Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, June 6, 2013 — World’s Bravest Bridegroom Plus St. Augustine, St. Monica, St. Norbert and “The Not Yet Prayer”

File:William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Tobias Saying Good-Bye to his Father (1860).png

Tobias Saying Good-Bye to his Father. Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1860)

Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 356

Reading 1 Tb 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-17; 8:4-9a

When the angel Raphael and Tobiah had entered Media and were getting close to Ecbatana, Raphael said to the boy, “Tobiah, my brother!” He replied: “Here I am!” He said: “Tonight we must stay with Raguel, who is a relative of yours. He has a daughter named Sarah.”
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So he brought him to the house of Raguel, whom they found seated by his courtyard gate. They greeted him first. He said to them, “Greetings to you too, brothers! Good health to you, and welcome!” And he brought them into his home.
Raguel slaughtered a ram from the flock and gave them a cordial reception. When they had bathed and reclined to eat, Tobiah said to Raphael, “Brother Azariah, ask Raguel to let me marry my kinswoman Sarah.” Raguel overheard the words; so he said to the boy: “Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother. Besides, not even I have the right to give her to anyone but you, because you are my closest relative. But I will explain the situation to you very frankly. I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours, and all died on the very night they approached her. But now, son, eat and drink. I am sure the Lord will look after you both.” Tobiah answered, “I will eat or drink nothing until you set aside what belongs to me.”
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Raguel said to him: “I will do it. She is yours according to the decree of the Book of Moses. Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven! Take your kinswoman; from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved. She is yours today and ever after. And tonight, son, may the Lord of heaven prosper you both. May he grant you mercy and peace.” Then Raguel called his daughter Sarah, and she came to him. He took her by the hand and gave her to Tobiah with the words: “Take her according to the law. According to the decree written in the Book of Moses she is your wife. Take her and bring her back safely to your father. And may the God of heaven grant both of you peace and prosperity.” Raguel then called Sarah’s mother and told her to bring a scroll, so that he might draw up a marriage contract stating that he gave Sarah to Tobiah as his wife according to the decree of the Mosaic law. Her mother brought the scroll, and Raguel drew up the contract, to which they affixed their seals.
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Afterward they began to eat and drink. Later Raguel called his wife Edna and said, “My love, prepare the other bedroom and bring the girl there.” She went and made the bed in the room, as she was told, and brought the girl there. After she had cried over her, she wiped away the tears and said: “Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord grant you joy in place of your grief. Courage, my daughter.” Then she left.
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When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, “My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.” She got up, and they started to pray and beg that deliverance might be theirs. And they began to say:
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“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”
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They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.

Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (see 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord. Blessed are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; Blessed shall you be, and favored. R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table. R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord. Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion: may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Gospel Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
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Homily Ideas
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The first reading from the Old Testament Book of Tobit provides one of the best reflections on the sanctity  of the relationship between God and two married people.
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The married couple is called together  “not because of lust, but for a noble purpose.”
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How many Hollywood movie stars can claim that?
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The noble purpose is of course the making of children and the proper care of the family, each other, their children and others along the way.
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Christian marriage is a “calling” or a vocation to service of the other just as “religious” are called to serve God and His Church and people.
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Sarah in indeed the “Black Widow” who has seen seven prospective husbands die because they did seek marriage for the wrong reasons: to gain her father’s money and for lust!
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But along comes Tobiah — a man of true character and moral fiber. He fears the Lord and asks for deliverance unto heaven!  “Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.”
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My old priest friend used to say “Husband and wife are bound together so that each may get the other into heaven.”  That works so long as each is about the other and not him or her self!  Marriage is a selfless pact with another and with God.
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Black Widow (Sarah)
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The Book of Tobit (Book of Tobias in the Vulgate; from the Greek: τωβιθ, and Hebrew: טובי Tobi “my good”, also called the Book of Tobias from the Hebrew טוביה Tobiah “Yahweh is my good”) is a book of scripture that is part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canon, pronounced canonical by the Council of Carthage of 397 and confirmed for Roman Catholics by the Council of Trent (1546). It is listed as a book of the “Apocrypha” in Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.[1] Tobit is regarded by Protestants as apocryphal because it has never been included within the Tanakh nor considered canonical by Judaism. However, it is found in the Greek Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint), and Aramaic and Hebrew fragments of the book are in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in Cave IV at Qumran in 1952. These fragments are in agreement with the Greek text, which exists in three different recensions.
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Today is also the Feast of Saint Norbert
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St. Norbert was born at Xanten in the Rhineland, about the year 1080. The early part of his life was devoted to the world and its pleasures. He entered upon the ecclesiastical state in a worldly spirit.

