The Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s command to ‘the eleven’, namely to the remnant of His original Twelve Apostles after His saving death and bodily resurrection from the death in the Holy Spirit: “Make all the nations my disciples, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” was fulfilled in a super-eminent manner by His two Apostles, James the Son of Zebedee and Thomas called the Twin. Soon after Pentecost, St. James carried the good news of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ to the heart of the Roman empire up to the western limit of the Roman empire, namely to Spain, and planted the Holy Name of Jesus and the mystery of His divine Sonship and eschatological priesthood in this land for the redemption and salvation of the people of this land with such firmness that it not only remained a bastion of the Church’s divine faith for Christendom of the Roman empire (as evidenced by the counter-reformation) but very importantly, became the Church’s missionary centre for the evangelization and salvation of all the peoples of the American continent soon after its discover by Christopher Columbus and his successors! And St. Thomas did the same Apostolic work in planting the good news of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Name and the mystery of His divine Sonship and Holy Priesthood in the Eastern limits of the then known Roman world, namely in the south western part of our country from Malabar to Madras! This month the universal Church liturgically celebrates the feasts of these two Apostles St. Thomas and St. James, “oaks of righteousness”, with unspeakable joy and gratitude to Almighty God. As we do so, we must recollect the zealous manner in which the inheritors of this Apostolic Church in our country have laboured in the past generations as zealous missionaries for the salvation of their fellowmen in the rest of our country, and pause to anxiously ourselves: what service am I presently giving the Son of God to make His one sacrifice of the Cross bear the eschatalogically sublime fruit of His salvation in my own life and in that of my neighbours, especially all those who have been made my neighbours through the duties of the state of life given to me by God in my post-baptismal life, be it through priestly ordination, profession of the religious vows or the sacrament of matrimony … lest I end my earthly post-baptismal history at the judgement seat of Christ as the indifferent and indolent steward of His baptismal gift who comes to return to the Lord the one talent he received in Holy baptism and receive personally from Him the judgement of everlasting condemnation.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
For the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees - 27 September 2020
Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee.
Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating internally displaced persons.
At the beginning of this year, in my Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, I pointed to the tragedy of internally displaced people as one of the challenges of our contemporary world: “Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by climate change, are increasing the numbers of displaced persons and affecting people already living in a state of dire poverty. Many of the countries experiencing these situations lack adequate structures for meeting the needs of the displaced” (9 January 2020).
The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has issued the document “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced People” (Vatican City, 5 May 2020), which aims to inspire and encourage the pastoral work of the Church in this specific area.
For these reasons, I have decided to devote this Message to the drama of internally displaced persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. In fact, due to its virulence, severity and geographical extent, this crisis has impacted on many other humanitarian emergencies that affect millions of people, which has relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to saving lives. But “this is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people” (UrbietOrbi Message, 12 April 2020).
In the light of the tragic events that have marked 2020, I would like this Message, although concerned with internally displaced persons, to embrace all those who are experiencing situations of precariousness, abandonment, marginalisation and rejection as a result of COVID-19.
I would like to start with the image that inspired Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution ExsulFamilia (1 August 1952). During the flight into Egypt, the child Jesus experienced with his parents the tragic fate of the displaced and refugees, “which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease (cf. Mt 2:13-15, 19-23). Unfortunately, in our own times, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families” (Angelus, 29 December 2013). In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is present as he was at the time of Herod. In the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help (cf. Mt 25:31-46). If we can recognise him in those faces, we will be the ones to thank him for having been able to meet, love and serve him in them.
Displaced people offer us this opportunity to meet the Lord, “even though our eyes find it hard to recognize him: his clothing in tatters, his feet dirty, his face disfigured, his body wounded, his tongue unable to speak our language” (Homily, 15 February 2019). We are called to respond to this pastoral challenge with the four verbs I indicated in my Message for this Day in 2018: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. To these words, I would now like to add another six pairs of verbs that deal with very practical actions and are linked together in a relationship of cause and effect.
You have to know in order to understand. Knowledge is a necessary step towards understanding others. Jesus himself tells us this in the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognising him” (Lk 24:15-16). When we talk about migrants and displaced persons, all too often we stop at statistics. But it is not about statistics, it is about real people! If we encounter them, we will get to know more about them. And knowing their stories, we will be able to understand them. We will be able to understand, for example, that the precariousness that we have come to experience as a result of this pandemic is a constant in the lives of displaced people.
It is necessary to be close in order to serve. It may seem obvious, yet often it is the contrary. “But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Lk 10:33-34). Fears and prejudices – all too many prejudices – keep us distant from others and often prevent us from “becoming neighbours” to them and serving them with love. Drawing close to others often means being willing to take risks, as so many doctors and nurses have taught us in recent months. This readiness to draw near and serve goes beyond a mere sense of duty. Jesus gave us the greatest example of this when he washed the feet of his disciples: he took off his cloak, knelt down and dirtied his hands (cf. Jn 13:1-15).
In order to be reconciled, we need to listen. God himself taught us this by sending his Son into the world. He wanted to listen to the plea of suffering humanity with human ears: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son… that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:16-17). A love that reconciles and saves begins with listening. In today’s world, messages multiply but the practice of listening is being lost. Yet it is only through humble and attentive listening that we can truly be reconciled. In 2020, silence has reigned for weeks in our streets. A dramatic and troubling silence, but one that has given us the opportunity to listen to the plea of the vulnerable, the displaced and our seriously ill planet. Listening gives us an opportunity to be reconciled with our neighbour, with all those who have been “discarded”, with ourselves and with God, who never tires of offering us his mercy.
