Friday, May 20 ~ Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Bernardine of Siena
Holy Gospel: Mark 10:1-12 Jesus came into the district of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them. The Pharisees approached him and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
Meditation: Jesus explains that Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal. Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands. Jesus, likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:11-12). Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God. Despite what we may think, our lives are not our own – they belong to God. He gives the grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life. Do you seek the Lord and his grace in your state of life?
A prayer to St. Bernardine of Siena: Saint Bernardine of Siena, words were very important to you. You spent most of your life speaking the golden words of Jesus’ mercy and his Holy Name, and you abhorred words that were shameful. Pray for us that we may always choose to speak Jesus’ name with reverence, and choose words of love over words of shame. Amen.
Contemplation: What is God’s intention for your state in life, whether married or single? Are you open to God’s plan being paramount in your life versus your own thoughts and desires for what you want in this earthly life? Put yourself in the back seat, and let God take you where he wants you to go. By letting God’s plan for us be our course in life, our lives become less complex, more simple, and more joyous because God takes us where he wants us to go, instead of the other way around.
The Holy Name of Jesus – HIS: This monogram of the Holy Name, common among Western Christians, comes from the first three letters in the Greek spelling of Jesus’ name. Those letters are iota (“I”), eta (“H”) and sigma (here rendered as its Roman equivalent: “S”). Variations: Sometimes the iota is rendered as a “J” (hence, “JHS”), or one will see the monogram in all Greek letters, or with the final sigma in a “C” shape (hence “IHC”), an alternate way of rendering the letter sigma. They all mean the same thing. The greatest promoters of the monogram were St. Bernardine of Siena and St. John Capistran. They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, wherewith they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind. They recommended their hearers to have the monogram of Jesus placed over the gates of their cities and above the doors of their dwelling. It became even more popularised after St. Bernardine encouraged a playing card maker in Bologna – a man whose business had been ruined because of the Saint’s preaching against gambling – to make holy cards depicting it instead of making his usual fare. Because the manner in which St. Bernardine preached this devotion was new, he was accused by his enemies, and brought before the tribunal of Pope Martin V. But St. John Capistran defended his master so successfully that the pope not only permitted the worship of the Holy Name, but also assisted at a procession in which the holy monogram was carried. The tablet used by St. Bernardine is venerated at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome. Formalized devotion to the Holy Name is the fruit of the work of St. Bernardine of Siena, A.D. 1380-1444, the Franciscan who reformed his Order and preached fiery sermons all over Italy.
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.