Posts Tagged ‘Jesus is the Way’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, February 10, 2018 — Feeding the Multitude with Loaves and Fish

February 9, 2018

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
Lectionary: 334

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

Feeding the Multitude by Bernardo Strozzi, early 17th century.

Reading 1 1 KGS12:26-32; 13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself:
“The kingdom will return to David’s house.
If now this people go up to offer sacrifices
in the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem,
the hearts of this people will return to their master,
Rehoboam, king of Judah,
and they will kill me.”
After taking counsel, the king made two calves of gold
and said to the people:
“You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough.
Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan.
This led to sin, because the people frequented those calves
in Bethel and in Dan.
He also built temples on the high places
and made priests from among the people who were not Levites.
Jeroboam established a feast in the eighth month
on the fifteenth day of the month
to duplicate in Bethel the pilgrimage feast of Judah,
with sacrifices to the calves he had made;
and he stationed in Bethel priests of the high places he had built.Jeroboam did not give up his evil ways after this,
but again made priests for the high places
from among the common people.
Whoever desired it was consecrated
and became a priest of the high places.
This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam
for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.

Responsorial Psalm PS 106:6-7AB, 19-20, 21-22

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers;
we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.
Our fathers in Egypt
considered not your wonders.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

AlleluiaMT 4:4B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Gospel MK 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
because they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
If I send them away hungry to their homes,
they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.”
His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread
to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”
Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They replied, “Seven.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Look at the words: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given.
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This is what Jesus does. This is what Jesus did with the loaves and the fish — and this is what Jesus does again at The Last Supper.
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Jesus does this over and over again in the Mass — and with us in our lives.
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Whenever we are broken we can return to Him. We can be taken, blessed, broken and given back to Him.
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Archbishop Goh has said, “Without hope, everything will end in nihilism.”
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Nihilism says that life is without objective meaning. Nothing could be further from the truth if we follow Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
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Related:
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Our thanks and prayers go out to Fr. Henri Nouwen who has been my excellent teacher.
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Fr. Henri Nouwen

In Henri Nouwen’s book “Life of the Beloved” he outlines four words that he believes are central to the spiritual lives of Christians,

“To identify the movements of the Spirit in our lives, I have found it helpful to use for words: taken, blessed, broken and given. These words summarize my life as a priest because each day, when I come together around the table with members of my community, I take bread, bless it, break it and give it. These words also summarize my life as a Christian, because, as a Christian, I am called to become bread for the world: break that is taken, blessed, broken and given. Most importantly, however, they summarize my life as a human being because in every moment of my life somewhere, somehow the taking, the blessings, the breaking and the giving are happening.” (Life of the Beloved, 41-42)

The radical difference between the way God works and the way the world works is that the world only uses 2 of the four. The world takes and breaks with no idea of how to bless and give. Praise God that we have a Father who knows us and loves us enough to give us exactly what we need and then turn right around and use us to be a blessing to others through the experiences we have walking with God…being taken by him, blessed by him, experiencing brokenness through him and with him and then being given for others.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed it, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26

Nouwen says, we are now that bread….

http://mattdabbs.com/2014/07/28/taken-blessed-broken-given-we-are-the-bread/

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Commentary on Mark 8:1-10 from Living Space

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Today we have the second of two multiplication stories found in Mark. The first with 5,000 people was in a predominantly Jewish area while this one with 4,000 people is in mainly Gentile territory. Jesus is reaching out to both groups. The people have nothing to eat and are hungry. The meaning is both physical and spiritual.

Once again we see Mark indicating the emotional response of Jesus. He is filled with compassion for the people in their need. “I feel compassion for all these people… If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way… Some have come a great distance.”

They will collapse “on the way”, on the road. Jesus is the Way, the Road. To walk the road of Jesus, we need a certain kind of nourishment. This is what Jesus came to give.

The disciples, interpreting Jesus literally, as they usually do, ask: “Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?” In the presence of Jesus, the question answers itself but the disciples have not yet clicked. In Mark’s gospel they are often shown to be without an understanding of just who their Master is. That is because they represent us.

The disciples are asked what they can supply. Seven loaves and a few fish is all they have.

There is a strong eucharistic element in this, as in the former story. The people are told to sit down. “He took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks (eucharistesas, ’ eucaristhsas in the Greek), he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the crowd.”

Again we note that Jesus himself does not give out the food the people need. It comes from him but his distributed by his disciples. The same is today. It is our task to feed the hungry – both physically and spiritually. All were filled – 4,000 people altogether – and even so there were seven (a perfect number) baskets left over. A sign of God’s abundance shared with his people.

Again, as before, “He sent them away and, immediately, getting into the boat with his

disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha”, back to Jewish territory. Jesus was leaving no room for any misinterpretations of what he had done. The disciples too are quickly removed from the scene. There was to be no self-congratulation or glorying in their connections with Jesus the wonder worker. Through the miracle the teaching had been given and that was it.

Lord, teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost;

to fight and not to heed the wounds;

to labour and seek no reward

save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

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http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2057g/

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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10 FEBRUARY, 2018, Saturday, 5th Week, Ordinary Time
HEALING THROUGH ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 KGS 12:26-3213:33-34PS 106:6-719-22MK 8:1-10  ]

Today’s readings should lead us to reflect on the close link between sickness and sin, whether remotely or proximately.  Sin is alienation from God and from each other.  As a result of our loss of focus, man has usurped the place of God and made himself a god.  That means he can no longer depend on anyone but himself.  Inevitably, he loses his balance in life and all integrity within himself and his relationship with the world.  This has brought about his bodily illness because there is a lack of integrity between his mind, body and spirit. The loss of the preternatural gifts, resulting in death, pain, ignorance and concupiscence, is the consequence of Adam’s disobedience.  Seduced and misled by the serpent who said to his wife Eve, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5), his pride caused him to deceive himself into thinking that he can do without God.

