visible in human flesh (ref. 1 John 4:9-10). That is why Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and the shepherd who seeks out the sheep who have strayed and lost their way. God is like the father who yearns for his prodigal son to return home and then throws a great party for his son when he has a change of heart and comes back (ref. Luke 15:11-32). Jesus offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that we become the adopted children of God — his own sons and daughters.
Almighty ever-living God, who, by a singular grace, gave the Priest Saint Pius a share in the Cross of your Son and, by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy, grant that through his intercession we may be united constantly to the sufferings of Christ, and so brought happily to the glory of the resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ask yourself a very fundamental question: Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Why does Jesus seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives is unquestionable. Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.
About Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: Born to a southern Italian farm family, the son of Grazio, a shepherd. At age 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars in Morcone, and joined the order at age 19. He suffered several health problems, and at one point his family thought he had tuberculosis. He was ordained at age 22 on 10 August 1910. While praying before a cross on September 20, 1918, Padre Pio received the stigmata. He is the first priest ever to be so blessed. As word spread, especially after American soldiers brought home stories of Padre Pio following WWII, the priest himself became a point of pilgrimage for both the pious and the curious. He would hear confessions by the hour, reportedly able to read the consciences of those who held back. He was reportedly able to bi-locate, levitate, and heal by touch. In 1956 he founded the House for the Relief of Suffering, a hospital that serves 60,000 a year. Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968 at age 81. Today there are over 400,000 members worldwide in prayer groups begun by Padre Pio in the 1920s. His canonization miracle involved the cure of Matteo Pio Colella, age 7, the son of a doctor who works in the House for Relief of Suffering, the hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo. On the night of June 20, 2000, Matteo was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital with meningitis. By morning doctors had lost hope for him as nine of the boy’s internal organs had ceased to give signs of life. That night, during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo’s mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio’s monastery, the child’s condition improved suddenly. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: “Don’t worry, you will soon be cured.” The miracle was approved by the Congregation and Pope John Paul II on 20 December 2001.
Prayer for Saint Padre Pio’s Intercession
Gracious God, You generously blessed Your servant, Padre Pio, with the gifts of the Spirit. You marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and Death of Your Son, and as a stirring inspiration to many people of Your infinite mercy, forgiveness and love. In the confessional, Padre Pio labored endlessly for the salvation of souls. Through his prayerful intercession, many who suffered were healed of sickness and disease. Endowed with the gift of discernment, he could read people’s hearts. From the blood of his wounds came a perfumed fragrance, a special sign of Your Holy Presence. With dignity and intense devotion, he celebrated daily Mass, inviting countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Through the intercession of Saint Pio, I confidently beseech You to grant me the grace of (here state your petition). Help me to imitate his example of prayerful holiness and compassion, so that I, too, may faithfully follow the Risen Lord, and one day rejoice in the Kingdom, where You live and reign forever and ever. Amen.