Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Judges, Chapter 7, Verse 3
So announce in the hearing of the soldiers, “If anyone is afraid or fearful, let him leave! Let him depart from Mount Gilead!” Twenty-two thousand of the soldiers left, but ten thousand remained.
Fear! Those who are fearful are ruled by their emotions. Gideon knew this emotion well for he was a man afraid. What changed him? It was God! God had changed his fear into hope and love for the reign of God. God had changed his unbelief into resolute iron will.
Saint John Paul II was a sword of Gideon; he reminded us that we too must be unafraid that we must be bold and remember that Gideon did not defeat the Midianites with the sword but with fear.
Gideon needed to lead a night attack against the Midianites and Amalekites. His plan was to have every soldier carry a trumpet and a torch, the latter inside a clay pot, and blow the trumpet and reveal the torch upon command. The racket and the sudden appearance of hundreds of torches would doubtlessly panic the enemy troops, who would have no idea as to how many enemies had come out of nowhere. A night attack, however, involves considerable risk. Even today, only the most skilled soldiers are willing to undertake such a mission. A lot of things can go wrong, and it is very easy to mistake friend for foe in the darkness. There is a good chance of shooting or, in ancient times, stabbing one’s own people unless the operation goes perfectly. Any premature action or loud noise can allow the enemy to draw up his soldiers into formations that can repel an attack. If, for example, one of Gideon’s men dropped his pot by accident during the approach to the enemy camp, the exposed torch would have told the enemy sentries that something was amiss. The job was clearly not one for amateurs, or people who lacked commitment.
The first step was therefore to send away the more than two-thirds of Gideon’s army that was hesitant to fight the enemy. This made eminent sense because fear might easily result in the kind of false move—and it would take only one—that would ruin the operation. Ten thousand soldiers were still, however, ten thousand opportunities for something to go wrong. It wasn’t enough that they were committed and willing to fight; they also had to have the discipline and training necessary to participate in a night attack. As Judges 7.4 through 7.7 continues: “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
“So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
Now those who drank like dogs what do you suppose they had in their hands. Their weapons! They were ready for the battle at any moment. God needs stout hearted men and women. Are you ready?
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Prayer. GRANT, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the dignity of human nature, wounded by intemperance, may be re formed by healthful abstinence.
EPISTLE. Daniel iii. 34-45.
In those days Azarias prayed to the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, deliver us not up forever, we beseech Thee, for Thy name s sake, and abolish not Thy covenant. And take not away Thy mercy from us for the sake of Abraham Thy beloved, and Isaac Thy servant, and Israel Thy holy one: to whom Thou hast spoken promising that Thou wouldst multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the seashore. For we, O Lord, are diminished more than any nation, and are brought low in all the earth this day for our sins. Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first-fruits before Thee, that we may find Thy mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted. As in holocausts of rams, and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in Thy sight this day, that it may please Thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in Thee. And now we follow Thee with all our heart, and we fear Thee, and seek Thy face. Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to Thy meekness, and according to the multitude of Thy mercy. And deliver us according to Thy wonderful works, and give glory to Thy name, O Lord: and let all them be confounded that show evils to Thy servants, let them be confounded in all Thy might, and let their strength be broken. And let them know that Thou art the Lord, the only God, and glorious over all the world, O Lord our God.
GOSPEL. Luke vii. 36-50.
At that time one of the Pharisees desired Him to eat with him. And He went into the house of the Pharisee, and sat down to meat. And behold a woman that was in the city a sinner, when she knew that He sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment: and standing behind at His feet, she began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. And the Pharisee, who had invited Him, seeing it, spoke within himself, saying: This man if He were a prophet, would know surely who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: that she is a sinner. And Jesus answering, said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee. But he said: Master, say it. A certain creditor had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And whereas they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which therefore of the two loveth him most?
Simon answering said I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And He said to him: Thou hast judged rightly. And turning to the woman, He said unto Simon: Dost thou see this woman?
I entered into thy house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet: but she with tears hath washed My feet, and with her hairs hath wiped them. Thou gavest Me no kiss: but she, since she came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but she with ointment hath anointed My feet. Wherefore I say to thee: Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. But to whom less is forgiven, he loveth less. And He said to her: Thy sins are forgiven thee. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within them selves: Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
And He said to the woman: Thy faith hath made thee safe: go in peace.
Read: The Servant Songs, Day Four:
(Within the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we encounter four poetic sections known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The specific identity of this Servant of the Lord remains the topic of scholarly debate. Perhaps it refers to the prophet Isaiah himself, perhaps the entire nation of Israel, or possibly the promised Messiah. Christian faith sees these prophetic utterances fulfilled in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.
Because of the Christian identification of the Suffering Servant with Jesus, the four Servant Songs become a way of encountering the Lord during this Lenten Season. Not only do they give us a sense of the commitment and endurance that characterized his messianic ministry, but they become a way of touching the bruised face of the Messiah, of hearing the resolute determination that sustained him in the midst of trial, and of rejoicing with him in God’s ultimate vindication of his calling and service.)
The fourth song proclaims the salvific value of the Servant’s innocent suffering that will justify many and blot out their offenses.
Pray: Take time with the fourth Servant Song today. Read from Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12.
Act: Here the prophet proclaims the “prosperity” of God’s servant, but it is not a worldly prosperity accomplished through human wisdom. “Who would believe what we have heard?” God’s silent and afflicted servant prospers through a life given to God as an offering for sin. Through suffering, the servant acquires great wealth and “offspring” before God: many are justified before God, iniquity is removed, wounds are healed, and sinners receive an intercessor. The servant prospers in what is true wealth to God.
