Psalm 106: 3-4, 35-36, 37 and 40 “…But they mingled with the nations and learned their works. They served their idols, which became a snare for them…”
Mark 7: 24-30 “… ‘Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.’…”
Our Lady of Lourdes, On February 11, 1858, Mary appeared to a fourteen year old girl named Bernadette Soubirous in the recess of the Massabielle cliff near Lourdes, at the foot of the Pyrenees. She would appear eighteen times total, with the last appearance on July 16th the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our Lady spoke to Bernadette with reverence and told her she was the “Immaculate Conception”, a name that had not been revealed to the general public but only to the Bishops and upper clergy at that point in time.
In the reading in 1 Kings we find the LORD displeased with King Solomon, son of David because he is worshiping other gods. It is said he was following the beliefs of his many foreign wives, building high places for worship and other forms of recognition to their many gods. “The LORD, therefore, became angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice…” (1 Kings 11: 9). We’re tempted to view this scene and think how and why did the people back then build these statues and monuments to other gods when the first commandment reads “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have strange gods before you.”? And we realize that devotion expressed by focusing more time, money or energy towards things other than of God or in things that don’t advance His kingdom here on earth are a modern day way of worshipping other gods. We realize we are all guilty of these acts and the reading is so relevant to us today.
In the Gospel from Mark we find Jesus crossing the path of a woman, a non-Jew, who has sought him out to heal her daughter who is possessed. Jesus starts to dismiss her saying he should take care of the children (of Israel) first. But, she pursues her quest for healing for her daughter saying “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” (Mark 7:28) And Jesus heals her daughter with a word because of her persistence and belief in Him. Yet a another good lesson; a reminder to be persistent and believe the good Lord can work the miracle you seek should it be His will.
Finally, I have a fond memory of a visit to France in 2001. I had visited Lourdes for a couple of days, without the usual crowds because it was colder and in the off season. We drank the water and lit candles and had a prayerful experience. Enroute to Italy to visit my grandfather’s family for the first time, I wanted to stop in Nevers, France, where Saint Bernadette’s body lies incorrupt in the chapel of her convent, St. Gildard’s. I did not have a place to stay for my quick overnight stop there, and at this point I was by myself as my sister and I would meet up later in Italy. Upon my arrival by train in Nevers, I found all the hotels within walking distance of the train were full, due to an in town conference. When it seemed my only choice was to get back on the train at around 3 in the morning and lose out on the chance to visit the chapel or stay out on the street and possibly catch pneumonia, a woman cleaning up the train station came out to the bus bench and invited me to stay at her place that night, her husband would be picking her up at around midnight. I went with her and the next day her and her mother gave me a ride back to the convent chapel, so I got to pray there in front of St. Bernadette’s body and thank the Lord for this woman’s kindness. I remember falling asleep in her daughter’s bed and feeling like a child myself, warm and cared for in the most secure of ways. I came home from that trip saying the rosary everyday for the next year for my Angel in Nevers who took me in that night. May God continue to Bless her for the kindness she showed a stranger from the USA, shortly after 9/11/01. I will be forever grateful.
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