Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, June 13, 2017 — The revelation of your words sheds light

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 360

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Reading 1 2 COR 1:18-22

Brothers and sisters:
As God is faithful, our word to you is not “yes” and “no.”
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us,
Silvanus and Timothy and me,
was not “yes” and “no,” but “yes” has been in him.
For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him;
therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory.
But the one who gives us security with you in Christ
and who anointed us is God;
he has also put his seal upon us
and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135

R. (135a) Lord, let your face shine on me.
Wonderful are your decrees;
therefore I observe them.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
gives understanding to the simple.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
I gasp with open mouth
in my yearning for your commands.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Turn to me in pity
as you turn to those who love your name.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Steady my footsteps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity rule over me.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.

Alleluia MT 5:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

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Today’s Gospel passage from Saint Matthew speaks to us and tells us that we must be the salt of the earth and a light for the world.  This presence in the world is so very different from the presence of great people who receive attention and adulation of others.  Instead, the salt that we are and the light that we shine are also only from Jesus Himself.  When we reflect the glory of God, the strength is incredible!  When we show forth our own strength, it is as nothing.  At some level, we all know that, but we are still tempted to put ourselves first rather than God.

My sisters and brothers, all of us fail.  We all sin and are prone to sin.  On the other hand, we know the power of God in our lives and we must choose each day to walk with the Lord and to let the Lord be our strength and our light.  Our world will be transformed and will reflect the words of Isaiah:  If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Your  brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Abiquiu, New Mexico

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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13 JUNE, 2017, Tuesday, 11th Week, Ordinary Time
REKINDLING OUR ZEAL FOR THE LORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 Cor 1:18-22; Ps 118:129-133,135; Mt 5:13-16 ]

In today’s gospel, Jesus said to His disciples: “’You are the salt of the earth.’… ‘You are the light of the world.’”  Clearly, Jesus expects His disciples to make a difference in the lives of their fellowmen.  Do we bring our riches to enrich the rest of humanity? Do we share our resources with others to make this world a better place?  Like salt, we are called to make this world a vibrant place to live in.   Like salt, we are called to add value to what others are doing.  Unless, we make positive contributions to the lives of our fellowmen we are not living out the gospel.

Besides being the salt of the world, we are called also to be the light of humanity.  Our task as Christians is to lead people to the fullness of the light and the fullness of truth.  We who have been enlightened in the truth about our identity as the sons and daughters of God and called to share in the life of Christ must, like St Paul, also proclaim the mystery of God’s plan for all humanity.  All of us are members of the family of God but not all are aware of their calling to share in the fullness of life that Christ has shown us in His passion, death and resurrection.  Most of all, we are called to share in the Trinitarian life of God, a life of joy, abundant love and life.

However, the more important questions are those which Jesus posed to us –  “But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?  A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.”  The truth is that some of us who have been passionate in spreading the Good News to everyone have lost our passion and zeal.  Indeed, there is much turnover in Church membership and active involvement.  Many who are newly baptized or have found the Lord are full of life and are committed to many activities in the Church.  They are zealous and happy to be able to serve Christ in His Church.  But along the way, many lose their zeal.  Some become jaded, others are disillusioned and some even resentful.

What are the reasons for losing our zeal and our shine?  Firstly, we fall into routine.  When we do the same thing again and again, we get used to what we do. Initially, we do with our mind and heart.  But when such activities, which include spiritual practices such as daily mass, meditation and devotional prayers are repeated, they get done mechanically.  The lips are moving but the heart is far from God.  This is true even in Church activities.  We can simply be singing correctly in the choir but without the heart and the sentiments.  We can be teaching catechism but we are just imparting information, not a conviction.  Extra-ordinary communion ministers could just be distributing the hosts as quickly as they can, but without the consciousness that they are bringing Christ to those who come to receive them.

Secondly, we become jaded because of burnout.  The danger for those who are active in Church is that people are always looking for a willing horse.  So those who are already committed in the Church are often asked to do more and more.  They join a few organizations as their services are needed.  They do not know how to say “no.”  Eventually, they over commit.  They get tired and fatigued.  They have no time to pray or even have time for family and work.  As a result, everything starts crashing and from over involvement, the person gives up everything.