The sin of the Israelites is the same sin as that of Adam’s.  It is a repetition of the sin of pride and disobedience.  Already in the Book of Exodus, we read how the Israelites made for themselves a golden calf whilst Moses was meeting the Lord at the Mountain.  Again, we see this same attempt of Jeroboam.  He “made two golden calves; he said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough.  Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”  It was out of ambition, fear and selfishness that he turned away from the true God of Israel and erected his own sanctuaries, altars for sacrifices, appointed his own priests that were not of the Levi tribe.  He did all these to prevent his people from going to Jerusalem for fear that the people might return to the Kingdom of David.  So to restrain contacts between his people and those of Judah, he duplicated the shrines purely for his self-interest.  As a result, he led his people to sin, as their religion and worship became contaminated and diluted by pagan influences.  When God is abandoned, sin increases.  There is no greater sin than the sin of idolatry, for the sin of Adam is in fact the sin of idolatry.  Anyone who worships himself is committing the sin of idolatry, which will lead to every other sin.

It was for this reason that Christ come.  He came to reconcile us with God so that we can find focus in life again.  He came to show us who His Father really is.  He came to reveal to us the mercy and compassion of God.   Indeed, the healing ministry was central to the life of Jesus.  His healing miracles were signs that He has come to overthrow the reign of Satan and destroy sin.  The miracles of Jesus were, on one hand, the expression of God’s compassion for His suffering and afflicted people.  On the other hand, it was also a demonstration of the power of the Spirit at work in Jesus manifesting the divine presence in Him.  By healing the sick, which is the consequence of original sin and also quite often the fruits of our own personal sins, it shows that God has come to restore us.  By living a foolish, selfish, self-centered, ill-disciplined and wanton life, we cannot but bring misery upon ourselves and even our loved ones.  St Paul, warning the Galatians about living a licentious life, wrote, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  (Gal 6:7-8)

Jesus came to teach us about God’s love and the way to live a life of love and service.  This is brought out in today’s gospel story.  By the act of multiplying the loaves for the Seven Thousand, Jesus wanted the crowd to know that only God can satisfy their spiritual and physical hunger completely.  And when God gives, He gives abundantly, beyond human calculation.  This was what the disciples learnt in this miracle.  When they were wondering how to feed so many people, Jesus worked this miracle to let them know that He is the Bread of Life.  Just as God gave manna to their fathers in the desert, so now Jesus, the Bread of life, is doing the same by feeding them in a deserted place.

Accordingly, the best place to be healed is in the Eucharist.  Many Catholics who are seeking spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological healing fail to realize that they have the greatest means of healing before them, namely, the Eucharist.  Being the real presence of our Risen Lord, the Eucharist has the power to transmit the healing grace of God.  At every mass, just before the reception of Holy Communion, we repeat the words of the Centurion, saying, “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  Indeed, since Jesus is personally present in the Eucharist, He too can heal us the way He healed the sick when He was in His earthly life at Palestine.

Today, as in the days of old, there are so many people who need healing from all kinds of illnesses. Like the apostles, we too ask: how can we find the strength and resources to help them?   The answer of course is to bring Jesus to them.  And what better way to do this than to give them the Eucharist, the presence of Jesus par excellence.  As the gospel tells us, after Jesus multiplied the loaves for them, they ate their fill and still they collected seven basket loads of leftover.  So with Jesus, all can be satisfied.

But how is this so?  Faith in the healing power of the Eucharist must not be reduced to mere superstition.  We must keep the unity between the Word and the Sacrament.  The gospel tells us that Jesus taught them for three days before He broke bread for them.  In other words, before we can celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist, we must be converted in the mind through careful listening of the Word of God.  Unless the mind is renewed and converted, the heart cannot be changed.  Unless a person is brought to repentance and contrition, no effective healing can take place, and even if it does, the person will once again be wounded emotionally, psychologically and physically by his sins.  But if the mind is renewed and the heart is converted, then the person will avoid falling into sin again and save himself from the effects of sin.  Furthermore, unless we have heard the Word, then we can in faith recognize Jesus in the Eucharist.  This means that we must keep that integral and balanced unity between the celebration of the Word and the Sacrament.  Sometimes, we tend to overemphasize the Word at the expense of the Sacrament; or conversely, emphasize the sacrament and neglect to attentively listen to the Word of God proclaimed at mass.

In the final analysis, we must ask whether we have encountered Jesus, the Word made Flesh, incarnated in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  If we fail to have a personal faith encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, then the Eucharist cannot feed us or heal us.  Once we encounter Jesus, we will be healed physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.   Encounter with the person of Jesus will heal all our wounds.

However, the healing grace of the Eucharist extends beyond the reception of the sacrament.  We become what we eat.  So we become more like Jesus when we receive Him, putting on His mind and heart.  In turn we too become mediators of Christ’s love and compassion to others.  Like Jesus, we will also become healers ourselves, reaching out to others who are as wounded as we were.  Like Jesus, we too must in turn be motivated by pastoral charity, shown concretely in our actions, our compassion for them in their sufferings and needs.

For this to happen, we need priests chosen by the Lord.  If the Eucharist is the summit of the Church’s liturgy and life, then without priests, we will not have the Eucharist.  That is why we must continue to pray for young men to have the courage and generosity to give themselves to the priesthood.  Without the Eucharist, the people of God would be like those Seven Thousand, hungry for food.  Priests are chosen by God, not by men, as what Jeroboam did.  He tried to dissuade his people from going to the Temple of Jerusalem by erecting his own temples, appointing priests who were not from the tribe of Levi and established his own feasts.  The truth is that just because he was doing and imitating what was being done at the Temple of Jerusalem, it does not mean that he could bring about the presence of God for the people.  Similarly, without ordained ministers, the people of God will be impoverished and be deprived of the healing grace that comes from the Eucharist.  Let us therefore seek a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist, and at the same time pray for an increase of holy priestly vocations.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 
 
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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 18, 2016 — “Who was I to be able to hinder God?” — “God has granted life-giving repentance.” — “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.”

