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January 17 - St. Anthony

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordJanuary 17, 2023

today's readings are Hebrews 6: 10-20; Psalm 111 and Mk. 2: 23-28

Every once in a while I have had persons say that it is impossible to literally put Jesus' most challenging teachings into action.  My response is immediate - I tell that that these teachings can be extremely difficult to put into action, and normally I would not expect people to do so, but still, it can be done, and it has been done. As an example, I will speak of today's saint, Anthony of Egypt, someone who took the Gospel literally and gave everything away to seek God in prayer.

Anthony was born in Egypt in 251, and when his parents died when he was 20 years old, he took on the responsibility for minding the family’s 300 acres and  caring for his sister.  One day at mass, Anthony heard this gospel passage proclaimed: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell, what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). The passage moved deeply, and shortly thereafter he gave away all of his property except what he and his sister needed for sustenance. Shortly thereafter, he heard Jesus’ words from this passage: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Mt 6:34). He immediately gave away the rest of their property and entrusted his sister to the care of a convent. He began a simple life of prayer, fasting, and manual labor, and ended up becoming the Father of Western Monasticism.

No doubt many of Anthony's family and friends thought his actions were "way over the top".  But he persisted in living the gospel message to the fullest, to the age of 105. St. Athanasius wrote the following about St. Anthony: "Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God." 

Today we pray, St. Anthony of Egypt, pray for us.