Thirdly, we lose our zeal because of the lack of support and opposition, not so much from without the Church but from within.  The most insidious enemies are those within the Church.  They have nothing but negative criticisms.  They have nothing good to say about anything. They are skeptical and destructive in what they say.  Some have ulterior motives because their interests are compromised.  Some seek power and popularity.  When we meet such wet blankets, we get easily discouraged.  As it is, the work we do is out of passion, voluntarism and generosity on our part.  But when we receive little support, we become disillusioned, resentful, and it would be a matter of time before we lose our zeal and passion. We react by just maintaining the status quo, afraid to rock the boat and become mediocre in our commitment.  The fire and zeal are extinguished by the harsh critics in our life.  After some time, we will say to ourselves, “Why should I suffer such ingrates?  Why should I be bothered with the organization; after all I am providing a free service!”  Truly, we have many good and dedicated people who have given up serving the Church simply because they were rejected.

Fourthly, some lose their zeal because of the world.  Instead of changing the world, they have allowed the values of the world to change them.  Instead of Christianizing the world, they have allowed the world to secularize them.  When we are too much of the world and not just in the world, we will lose our faith and values.  The truth is that many Catholics do not have Catholic friends of Catholic influence other than the Sunday mass they attend.  Being in the world most of the time, they pick up values that are contrary to the gospel and to the faith.  As a result, the light that they have received from the Lord dims over time.  No one loses his faith immediately.  But our faith, just like love and zeal, dies out over time when we do not rekindle it.  So we must not allow the world to influence us; adopting values such as promiscuity, consumerism, relativism and living a sensual life of pleasure and fun.

“But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?”  The responsorial psalm gives us the answer.  “Let your face shine on your servant.  Your will is wonderful indeed; therefore I obey it. The unfolding of your word gives light and teaches the simple. Let my steps be guided by your promise; let no evil rule me.  Let your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.”   Indeed, there is no other way than to turn to the Lord for His mercy and enlightenment.  The lack of prayer life is the primary cause of losing zeal and passion in our ministry.  The lack of intimacy with the Lord is the cause of losing our relationship with Him.

That is why St Paul reminds us of the anointing that we have received and that we have been given the first pledge of salvation.  “Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.”   When we were baptized and when we received the Holy Spirit, we were filled with His presence and given the gifts as well.  What we need to do is to renew our lives in the Holy Spirit.  We need to renew our relationship with the Lord, contemplating on the Word of God and receiving the sacraments with devotion and fervor.

Finally, let us cling to the fidelity of God towards us.  St Paul was able to remain firm in his faith and ministry because he knew that Christ is reliable.  He said, “I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you.  The Son of God, the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed among you was never Yes and No: with him it was always Yes, and however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him.  That is why it is ‘through him’ that we answer Amen to the praise of God.”  We can rely on Christ because He is the fulfillment of the promises of God as prophesied in the Old Testament.   In Christ, all that God has promised His people are fulfilled.  That is why, Christ is the fulfillment of the plan of God for humanity.   With confidence in Christ’s fidelity to us, we can continue to persevere in our faith and ministry, regardless of the trials and difficulties,because we know that just as the Father was faithful to Jesus even at death, He will be faithful to us if we continue to shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing our good works, they may give the praise to our Father in heaven.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Sunrise Photograph – Dawn In The Desert by Saija Lehtonen
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

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Reflection

• Yesterday, in meditating on the Beatitudes, we passed through the door of entry of the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5, 1-12). Today in the Gospel we receive an important instruction on the mission of the Community. It should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5, 13-16). Salt does not exist for itself, but to give flavour to the food. Light does not exist for itself, but for the service of people. At the time when Matthew wrote his Gospel, this mission was very difficult for the communities of the converted Jews. In spite that they were living in faithful observance of the Law of Moses, they were expelled from the Synagogues, cut away from their Jewish past. Regarding this, among the converted pagans, some said: “After the coming of Jesus, the Law of Moses has become obsolete”. All this caused tension and uncertainty. The openness of some seemed to be criticism of the observance of others, and vice versa. This conflict brought about a crisis which led many to close up in their own position. Some wanted to advance, to go ahead, others wanted to place the light under the table. Many asked themselves: “In last instance, which is our mission?” Recalling and updating the words of Jesus, Matthew tries to help them.

• Matthew 5, 13-16: Salt of the earth. By using images of daily life, with simple and direct words, Jesus makes known which is the mission and the reason for being a Christian community: to be salt. At that time when it was very hot, people and animals needed to consume much salt. The salt, which was delivered by merchants in great blocks in the public square, was consumed by the people. What remained fell to the ground and lost its savour. “It no longer serves for anything, but it is thrown out and trampled under people’s feet”. Jesus recalls this use in order to clarify for the disciples the mission which they have to carry out.

