Prayers today: The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, alleluia. (Psalm 32: 5-6)
Almighty and ever-living God, give us new strength from the courage of Christ our shepherd, and lead us to join the saints in heaven. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. Alleluia.
St. Pedro de San José Betancur (1626-1667)
Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line which the Franciscans had established. Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbours. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. Pedro was beatified in 1980.
The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (10.27~30)
Jesus said to the Jews, "My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and the Father are One."
After the Fall
(Homily by Fr. E.J. Tyler)
One of the most notable developments of the very recent period has been the rise of a world-wide concern for the environment. The nations have realized that man has spoiled much of the world’s natural habitat, and that his future resources and the beauty of his abode is under serious threat. This concern cannot but be good, and it is an excellent thing that we are now far more concerned to protect the world than merely to exploit it. Such a concern, though, ought be consistent, and should include a concern for deeper areas of destruction. I am referring to the deterioration of man’s moral environment which goes on from generation to generation in the life of society and in individuals. This is, strangely, of little concern for many persons. The natural world is real and concrete for them, and it is appalling to them that its beauty and its resources are being so profoundly spoiled. The moral world, though, is not very real and concrete because it is not visible and tactile. What is real is what is tangible. This is an assumption which has been developing for the last few centuries such that now it is a great philosophical question whether there is, for instance, a supernatural at all. The assumption just mentioned also affects our perception of the moral dimension of man. Our tendency is to regard it as secondary and somewhat subjective, whereas in fact it is primary, fundamental and absolutely objective. It is the moral life of man that affects everything for good or for ill, including the way he cherishes or despoils his physical environment. I make this observation to introduce the calamity that occurred right at the first appearance in history of man. He did something which had horrific effects, not on his physical environment but on his entire moral world. He was the child of God, coming from God’s hand and placed by him in what the inspired Scriptures call “a garden in Eden.” There “he placed the man he had formed,” together with “the woman.” But they rebelled. It was an earthquake of the moral world and left man’s moral life in ruins. His power to be good had gone.
The world has had experiences of earthquakes at the base of the sea that cause tidal waves that engulf populations. The first man and woman broke off their communion with God in which they had been placed, and chose a total rebellion. They wished to be gods in the sense of being independent of the one and only God, their Father. It brought on a vast tsunami of sin that inundated the moral world of all their descendants, affecting the physical world as well. But God did not abandon man to the power of death. Rather, he foretold in a mysterious way (Genesis 3:15) that evil would be conquered and that man would be lifted up after his fall. There was, at the beginning, a first proclamation of the Messiah and Redeemer. The future would see the salvation of God by the hand of the Messiah. So great would this salvation be that the original fall of man would be, in a sense, a “happy fault” because — as the Church sings in the Liturgy of the Easter Vigil — it gained for us so great a Redeemer. This is the context of our Gospel passage today in which Jesus Christ, the one and only Redeemer of man, speaks of saving his sheep. “Jesus said to the Jews, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10: 27-30). He knows each of us. While Christ was preparing in the desert for his public ministry, Satan showed him all the kingdoms of the world “in a moment of time.” If the devil could do this, how easy it would have been for Christ to have seen before him, in numerous other “moments of time,” you and I. He knew each of us then, and knows us now. No-one can snatch us out of his hand, for he and the Father are one, the one and only God. Jesus Christ is the one who can clean up and restore the ruins of the moral world into which we are all born. The restoration begins at our baptism when we are born again in him. It is completed with our sanctification in him.
Let us often think of that from which we have been saved, while remembering that sin is still at the door, and, indeed, has a certain entrance. The battle is joined, but we are now with Christ and he has delivered the victory for those who choose never to leave his side. If we depart from him, who is there to save us? No one else would even claim to — except those who deny that sin is of much importance or reality anyway, and that the visible, the tactile, the concrete is all that really matters. But what really matters is the conquest of sin and the acquisition of holiness. Jesus Christ is the one who turns the tide. It is he, and he only, who can make us free. To him, then!
Never reprimand anyone while you feel provoked over a fault that has been committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. Then make your remonstrance calmly and with a purified intention. You'll gain more an affectionate word than you ever would from three hours of quarreling. Control your temper.
(The Way, no. 10)
2. But what is more, the Divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body which is the Church. That is why He established a visible priesthood to offer everywhere the clean oblation (Cf. Mal.1:11) which would enable men from East to West, freed from the shackles of sin, to offer God that unconstrained and voluntary homage which their conscience dictates.