April 17, 2016

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 279

Reading 1 ACTS 11:1-18

The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
‘You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.”
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,
“I was at prayer in the city of Joppa
when in a trance I had a vision,
something resembling a large sheet coming down,
lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me.
Looking intently into it,
I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth,
the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’
But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir,
because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
But a second time a voice from heaven answered,
‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’
This happened three times,
and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were,
who had been sent to me from Caesarea.
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man’s house.
He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying,
‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,
who will speak words to you
by which you and all your household will be saved.’
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
as it had upon us at the beginning,
and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said,
‘John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
“God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 42:2-3; 43:3, 4

R. (see 3a) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

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Commentary on John 10:1-10 or 10:11-18 from Living Space

GOSPEL (John 10:1-10) [for alternative Gospel see here]

“Two kinds of sheepfolds or corrals are mentioned in today’s reading.  In the common town sheepfold, the shepherd makes his special call and his sheep follow him out confidently.  Out on the range, however, the shepherd sleeps across the corral opening: his body is the protecting door.  So we live, pray and are saved through Jesus our Good Shepherd.” (Vatican II missal)

We now jump from chap 7 to chap 10, omitting the whole episode linked with Jesus as the Light of the World and the dramatic healing of the man born blind, texts which we reflected on during Lent in relation to Baptism.

We begin today to consider two images that Jesus gives of himself: the first is that of a gate and the second that of a shepherd.

We have to imagine a sheepfold as an area surrounded by walls or wooden fencing but open to the sky, and with only one entrance.  The walls kept the sheep from wandering and protected them from wild animals at night.  Only a genuine shepherd enters the sheepfold through the single gate.  Thieves and brigands will try to enter by another way, such as by climbing over the walls or breaking through the fence.

“All who came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep do not listen to them.”  Jesus is referring to all the “false shepherds”, including some of the Pharisees and religious leaders of his time who are quite unlike the true prophets of the past.

The real shepherd, however, enters by the gate and is recognised and admitted by the gatekeeper (the one mentioned above who sleeps across the entrance).  There are many sheep in the sheepfold belonging to different shepherds so the shepherd calls his own sheep out one by one.  He then walks ahead of them and they follow their shepherd because they know his voice.  They never follow strangers.  (This is quite different from the European or Australian custom where the sheep are driven from behind.)

We are told that his hearers failed to understand the meaning of what Jesus said.  They failed to realise that the parable applied particularly to the religious leaders.

So he spoke more clearly: “I AM the gate of the sheepfold.”  Here we have the second of the seven ‘I AM’ (‘ego eimi, ‘ego ‘eimi) statements made by Jesus in this gospel.  Again Jesus’ points to his divine origin by using the name of God which was given to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

On the contrary, Jesus, as the Gate, the Way, has come “that they may have life and have it to the full.”  This is a constant theme we have heard many times already and especially in chapter 6 about Jesus as the food and nourishment giving us life.

Source: http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/e1042g/

 

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Papa Ioan Paul al II-lea in 1979
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Homily from the Abbot

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

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Jesus tells us that He is the gate for the sheep. This is an image that is to help us understand that Jesus protects us and watches over us always and everywhere. If a shepherd leaves his flock on its own, the flock will scatter and the sheep will be lost. This is also an image that teaches us that we belong to one flock and that we are called to learn to live as a community.

The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, shows us the Apostles preaching and evangelizing in the name of Jesus. The message is simple: repentance and baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repentance implies that we recognize that we are sinners. This is not popular today. Yet anyone with spiritual vision is able to see that we humans fail so frequently at so many things. Sin is missing the mark. It can be serious or it can be less serious. It always implies that there is some objective for which we have been created.

Baptism is a gift that we can renew regularly. At times we remind ourselves of our baptism simply by using Holy Water. At other times, especially during the Easter Season, we renew our baptismal promises. All of this points us to the Holy Spirit.

We can ask ourselves about the energy of our lives: does it come from our living in Christ or is it still just something human? There is nothing wrong with our humanity other than sin, but the strength of the Holy Spirit is so incredibly different from our mere human energies. This whole Easter Season points us to Pentecost and to the Holy Spirit.

So we return to the image of the Good Shepherd in the second reading today, from the First Letter of Peter, we can reflect on this part of the reading: He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

From this second reading, we can see that it is repentance that renews our baptism and our relationship with the shepherd and guardian of our souls.

Once more the Gospel teaches us: Jesus is the gate for the sheep. May Jesus be our gate today and always. May we become more the sheep of his flock. May we be strong in our Christian communities and faithful to the Church. The Church is truly the body of Christ and we belong to that body. Christ is risen! Christ is our Shepherd. Let us be His flock and rejoice in Him!

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Source: http://christdesert.org/News/Abbot_s_Homily/

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First Thought from Peace and Freedom

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Some time ago, an older more learned member of the flock encouraged us to try just a few small live saving and life changing matters of routine.

The first one is this: to pray each day upon waking — to let God know, we know, He is responsible for all good things.

Now after years of trying different things, we start each day with this simple prayer:

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

The second little life changer is this: each day, open and meditate upon some valuable spiritual topic. Again, after trying different things, I have a two pronged way to keep my spiritual life nourished. Each day, I open a small daily prayer and meditation book called “Twenty Four Hours a Day.” After years of just keeping this practice, we added here our on-line thoughts along with the daily scripture readings.

The longer we have successfully kept this small daily devotion, the more we see the scripture and our other spiritual readers coming into confluence or, if you will, synchronicity.