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File:Norberts.jpg

The thunderstorm had boiled up suddenly as Norbert was out riding. Norbert, who had always chosen the easy way, would never have deliberately gone on a journey that promised danger, risk, or discomfort. He had moved easily from the comforts of the noble family he was born into at about 1080 to the pleasure-loving German court. He had no hesitations about joining in any opportunity to enjoy himself, no matter what the source of that pleasure. To ensure his success at court, he also had no qualms about accepting holy orders as a canon and whatever financial benefices that came with that position, although he did hesitate at becoming a priest and the implied responsibilities that came with that vocation.

But now high winds pushed and pulled at his fashionable coif, rain slashed at his fancy clothes, and dark roiling clouds pressed night down upon his light thoughts. A sudden flash of lightning split the dark and his horse bucked, throwing Norbert to the ground.

For almost an hour, the still form of the courtier lay unmoving. Even the rain soaking his clothes and the howl of thunder did not bring him back to consciousness and life. When he awoke his first words were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” — the same words Saul spoke on the road to Damascus. In response Norbert heard in his heart, “Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.”

He immediately returned to the place of his birth, Xanten, to devote himself to prayer and penance. He now embraced the instruction for the priesthood he had avoided and was ordained in 1115. His complete conversion and new ways caused some to denounce the former courtier as a hypocrite. Norbert’s response was to give everything he owned to the poor and to go to the pope for permission to preach.

With this commission in hand, he became an itinerant preacher, traveling through Europe with his two companions. In an extreme response to his old ways, he now chose the most difficult ways to travel — walking barefoot in the middle of winter through snow and ice. Unfortunately the two companions who followed him died from the ill-effects of exposure. But Norbert was gaining the respect of those sincere clerics who had despised him before. The bishop of Laon wanted Norbert to help reform the canons in his see, but the canons wanted nothing to do with Norbert’s type of reform which they saw as far too strict. The bishop, not wanting to lose this holy man, offered Norbert land where he could start his own community. In a lonely valley called Prmontr, began his community with thirteen canons. Despite the strictness of his regulation, or perhaps because it, his reforms attracted many disciples until eight abbeys and two convents were involved. Even the canons who had originally rejected him asked to be part of the reform.

In Norbert’s community we have the first evidence of lay affiliation with a religious order. This came about when a count Theobald wanted to join Norbert. Norbert realized that Theobald was not called to holy orders but to marriage and worldly duties. But he did not entirely reject Theobald, giving him a rule and devotions as well as a scapular to wear to identify him as part of the community.

It was on the trip accompanying Theobald to his marriage, that Norbert was spotted by Emperor Lothair and chosen as bishop of Magdebourg. Legend has it the porter refused to let Norbert into his new residence, assuming he was a beggar. When the crowd pointed out to the flustered porter that this was the new bishop Norbert told the porter, “You were right the first time.” Norbert carried the love of reform that he had found in his own life to his new diocese. As usual, this made him many enemies and he was almost assassinated. Disgusted with the citizens desire to keep to their old ways, he left the city, but was soon called back — not because the citizens missed him but because the emperor and the pope pressured them.  

