The secret of spiritual fortitude is for us to abandon ourselves to Christ, the power of God, and then He Himself will overcome evil and deliver us from forces that we would never be capable of resisting by ourselves. This is the fortitude of faith. Christ lives in the world in those who take Him for their light, their strength and their protection. It is for them that He came into the world in His Incarnation.”

~Excerpted from “Seasons of Celebration” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, December 7, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent

Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 5:17-26 One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”  He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

 

Meditation: Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is ever ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus’ healing power?

 

Prayer: O God, who made the Bishop Saint Ambrose a teacher of the Catholic faith and a model of apostolic courage, raise up in your Church men after your own heart to govern her with courage and wisdom. 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: The Old Testament prophets foretold that when the Messiah came to usher in God’s kingdom the blind would see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus not only brought physical healing, but healing of mind, heart, and soul as well. Jesus came to bring us the abundant life of God’s kingdom (John 10:10). Do you know someone who is in need of healing physically or spiritually? The next bi-monthly Healing Mass and Healing Service at Saint Joseph Cathedral will take place on Monday, January 18, at 6:30 p.m. All are invited. Looking at this on another level, that new life and transformation that we all seek can be stifled by unbelief, indifference, and sinful pride. Sin can cripple us far more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and holds us in captivity and bondage. There is only one solution and that is the healing, cleansing power of Jesus’ mercy, compassion and forgiveness available to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we begin tomorrow the Extraordinary Year of Mercy promulgated by Pope Francis, and in our preparation for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s make sure that we make a good confession in the Season of Advent.  And whenever we are in a state of serious sin, let’s not wait for a penance service in Advent or Lent, as Christ’s mercy and compassion and forgiveness are available to us whenever we have a contrite heart and approach a priest working in persona Christi – in the person of Christ – in the confessional and say, “Bless me father, for I have sinned…”