Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, During this month of July, the month of the Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus, let us ask of our good Lord to deliver us from all evil! This Sunday is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This weekend I share with a message centered on caring about other people. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: Helping Others to Carry Their Burdens: Christ’s example. Jesus behaved towards people in a way very different from the way many of the Pharisees behaved towards them. He came to free men from the heaviest of their burdens by taking them upon Himself. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30) Close to Christ, all our efforts and indeed all those things we find most difficult to bear if we are to fulfil God’s Will become even pleasant. Sacrifice offered with Christ does not bring with it a feeling of harsh rebelliousness, but rather one of joyful giving. He bore upon Himself our sorrows and our weightiest burdens. The Gospels give us a constant example of His concern for all men. Saint Gregory the Great writes that everywhere He left examples of His mercy. (St. Gregory the Great, Homilies on the Gospels, 25, 6) He raises the dead, cures the blind, the lepers, the dumb, and frees those possessed by the devil… There are occasions when He does not even wait for the sick person to be brought to Him, but says: I will come and heal him. (Matt. 7:7) Even at the moment of His own death He shows His concern for the people around Him. He gives Himself up to death lovingly; He is the expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2) We must imitate Our Lord not only by avoiding causing unnecessary worries to others, but by helping people to bear the worries they already have Whenever possible we will help others to fulfil their human task. We will help them to carry the burdens that life itself imposes on them: When you have finished your work, do your brother’s, helping him, for Christ’s sake, so tactfully and so naturally that no one - not even he - will realize that you are doing more than what in justice you ought. This, indeed, is virtue befitting a son of God! (J. Escriva, The Way, 440) We should never think that any act of self-denial or sacrifice offered for the good of another is more than we should do. Charity should stimulate us to show our regard for others in very specific ways. It should lead us to look for opportunities of making ourselves useful, of lightening the burdens of others and of giving joy to all those we are able to help in any way, even though we know that we will never do as much as we should. We should always try to relieve others from whatever seems to weight them down, just as Christ would have done in our place. Sometimes this will mean our doing some small act of service. At times it will mean giving a word of encouragement or of hope. At others we will help someone to glance up at the Master so that he comes to see his situation in a more positive light; it may be a situation which had seemed to overwhelm him simply because up till then he had felt he must face it alone. We should think too of those aspects of our behavior with which sometimes, without really meaning to, we make life a little harder for others… our whims and fancies, our rash judgments, negative criticism, a lack of consideration for others, an unkind word… We should be compassionate and merciful. The burden of sin and of ignorance. Love enables us to discover in others the Divine Image in whose likeness we have all been made. We should recognize in everyone the tremendous price paid for his ransom - the pricelessness of his redemption - the very Blood of Christ. (cf. 1 Peter 1:18) The greater our love, the more we are able to appreciate our neighbor and, as a consequence, show concern for his needs and sorrows. Then we see not only another human being who is suffering or having a hard time, we see Christ in that person, Christ, who identified himself with all men: Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me. (Matt. 25:40) Christ makes himself present to us through charity. He acts in the world at every moment through the members of his Mystical Body. It is for this reason that our constant union with Jesus enables us also to say: Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Charity is the full realization of the Kingdom of God in the world. If we are to be faithful followers of Christ we have to ask him unceasingly to give us a heart like his, capable of feeling sorrow for all the evil that man drags along behind him. We should be particularly sorry about the evil that is sin, which, more than any other evil, drags man down and overwhelms him. Jesus always responded with compassion when He saw all the limitations and the weaknesses of men: I have compassion on the crowd…, (Mark 8:2) the evangelists record in their different ways. Christ was moved by all the kinds of misfortune He encountered during His time on this earth. We know that He always looks with mercy on the mass of human wretchedness that has been accumulated throughout the centuries. If we are to call ourselves followers of Christ we must bear in our hearts the same feelings of mercy as the Master had. In our personal prayer, let us ask Our Lord to help us with His grace to feel true compassion, above all for those who suffer the immeasurable evil of sin, for those who are far from God. Then we will be able to understand how it is that the apostolate of Confession is the greatest of the works of mercy. It is by doing this apostolate that we give God the opportunity to pour out His generous forgiveness on that prodigal son who has left his Father’s house. Of what a great burden do we relieve the person who was burdened by sin and now goes to Confession! What a true relief! Today could be a good time to ask ourselves: how many people have I helped to make a good Confession. Who else can I help? We should try especially to lighten the burdens of people more closely connected to us because they share the same Faith, the same Spirit, the same ties of Blood, the same work… Saint Leo the Great said emphatically: Certainly look on everyone who suffers with a general benevolence, but be especially concerned about those who are members of Christ’s Body and are united to us through the Catholic Faith. For we owe more to those who belong to us through the union of grace than to strangers through the community of nature. (St. Leo the Great, Sermon 89) As far as we can, let us relieve all those who carry the heavy burden of ignorance, especially ignorance of their religion, which today reaches levels never before descended to in certain countries of Christian tradition. Perhaps because of the impositions of a secular state or because of lamentable disorientation and negligence, crowds of children who have been baptized are reaching adolescence with a total lack of the most elementary notions of the Faith and morals and even of the rudiments of piety. Today, to teach the unlearned means ‘to evangelize them’ – that is to say, to speak to them about God and about the Christian life. (J. Orlandis, The Eight Beatitudes) What a great weight has to be borne by those who do not know Christ, by those who have been deprived of Christian doctrine or who are imbued with error! We should turn to Christ when life becomes difficult for us, and learn from Our Lady how to forget ourselves. We will find that no way leads more certainly to Christ and happiness than that of a sincere concern to free those who are weary and heavy-laden from whatever weighs them down. God has disposed things in such a way that we should learn to bear one another’s burdens: because there is nobody without any defect; nobody who is sufficient unto himself; indeed nobody who is sufficiently wise unto himself. (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ, I, 16, 4) We all need one another. Living with other people requires that mutual help without which we would find it difficult to keep going. If at some time we should find ourselves wrestling with a burden that is beyond our strength, we should not fail to listen to Our Lord’s words: Come to me. Only He can restore our strength, only He can quench our thirst. Jesus says now and always: ‘Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. We can be sure that Jesus constantly invites us to come to Him, sees our difficulties and has compassion on us. Still more does He offer us His promises, His friendship, the hope of goodness, of a healing remedy for our ills, of comfort; and still more does He offer us nourishment, Bread, the very source of energy and life. (Paul VI, Homily, June 1977) Christ is our repose. Our continuous conversation with Our Mother Mary teaches us to be understanding with our neighbor in his time of need. There was nothing that she failed to notice, because even the smallest of cares were important to the love that always filled her Heart. She will help us to follow the way that leads to Christ at those very times when our need to unburden ourselves on Him is even greater: You will draw strength from it to put the Will of God fully into practice, and you will be filled with desires of serving all men. You will be the Christian you have sometimes dreamed of being: full of works of charity and justice, happy and strong, understanding towards others and demanding on yourself. (J. Escriva, Friends of God, 293) (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God grant us the grace to proclaim the love of Christ through our deeds! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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