“Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”” -Matthew 5:43-48.
Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407), priest at Antioch then Bishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homilies to the people of Antioch, XX, 12
“Go first and be reconciled with your brother”
This is what I proclaim, what I testify, what I cry out with a resounding voice: Let no one who has an enemy draw near the holy table to receive the Body of the Lord! Let no one who does approach it have an enemy!
Do you have an enemy?
Do not come near!
If you want to do so then first go and be reconciled, then receive the sacrament.
It is not I who say this but the Lord : he who was crucified for our sake.
To reconcile us to his Father he did not refuse to be sacrificed nor to shed his blood; as for you, won’t you so much as say a word and take the initiative of going to find him so as to be reconciled with your brother?
Listen to what the Lord says with regard to people like you: “If you are brining your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you…”
He doesn’t say: “Wait until he comes to find you, or until he receives a visit from one of your friends as intermediary”, or again: “Send someone else to him”, but: “You, run up to him in person!”
Go on, he says, first go and be reconciled with your brother.”
It’s incredible !
Whereas God doesn’t think himself insulted to see the gift you were about to offer him set aside, as for you, do you consider it a dishonour to take the first step towards being reconciled with your brother?
What sort of excuse do you find for such behaviour?
When you see one of your members cut off, don’t you try by every means to attach it again to the rest of your body?
Do the same thing for your brothers and sisters: when you see them cut off from your friendship, go quickly to bring them back.
Don’t wait for them to come back to you first but be the first yourself; hasten to accomplish it!
“Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”” -Matthew 5:20-26.
Saint Mechtildis, born in 1240 in Saxony, was the younger sister of the illustrious Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn.
She was so attracted to religious life at the age of seven, after a visit to her sister in the monastery of Rodardsdoft, that she begged to be allowed to enter the monastic school there.
Her gifts caused her to make great progress both in virtue and learning.
Ten years later, when her sister had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta offered by their brothers, Mechtildis went with her.
She was already distinguished for her virtues, and while still very young became the valuable Assistant to Abbess Gertrude.
One of the children who in the monastic school were committed to her care, was the child of five who later became known as Saint Gertrude the Great.
Saint Mechtildis was gifted with a beautiful voice, and was choir mistress of the nuns all her life. Divine praise, it has been said, was the keynote of her life, as also of her famous book, The Book of Special Grace.
When she learned, at the age of fifty, that two of her nuns had written down all the favors and words of their Abbess, which she had become, she was troubled, but Our Lord in a vision assured her that all this has been committed to writing by My will and inspiration, and therefore you have no cause to be troubled over it.
He added that the diffusion of the revelations He had given her would cause many to increase in His love.
She immediately accepted the Lord’s bidding, and the book became extremely popular in Italy after her death.
Its influence on the poet Dante’s Purgatorio is undeniable, for she had described the place of purification after death under the same figure of a seven-terraced mountain.
The Donna Matelda of his Purgatorio, who guides him at one point in his vision, is Saint Mechtildis as she represents mystical theology.
She died in 1298 at the monastery of Helfta.
*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 27.
(SOURCE: The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908); Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Livesof the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).)
Commentary on The Reading of the day provided by :
Homily attributed to Saint Macarius of Egypt (?-390), monk
Spiritual Homilies no. 30, 3-4
“Ask, seek, knock”
Try hard to please the Lord, pay him unwearying attention within yourself, seek for him with the aid of your thoughts, keep a check on your will and its decisions, control them so they are constantly directed towards him.
Then you will see how he draws near you and makes his dwelling within you… He stands there, taking note of your reasoning, thoughts, reflexions, examining how you are seeking him, whether it is with all your soul or whether sluggishly and carelessly.
And as soon as he sees you seek him fervently, he will make himself known to you.
He will appear to you, grant you his help, bestow the victory on you and save you from your enemies.
In fact, when he sees how you are looking for him, how you continually place all your hope in him, then he will instruct you, teach you true prayer, give you that authentic charity that is himself.
Then he will become everything to you: your paradise, life-giving tree, precious pearl, crown, architect, farmer, one subject to suffering but not afflicted with suffering, man, God, wine, living water, lamb, bridegroom, soldier, armor, Christ who is “all in all” (1Cor 15,28).
Just as a child cannot feed or take care of itself but can only look at its mother and cry until she takes pity and gives it her attention, so believing souls always hope in Christ and attribute to him all righteousness.
As the shoot withers if it is separated from the vine (Jn 15,6) so does someone who wants to become righteous apart from Christ.
