Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Judges, Chapter 8, Verse 19-20
19“They were my brothers, my mother’s sons,” he said. “As the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20Then he said to his firstborn, Jether, “Go, kill them.” But the boy did not draw his sword, for he was AFRAID, for he was still a boy.
Jether was still a boy when asked by his father to continue the cycle of violence. Sometimes children are wiser than parents. Children instinctively know that being fair starts with understanding your own shortcomings and listening to that small voice of conscience.
Gideon Ushers in a Golden Age
· Gideon's army continues to pursue the fleeing Midianites, led by their kings Zebah and Zalmunna.
· They pass through the towns of Succoth and Penuel, and both refuse to give food to Gideon's army. This is rude, and Gideon promises he'll make them pay when he's done with Zebah and Zalmunna.
· His army defeats Midian and captures Z&Z.
· On their way back, Gideon captures a young man from Succoth, who identifies the elders and princes of the city that were so inhospitable before.
· Gideon beats them with thorns and briars. That'll teach them!
· He also returns to Penuel and breaks down their tower and kills the men of the city. Seriously—don't mess with Gideon.
· While interrogating Z&Z, Gideon finds out that they killed his brethren in Tabor. Their life expectancy suddenly plummets dramatically.
· Gideon tells his oldest son, Jether, to kill these fools. Jether is still just a boy, though, and he doesn't want to.
· Z&Z say, "You know what, Gid? Why don't you do the honors? You're stronger anyway".
· So he does, and he takes the ornaments from their camels' necks because, hey, free camel jewelry.
· Israel asks Gideon to be their king, and his sons after him, because he's delivered them from Midian.
· Gideon refuses, and tells them that the Lord will be their king.
The reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) knew violence leads to nothing but violence and stated:
Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding. “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
National Day of Prayer
National Day of Prayer is an annual holiday that serves to encourage Americans to pray, meditate and repent. It is also used to draw awareness to prayer and religious beliefs. The origins of National Day of Prayer date back to 1787. Benjamin Franklin asked President George Washington to open each day with prayer, and to realize that prayer is deeply intertwined in the fabric of the United States. However, it was not until February 1952 during the Korean War that Reverend Billy Graham petitioned support of Representative Percy Priest to observe a National Day of Prayer. On April 17, 1952 President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming National Day of Prayer, to encourage Americans to turn to God in prayer and meditation. National Prayer Day is celebrated every year on the first Thursday of May.
National Day of Prayer Facts & Quotes
· 2020 marks the 69th Anniversary of the National Day of Prayer
· According to the Pew Research Center's Religious Landscape Study of 2015, 23% of Americans have indicated that they are not part of any religion. The survey is based on responses of more than 35,000 Americans.
· On October 3, 2008, The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sued President George W. Bush and staff to challenge the designation of a National Day of Prayer. On April 14, 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the National Day of Prayer did not cause harm and a feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury.
· According to the Pew Research Center, more than 55% of Americans pray every day. 60% of older Americans are likely to pray every day, compared to 45% of young Americans.
· Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. - Mahatma Gandhi, Civil Rights and Freedom Activist
National Day of Prayer Top Events and Things to Do
· Attend a religious service at your place of worship on the National Day of Prayer.
· Offer a prayer for your loved ones and for those who are serving at the frontlines to protect America.
· Attend a spiritual retreat that appeals to your beliefs.
· Practice mindfulness by focusing upon the internal and external experience of each moment of life. Mindfulness creates awareness and encourages one to be grateful for their blessings.
· Attend a prayer event on Prayer Day. There are many local events, some religious based, others meditation oriented.
Meditation of The Sacred Heart for the Eve of the First Friday
AMONG those who make profession of piety, but few know Jesus Christ and the treasures of His mercy; for this cause they give themselves up imperfectly to His love. Nothing can be more pleasing to the loving heart of Jesus than the childlike and unlimited confidence which we testify towards Him. It is related in the life of St. Gertrude that one day, as she reflected on the extraordinary graces which she had received, she asked herself how the revelations with which she had been favored could be made known to mankind with the greatest profit to their souls. Our Lord vouchsafed her this reply:
It would be good for men to know, and never to forget, that I, their God and Savior, am always present in their behalf before My heavenly Father. This should never be forgotten, that when through human frailty their hearts incline to sin I offer for them my merciful heart; and when they offend God by their works, I present to Him My pierced hands and feet in order to appease the anger of divine justice.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, says the great Apostle, is the mediator between God and man. He is now ascended into heaven in order to aid our prayers by His powerful mediation. Fail not, says the devout Blosius, to offer your good works and pious exercises to the most sweet heart of Jesus, in order that He may purify and perfect them; for His heart, so full of tenderness, takes delight in so divine a work. He is always ready to perfect in you whatever He sees imperfect or defective. Confidence is a key to the heart of Jesus. What may we not obtain from our fellow-creatures by the confidence we place in them? How much more, then, will it not obtain from God? How marvelous will be its effects if united with an absolute dependence on Him!
Thus, when animated by faith, Peter walked on the waters as on dry land; but from the moment that fear entered his mind the waters lost their sustaining power, and his compassionate Master, extending His hand, said to him,
“O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?”