I shall content myself with relating the history of St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, Poland, who restored to life a man who had been dead for three years, attended by such singular circumstances, and in so public a manner, that the thing is beyond the severest criticism.... This incident was known by countless persons and by all the court of King Boleslaus II (reigned 1058-1080) St. Stanislaus, bought from a man named Piotr [Peter] an estate situated on the banks of the Vistula in the territory of Lublin for the use of his church at Cracow. The Prelate gave the full price of it to the seller. This was done in the presence of witnesses, and with the solemnities required in that country, but without written deeds, for written accounts of transactions of this kind were seldom made in Poland at that time. They contented themselves with having witnesses. Stanislaus took possession of this estate, and his church enjoyed it peaceably for about three years. In the interim, Piotr, who had sold it, happened to die. The King of Poland, Boleslaus, had conceived an implacable hatred against the holy Bishop because he had frequently reproved him for his excesses. Therefore, seeking to cause him trouble, the King excited the three sons of Piotr, his heirs, against their father and told them to claim the estate which their father had sold, on the pretense that it had not been paid for. He promised to support their demand, and to cause the estate to be restored to them. Thus, these three men had the Bishop cited to appear before the King, who was then at Solec, occupied in rendering justice under some tents in the country, according to the ancient custom of the land, in the general assembly of the nation. The Bishop was cited before the King and maintained that he had bought and paid for the estate in question. The day was beginning to close, and the Bishop ran great risk of being condemned by the King and his counselors. Suddenly, as if inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Bishop promised the King to bring before him in three days Piotr, the deceased man who had sold it to him. The condition was accepted mockingly, as a thing impossible to be executed. The holy Bishop retired to his Church a distance away, where he prayed and fasted with his household for three days. On the third day, he went in his pontifical robes, accompanied by his clergy and a multitude of people, ordered the gravestone to be raised, and made them dig until they found the corpse of the defunct, all fleshless and corrupted. Then St. Stanislaus commanded him to come forth and bear witness to the truth before the King's tribunal. The Bishop touched the bones with his crosier, and they filled out with flesh. The dead Piotr rose; they covered him with a cloak. The Saint took him by the hand and led him alive to the feet of the King. No one had the boldness to interrogate him. But Piotr himself spoke out freely and declared that he had in good faith sold the estate to the Prelate and that he had received the value of it. After stating this, he severely reprimanded his sons, who had so maliciously accused the holy Bishop. Stanislaus asked Piotr if he wished to remain alive to do penance. Piotr thanked him and said he would not expose himself anew to the danger of sinning. Stanislaus re-conducted him to his tomb, where he again fell asleep in the Lord. It may be supposed that such a scene had numerous witnesses, and that all Poland was quickly informed of it. The King was only the more irritated against the Saint. Sometime after [on May 8, 1079], he killed the Bishop with his own hands as he was coming from the altar in Wawel Castle outside the walls of Cracow. He then ordered that the Prelate’s body be hacked into 72 pieces so that they might never be collected together to be paid the honor due to them as the body of a martyr for the truth and for pastoral liberty. St. Stanislaus was canonized in 1253 by Pope Innocent IV. He is the patron of Poland and of the city and Diocese of Cracow and is invoked in battle.
Things to Do:
· Sometimes evil has to be confronted boldly, whatever the consequences. Brave men like St. Stanislaus of Cracow risked death in facing evil. There is little chance today that we will ever be in that danger, but we must always be willing to defend the truth, and it should be very clear, in the face of genuine evil, where we stand. Christ our Lord can expect no less from us. Say an extra prayer today for the gift of fortitude.
· Learn a little more about the city of Kracow where both St. Stanislaus and Pope John Paul II came from.
· For those who are extremely interested in knowing more about Polish history this online book, Polish Americans and Their Communities of Cleveland may prove to be a good source of information.
· The final work of Franz Liszt is the unfinished oratorio St. Stanislaus, for which he left two scenes (one and four) and two polonaises. Learn more about this oratorio here and if you are able find a copy and listen.
Christ is alive! He is our hope, and in a wonderful way he brings youth to our world, and everything he touches becomes young, new, full of life. The very first words, then, that I would like to say to every young Christian are these: Christ is alive, and he wants you to be alive! He is in you; he is with you and he never abandons you. However far you may wander, he is always there, the Risen One. He calls you and he waits for you to return to him and start over again. When you feel you are growing old out of sorrow, resentment or fear, doubt or failure, he will always be there to restore your strength and your hope.
Do you think Christ feels the pain of the unborn? When we murder the unborn is Christ crucified again?
Pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
“This bill draws the public’s attention to the shameful reality that the United States is one of only seven nations worldwide that allows the barbaric practice of late-term abortion, when a child likely feels pain and might even live outside the womb with appropriate medical assistance. Such abortion procedures after the middle point of pregnancy also pose serious physical dangers to women. With the vast majority of Americans strongly supporting a ban on late-term abortions, it is time for Congress to pass this bill. I also pray that consideration of this bill moves our country closer to recognizing all unborn babies as legal persons worthy of our love and respect.”
Do you think congress would pass a pain bill for the protection of pets before the protection of “our Posterity” stated in the preamble of the constitution?
Learn about Pet Day
Pet Day is a chance for those of us who own pets to show them how much we love them. Now, we all can think of the traditional things: a new toy, some tasty treats, or a long walk in the park, maybe a game of fetch, assuming you have a dog! But, think outside the box and come up with some ideas to celebrate your relationship with your pet. Once you have indulged your own animals with their
treats, why not consider donating to a shelter or
or other animal welfare organization?
There are so many neglected and unwanted animals waiting for some love and attention. You can donate your time, or you can donate food or other supplies. Every little bit helps. If you don’t already own a pet, what better time to adopt one?
A good phrase to keep in mind is “adopt, don’t shop.”
· Manhood of Christ Day 2, Sixth Week.
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896