When two rival popes were elected after the death of Honorius II, Norbert helped try to heal the Church by getting his admirer the emperor to support the first elected, Innocent II. At the end of his life he was made an archbishop but he died soon after on June 6, 1134 at the age of 53.

 from Wikipedia
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Norbert of Xanten (c. 1080 – 6 June 1134) was a bishop of the Catholic Church, founder of the Premonstratensian order of canons regular, and is venerated as a saint.

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Norbert reminds us at Peace and Freedom of St. Augustine.

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Augustine is one of those Olympian Sinners of faith history. His short story goes something like this: He’s living with his slave/pregnant girlfriend while still living under the roof of  his Mom’s house.  He is what today we would consider a lawyer or an advocate. He actually wins the case of a man accused of planning a murder. After the trial his client is set free and completes the murder he had been planning. Augustine shows no remorse but instead he is filled with pride because he won such a difficult trial! In his part time after the day’s drinking and frolicking, he is writing attacks of the followers of  Jesus Christ.

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But St. Augustine’s Mom (who we now know at Saint Monica) is instructing him on Jesus and constantly prays that Augustine will “get it.”

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So Augustine starts to pray “Oh God, I know I have to clean up my life and follow your way — BUT NOT YET!”

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I call “The Not Yet Prayer.”  I prayed it often myself!

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JFC

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File:Sainte Monique.jpg

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Saint Augustine and his mother, Saint Monica (painting from 1846)

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On Mark 12:28-34

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In the Scripture today, we have a story where the two parties are agreeable; where the scribe takes comfort that Jesus’ words line up with the scribe’s own words, beliefs, and teachings.  You see, the scribe had walked in on the middle of something.  In the preceding paragraphs, Jesus is being quizzed by elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees and they are not in agreement.  And where we pick up in verse 28, this scribe came and heard them discussing things like, “Do we have to pay taxes?”  “If a woman is married more than once, whose wife is she in the resurrection?”  And the scribe asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?”  The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary says this scribe is better than the rest because he didn’t come to trap Jesus, but came to learn.  I disagree.  He asks Jesus, Jesus answers and the scribe doesn’t say, ohhhh… that’s good.  I get it.  What does the scribe say to Jesus?  The scribe tells Jesus he has answered well.  And this scribe was not coming to learn the Shema.  The Shema is the prayer that a good Jew prays twice a day, every day:  “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  This scribe would have known the Shema.  They learned it like we learn, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, angels watch me through the night, wake me with the morning light.”  Or the old school… “If I should die before I wake, pray the Lord my soul to take.”

Jesus does do something new by elevating the love of neighbor here.  He basically combined Deut. 6:4 and part of Leviticus 19:18 into a summary of the law.  The rabbi’s had calculated that there were 613 laws, 248 do’s and 365 don’ts.  Do this and don’t do that.  And Jesus says of all, these combined are the most important.  If we do these, the rest should fall into place.

The scribe had no objection to this.  Well done Jesus.  Well done because I concur.  Well done because I agree.  Well done because I see things the same way.  But what happens when Jesus says things we don’t agree with?  Sometimes Jesus says things we don’t like.  What happened when Jesus said things the religious people didn’t like?  I mentioned that this scribe walked in on the middle of Jesus being quizzed.  Earlier in this chapter Jesus tells a parable and in 12:12 it says, “When they realized that He had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest Him, but they feared the crowd. So they left Him and went away.”

We know what happened when Jesus said things the religious people didn’t like.  They plotted to get Him.  They killed Him.  They hung Him on a cross.

Can you think of anything the Bible says that you don’t like?  Can you think of anything Jesus said that you don’t like?  I can think of things that I don’t like and things I know other don’t like.  There’s quite a bit about money.  I know a few of you are thinking to yourselves, “It doesn’t bother me when you preach about what the Bible says about money.”  I’ve come to the conclusion that in most, while not every case, people who tithe don’t mind hearing sermons on money, as a matter of fact people who tithe may like to hear sermons on money because they find it encouraging to know they are doing the right thing in their giving.  On the other hand, and once again not in every case, but I believe most, that people who don’t tithe, or people who give very little to the church, or those who give nothing to the church, don’t like to hear sermons about money because they either don’t agree or it makes them feel bad.  It’s nothing new.  Jesus saw money as something that came between the people and God then, and obviously knew money could be a hindrance in our Christian lives today.  And it often is.  And just because we may not like to hear about it doesn’t mean the preacher should avoid it.

