“Today we consider one of the conditions common to all families, namely, illness. Many times in the Gospels Jesus meets the sick and heals them. His desire to cure suffering is a central part of His ministry, coming even before observance of the law. He sends His disciples to do the same, giving them the power to heal, and to draw close to the sick, touching their deepest wounds and bringing them peace. The illness of one person can be a severe trial for all family members. As followers of Christ, we are called to pray without ceasing for the sick and dying, and to support families where this is being experienced. So too we must educate children to solidarity with the sick so that they are not anesthetized to the sufferings of others, but rather are capable of helping the ill and of living fully each human experience. May we always give thanks to the Lord for the support of the Church shown to families in times of illness, especially between families themselves.”

— Pope Francis, General Audience excerpt: June 10, 2015

 

Monday, June 22 ~ Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr, and Saint Thomas More, Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

 

Meditation: Everybody has the potential to be rather critical at times (and not of the “constructive criticism” variety), but nobody wants to be judged or condemned. Then why is judgementalism so rampant, even among Christians? “Thinking the best of other people” is necessary if we wish to grow in love. And kindliness in judgment is nothing less that a sacred duty. The Rabbis warned people: “He who judges his neighbor favorably will be judged favorably by God.” How easy it is to misjudge and how difficult it is to be impartial in judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the person, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself.

 

Prayer: O God, who in martyrdom have brought true faith to its highest expression, graciously grant that, strengthened through the intercession of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, we may confirm by the witness of our life the faith we profess with our lips. 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.

 

Contemplation: Jesus reminds each of us of a heavenly principle that we can stake our lives on: what you give to others (and how you treat others) will return to you. The Lord knows our faults and he sees all, even the imperfections and sins of the heart which we cannot recognize in ourselves. Like a gentle father and a skillful doctor he patiently draws us to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of sin which inhabits our hearts. Do you trust in God’s mercy and grace? Ask the Lord to flood your heart with his loving-kindness and mercy that you may only have room for love, charity, compassion and forbearance towards your neighbor.

 

About Saint Thomas More: His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the church of Christ cost Thomas More his life. Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, July 6, 1535, he steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England. Described as “a man for all seasons,” More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the church in England, breaking with Rome and denying the pope as head. More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason: not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience. Four hundred years later, in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In fact, in 2000, Pope John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counselor, Thomas More did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants.

 

About Saint John Fisher: In 1521 he was asked to study the problem of Henry VIII’s marriage. He incurred Henry’s anger by defending the validity of the king’s marriage with Catherine and later by rejecting Henry’s claim to be the supreme head of the Church of England. In an attempt to be rid of him, Henry first had him accused of not reporting all the “revelations” of the nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton. John was summoned, in feeble health, to take the oath to the new Act of Succession. He and Thomas More refused because the Act presumed the legality of Henry’s divorce and his claim to be head of the English church. They were sent to the Tower of London, where Fisher remained fourteen months without trial. They were finally sentenced to life imprisonment and loss of goods.