Category Archives: Sacred Scripture

Jesus heals the blind man

william blake Christ giving sight BartimaeusToday’s gospel is pointing the way as we move to the end of the civil year and the end of the liturgical year: Jesus cures the blind man Bartimaeus. With the gradual loss of light we are keen to see, and spiritually speaking, to see in a new way. The blind beggar gives us the direction.

The only other man singled out (named in this way) for such a healing is Lazarus. We know from our study of and prayer with sacred Scripture will help is to recognize that a significant portion of Jesus’ mission was healing and making whole of humanity. This beggar Bartimaeus, a blind man from birth, knows he can find healing only from Jesus alone. The gift of sight given to Bartimaeus is not only physical, but also spiritual. He recognizes the Lord. And the consequence of sight is the act of following. And in this healing and following Bartimaeus becomes a disciple. This is our goal too: follow Christ closely.

Saint Clement of Alexandria speak of the grace of uncreated light: “The commandment of the Lord shines clearly, enlightening the eyes. Receive Christ, receive power to see, receive your light, that you may plainly recognize both God and man. More delightful than gold and precious stones, more desirable than honey and the honeycomb is the Word that has enlightened us…Despite the other stars, without the sun the whole world would be plunged in darkness. So likewise we ourselves, had we not known the Word and been enlightened by him, should have been no better off than plump poultry fattened in the dark, simply reared for death. Let us open ourselves to the light, then, and so to God.”

The grace we ask for today is the grace to recognize the person of Jesus, the Son of David, Son of God, as the One who can give life, peace, and healing. As Clement indicates, from the Lord we are enlightened…the gift of openness to the Light of Faith.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux gives us a hint of how to approach this enlightenment: “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, thereby a kindly word; always doing the smallest good thing and doing it all for love.”

Guardian Angels

holy-guardian-angel-iconThe Lord provides for our guidance, protection and connection with Himself. It is true, I believe, that there are few aspects of Catholic piety that can be perceived as comfortable to parents as the belief that a guardian angel protects their child from dangers real and imagined. My parents and grandparents taught me the famous prayer to the Guardian Angel.

The guardian angels aren’t just for children. They are not merely the domesticated spiritual figures that Hallmark perpetrates. By definition an angel does what its name means: it delivers a message. The angel has a role: to represent person before God, to watch over them, to aid their prayer and to present the souls to God at death. A Guardian angel is assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture. The Guardian Angel is not named.

Recall the words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (18:10) about this doctrine: See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.

Monks and nuns have a tremendous relationship with the angels. In fact, the monastic tradition with angels is based in Scripture and the devotion they had with Divine Presence and God’s promises. Saint Benedict speaks of the angels, e.g. RB 7 & 19, and later the 12th century Cistercian Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, spoke in favor of the guardian angels.

The Church knows a particular feast day, however, in honor of the guardian angels only in the 16th century.

Another look at Matthew 25

Christ the teacherHe who gives to the poor, gives to Christ. This is the meaning of the Gospel teaching, and it has been confirmed in the experience of the saints. Upon his repentance, Peter the Merciful gave alms to the poor wherever the opportunity presented itself. On one occasion Peter encountered a shipwrecked man who had barely managed to save his naked body from the wreck. The man begged him for some clothing. Peter removed his costly cloak and clothed the naked man with it. Shortly afterward, Peter saw his cloak in the shop of a merchant, who had it displayed for sale. Peter was very saddened that the shipwrecked man had sold his cloak instead of using it for himself. Peter thought: “I am not worthy; the Lord does not accept my alms.” But later, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. He appeared as a handsome man, brighter than the sun, with a cross on His head, wearing Peter’s cloak. “Peter, why art thou sad?” asked the Lord. “My Lord, why would I not be sad, when I see that which I gave to the poor being sold at the market?” Then the Lord asked him: “Dost thou recognize this garment on Me?” Peter replied: “I recognize it, Lord; that is my garment with which I clothed the naked man.” Then the Lord spoke to him again: “Therefore do not be sad; thou gavest it to the poor man, and I received it, and I praise thy deed.”

Prologue from Ochrid

What is Jesus doing?

Christ teachingGospel of Christ preaching in Nazareth, from a sermon by St. Simeon the New Theologian:

Many people never stop saying – I have heard them myself – “If only we had lived in the days of the apostles, and been counted worthy to gaze upon Christ as they did, we should have become holy like them.” Such people do not realise that the Christ who spoke then and the Christ who speaks now throughout the whole world is one and the same. If he were not the same then and now, God in every respect, in his operations as in the sacraments, how would it be seen that the Father is always in the Son and the Son in the Father, according to the words Christ spoke through the Spirit: My Father is still working and so am I?

But no doubt someone will say that merely to hear his words now and to be taught about him and his kingdom is not the same thing as to have seen him then in the body. And I answer that indeed the position now is not the same as it was then, but our situation now, in the present day, is very much better. It leads us more easily to a deeper faith and conviction than seeing and hearing him in the flesh would have done.

Eden’s recovery

Bosch GardenThis week we are reading from the Book of Genesis. I am convinced of what Saint John Paul taught: we need to work –with God’s grace– to work on the restoration of of the initial experience of what Adam and Eve experienced. Consider a study of his Theology of the Body. After Eden we fell from grace pretty hard. The pre-Fall is what God desires for all of us. AND, this is what has been granted to us through the Paschal Mystery of Christ. What Jesus did on the cross and at the resurrection our ears and mouth were opened so that the goodness of creation is made known. Our bodies were once again the center of salvation.

The Biblical narrative is familiar: the Garden of the fruit, of which we were not to eat by divine command. But, is it so much that Adam and Eve ate the “forbidden fruit” at the “forbidden picnic” (a term coined by Bishop Richard Sklba) as much as it is accepting the great lie “that the divine origin of human nakedness is no longer good.  Hence, they become at odds with their Creator.” The fruit at the center of Garden represents the respect and promise of God as Father of all creation. Life in God is no small and insignificant experience: it is true, good, and beautiful.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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