There’s a lot in the Bible about forgiveness.  When Peter asked how many times he had to forgive someone?  Jesus said you are to forgive them over and over and over and over and over.  Some of us don’t like to hear that.  Some of us are of the Gomer Pyle school of thought – Can anyone tell me the Gomer Pyle philosophy?  “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”  I don’t believe Jesus means you let someone physically or emotionally abuse you, and you forgive them and let them hit you or emotionally abuse you again.  But I do believe Jesus means you forgive them, even if you don’t put yourself in a position to be abused again.  In that way, I think Jesus and Gomer agree.

Some people don’t like it that Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  Some people don’t like that Jesus said He was the only way to the Father.  Some people don’t like it when Christians say Jesus is the only way.  I don’t personally want to hurt others’ feelings or make them feel like we think our religion is superior to theirs.  We sound judgmental.  But the Bible tells us that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin.  “That there is no other way to God but through Jesus” doesn’t go over well with some people.  A.W. Tozer says in the Knowledge of the Holy, “Whoever is on God’s side is on the winning side and cannot lose. Whoever is on the other side is on the losing side and cannot win.”  It’s harsh to say that Muslims worship a false God because they don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God.  Some Christians, who want to be politically correct, want to say there are numerous ways to God.  Some Muslims want to kill people who won’t recant Jesus.  Odds are that just about all of you sitting here this morning like this part of the sermon and what the Bible and Jesus say.

  • Some people don’t like it when we call God Father.  Others love calling Him Father.  Jesus said, when you pray, pray this way, “Our Father…”
  • Some don’t like it when we go to or send money to missionaries in other countries to make disciples and offer aid.  Some mistakenly think Jesus said “Charity begins at home.”  Others like it that Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

The list goes on and on.  Sometimes we’re like the scribe and we say, “Yes, Jesus. We agree with you. Well said.”  Other times we’re like the Pharisees and Sadducees.  We want to ignore what the Bible says and what Jesus says.  Or we want to spin it in such a way that it agrees with our thinking.  Just because we don’t agree or think maybe Jesus shouldn’t have said something, it doesn’t make us right.  In the verse before our Scripture started, Jesus told the Sadducees, “…you are quite wrong.”

Tozer also writes, “The idolater simply imagines things about God and acts as if they were true.  Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear.”

Whether you like what Jesus said or what the Bible says is irrelevant.  Whether you don’t think a preacher should preach about money, or the wrath of God, or adultery, or divorce, or sex outside of marriage, or abortion, or feeding and clothing the poor…  None of that should matter to the preacher.  My job is not to tell you what you want to hear.  My job is to tell you the truth as I understand God’s Word, as it’s revealed to me through prayer and study.

I don’t like shots.  But I’m guessing I would like Yellow Fever or Typhoid less than I like shots, so when I went to Africa, I got shots so I would not get Yellow Fever or Typhoid.  I don’t like cutting down on eating sweets, but the truth is I have diabetes and if I don’t do what my doctor says when it comes to eating and taking my medicine, there will be consequences.  I don’t have to like it, but just because I don’t like it does not mean I should not be doing it.

Jesus and the Holy Scriptures teach that walking the Christian walk and being a disciple of Jesus is going to consist of things that go against our own desires and sometimes against our earthly self-interests.  God’s Word will at times make us and others uncomfortable.  Jesus went so far as to say the world would hate us, but not to be concerned.  They hated Him first.  But don’t be concerned.  He has overcome the world.

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http://scottknowlton.wordpress.com/sermons/mark-12-28
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