READING OF THE DAY: 10 MARCH, 2013

Prodigal-son

“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So to them he addressed this parable.

Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them.

After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need.

So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.

And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger.

I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘

So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.

His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’

But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’

Then the celebration began.

Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing.

He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.

The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.

He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.

But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’

He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.

But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'” -Luke 15:1-3.11-32.

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SAINT OF THE DAY: 10 MARCH, 2013

fortym

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste
(† 320)

The Forty Martyrs were soldiers quartered at Sebaste in Armenia, about the year 320. When their legion was ordered to offer sacrifice to idols, they refused to betray the faith of their baptism, and replied to all persuasive efforts, We are Christians! When neither cajolings or threats could change them, after several days of imprisonment they were chained together and taken to the site of execution.

It was a cruel winter, and they were condemned to lie without clothing on the icy surface of a pond in the open air until they froze to death.

The forty, not merely undismayed but filled with joy at the prospect of suffering for Jesus Christ, said: No doubt it is difficult to support so acute a cold, but it will be agreeable to go to paradise by this route; the torment is of short duration, and the glory will be eternal.

This cruel night will win for us an eternity of delights. Lord, forty of us are entering combat; grant that we may be forty to receive the crown!

There were warm baths close by, ready for any among them who would deny Christ.

One of the confessors lost heart, renounced his faith, and went to cast himself into the basin of warm water prepared for that intention.

But the sudden change in temperature suffocated him and he expired, losing at once both temporal and eternal life.

The still living martyrs were fortified in their resolution, beholding this scene.

Then the ice was suddenly flooded with a bright light; one of the soldiers guarding the men, nearly blinded by the light, raised his eyes and saw Angels descend with forty crowns which they held in the air over the martyrs’ heads; but the fortieth one remained without a destination. The sentry was inspired to confess Christ, saying: That crown will be for me! Abandoning his coat and clothing, he went to replace the unfortunate apostate on the ice, crying out: I am a Christian!

And the number of forty was again complete.

They remained steadfast while their limbs grew stiff and frozen, and died one by one.

Among the forty there was a young soldier named Meliton who held out longest against the cold, and when the officers came to cart away the dead bodies they found him still breathing.

They were moved with pity, and wanted to leave him alive, hoping he would still change his mind.

But his mother stood by, and this valiant woman could not bear to see her son separated from the band of martyrs.

She exhorted him to persevere, and lifted his frozen body into the cart.

He was just able to make a sign of recognition, and was borne away, to be thrown into the flames with the dead bodies of his brethren.

Their bones were cast into the river, but they floated and were gathered up by the faithful.

(SOURCE: Libreria Editrice Vaticana…Yes, The Vatican Library….Don’t look so surprised! 🙂 )