The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
We began today with Deacon Paul Solomon’s Mass of Thanksgiving in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. This is a magnificent church that was rebuilt after a fire destroyed most of it in 1823. Paul’s remains are found below the main altar of the church. Paul had been sentenced to death, so as a Roman citizen they took him outside the walls of Rome, beheaded him, and then buried him.
Deacon Paul’s first homily today was brilliant as he talked about the conversion of St. Paul. He said that Paul’s story is like the story for me and you. We have all gone astray and yet the Lord calls each one of us to holiness and conversion of life. Our prayers are with Deacon Paul that he be a good and holy deacon and priest. If his first homily is any indication of the homilies to come, the Church of Joliet is in for a real treat with Deacon Paul!
Then we had a tour of the Catacombs of St. Calistus, one of the oldest and biggest catacombs in Rome. The tombs that were found there range from the 2nd to 5th century. Several popes were buried there along with St. Cecelia. She was martyred around 230 BC and her body was found incorrupt, meaning that it had not decomposed, in 1599.
We then went on a walking tour and saw the Spanish Stairs and two of Caravaggio’s famous paintings in Santa Maria del Populo Church near the Piazza del Populo. I find that I really love Caravaggio’s works as he has a way of portraying the heart of people in his paintings.
We finished the day with a nice dinner at a local restaurant and, of course, gelato.
Today the Church remembers the great St. Francis of Assisi, the great medieval saint who brought peace and joy to a world in such need. We just had the opportunity to visit his home town on Tuesday.
As a young man, Francis could have received his family’s fortune and lived a life of luxury. However, the Gospel of Jesus Christ grasped him and he turned away from the riches of this world to focus on building up treasures in heaven.
We are not all called, like St. Francis, to live radical poverty. However, we can follow Jesus unreservedly right in our own families, homes, and work places. Where is my heart today? Is Jesus my top priority? Is Jesus and the Gospel the guiding principle for every decision that I make for myself and my family and in my work?
If not, it is time to reevaluate my life and my priorities. What excuses am I offering the Lord today to keep from following Him? St. Francis left everything behind and found great joy, the pearl of great price. I have to say, I feel the same way following the Lord as a priest. Where is the Lord calling you?
Deacon Paul Solomon, may your heart always be on fire for the Gospel like your name-sake St. Paul.
Have a blessed day!