In order to grow, it is necessary to share. Sharing was an essential element of the first Christian community: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32). God did not want the resources of our planet to benefit only a few. This was not the Lord’s will! We have to learn to share in order to grow together, leaving no one behind. The pandemic has reminded us how we are all in the same boat. Realising that we have the same concerns and fears has shown us once more that no one can be saved alone. To grow truly, we must grow together, sharing what we have, like the boy who offered Jesus five barley loaves and two fish… yet they proved enough for five thousand people (cf. Jn 6:1-15)!
We need to be involved in order to promote. As Jesus was with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1-30). The Lord approaches her, listens to her, speaks to her heart, and then leads her to the truth and makes her a herald of the Good News: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did! Can this be the Christ?” (v. 29). Sometimes the impulse to serve others prevents us from seeing their real riches. If we really want to promote those whom we assist, we must involve them and make them agents in their own redemption. The pandemic has reminded us of how essential co-responsibility is, and that only with the contribution of everyone – even of those groups so often underestimated – can we face this crisis. We must find “the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognise that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity” (Meditation in Saint Peter’s Square, 27 March 2020).
It is necessary to cooperate in order to build. That is what the Apostle Paul tells the community of Corinth: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement” (1 Cor 1:10). Building the Kingdom of God is a duty common to all Christians, and for this reason it is necessary that we learn to cooperate, without yielding to the temptation to jealousy, discord and division. In the present context it should be reiterated: “This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons” (UrbietOrbi Message, 12 April 2020). To preserve our common home and make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded.
I would like to conclude with a prayer suggested by the example of Saint Joseph at the time he was forced to flee to Egypt to save the child Jesus.
Father, you entrusted to Saint Joseph what you held most precious: the child Jesus and his Mother, in order to protect them from the dangers and threats of the wicked.
Grant that we may experience his protection and help. May he, who shared in the sufferings of those who flee from the hatred of the powerful, console and protect all our brothers and sisters driven by war, poverty and necessity to leave their homes and their lands to set out as refugees for safer places.
Help them, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to find the strength to persevere, give them comfort in sorrows and courage amid their trials.
Grant to those who welcome them some of the tender love of this just and wise father, who loved Jesus as a true son and sustained Mary at every step of the way.
May he, who earned his bread by the work of his hands, watch over those who have seen everything in life taken away and obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom Saint Joseph saved by fleeing to Egypt, and trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he loved as a faithful husband in accordance with your will. Amen.Rome, Saint John Lateran, 13 May 2020, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima
ST.THOMAS THE APOSTLE – PATRON SAINT OF INDIA
Early Patristic literature and Christian tradition speak of St. Thomas the Apostle bringing the Christian faith to India. According to these writers, he landed at the port of Mylapore and baptized several Jewish converts there. Kerala, the most Christian part of India, claims him as the Apostle who first preached the good news to the ancient people there.
Not much is known historically about St. Thomas the Apostle, but he is revered by the Christian church all over India and by Hindus and Moslems as well. Tradition claims that St. Thomas the Apostle began his working life as a merchant and that he took care of the material needs of the people while preaching the gospel. This combination of word and action gave credibility to his preaching. People not only heard the good news, but they also saw powerful evidence of its life-transforming power. In St. Thomas, they encountered a faith filled man committed to God and willing to serve selflessly and compassionately for the benefit of others.
At Cross Catholic Outreach, our goal is to create the same impact in the developing countries where we serve. Like St. Thomas, we know that the gospel becomes more real in peoples’ lives when they see the heartfelt compassion believers have for them.Source: Cross Catholic Blog
ST. JAMES THE APOSTLE
This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20).
James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus, and the agony in Gethsemani.
Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. Saint Matthew tells that their mother came—Mark says it was the brothers themselves—to ask that they have the seats of honor in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!”
The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.
On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—”sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).
James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).
This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.-Source: Franciscan Media
SAINTS JOACHIM AND ANNE
In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.
The heroism and holiness of these people however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.
The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.
Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.
This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.Source: Franciscan Media
ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
St. Ignatius came from a family of minor nobility in Spain’s northern Basque region. One thing to know about Ignatius is that he was far from saintly during much of his young adult life. He was vain, with dreams of personal honor and fame. He gambled and was not above sword fighting. As some have noted, he might have been the only saint with a notarized police record: for taking part in a nighttime brawl.
All that began to change one day in the spring of 1521. Ignatius was 30 years old at the time, an officer in the Spanish army. Leading his fellow soldiers into a battle against the French that they were sure to lose, he was struck by a cannonball in the leg. During a difficult recovery (he limped for the rest of his life), the young man asked for books about chivalry — his favorite reading. There weren’t any at the family castle where he convalesced. He had to settle for a book about the life of Christ and biographies of the saints — which he found unexpectedly riveting.
St. Ignatius had always dreamed of imitating heroic deeds, but now, the heroes had names like Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena. Ignatius also noticed something strange happening to him. God, he realized, was working within him — prompting, guiding, inviting. As he traveled far and wide, he realized too that God was similarly at work in the lives of all people, in the everyday events of the world.
These experiences would prove to be the beginnings of Ignatian spirituality — and Jesuit ministry. While in Paris, Ignatius gathered around him some friends or “companions,” as they became known. Together they made religious vows in 1534 and came to call themselves the Compañia de Jesús — the Society of Jesus. Six years later, the order was granted official approval by the pope.
The early Jesuits fanned out to the metropolises of Europe and beyond. They did so with instructions from Ignatius, their leader in Rome, to “seek the greater glory of God” and the good of all humanity. They devoted themselves to the care of souls, to helping people discern God’s presence in their lives. Most of all, Ignatius Loyola wanted his Jesuits and everyone to go out and “find God in all things.” He died in 1556 — on July 31, his feast day in the Catholic Church.Source: jesuits.org