Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, January 28, 2014 — “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”


St. Thomas Aquinas

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church Lectionary: 318

Reading 1 2 sm 6:12b-15, 17-19


David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David amid festivities. As soon as the bearers of the ark of the LORD had advanced six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. Then David, girt with a linen apron, came dancing before the LORD with abandon, as he and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn. The ark of the LORD was brought in and set in its place within the tent David had pitched for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. When he finished making these offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. He then distributed among all the people, to each man and each woman in the entire multitude of Israel, a loaf of bread, a cut of roast meat, and a raisin cake. With this, all the people left for their homes.

Responsorial Psalm ps 24:7, 8, 9, 10


R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord! Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in! R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord! Who is this king of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle. R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord! Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in! R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord! Who is this king of glory? The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory. R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Gospel mk 3:31-35


The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
First thoughts from Peace and Freedom
Most people know that Thomas Aquinas was considered one of the most learned men of his age. His teacher, St. Albert the Great, had the same distinction. Albert got Alzheimer’s late in his life and lost everything stored in his brain — except for his love of God.

Saint Albert the Great (born about 1200, died at the age of 87) said “The noblest power of man is reason. The highest goal of reason is the knowledge of God.”

He was considered the greatest mind, the greatest thinker and the most learned man of his time and perhaps of all time. Many call him “a man for the ages.”

He was the foremost teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Pope Pious XI said Albert had “an insatiable thirst for truth” and “a tenacious memory.”

Many of Albert’s biographers report on his apparition of the Virgin Mary who said to him: “But in order that thou mayest know that it is to my bounty, and not to the exertion of thy own mind, that thou art indebted for this immense knowledge, thou shalt be completely stripped of it before thy death.”

Before he died, Albert did suffer some form of dementia as all his contemporaries and biographers report. Many note that he gracefully faced his physical and mental decline and that he exemplified the teaching of Jesus as reported in Matthew 18 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

That said, Albert apparently retained until the end the ability to say Mass, recite from memory scripture, and to cite the teachings of Aristotle.

He also famously said near the end, “Albert was once here, but he is here no longer.”

As we grow older, we need the things of this earth less and else until finally we need only the one thing: God;  ”The Way, The Truth and The Life.”

When people ask me why many of us suffer from loss of memory or mind and even Alzheimer’s and dementia: I always tell the story of “Albert The Great my hero.”

Near the end: we can only hope we are prepared enough “to be like little children.”

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

Today’s first reading shows the excitement, great rejoicing and unreserved emotions with which David “went and brought up the ark of God up from Obed-edom’s house to the Citadel of David.”   With pomp and music and dance, David led the House of Israel to welcome the Ark of the Lord.   So great was his delight that “David danced whirling round before the Lord with all his might, wearing a linen loincloth round him.”  What we have is a picture of someone so utterly consumed by his love for God that he could not be bothered what the world thought of him.

To understand this spectacle, we must try to enter into the depth of David’s heart.  Why was he so happy to welcome the ark?  It was because he believed that the Lord was the real King, and he was only his anointed one.  He knew that with the Lord’s presence, there will be peace in his household and in his land.  Indeed, this is what David wrote in the psalm, saying. “Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!  Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in! He is the lord of hosts the warrior.  Who is this king of glory? The Lord of hosts; he is the king of glory.”

David was deeply in love with the Lord.  When one is in love, one is moved to do all kinds of ‘silly’ things.  One does not use the head but the heart to love.   And because one loves with one’s whole being, one expresses this love not only through words but one’s entire body.  Being a musically talented and a poetic person, David, without feeling abashed, publicly demonstrated his emotions of joy in welcoming the Lord to his city.  David, as we know, was also passionate, as demonstrated earlier on in his love for Jonathan and King Saul.   So we should not be surprised that David was so expressive of his love for God.  Using all his faculties, mind, body, spirit, words, songs and music, he gave himself completely to the Lord.  He was totally oblivious to what others might think of him, especially for failing to keep his decorum as the King of Israel.  But then, David knew that he was just the representative of Yahweh.  And so before the King of kings, he stripped himself almost of everything, symbolizing his total dependence on the Lord.  Before the Lord, David let go of all his pretenses and danced freely before Him in gratitude and joy.