On April 19, the final line from the “Twenty Four Hours a Day” was:

“I pray that I may see beautiful horizons ahead on the upward way. I pray that I may keep going forward to the more abundant life.”

Today’s scripture lesson reinforces that notion.

“I came so that [you] might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Last week, at lunch, my Vietnamese Father smiled and said, “God wants us to be happy — and live life more abundantly.”

It seems, if we are seeking to hear the word of God, we find it repeatedly all around us.

If we aren’t seeking, we’ll never find.

 

Related:

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 

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18 APRIL 2016, Monday, 4th Week of Easter

DISCERNING THE VOICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ACTS 11:1-18; PS 41:2-3, 42:3-4; JOHN 10:1-10    ]

How do we discern the voice of the Good Shepherd in this modern world of ours?  We are living in a world where people are more educated.  Furthermore, in a world of digital technology and mass communication, there is free exchange of information and often information overload.  This is particularly true for the young person who goes on the internet.  He is exposed to such a vast and extensive range of views and ideas that he does not know what to choose or whom to believe. He has to take a gamble and just subscribe to one of the views, be they extremist or conservative or moderate.  The other way is to end up in relativism, choose what one likes, not whether it is right or wrong because no one seems to know anyway.

Jesus makes it clear that He is the Gate to eternal life.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He said, “I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way, is a thief and a brigand.”  Again He said, “I am the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.”   If we want to find direction in life today, we do not seek further than our Lord Jesus Christ because He is the Risen Lord, the Savior of the world.  We must enter the gate, that is, Jesus Christ, so that we can walk in truth and in love.  Consequently, everything we do or say, we need to consult and seek the Lord’s counsel in our decision-making.

But the irony is that many of us, Catholics, only pay lip service to Christ as the Gate to the fullness of life.  We claim to be His sheep but we do not listen to His voice on matters relating to morals and doctrines.  Instead, we listen to the voice of strangers; those who do not know Christ.  Instead of taking direction from the gospel and from the authoritative teachers appointed by Christ, we prefer to seek advice from the internet and the mass media.  In the final analysis, we listen to our own voice, not to the voice of the Good Shepherd.  As a result we have allowed brigands and thieves to steal our happiness and joy because we welcome them into our lives.  Jesus tells us that a good sheep knows the voice of the shepherd and would not respond to any other voices other than that of the Lord.  Indeed, “the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out … the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’”  Have you ever tried to speak to a child?  When the child does not know you and you call him or her, he or she will either ignore you, run away to his or her mommy or even cry.  They are smart enough not to follow the voice of strangers, but Catholics do that.  They believe more in the opinions of the world of science, technology, economics and politics than the Word of God.

However, in saying that Jesus is the Gate to the sheepfold, the place of refuge, rest and security, there is always the tension of applying what Jesus taught to the contemporary situation.  Indeed, the gospel of Christ which is recorded in the bible gives us the principles of managing our lives but they do not provide detail directions in every situation.  The bible is not a panacea to all problems.  It requires understanding in applying the teachings of Christ.  A literal interpretation of the Word of God can be detrimental if not destructive to our spiritual life.  We can end up being a fundamentalist and cause division not just in Church but in society.  The gospel needs to be reinterpreted afresh all the time; otherwise it becomes fossilized and irrelevant.  In that sense we need to look to the bible to help us interpret the changing times of society so that we can know the will of God for our times.

This was the challenge of the early Church in the first reading.  On one hand, there was a desire to be faithful to the tradition of the Jews.  In the initial development of Christianity, the first Christians were Jews.  But as Christianity spread out to the non-Jews, the Gentiles, the Church had to decide whether one who is a Christian must also be a Jew.  Must a Jew give up his Jewish faith and tradition to be a Christian?  Being so steeped in the traditions and customs of Judaism, it was difficult for them to accommodate the customs of the Gentiles for fear of breaching their rules.  One of those prohibitions was to come into close contact with the Gentiles, eating with them or entering their house as such actions would make them unclean.  This is also true for the Church today.  On one hand, we have Catholics who want to be faithful to the Catholic Traditions before Vatican II.  For them, Vatican II was a big mistake.  Then there are those who want to go beyond Vatican II, thinking that not only have we failed to implement the decrees of Vatican II but we should be even more adventurous and proactive in adapting to changing times, going beyond what Vatican II has taught.  So how do we handle the challenging situation we are in?  We are called to take a leaf from the early Church.

We must take cognizance that the tension between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians was so explosive that it could have caused the Church to be fragmented and arrested the future growth of Christianity.  If it were not properly managed, Christianity would have been reduced to another form of Judaism.  Thus, we can appreciate why St Luke gave such prominence to the story of the conversion of Cornelius.  At the end of the day, the decision was not based on any logical argument but the fact of what happened, namely, the vision of St Peter was confirmed to be a prelude for him to enter the house of Cornelius so that he could see for himself that the Lord also wanted to give the same gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles as well.  St Peter said, “I realized then that God was giving them the identical thing he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and who was I to stand in God’s way?”  By so doing, the Lord assured St Peter that the Gentiles could no longer be considered profane but they are all loved by God because He pours the Holy Spirit into them.  And we read that based on the testimony of St Peter and six of his disciples, it showed that his testimony of how God intervened to teach him the truth about Christianity was true.  Hence, “This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God, ‘God’ they said, ‘can evidently grant even the pagans the repentance that leads to life.’”

From this event, we come to realize that it is important that the Church continues to reflect and discern how to apply the gospel to the challenges of modern and contemporary times.  Our culture has changed radically because of developments in mass media, technology, knowledge and the way of life. The Church needs to stay relevant to society and not withdraw from the world.  If we do, the world will continue without us.  As Church we must ensure that we have the right shepherds to lead both the Church and the country.  We need to have good leaders in every area of life, politics, economic, or religion.

