Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blessed Be The Lord The God Of Israel: He Has Come To His People.

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith Abraham obeyed
when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out,
not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land
as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob,
heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward
to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
and Sarah herself was sterile
for he thought that the one
who had made the promise was trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised
but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be
strangers and aliens on earth,
for those who speak thus show
that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land
from which they had come,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire
a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed
to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test,
offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises
was ready to offer his only son,
of whom it was said,
Through Isaac descendants
shall bear your name.
He reasoned that God was able
to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old.
that he would save us from our sins
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the bonds of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel;
he has come to his people.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Mark 4:35-41
On that day, as evening drew on,
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd,
they took Jesus with them in the boat
just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up
and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe
and said to one another,
“Who then is this
whom even wind and sea obey?”
Servant of God Brother Juniper
(d. 1258)

"Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers," said Francis of this holy friar.
We don’t know much about Juniper before he joined the friars in 1210. Francis sent him to establish "places" for the friars in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When St. Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity.

Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis illustrate his exasperating generosity. Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars!

Another time Juniper had been commanded to quit giving part of his clothing to the half-naked people he met on the road. Desiring to obey his superior, Juniper once told a man in need that he couldn’t give the man his tunic, but he wouldn’t prevent the man from taking it either. In time, the friars learned not to leave anything lying around, for Juniper would probably give it away.

He died in 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.

What can we make of Juniper? He certainly seems to be the first of many Franciscan "characters." No doubt some of the stories about him have improved considerably in the retelling. Although the stories about Juniper may seem a little quaint, his virtues were not. He was humble because he knew the truth about God, himself and others. He was patient because he was willing to suffer ("patience" comes from patior meaning "to suffer") in his following of Jesus.

It is said that St. Francis once described the perfect friar by citing "the patience of Brother Juniper, who attained the state of perfect patience because he kept the truth of his low estate constantly in mind, whose supreme desire was to follow Christ on the way of the cross" (Mirror of Perfection, #85).

Saint of the Day

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