31 Jan – Memorial of Saint John Bosco
Son of Venerable Margaret Bosco. John’s father died when the boy was two years old; and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, John did so to helps support his family. Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks that he saw magicians perform, and then put on one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier that day in church.
He worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, and carpenter while attending college and seminary. Ordained in 1841. A teacher, he worked constantly with young people, finding places where they could meet, play and pray, teaching catechism to orphans and apprentices. Chaplain in a hospice for girls. Wrote short treatises aimed at explaining the faith to children, and then taught children how to print them. Friend of Saint Joseph Cafasso, whose biography he wrote, and confessor to Blessed Joseph Allamano. Founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Chistians, and Saint Francis de Sales. Founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and Union of Cooperator Salesians in 1875.
– The Patron Saint Index
2 Samuel 11:1-4,5-10,13-17
At the turn of the year, the time when kings go campaigning, David sent Joab and with him his own guards and the whole of Israel. They massacred the Ammonites and laid siege to Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem.
It happened towards evening when David had risen from his couch and was strolling on the palace roof, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David made inquiries about this.woman and was told, ‘Why, that is Bathsheba, Eliam’s daughter, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers and had her brought. She came to him, and he slept with her. She then went home again. The woman conceived and sent word to David; ‘I am with child.’
Then David sent Joab a message, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite’, whereupon Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came into his presence, David asked after Joab and the army and how the war was going. David then said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and enjoy yourself. Uriah left the palace, and was followed by a present from the king’s table. Uriah however slept by the palace door with his master’s bodyguard and did not go down to his house.
This was reported to David; ‘Uriah’ they said ‘did not go down to his house.’ The next day David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk. In the evening Uriah went out and lay on his couch with his master’s bodyguard, but he did not go down to his house.
Next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Station Uriah in the thick of the fight and then fall back behind him so that he may be struck down and die.’ Joab, then besieging the town, posted Uriah in a place where he knew there were fierce fighters. The men of the town sallied out and engaged Joab; the army suffered casualties, including some of David’s bodyguard; and Uriah the Hittite was killed too.
Jesus said to the crowds, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’
He also said, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.’
Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.
It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade
This week I saw firsthand, the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit as a force for good. Atlanta has been hit by one of the worst snowstorms on record. Roads are gridlocked, with freeways being reduced to parking lots. Schools have been closed with some children trapped, unable to return home. A state of emergency has been declared across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. There are stories all across the news of how people have spent the night in motionless cars and buses, shivering as Snowstorm Leon’s arctic blast blankets the South.
They say chaos brings out the worst in us and there are all sorts of examples of this, including today’s first reading from 2 Samuel. But I’d like to think that chaos also brings out the very best in us. Amidst the chaos, Michelle Sollicito, a woman in Marietta, Georgia reached out through Facebook to enable her friends to find help and shelter from the cold.
Sollicito’s Facebook page, ‘SnowedOutAtlanta, https://www.facebook.com/groups/397839673695382/ offered maps and chats so people who were stranded could connect with random strangers close to them and wait out the cold. Strangers started liking her page and latched on, offering up traffic updates play by play, so other people in the area could stay updated. Sollicito said she started the page as a way to help a friend’s husband link up to a friend of hers who happened to be near where his car had stalled. After that, the page just grew and grew. So far, ‘SnowedOutAtlanta’ has already clocked 49,245 followers and it’s still growing.
Through “SnowedOutAtlanta”, an elderly woman with cancer was able to receive help, a pregnant mother and her child found shelter, a man with a heart condition was able to get to the hospital and countless others who would otherwise have been left out in the cold have been connected with homes where they have found food and a roof over their heads. All it took was a single act of kindness to spark this wave of goodwill. If there is any doubt that there is good in the world, there’s no better proof than this.
Last Sunday, we saw Jesus proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt 4:17) and we wondered, what if the kingdom of heaven is already here, in the form of people reaching out in love and generosity. Michelle Sollicito sowed a small seed of kindness and it grew into a mighty Facebook tree, offering hope to the lost, the cold and the hungry. Her page has become a community of people whose only agenda is to offer whatever assistance they can. We often think the kindness we can do is so small it isn’t likely to make a difference. But it makes a difference if even one person is touched by it. Stories like these renew our faith in the community of believers. Stories like these remind us of the power of purpose. Stories like these affirm that “…if on earth two of you are united in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered in my Name, I am there among them” (Matt 18:19-20). Let us give thanks today for the Michelle Solicittos of this world and the community of believers to which we belong. Chaos really can bring out the best in us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all those who have been hit by Snowstorm Leon. We pray they find shelter, food, water, warmth and love as they tough out the cold.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the all those who have so generously offered their energy and their time to the people of the South.