For Christians, especially those who are leaders, we must enter the Gate to find life ourselves. If we do not enter the Gate, then the sheep will not recognize that we are the voice of God.  So before we can lead, we must first enter the Gate.  As leaders and shepherds of our flock, whether at home, at work, in Church or community, we need to her the voice of the Good Shepherd before we can lead others.  As Jesus said, “When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice.”   Leaders must show the way, walk the way, and walk ahead of those under their care if they were to truly lead them to the greener pastures of life.  A leader must not allow himself to be led by the sheep, as what is happening today when political leaders ironically become the sheep instead of being the shepherd.

In the final analysis, how do we know that we have discerned correctly?  We need to ask ourselves, are we protecting traditions for traditions’ sake, or are we more interested in giving the fullness of life to the people under our care?  Of course, the happiness we offer cannot be temporary or a pseudo-happiness but lasting joy. Can we provide true security and refuge to those who seek God?  So it is not enough just to preserve the traditions but lose its meaning and relevance. We must reinvent traditions, make them relevant and meaningful so that these traditions speak to our sheep and help them to find focus and direction in life. Most of all, it must satisfy their thirst for God, for the hunger and emptiness in their hearts.  This is the prayer of the psalmist for us all, “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God? O send forth your light and your truth; let these be my guide. Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.”

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, October 25, 2015 — The response of the blind man to the call of Jesus — A private Christian is actually a contradiction in terms.

October 24, 2015

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 149

Art: Claude Monet “Water Lilies” 1919

Reading 1 JER 31:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them back
from the land of the north;
I will gather them from the ends of the world,
with the blind and the lame in their midst,
the mothers and those with child;
they shall return as an immense throng.
They departed in tears,
but I will console them and guide them;
I will lead them to brooks of water,
on a level road, so that none shall stumble.
For I am a father to Israel,
Ephraim is my first-born.

Responsorial Psalm PS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading 2

Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my son:
this day I have begotten you;

just as he says in another place:
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek
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Alleluia CF. 2 TM 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 10:46-52

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,
Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,
sat by the roadside begging.
On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to cry out and say,
“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.
But he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight
and followed him on the way.

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Commentary on Jeremiah 31:7-9, Hebrews 5:1-6, Mark 10:46-52 From Living Space

THIS IS MUCH MORE than a simple miracle story in today’s Gospel reading.

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First of all, it is seen as the fulfilling of the joyful prophecy of Jeremiah which forms our First Reading. This is a prophecy of the return of the exiled Jews from Babylon back to their homeland. (Despite his reputation, not everything Jeremiah wrote was gloomy!) The reading is a hymn of praise and rejoicing because of what God is going to do for his people.

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In part he says, “I will gather them from the ends of the world with the blind and the lame in their midst”, and again he says, “I will lead them to brooks of water on a level road, so that none shall stumble” — thus setting the scene for today’s Gospel.

End of a teaching section

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Today’s gospel passage is actually the last miracle story in Mark. It comes at end of a long section where Jesus is forming his disciples. This section begins (in chapter 7) with the healing of a man who is deaf and dumb. By his being healed, he is being taught how to hear and how to speak. These were the necessary abilities of the Christian disciple: to hear and understand the Word of God and to share the message with others.

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Later (in chapter 8) there is the two-stage healing of a blind man. This story clearly symbolises the gradual opening of the disciples’ eyes as to the true identity and mission of Jesus. And the whole section ends with the healing of another blind man which we have just heard. This is not merely coincidence.

Near to Jerusalem

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Jesus with his disciples and a large crowd is seen leaving Jericho. Jesus is now very near to Jerusalem. In fact, Jericho, which lies to the north-east, is on the way to Jerusalem. This has great significance for the story to follow.

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A blind beggar, Bartimaeus (only known by his father’s name), is sitting beside the road. He hears all the noise, is told that Jesus is passing by, and begins to call out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
What does he want? Money? Healing? Probably he is just thinking right now of his own personal needs. He must have heard stories about Jesus as a marvellous healer.

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However, the people around tell him to be quiet. After all, he’s only a poor beggar. He should not disturb an important person like Jesus. In our life many people, things, and concerns can prevent us coming to Jesus. How often we “have no time” for Mass, prayer, getting involved in Church activities. But worse, how often have we blocked someone approaching Jesus? A child, a searching colleague or friend, a son or daughter who wants to give their life in service of others rather than a money-making “career”?

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Bartimaeus will not be put off so easily. He really wants to get Jesus’ attention. He continues to call out even more loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus, we should remember, tells us to keep on asking.

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Jesus hears. Jesus stops. If the man had not kept calling, Jesus might have continued on his journey. How many times during our day does Jesus pass by and we fail to recognise him and fail to call him? The problem is that too often we have fixed ideas as to where we are likely to see him or the forms under which he will appear. It is easy to find him in the tabernacle but less easy in a person we do not like. But he can come in any form and in any person or situation, even the most unlikely. The person screaming obscenities at me may well be Jesus challenging me to give a Christian response.

“Call him”

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“Call him over here,” says Jesus. Notice that Jesus does not go to the man. Nor does he call him directly. The people — those who just now were stopping him and telling him to shut up — are now giving him encouragement.

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That is how we come to know Jesus too. People call us to him or introduce him to us. So many people have led me to Jesus: parents, family, friends, teachers, sermons, retreats, books, sharings, films, TV programmes… Pause now and say thanks to all those people who brought us to Jesus. At the same time, there are people waiting to hear Jesus’ call — through us. In our family, our workplace… How often do we share our faith? How many people even know we are committed Christians?

A private Christian is actually a contradictionin terms.

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The people, who just now were telling the man to ‘Shut up’ now say: “Cheer up! Rise up, he is calling you!” Wonderful words from ordinary people. There are three elements here:
(a) encouragement

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(b) “Rise up!” (Resurrection). The man is being called to new life, not just a physical standing up.

