Often Only God Knows Them.
The Fourth Friday of Ordinary Time; the Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani; or, the Memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin.*
Lessons from the primary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Hebrews 13: 1-8.
• Psalm 27: 1, 3, 5, 8-9.
• Mark 6: 14-29.
If a Mass for St. Jerome is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:
• Tobit 12: 6-13.
• Psalm 34: 2-11.
• Mark 10: 17-30.
[or, Mark 10: 17-27.]
…or, any lessons from the common of Holy Men and Women for Educators.
If Mass for St. Joesphine is taken, lessons from the feria as above, or from the proper:
• I Corinthians 7: 25-35.
• Psalm 45: 11-12, 14-17.
• Matthew 25: 1-13.
…or, any lessons from the common of Virgins for One Virgin.
The Third Class Feast of Saint John of Matha, Confessor.**
Lessons from the common "Os justi…" of a Confessor not a Bishop, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiasticus 31: 8-11.
• Psalm 91: 13-14, 3.
• Luke 12: 35-40.
6:24 AM 2/8/2019 — Today's Gospel lesson tells us of the martyrdom of the Baptist who died because he spoke the inconvenient truth to his king. Of course, you and I know that his death was necessary in the economy of salvation; but, taken by itself it stands witness to the words later spoken by the Blessed Apostle Paul: “…proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient…” (2 Tim. 4: 2 NABRE). And inconvenient it was in the case of John the Baptist. If he had simply challenged Herod on his neglect of the laws of fast and abstinence, or criticized him for not praying in the Temple or a synagogue on the Sabbath, of even admonished him for not giving enough to the poor, he would have probably annoyed Herod, but not to the point of losing his head. Unfortunately, he chose to condemn Herod's moral conduct, and that simply couldn't be tolerated.
And how little has changed. The way our Blessed Lord asks us to live is not the way of life championed by the world around us. Our Lord presents to us a way of honesty and integrity and purity and virtue, while the world that’s force-fed to us on television and online is a world that condemns nothing in the name of kindness, accepts everything in the name of tolerance, and maligns purity and virtue in the name of diversity. Speak against that world and you will very likely be condemned yourself. An item which should always be in our examination of conscience is: Did I speak up when the faith was being held up to ridicule or the truth was being denied, or did I remain silent to avoid being criticized myself?
I’m not suggesting that we need to stand ready to have our heads cut off like John the Baptist, but we have the opportunity of martyrdom all around us. We suffer it ourselves almost every day. We can't watch television, we can't turn on our computers, we can't watch the news, we can't even walk out of our house without martyrdom starring us in the face in the form of all the temptations that the world presents to us. The blood John the Baptist shed, the blood shed by martyrs of all times through the centuries, unites us to the Blood of our Blessed Lord. Pope Saint John Paul II once said:
Today there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of witnesses to the faith. They are often unknown or forgotten by their contemporaries, or by “public opinion,” which finds its attention is taken up by other more engrossing events and personalities. Often only God knows them.***
And we are in that group every time we stand against the tide of contemporary presumption, and proclaim with our lives that we will not live as the world says we should.
Let us find in this sacrifice of the Body and Blood of our Lord the strength we need to remain faithful to Him, and to always preach the truth whether convenient or inconvenient.
* Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537) was born in Venice and, after a dissolute youth, he dedicated himself to the service of the poor, the sick, and abandoned children, especially orphans. He died of the plague while serving the afflicted.
Josephine (1868-1947) was a young Sudanese girl sold into slavery and brought to Italy where, while serving as a nanny, she was sent to live with the Canossian Sisters of the Instutute of the Catechumens in Venice. There she was baptized and eventually granted her freedom. In 1896 she joined the Canossian Daughters of Charity where she served for twenty-five years. She died after a long and painful illness, during which she would cry out to the Lord: "Please loosen the chains … they are so heavy!" Her dying words were, "Our Lady! Our Lady!"
** With St. Felix of Valois, St. John founded the Order of the Trinitarians for the ransoming of captives who had fallen into the hands of the Mohammedans. He died in 1213.
*** Prayer of Petition, Lourdes, Aug. 14, 1983.