This ‘madness’ was not only confined to David, the lover of God.  Jesus, who was madly in love with His Father, was also thought to be mad by His own family members.  His relatives came to take Him home, thinking that He was out of His mind.  We can be certain that many thought He was crazy in the way He proclaimed the Kingdom of God with a motley bunch of disciples in tow.  His family members who still did not know Jesus’ real identity must have been concerned that He was going bonkers after hearing the many reports and stories of how Jesus was attracting large crowds of people, teaching them about the Abba Father, healing the sick, casting our demons and forgiving the sins of the people.  He was not even eating well.  That was why out of concern, they came back to bring Him home.

But isn’t this the way God loves us?  If we think we are crazy in love, God is even more madly in love with us. Which God would be so passionate about His people as to continue to love them in spite of their constant infidelity?  Which God would be so patient with such an ill-disciplined people?  Which God would empty Himself to become a man like us?  Which God would die for us on the cross, ridiculed, mocked and crucified?  God is certainly a crazy God, but it is because He is in love with us, aching to love us and yearning for us to love Him.  Because He loves us, He did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all (cf Rom 8:32) “so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)

When we realize the depth of God’s love for us, would it be out of character to express our joy and love with such elated uncontrolled joy?  If God gives us a heart that feels, it is because He knows that only a heart in love can express compassion and love.  Only a person who is capable of love is truly alive.  Otherwise, he is in Sheol, the place of the living dead.  It is pride that hinders people from being their true selves.   They are always conscious of what others say and think about them.  They pretend to be prim and proper, dignified and sober.  Yet, deep within them, they want to express their hearts but hold back for fear of being ridiculed and laugh at.  Instead, they try to rationalize their reservations by finding all the reasons why they should behave like robots.

In the light of this consideration, it would be appropriate to consider the external expressions of piety, love and respect we give to the Lord, particularly in the Blessed Sacrament.  Although we profess that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, how many of us accord Him the due reverence?  We certainly do not welcome the Eucharist the way King David welcomed the Ark of the Lord.  Many do not even kneel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or show any reverence even when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. We pay lip service to the true presence of our Lord in the Eucharist but our hearts are far from being convicted of His presence.  Otherwise, why it is that many of us just  walk in and out of the church, conduct our own conversations, and occupy ourselves with all manner of activities, quite oblivious to the fact that Jesus, our Lord and King, is present in our midst!

In a similar vein, we too, receive the Eucharist without the proper dispositions and decorum, not just externally, but our hearts are often not spiritually purified or prepared to receive Him.  How many of us are conscious that we are receiving the King of kings and the Lord of Hosts?  How many of us are excited to receive Jesus the king into our hearts?  For many, receiving communion is a routine done in a perfunctory manner.  Thus, the communion we receive, unlike David, does not bring about a real union with Him.

What is the real problem? Why are we not excited or moved by love when we receive Holy Communion?  The truth is that we do not believe in the power of the Lord, nor appreciate the power of the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.  We do not feel the way David felt about the power of the Ark of the Covenant that protected him through all the battles against his enemies.

Of course, external piety is not just confined to liturgical worship and devotions.  It also concerns the way we pray.  Many feel uncomfortable to praise God raising their hands and shouting to the Lord with joy in worship and praise.  Some even deem such expressions as inappropriate, lacking decorum and respect for the Lord.  One fails to realize that gestures and postures are cultural expressions of our love and devotion to the Lord.  Some prefer to kneel or even prostrate; others choose to bow or even raise their hands in worship.  What is important is not what we do in worship but whether the body in worship is truly expressive of how the heart is feeling.  Sometimes, the heart might not feel, but “performing” the actions and postures can move the heart to feel with the bodily expression.  Of course, the right postures and actions in worship must be used in such a way that does not bring disorder, especially in a liturgical worship where rubrics have been given so that the community acts and worship together in uniformity.