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(c) “He is calling you.” Lovely words which are addressed to us every single day.

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How foolish Bartimaeus would have been if he had stopped shouting because of the crowd’s opposition! Public opinion is very fickle.

Approaching Jesus

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Bartimaeus now jumps up, throws off his cloak. For a beggar, his cloak was also his sleeping mat and his only possession. Even this he now gets rid of. Very possibly, he now approaches Jesus stark naked: with nothing except himself.

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Our first parents were ashamed of their nakedness after sinning; and they hid from God. Jesus, who died naked on the cross, overturns the shame which sin brought. Bartimaeus comes to Jesus, naked and without shame.

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In baptism, too, which was the sign of commitment to Jesus, the catechumen threw off his old clothes and stepped naked into the baptismal pool, coming out on the other side to be clothed in a white garment, symbolising a share in the new life of Jesus. So Bartimaeus comes to Jesus with confidence (pistis), in freedom, with nothing. Compare this with the well-dressed rich man who could not follow Jesus because he identified wealth with his money.

[In Greek mythology, Pistis (Πίστις) was the personification of good faith, trust and reliability. She is mentioned together with such other personifications as Elpis (Hope), Sophrosyne (Prudence), and the Charites, who were all associated with honesty and harmony among people.] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistis

Pistis — The Art Of Talvi Winter

“What can I do for you?”

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Face to face now with Jesus, Bartimaeus is asked: “What can I do for you?” Here we have Jesus the High Priest described in the Second Reading from the Hebrews. Someone who, in sharing our human nature, has a deep understanding of our needs. “Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” And so Jesus asks the blind beggar, “What can I do for you?” In last week’s Gospel Jesus asked exactly the same question of the apostles James and John. Their answer: “Give us the two top spots in the Kingdom of your glory.” In reply they were told very clearly they would get only what they deserved. They also got some firm teaching about serving others and not looking for privileges.

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In answer to the same question, Bartimaeus gives a very different answer: “Lord, that I may see.” In the context of this story he is asking for much more than physical sight. His prayer is one we all need to make continually.

Christ Giving Sight to Bartimaeus By William Blake

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The secret of life is to be able to see, to see life’s real meaning and direction, to be people of vision, to know where God is to be found, where real truth and goodness and beauty are to be found. It is a prayer that is certain to be answered as it was here. “Go,” says Jesus, “your faith, your trust in me, has saved you, healed you, made you whole.” Immediately, the man was able to see.

Seeing becomes following

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Then what did the man do? He did the only thing a person of vision could do: he followed Jesus on the road.

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At the beginning of the story we saw a blind beggar sitting beside the road. This is the person who has not yet met Jesus (even if baptised). He is blind, an impoverished beggar (though perhaps materially wealthy), not moving and off the real track of life.

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At the end of the story, we have a man who can see, has vision, who knows very clearly where he is going and where he should be going. No longer is he a beggar but greatly enriched by that vision. No longer sitting passively waiting to get or receive but now actively walking with Jesus. No longer beside the road but now on the road, on the Way. Jesus is the Way: Jesus is Truth and Life. And this road, as we saw, leads to Jerusalem, that is, to suffering, death and resurrection.

Epilogue and summary

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This story is an epilogue to the long preceding teaching passage and a summary of all that has just preceded in this part of Mark’s gospel. It is also a summary of the Christian’s life and pilgrimage.

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On our own we are blind and poor with nothing of our own. As Christians, we have our eyes opened to the meaning of life, we are to undergo a radical conversion experience which gives new direction to all we are and do. We are ready to walk with Jesus on the way to Jerusalem with clear vision, with true freedom.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/ob301/

Shout for Joy-Psalm 98-4 by vigor

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From Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Readings: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

One of my “all-time favorite” Gregorian chant melodies is attached to the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary time. The proper Entrance Antiphon for Mass this Sunday and the entire week is the beautiful text from Psalm 104, verses 3 and 4: “Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice; turn to the Lord and his strength; constantly seek his face.”

I wish I could sing for you the (to my ears at least) sublime yet simple melody that accompanies the Latin text: “Laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum: quaerite Dominum, et confirmamini: quaerite faciem eius semper.” I have always loved the melody ever since I first heard it many years ago on a recording perhaps by Benedictine monks of En Calcat in France or perhaps of Maria Laach in Germany.

Here at Christ in the Desert we will sing it at least several times during the coming week, either in Latin or with the English text and a melody based on the Latin one. So good is the text and tune that it is also assigned to the Fourth Week in Ordinary time. Very few of the chants have this distinction of being assigned more than one week in the liturgy of Ordinary Time.

That being said, what tremendous encouragement the Entrance Antiphon for this week proclaims. It clearly speaks of the continual need for all of us, young and old and in between, rich and poor alike, to search for the living God, because without God we can do nothing really. But with the help of God we can long for, seek and find the source of all happiness: God our savior.

We say about people who are at odds with us, or have something against us, that they cannot look us in the eye. To look at the face of another and to meet their gaze immediately implies and creates a relationship, even if superficial. In a prolonged or loving gaze, each gives the other a sense that they matter to each other. A certain commitment is created. This is what is supposed to happen above all between us and God. Of course that is the greatest of all relationships and commitments.

In the first reading for Mass this Sunday the Prophet Jeremiah, writing some six centuries before the birth of Christ, speaks of a return from exile, a hoped-for joyful reunion of scattered peoples. In the mind of the prophet, it is ultimately the Lord who delivers the people and brings them home. Jeremiah sees this as comparable to the love and commitment of a father for his child. This image of God is one who takes on the role of leadership, guiding even those who cannot see and have difficulties in their lives just getting about.