On another occasion also the tempest threatened to ingulf the apostles; but Jesus said to them, having commanded the winds and the sea:
Where is your faith? why are you fearful? have you, then, no faith?
In order to inspire us with a more lively confidence Our Lord Jesus Christ vouchsafed Himself to teach us the prayer which we address to God; so that our heavenly Father, touched by the words of His own Son, might refuse us nothing which we ask in His name; for this He would have us call Him by the sweet name of Father. But as this is not enough, in order to dispel all our diffidence, He carries His condescension even so far as to promise by a solemn oath to be always ready to listen to us.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever ye shall ask I will do.
Timid souls, He would say, I swear to you by Myself, Who am the Way and the eternal Truth; by Myself, Who hate falsehood, and Who will punish perjury with eternal damnation; by Myself, Who can no more lie or deceive than I can cease to be that which I am, I swear promises, to you that I will grant what you ask of Me. These are Thy O my God, says St. Augustine; and who can fear being deceived when he relies on the promises made by uncreated Truth? When an upright man pledges you his word, you would believe that you erred if you showed after this any doubt or fear but if we receive the testimony of man, says St. John, the testimony of God, is it not greater? Our divine Savior holds Himself so honored by this confidence that in a thousand passages in the Gospel He attributes more to the miraculous efficacy of prayer than to His own mercy. Not saying to those who have recourse to Him, it is My goodness and My power; but It is thy faith, thy confidence, which has saved thee. Our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to St. Gertrude that he who prayed to Him with confidence was sure to obtain his request that He could not do otherwise than listen to his prayers. Whatever may be the grace you request, says Our Lord, be sure of obtaining it, and it will be granted you. This it is which St. John Climachus expresses in a like manner when he says, every prayer offered up with confidence exercises over the heart of God a kind of violence, but a violence which is sweet and pleasing to Him. St. Bernard compares the divine mercy to an abundant spring, and our confidence to the vessel which we make use of in order to draw these saving waters. The larger the vessel the greater the abundance of the grace we shall bring away. Moreover, this is conformable to the prayer of the psalmist, who sues for mercy in proportion to His confidence: Let Thy mercy be upon us, O Lord, according to the hopes we have placed in Thee. God has declared that He will protect and save all those who put their trust in Him. Let them be glad, then, exclaims David; let all those rejoice who hope in Thee, O my God; for they shall be happy for all eternity, and Thou wilt never cease to dwell in them. He elsewhere says, He who places his trust in the Lord shall dwell under the protection of the God of heaven. Yes, Lord, says St. Bernard, it is hope alone which opens to us the treasure of Thy mercies. The efficacy of prayer, says St. Thomas, is drawn from faith which believes in the promises of God, and confidence in the holy promises which He has made to us. We see, in short, in the sacred writings that the Son of God seems to take the faith of those who address themselves to Him as the rule for the help and the graces which He grants them, not only doing what they wish, but in the manner in which they ask it. Grace is attached to confidence; it is a kind of axiom that he who puts his trust in God shall never be confounded. And the wise man defies a contrary example to be cited amongst all the nations of the world. Our souls should be filled with consolations, says St. Ambrose, when we remember that the graces which God grants us are always more abundant than those which we ask; also, that the fulfilment of His promises always exceeds our hopes, as says Ecclesiastes. Let us have, then, a firm confidence, as St. Paul recommends us, since the Lord has promised to protect whosoever hopes in Him; and when obstacles present themselves which seem very difficult to overcome let us say with the Apostle, I can do all things in Him Who strengtheneth me. Who, indeed, was ever lost after having placed his trust in God? But we need not always seek a sensible confidence it will suffice if we earnestly desire it, for true confidence is an utter dependence on God, because He is good, and wishes to help us; because He is powerful, and able to help us; because He is faithful and has promised to help us.
Example. The venerable Mary of the Incarnation relates that it was revealed to her on a certain occasion that the Eternal Father was insensible to her prayer. She sought to know the cause, and an interior voice said to her: Petition Me through the heart of My Son, through which I will hear thee. Address yourselves to the heart of Jesus, the ocean of love and mercy, and He will obtain for you, pious soul, and also for all poor sinners, the most signal graces. Sometime before her death St. Mechtilde earnestly asked of Our Lord an important grace in behalf of a person who had asked her to pray for her. Seized with fear at the sight of the terrible judgments with which the justice of God would visit this soul, she was weeping bitterly, when Our Lord addressed to her these consoling words,
my daughter, teach the person for whom you pray that she must seek all she desires through My heart. There is no heart so hard as not to be softened by the heart of Jesus, nor any soul so disfigured by the leprosy of sin that His love cannot purify, console, and heal.
Thursdays are Sacred
Thursdays are next to Sundays the holiest day of the week. Pope John Paul knew this when he created the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. It was also on Thursday that our Lord instituted the Mass and last celebrated with the apostles. In a week also our Lord Ascended into heaven to intercede for us with the Father. It would be a pious practice to make Thursdays a little special by being in the Lord’s presence and celebrate Mass.
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896