• Matthew 5, 14-16: Light of the world. The comparison is obvious. Nobody lights a candle and places it under the tub. A city built on the hill top, cannot be hidden. The community should be light, it should enlighten. It should not be afraid to show the good that it does. It does not do it to make itself seen, but what it does can be seen. The salt does not exist for itself. The light does not exist for itself! This is how the community should be. It cannot remain enclosed in itself. “Your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in Heaven.”

• Matthew 5, 17-19: Not one dot, not one little stroke will disappear from the Law. Among the converted Jews there were two tendencies. Some thought that it was not necessary to observe the laws of the Old Testament because we are saved by the faith in Jesus and not by the observance of the Law (Rm 3, 21-26). Others thought that they should continue to observe the laws of the Old Testament (Ac 15, 1-2). In each one of the two tendencies there were some more radical groups. Before this conflict, Matthew tries to find a balance, the equilibrium, over and beyond the two extremes. The community should be the space, where this equilibrium can be attained and lived. The response given by Jesus continued to be very actual: “I have not come to abolish the law, but to complete it!” The communities cannot be against the Law, nor can they close themselves up in the observance of the law. Like Jesus did, they must advance forward, and show in a practical way that the objective which the law wants to attain in life is the perfect practice of love.

•The different tendencies in the first Christian communities. The plan of salvation has three stages united among themselves from the earth to life: a) the Old Testament: the path of the Hebrew People, orientated, guided by the Law of God. b) The life of Jesus of Nazareth: it renews the Law of Moses starting from his experience of God, Father and Mother. c) The life of the communities: through the spirit of Jesus, they tried to live as Jesus lived it. The union of these three stages generates the certainty of faith that God is in our midst. The intention to break or weaken the unity of this plan of salvation gave rise to various groups and tendencies in the communities:

i) The Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as Messiah and accepted only the Old Testament. In the communities there were some people who sympathized with the thought of the Pharisees (Ac 15, 5).

ii) Some converted Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah, but they did not accept the liberty of spirit with which the communities lived the presence of the Risen Jesus. (Ac 15,1).

iii) Others, both converted Jews and pagans, thought that with Jesus had come the end of the Old Testament. From now on, Jesus alone and the life in the Spirit.

iv) There were also Christians who lived so fully the life in the liberty of the Spirit, that they no longer looked at the life of Jesus of Nazareth, nor the Old Testament (1Co 12,3).

v) Now the great concern of the Gospel of Matthew is that of showing that the Old Testament, Jesus of Nazareth and the life in the Spirit cannot be separated. The three form part of the same and only project of God and give us the central certainty of faith: The God of Abraham and of Sarah is present in the midst of the communities by the faith in Jesus of Nazareth.

Personal questions

• For you, in your life experience, for what does salt serve? Is your community salt? For you, what does light signify in your life? How is your community light?

• How do the people of the neighbourhood see your community? Does your community have some attraction for others? Is it a sign? Of what? For whom?

Concluding Prayer

Yahweh judiciously guides the humble,
instructing the poor in his way.
Kindness unfailing and constancy mark all his paths,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. (Ps 25,9-10)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-513-16

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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07 JUNE 2016, Tuesday, 10th Week in Ordinary Time
WALKING OUT OF THE CHURCH

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 KINGS 17:7-16; MT 5:13-16  ]

Lord, let your face shine on us.   When I call, answer me, O my just God.”    This is the cry of the world as well.  Today, many are unable to see the face of God.  In a world of materialism, we cannot hear the voice of God.  In a world of consumerism, we cannot feel God. In a world of technology, we cannot rely on God.  In a world of relativism, we cannot know God.  In a world of poverty, sickness, injustice, war and natural disasters, it is difficult to believe in a God who cares.  God seems to be redundant and remote.

If we think that is bad enough, sometimes, we feel that God is not even in His Church.  With so many problems facing the Church, scandals and failures and sin in the Church, we wonder at times whether Jesus is with the Church at all.  Those of us who work with the Church or are involved in Church activities often become disillusioned when confronted with the sinful and imperfect side of the Church, especially the bureaucracy and politics.  Many times we feel like walking out of the Church.  We become disheartened as to whether Christ is with His Church.

What is the reason for our feeling discouraged?  We do not have the faith of Elijah and the widow at Sidon. We lack faith that God is with us.    We trust more in ourselves and in our ingenuity.  Even those who are supposedly more grounded in the knowledge of the faith are not spared from such disappointments.   This is because our faith is more of an intellectual faith than a personal faith.   That is why some of us give up on our ministry and our faith in God and in the institutions when things do not seem to go the way we think they should.  Many of our so called ordinary Catholics who do not have much knowledge of the bible and the doctrines of the Church seem to have greater faith than us, just like the widow in the first reading.  They live their lives in total surrender and trust in God.  Like the psalmist, they “know that the Lord does wonders for his faithful one.”  Indeed, “the Lord will hear me when I call upon him. Tremble, and sin not; reflect, upon your beds, in silence.”