God is a Father who makes sure his children get to everything that is life supporting, most especially water and a level path, so that the people may not faint or stumble on their way. The joy that is announced in the Entrance Antiphon for Mass is repeated in the first words of the Jeremiah reading: “Thus says the Lord: Shout with joy! Exult! Proclaim your praise!” Under the guidance of a loving God, the people can confidently do just that.

We might ask: do I now or ever feel in my deepest being such enthusiasm for God, for the one who delivers and ultimately saves me? This is the God who is always the same, and yet whom I can know so much more intimately since Jesus Christ came to show us the Father. We must ask the questions not in order to condemn ourselves for lack of enthusiasm for God, but in order to seek a deeper relationship with God and to trust in God at all times.

How much greater now, since the coming of Christ in our midst, are the “marvels the Lord works for us,” as we proclaim in the Responsorial Psalm at Mass today, Psalm 126. Do I allow myself to be truly glad, even moved and enthused at the coming of God, especially in the Eucharist or Communion we Catholics are privileged to receive at Mass? The liturgy encourages us along this path and we should make every effort to participate actively in the Sacraments of the Church offered to us pilgrims.

The selection today from the Gospel of the Evangelist Saint Mark about a blind beggar at Jericho, Bartimaeus by name, shows us one person who definitely related to Jesus with profound enthusiasm and commitment, even in his brokenness. Bartimaeus shouts out from the very first hint that Jesus is in the area. He cannot see but he can hear and sense that he is in the presence of a great and mighty worker of wonders. It seems that Jesus let Bartimaeus continue to shout, perhaps to be certain that he really wanted Jesus’ attention, and finally the Lord takes the initiative, saying, “call him over.”

Only then do the people help the blind man rather than scold him for his outburst. The crowd evidently did not want to offend Jesus, hence their previous attempts to silence the blind beggar. Then comes the response of the blind man to the call of Jesus. Bartimaeus jumps up, the Gospel text tells us. In the original Greek the word is almost a notion and motion of resurrection. No leisurely hanging about here! Furthermore, Bartimaeus throws aside his cloak, probably his most prized possession, which served as well as a covering at night, and ultimately a shroud at death. If the cloak had any pockets they contained whatever else he owned.

At call of Jesus the blind beggar casts off his earthly security in the deep desire to be healed by this man in whom he was putting his faith. Even now Jesus does not immediately do what is obviously desired by the beggar. Jesus seeks further cooperation from Bartimaeus by asking him, “What do you want me to do for you?” With great respect and using the term “Rabboni,” that is, “Great Teacher,” the man tells Jesus, “I want to see,” and his great faith is rewarded. Apparently without even going back for his cloak, Bartimaeus, now with sight, follows Jesus.

A relationship has been formed through that look into the face of Jesus, first as a blind man, now with sight. It is a lesson that the eyes of the heart are more powerful than physical sight. The first person the blind man actually saw was the one who brought the needed healing to his life.

Certainly, as we pray the prayer after Communion on this Sunday, we would do well to let this “celebration have an effect in our lives.” How could we fail to be really happy when we are given such a picture of a loving God to whom we go through his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ?

We are encouraged to hear the Lord say to us, “What do you want me to do for you?” We can do some serious soul-searching as to what we really want from God, and with the faith of the blind man, ask it of God, so that we too may look into God’s face and so deepen our relationship with the God who saves us. “Seek always the face of the Lord”!

Fr Christian Leisy, OSB

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Abiquiu, New Mexico

https://christdesert.org/2015/10/thirtieth-sunday-in-ordinary-time-year-b-october-21-2015/

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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25 OCTOBER 2015, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
MAKING SENSE OF OUR LIFE BY SEEING EVERYTHING IN FAITH

SCRIPTURE READINGS: JER 31:7-9; HEB 5:1-6; MK 10:46-52

Physical blindness is a terrible thing.  A man without sight is like a bird without wings.  Without sight, life would be simply darkness. Even for those of us who have physical sight, many do not have any vision in life.  Yes, when we cannot make sense of our life, then we are blind as well – spiritually blind.  This was the same situation with the Israelites who has just returned from exile during the time of Jeremiah.  They too were still living in fear and apprehension.  They too needed to make sense of their exile and their return.  They too were looking for meaning and hope.

If we want to make sense of our life, we must first inquire as to the causes for the loss of meaning in life. Perhaps, the first cause is our moral blindness.  When we read today’s gospel, we are given the impression that Bartimaeus is the blind man.  But in reality, St Mark wanted to contrast Bartimaeus with the apostles of Jesus.  They were the really blind people.  In last Sunday’s gospel, James and John were squabbling over position and power. They were totally insensitive to Jesus who was about to meet His death in Jerusalem.  They were blinded by their pursuits in life.  What is said of them is applicable to us as well.  Very often it is our vain pursuits in life that make us forget what is essential for happiness.  We are taken up by our pursuit for more money, more power and higher status that we are blind to the more important things in life, such as love, relationships, peace in the family, forgiveness, compassion and respect for the dignity of others.

Besides moral blindness, some of us also suffer from psychological blindness.   Many of us suffer from low self-image and low self-esteem.  In fact this is perhaps the real obstacle in finding happiness in life.  The tragedy is that many of us have suppressed our fears, our sins and our past so much that they are deeply repressed in our sub-conscious.  Deep within, we know that our feelings, desires and needs are not fulfilled.  In the process of denying our true selves, we create in ourselves a split personality, living a schizophrenic kind of life-style.   This was the problem of the blind man.  He was a no-body, an outcast in society, sitting by the roadside begging.  In fact in the gospel of Matthew and Luke, he is nameless.  At any rate, he was never addressed by name.  This man who became so ashamed of his state hid himself under his cloak.  It was his security blanket, like Linus in the Peanuts Comic.  He could not face the truth about himself; hence he could not face the world.  We, too, when we do not live authentically by being ourselves will also find life empty.