Just as “someone is a thief and robber who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere” (Jn 10,1), so it is with someone who wants to become just without him who justifies.
“Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” -Matthew 6:7-15.
Commentary on The Reading of the day provided by :
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), founder of the Missionary Sisters of Charity
No Greater Love
The prayer of the children of God
In order for prayer to be fruitful, it must come from the heart and be able to touch God’s heart.
See how Jesus taught his disciples to pray.
Every time we say the “Our Father”, I believe that God looks at his hands, at the place where he has engraved us: “Upon the palms of my hands I have written your name.” (Isa 49:16) God contemplates his hands, and he sees us there, nestling in them.
How marvelous is God’s tenderness!
Let us pray, let us say the “Our Father”. Let us live it and then we will be saints.
Everything is there: God, myself, my neighbor.
If I forgive, I can be holy, I can pray.
Everything comes from a humble heart; when we have such a heart, we will know how to love God, how to love ourselves, and how to love our neighbor (Mt 22:37f.).
That is nothing complicated, and yet we complicate our lives so much and make them heavy with so many extra loads. Only one thing counts: to be humble and to pray.
The more you pray, the better you will pray.
A child encounters no difficulty in expressing its ingenuous understanding in simple words that say a lot. Didn’t Jesus give Nicodemus to understand that we must become like a small child (Jn 3:3)?
If we pray according to the Gospel, we will allow Christ to grow in us.
So pray with love, the way children do, with the ardent desire to love much and to make beloved the person who is not loved.
“Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”” -Matthew 25:31-46.
It is not strange that the world feels drawn to the Augustines and Magdalenes of every age.
The world knows its guilt and is ashamed.
With the lives of such saints placed warmly and tactfully before us, it is impossible to abandon hope.
From the tumbleweed of sin many saints have grown.
Margaret was born at Laviano, in Tuscany, Italy, about 1247, of poor farm people.
Her mother died when she was only seven years old, and two years later her father married again. His new wife was a strong, masterful woman, who had little sympathy for her pleasure-loving stepdaughter.
Margaret had always yearned for love and it was always denied her at home. It is not hard to understand, then, how the pretty young girl fell prey to the prospect of love and luxury offered her by a rich young cavalier (whose name she never divulged) from a neighboring village.
She went away with him one night and lived with him as his mistress for the next nine years, during which time she gave birth to a son.
During all those years Margaret remained faithful to her lover, even though she was an object of scorn to the townspeople, who regarded her as a depraved woman.
The sudden and brutal murder of her lover brought Margaret to the realization of God’s grace.
Ashamed and horrified by her own behavior, she went immediately to her father’s house to beg forgiveness.
Although he was willing to accept her, her stepmother for a second time turned Margaret away from the love she needed so badly.
She had heard of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) and of their reputation for gentleness and patience with sinners. By this time, utterly depressed, she traveled to Cortona, where she begged admittance into the Third Order as a penitent.
For the first three years of her conversion she was guided in the spiritual life by Fra Giunta Bevegnati, her confessor. It is to him we are indebted for the story of her life.
Margaret began to earn her living by nursing the ladies of the city, but soon gave it up in order to devote herself to caring for the sick poor, depending on alms for her existence.
She persuaded the leading citizen of Cortona to aid her in starting the hospital of Our Lady of Mercy, staffed by Franciscans tertiaries whom Margaret formed into a congregation called Poverelle.
She also founded the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, which was pledged to support the hospital and to search out and assist the poor. Her son was sent to school at Arezzo, and he later became a Franciscan friar.
As Margaret continued to advance in holiness, Christ became the dominating feature in her life. She was favored with visions in which Christ spoke to her and addressed her as the third light granted to the Order of my beloved Francis, that is, exceeded in glory only by Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
Margaret was also favored with visions of her guardian angel.
The people of Cortona had observed the holiness of Margaret’s life, and they sought her payers in 1279, when Charles of Anjou, king of Sicily, threatened to invade Tuscany.
After fervent prayer it was revealed to her that an armistice had been arranged and peace would follow.
Toward the latter part of her life our Lord said to her: Show now that thou art converted; cry out and call others to repentance. Margaret was obedient to the call and saw that she must lead a more active life.
She carried on this new mission successfully, drawing many lapsed Catholics back to the Church, and she was called on many times to perform miraculous cures.
The day and hour of her death were revealed to her, and she died at the age of fifty in 1297.
Her fame is mostly confined to Tuscany, where the people of Cortona refer to their patron as the lily of the valley.
(SOURCE: The Catholic Press, The Lives of the Saints for every day of the year)