In the case of Elijah, when there was famine everywhere, he trusted in God.  He did not give up hope.  He took God at His word that the rain would eventually return, for God allowed the famine to punish the people of Israel so that they would be brought to repentance.  This is even truer in the case of the widow.  She had nothing left because of the drought.  Yet when she was tested to share her last meal with Elijah, she did not hold anything back. She was willing to give up her food to the prophet.  Although stripped of everything, she did not bear grudges against God.  She hoped against all hope.  Because of her great faith, she was rewarded with the gift of bread.  For the miracle of the loaves took place as the prophet said, “Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied, before the day when the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.”  This miracle anticipates the multiplication of loaves of our Lord who too multiplied bread for the five thousand.  And today in the Eucharist He makes Himself present to those who believe in Him and His real presence in the Eucharist.  The Lord continues to feed those who have faith in Him.

As the chosen people of God, we are called to proclaim faith in the world and give hope to humanity who no longer can feel the presence of God.  We do this by being the salt of the earth and light of the world.   To be salt is to continue to preserve our institutions and the faith of our fathers.  We are called to preserve the gospel values that have been imparted to us.   But salt is more than mere preservation of traditions and institutions.  To be the salt of the earth is to transform life, to add spice and flavour into the boring and meaningless life of society.   We are called to make a difference in people’s lives, by giving them meaning and purpose.  We must correct the wrong impression that religion and religious people are boring and prudish.  Many think that religion takes the joy out of life.  On the contrary, it is important to let people know that faith in Christ gives greater meaning and purpose to life, and helps us to love more authentically, setting us free from our enemies.  Faith in Christ keeps us tranquil in the face of problems and hope in the face of desperation.

We are also called to be the light of the world, to be a beacon to humanity.   As light, we are called to show them the face of God and Christ as their light in their struggles in life, so that they can walk in the way.  We do this by radiating Christ’s love and life.  There is no way to be the light unless we show good examples to others.  Of course, the purpose of all that we do is not meant to attract people to ourselves but to the Heavenly Father.  Jesus said, “In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.”  That is why the good works of a Christian are not done for show.  They come from a heart that is full of love for God and for their neighbours.   They spring unconsciously and naturally from a person who has the heart of God.

But it is easy to conceive of our ministry as saving the world out there.  The truth is that the world is not out there but here.  It is easy to love humanity but we cannot stand people around us.   Loving the Church is easy but the Church is where we are, a community of sinners striving to become saints.  Many of us are broken and wounded.  As a result, we have to deal with imperfect brothers and sisters who are struggling to live the gospel life.  The real test of love is not loving the Church in the abstract but the very people around us.

So we must begin by being salt and light to each other.  It is important to ask whether we inspire faith in the community we belong.  Instead of bemoaning that some members are not living an authentic Christian life, we should be setting an example to live exemplary Christian lives.  Are we truly salt to each other in terms of protecting each other from the ways of the world, from the loss of faith?  Are we salt to our community, adding flavor and colour to the community we belong?  Are we light to each other, helping each other to grasp our understanding of God, helping each other to come to know ourselves and most of all, be a shining example of God to each other?

We are called to reveal His face to each other and be a source of inspiration to each other.  A good question to ask in determining whether we are salt or light to this community is whether the community will feel our absence when we are no longer around. Our presence must be seen by the community as contributive.  Whether we are living a life of influence is determined when we are called to leave the community.  If our absence is considered a real loss to the community, then we have certainly been salt and light to them.  But if our departure does not cause any loss to the community, it means that we have never been an influence in the life of the community.  If we do not begin here and now, we would be deluding ourselves into thinking we can change the Church and the world.

Indeed, to fulfill our vision of being the salt and light of the world, we must deepen our understanding and experience of the mystery of Christ by sharing our Christ-experience in a loving community, and challenging and supporting one another in evangelical and missionary zeal.  Jesus warns us, “But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again?  It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.”  This is a warning to all of us who have taken our faith for granted and living a mediocre life.   By not nurturing our faith, we will lose all influence in the lives of others.   Let us therefore come to Jesus in the Eucharist and have Him fill us with His love; and let us be salt to each other for each other’s good.  Let our love for the Lord and our presence in a faith-filled community strengthen our love for the Lord and for each other.   Without being salted by the Lord and His Body, we will not be able to the salt and light of the world.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, June 13, 2017 — The revelation of your words sheds light”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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