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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples: “Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

REFLECTION: " But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.”

This is the same Gospel reading from Sunday July 12, 2020 but a shorter version. Why repeat? Sometimes we need to hear God's Word repeated as a reminder to heed what God is telling us. After all we did not learn our ABC's without practice and repetition. He wants us to be the seed that fell on good soil so that we sprout wherever and whenever God wills it.

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born 1828 in the mountains of northern Lebanon. His father died at a young age. He was raised in a devout and Christian family. He was one of 5 children. Completely wrapped in God’s love and focused on serving Christ, he became a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order at 23 and he took the name “Charbel.” He completely devoted his life to Christ. He was a great monk, hermit, priest, miracle-worker, mystic and saint. He is better known as St. Sharbel Makhluf or Makhlouf. He is a very powerful intercessor, especially on behalf of the ill or infirm. He died in 1898 Christmas Eve before the presence of the Eucharist.

St Sharbel heard the voice of God, and lived his whole life receiving, meditating, and living His Word. In 1875, St Sharbel was granted permission by his Abbot to live as a hermit in a monastery Chapel. He remained in the chapel, as a solitary hermit, for 23 years, until his death.

Numerous well-documented and high profile miracles were reported at the time of his death. A light was seen rising over his tomb and when the tomb was opened, the body was found to be sound, perfect, and incorrupt .His body remained incorrupt until the 1960’s.

One of his many miracles was the healing of Nohad El Shami from Mezarib in Mount Lebanon. At the time of the miracle, Shami was a 55-year-old mother of twelve. On January 9, 1993, she suffered a stroke with paralysis of one side of the body due to obstruction of the carotid arteries.

Her doctors concluded that recovery was unlikely, as no treatment for her condition existed.

Her eldest son, Saad, visited the Sts Peter and Paul hermitage in Annaya (where St. Sharbel spent most of his days in prayer, silence and solitude), seeking the saint’s powerful intercession.

He brought back consecrated oil and soil from St. Sharbel’s tomb to give to his mother.

Her health did not improve. She spent several days in constant, agonizing pain. However, one night, she dreamed that St. Sharbel gave her Holy Communion while attending Mass in the hermitage in Annaya.

On January 22, 1993, Nohad had another dream. She dreamed of two monks standing beside her bed: one with his hands on her neck as he operated, while the other monk relieved her pain.

When Nohad woke up, she noticed two surgical wounds on her neck, and that she could move her whole body again. She was completely and miraculously cured from hemiplegia!

Pope Paul VI referred to St Sharbel as an "admirable flower of sanctity blooming on the stem of the ancient monastic traditions of the East". Indeed St Sharbel was "the seed sown on rich soil who heard the word and undersood it, and who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold" even many years after his death. He made himself into good soil where supernatural virtues took root.

God Bless You


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