In the final analysis our restraint in expressing our love for the Lord is partly due to pride and partly because we do not share the intimacy that David had with our Lord as expressed in the composition of the psalms.  If Jesus’ relatives could not accept Jesus, it was, as Mark noted, they were “standing outside.”  In other words, they did not feel with Jesus, nor did they understand Him, hence the misperception of what Jesus was doing.  In contrast, Jesus addressed those who were inside, sitting in a circle about Him, saying, “Who are my mother and brothers?”  And Mark intentionally wrote, “And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.  Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”

In other words, only those who are with Jesus could share His mind and heart.  To share the heart and mind of Jesus is to share His soul and His life.  This spiritual kinship is even greater and closer than any human, biological kinship.  Thus, Jesus declares that when we do the will of the Father just as He did, we become His adopted brothers, sisters and mothers.  This union with Jesus, in heart and mind is what an integration of faith is all about.  Our union with the Lord is not based on human ties, not even our rank or position in life, less still, our talents and wealth but whether we are one with the Lord by doing the Father’s will, sharing in His dream and His plan for humanity. When we are identified with the Lord, then we will find the courage to walk in the freedom of the Spirit.

Indeed, an integral faith is not just an intellectual faith or an emotional faith.  It is a heart that is moved by love, a head that is enlightened by God.  Only a love that is based on the truth of God’s word and love can motivate a person to love God with His entire being, mind, soul and body.  Such love is not merely to be regarded as emotionalism because it produces the fruits of faith, namely, joy, peace and righteousness.

Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
The family of Jesus. The relatives reached the house where Jesus was. Probably they have come from Nazareth. From there up to Capernaum there is a distance of forty kilometres. His mother also comes together with them. They do not enter, but they send a messenger: “Look, your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you! Jesus’ reaction is clear: Who are my mother and my brothers? And he himself responds turning to look toward the crowd who is there around: Here are my mother and my brothers! Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother!
To understand well the sense of this response it is convenient to look at the situation of the family in the time of Jesus.
In the Old Israel, the clan, that is, the large family (the community), was the basis for social living together. It was the protection of the families and of the persons, the guarantee of the possession of the land, the principle vehicle of the tradition, the defence of identity. It was the concrete way on the part of the people of that time to incarnate the love of God and the love toward neighbour. To defend the clan was the same as to defend the Covenant.
In the Galilee at the time of Jesus, because of the system established during the long periods of government of Herod the Great (37 BC to 4 BC) and of his son Herod Antipas (4 BC to 39 AD), the clan, (the community) was becoming weaker. The taxes to be paid, both to the Government and to the Temple, the debts which were increasing, the individualistic mentality of the Hellenistic ideology, the frequent threats of violent repression on the part of the Romans and the obligation to accept the soldiers and give them hospitality, the ever growing problem of survival , all this impelled the families to close themselves in self and to think only of their own needs. This closing up was strengthened by the religion of the time. For example: the one who gave his inheritance to the Temple, could leave his parents without any help. This weakened the fourth commandment which was the backbone of the clan (Mk 7, 8-13). Besides this, the observance of the Norms of purity was a factor of marginalization for many persons: women, children, Samaritans, foreigners, lepers, possessed persons, tax collectors or Publicans, the sick, mutilated persons and paraplegic persons.
And thus, the concern with the problems of one’s own family prevented the persons to meet in community. Now, in order that the Kingdom of God could manifest itself in community living of the people, the persons had to overcome the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves again to the large family, to the Community. Jesus gave the example. When his own family tries to take possession of him, he reacted and extended the family: “Who are my mother and my brothers?”. And he himself gave the answer, turning his look toward the crowd: Here are my mother and my brothers! Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother, sister and mother! (Mk 3, 33-35). He crated a community. .
Jesus asked the same thing from all those who wanted to follow him. Families could not close themselves up in self . The excluded and the marginalized had to be accepted in the life with others, and in this way feel accepted by God (Lk 14, 12-14) This was the path to attain the objective of the Law which said “There must, then, be no poor among you” (Dt 15, 4). Like the great Prophets of the past, Jesus tries to consolidate community life in the villages of Galilee. He takes back the profound sense of the clan, of the family, of the community, as an expression of the incarnation of the love toward God and toward neighbour.
Personal questions
To live faith in the community. What place and what influence does the community have in my way of living faith ?
Today, in the large city, overcrowding promotes individualism which is contrary to life in community. What am I doing to counteract this evil?
Concluding prayer
I waited, I waited for Yahweh, then he stooped to me and heard my cry for help. He put a fresh song in my mouth, praise of our God. (Ps 40,1.3)

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