Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs

Reading I Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

If by that one person’s transgression the many died,
how much more did the grace of God
and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
overflow for the many.
For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one
the many will be made righteous.
Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,
so that, as sin reigned in death,
grace also might reign through justification
for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

R.    (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sinofferings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
    exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
    say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Alleluia Lk 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

We Belong To The Lamb Who Was Slain

Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….

Lambs among wolves. The image is frightening. I ask myself, “Why lambs?” There are plenty of other vulnerable animals that could be prey for wolves that Jesus could have used in these instructions to the 72 disciples as they departed on their mission. But Jesus chose to send his disciples out as lambs into the mouth of danger. 

Living as a Christian is risky. Just before sending out the seventy-two, Jesus had foretold his own death and resurrection (9:21-22, 44-45), and he had told his apostles that they would bear a cross and lose their lives (9:23-25). We as Jesus’ followers belong to the Lamb who was slain (Rev 5:12), the Lamb who was led to the slaughter and opened not his mouth (Is 53:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), the Lamb without blemish or spot (1 Pt 1:19).

In a video as Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban, a tearful Afghan Christian pleaded with Christians around the world not to forget them. Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Christian rights organization Release International, claimed that the Taliban have been “searching door to door” for Christians. Foreign church leaders fled the country and Afghan Christian leaders’ activities were closely monitored by the Taliban. Amid all the bad news for Afghan Christians, Shoaib Ebadi, an Afghan-Canadian Christian and executive director of Square One World Media, told Voice of the Martyrs Canada that he sees “good news” for Afghan Christians. “The good news is that Afghan Christians are now leading these groups [small house church fellowships]. They are meeting in their homes, risking their lives every day … taking God’s Word to the people of Afghanistan. And they are the ones sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors, families and friends.”

Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….

The defenseless lambs are sent out as he himself was sent by the Father. In the words of Catherine of Siena: “We are of such value to God that he came to live among us … and to guide us home. He will go to any length to seek us…. We can only respond by loving God for his love.”

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9). Lambs are free from burden or concern about going the right way, for they look to the One who is “The Way” to lead them to salvation.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Lambs have no power to force things to happen according to their own plans. In fact, this power to manipulate and overpower leads away from true life. The abundant life Jesus came to give us is received always as a gift, and comes to us unexpectedly under circumstances that would seem least opportune.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Lambs are often carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd to protect them on their way. And when they are lost he will find them and bring them back to the flock at the cost of his own life.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (Jn. 10:4). Lambs simply keep their gaze on the Shepherd and abide wherever he leads them, wherever he is. They know that if they are where he is, no matter how risky it is, they are safe.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

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Serving God

The Apostles seem to often spend their time with Jesus confused. Jesus, however, does not hold this against them. Instead, he takes every opportunity to teach them, and help them through their humanity in various ways! One of His most powerful teachings resides in the following: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In today’s First and Second Readings, we see that through Christ’s obedience, He has obtained for us everlasting mercy. Christ can understand our weaknesses as He has undergone the same tests and has prevailed.

To unconditionally serve one another is the essence of true love as Catholics. As stated in Mk 10:38-39, “The chalice that I drink…you will be baptized”. Just as Christ suffered, his followers would suffer for their faith in him. (CCC 536, 618, 1225). This is particularly relevant for those in religious life, since bishops and priests possess authority given to them by Christ, but their authority is based on becoming a servant to everyone. I think the same is true in families though, through the love of a spouse, parent, or child. Ultimately, this life of service is exemplified in every action of Christ.

In chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark, James and John ask to drink from the same cup as Jesus. To others, this may seem like the opposite of wanting to serve; it appears they are seeking power above others. It is boldness, to ask for something they don’t yet even understand. Yet at the same time we can admire the sons of Thunder as they turn to Christ and speak their prayers with infinite trust. 

Are we running to Jesus with all of our innermost questions and concerns? Let us pray ambitiously, ask clear questions, and our answers may be clearer. May we ask with full trust in God and be not afraid.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Aaron Burden, https://unsplash.com/photos/lPCu8HnGU2E