Weekly Gospel Meditation
Encouraging Deeper Understanding of Scripture
1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
I remember these assignments in grade school. I was terrified by them. I was afraid to stand in front of my class and didn’t think that I would ever make a decent presentation. I also remember my classmates’ presentations … many were fantastic! I learned so much more from their demonstrations and explanations than I did when I just read about these things in textbooks and took notes during lectures.
I think faith in Jesus works in a very similar way.
One of my spiritual heroes is the late Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan from Vietnam. He was the Bishop in Saigon before it was laid siege. He was captured and imprisoned for 13 years, 9 of which were in solitary confinement. After his release, he took refuge in the Vatican. For the Great Jubilee in 2000, St. John Paul II selected Cardinal Van Thuan to lead the spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia. From his time in prison, he learned a sage-like wisdom. He taught that “we always run the risk of possessing a theory of love, but not enough of the art of love” (“Testimony of Hope,” 68). He shared a story from prison:
When I was in isolation, five police took turns so that there were always two guarding me. The leaders had told them, “We will replace you every two weeks with another group so that you will not be ‘contaminated’ by this dangerous bishop.” In the beginning, the guards did not talk with me. They only answered with a yes or no. I was terribly sad. I started to love them, to love Jesus in them, smiling and exchanging kind words with them. I began to tell stories of my trips abroad, of how people live in America, in Canada, in Japan, in the Philippines … about economics, about freedom, about technology. This stimulated their curiosity, and they began asking me many questions. Little by little, we became friends. They wanted to learn foreign languages, French, English … and my guards became my students!
On one occasion, I had to cut wood on a rainy day. I spoke to the guard, “Can I ask you a favor?” “Tell me. I’ll help you.” “I would like to cut a piece of wood in the shape of a cross.” “Don’t you know it’s severely forbidden to have any religious signs whatsoever?” “I know, but we are friends, and I promise to keep it hidden.” “It will be really dangerous for us.” “Close your eyes. I’ll do it now, and I’ll be really careful.” He went away and left me alone. I cut the cross and kept it hidden in a piece of soap — up until the time of my release. This piece of wood, later placed within a metal frame, became my pectoral cross.
In another prison, I asked my guard, who had become my friend, for a piece of electrical wire. Frightened, he said to me, “I learned at the Police Academy that when someone asks for electrical wire, it means they want to kill themselves.” I explained to him, “Catholic priests don’t commit suicide.” “But what do you want to do with electrical wire?” “I would like to make a chain so I can carry my cross.” “How can you make a chain with electrical wire? It’s impossible!” “If you bring me two small pincers, I’ll show you.” “It’s too dangerous.” “But we’re friends.” Three days later, he came to me. “It’s really hard to refuse you anything. Tomorrow night, when it’s my shift, I’ll bring you a piece of electrical wire. But you have to finish everything in four hours.” The next evening, from 7-11, with two little pincers, we cut the electrical wire into pieces the size of matchsticks. We put them together, and the chain was ready by the time the next guard came on duty.
I carry this bishop’s pectoral cross and chain with me every day, not because they are remembrances of prison, but because they represent my profound conviction. They constantly remind me that only Christian love — not weapons, not threats, not the media — can change hearts. It is love that prepares the way for the announcement of the Gospel (“Testimony of Hope,” 72-74). Cardinal Van Thuan imitated Jesus’ style of show-and-tell. Jesus’ art of love is followed by his explanation of love … the Beatitudes of today’s Gospel.
Br. John-Marmion Villa, BSC
Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
pray for us.
The Bible is at the heart of our Faith and our relation-ship with God. Scripture informs our beliefs and inspires our devotions. It is the place where our Father meets with us and lovingly speaks to us. Reading the Bible should bring us closer to Christ, but understanding it is often difficult. The good news is that you can understand the Bible, and The Bible Timeline makes it easy. The Bible Timeline is a Catholic Bible study that can help anyone to make sense of Scripture and experience the life-changing power of God’s Word. This study takes you on a journey through the entire Bible and deep into each period of salvation history, where you will discover the amazing story woven throughout all of Scripture. The Bible Timeline has helped hundreds of thousands of people to understand the Bible and deepen their relationship with Christ, and it will help you, too.
The study will include a series of twenty-four videos presented by Jeff Cavins. Each video will be preceded by a lively group discussion. Place your order now for - The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation Study Kit, to guarantee your seat. The cost of the study kit is $40. Our Lady of Perpetual Help will begin The Bible Timeline on March 24th at 6:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Contact Jim McClullough at email@example.com for information or to register. We encourage you to join us, you will love it.
Catholic Men's Fellowship
Catholic Men's Fellowship kicking off a brand new year with a brand new series!
Join us this Saturdays at 7am in the chapel.
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We Need You!!
Please consider offering service to our parishioners and the Lord by becoming an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or Lector. You are attending Mass, why not assist others by participating in one of these ministries? Please contact Paula Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time for training.
Altar Server News
If anyone, youth or adult, is interested in becoming an altar server, please contact email@example.com, and arrangements will be made to get you trained. We are great need of adult servers. Why not serve in the ministry? You are here at Mass anyway, what better way to participate in the Mass than as an altar server.
02/18/19 12:53 am
WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has named Bishop Boris Gudziak as archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia. Bishop Gudziak, 58, currently serves as bishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of Saint Vladimir-le Grand de Paris in France.
The appointment was publicized in Washington on February 18, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.Read More
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Issues Statement on Theodore McCarrick in Response to Judgement by the Holy See
02/16/19 3:08 am
WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement upon the decision of the Holy See announced today regarding Theodore McCarrick.
Cardinal DiNardo’s Full Statement Follows:Read More
President of U.S. Bishops’ and Chairman of Bishop’s Committee on Migration Respond to President’s Order to Fund Construction of Border Wall
02/15/19 8:24 am
WASHINGTON—Today President Trump announced that he will issue an order stating his intention to make use of funds previously appropriated for other purposes to fund the construction of a border wall at the U.S./Mexico border that Congress has refused to fund. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply concerned about the President’s action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall. We oppose the use of these funds to further the construction of the wall. The wall first and foremost is a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries. We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls.”Read More
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Religious Education Coordinator/Chair, Catholic Men's Fellowship
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Chair, Perpetual Daughters
Chari, OLPH Food Pantry
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