When we are blinded in all these areas, when life has no more meaning, what must we do to recover our purpose and motivation to live?  Like the blind man, Bartimaeus, we cry out, “Master, let me see again.” The question is, will God answer our prayer?  The answer is clearly in the affirmative.  This is the promise given by God through Jeremiah to the disheartened and broken Israelites.  God assured the remnants of Israel that He would bring them back to Jerusalem, including those who were blind and lame.  Guided by the Lord, they would never stumble in darkness again. This same promise holds true for us.  Precisely, in the gospel we are told that Jesus who reached out to Bartimaeus has also come for everyone who is in that kind of predicament.   What then does it take?

Firstly, we must be humble enough to ask with persevering faith.  Indeed, there is none as blind as those who would not see.  We must be ready to swallow our pride and come out of our shell to seek for direction and help.  Bartimaeus, upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, threw off the cloak that was covering him and shouted to Jesus in earnestness.  Even when he was humiliated, shouted at by the crowd to keep quiet, he continued to persevere in humility begging Jesus to have pity on him.  Without humility, God can never reach out to us because even when He tries to, we will reject Him.  This was what happened to the Israelites.  Before the humiliating exile and banishment to Babylon, they were too proud to listen to the warnings of God through the prophets.  It was only during and after the exile that they learnt how to listen and seek for the truth and direction from Yahweh.

Secondly, if we want to see again, we must be sincere and clear of what we want.  Jesus asked the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”  We might think that it is an obvious question.  But it is not.  The fact is that many of us are not sincere in our prayers.  We are not absolutely clear and convinced about what we are praying for.  Similarly, very often, when people see counsellors to sort out their problems, they are only interested to hear what they want to hear but not the truth about themselves.  To see, we must be courageous to see both the goodness and weakness in ourselves.  Otherwise, we will eventually cheat ourselves even more.  Hence, we must be clear of what we are praying for, and only then will God respond to our prayers.

Thirdly, we must have confidence and faith in the Lord.  This confidence of course is not a vain or blind faith.  If Bartimaeus had faith in Jesus, it must have been because his ears were wide open even though he was blind.  He must have heard about Jesus and His works.  His faith in Jesus must have been growing each day. Thus, he would not give up faith in Jesus even when the crowd ridiculed him. On the contrary, because of his faith, he could see even more of Jesus what others could not.  He knew that Jesus would not disappoint him.

However, confidence and faith are not the total faith the gospel wants us to have.  Faith also implies our total openness to the power of God.  Such openness is manifested in our availability to the power of God to heal.  This availability in turn is expressed in our initiative in availing ourselves to God who wants to heal us.  In other words, faith does not simply mean that we sit and wait for something to happen.  It means that we must make ourselves docile, waiting for the opportunity to come.  Bartimaeus did not sit all day and do nothing.  He was waiting patiently by the side of the road for that day to come when his saviour would come and heal him.  When the opportunity came, he seized the day.

Fourthly, this active co-operation must involve our determination to put away the cloak of sins of self-deceit, dishonesty, greed, anger, hatred and fear.   Indeed, when Bartimaeus heard Jesus calling him, he immediately threw away the cloak of his past, his sins and shame away.  He did not fold up his cloak neatly and keep it somewhere else so that he could collect it later.  No, he threw off his cloak, jumped up and went to Jesus without any hesitation.  Like him, the Lord will not be able to liberate us if we continue to cling on to our chains.   Difficult it may be, unless we make an act of will to leave our past behind and begin a new life, the grace of God might be in vain.

Once we have responded like Bartimaeus, then the life of truth and meaning is given to us.  And what is this life all about?  It is nothing else but a life of discipleship in Christ.  When Bartimaeus was healed of his blindness, he followed Jesus along the road to Jerusalem, the place of His passion, death and resurrection.  But more importantly, Bartimaeus was not only healed of his blindness but his Christological blindness as well.  For unlike the apostles who saw Jesus as only a miracle-worker, Bartimaeus recognized that the Christ he was to follow is the Suffering Christ.  It is at this juncture that the full meaning of life was then revealed to him.  Within this context, we are called to share in the sufferings of Christ.

Indeed, the full meaning of life is seen when we learn to accept the mystery of suffering in our life.  Just as Christ our high priest suffered for our sins, we too are called to accept our sufferings in life as the way to purify us of our sinfulness.  The cross is the antidote to cure our blindness.  Through our own sufferings and the sufferings that we inflict on others, it becomes clear that suffering is due to our selfishness and pride.  Hence, if we carry the crosses of our sins blindly, then it would lead to the meaninglessness of life.  But if we see the crosses of life with the eyes of faith, then the cross becomes the way to transform us in love and compassion.

In conclusion, it is clear that life is meaningless only because of our sins of selfishness and pride, which lead to our self-destruction due to our psychological, emotional and spiritual blindness.  Once we free ourselves from our sins that weigh us down, then we become free to be for others just as Jesus and Bartimaeus made themselves free for others, even to the extent of carrying the consequences of the sinfulness of others.  But through sufferings carried in love and with patience, we will reveal the love of God in the world and show that suffering can be redemptive because it brings about purification, transformation and growth.  In this way, we become like Jesus, truly His priests for the salvation of ourselves and humankind.

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 27, 2015 — Jesus Said, “I came so that [you] might have life and have it more abundantly.”

April 26, 2015

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 279

Lost Sheep by Alfred Soord (1868-1915)

Reading 1 Acts 11:1-18

The Apostles and the brothers who were in Judea
heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God.
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem
the circumcised believers confronted him, saying,
‘You entered the house of uncircumcised people and ate with them.”
Peter began and explained it to them step by step, saying,
“I was at prayer in the city of Joppa
when in a trance I had a vision,
something resembling a large sheet coming down,
lowered from the sky by its four corners, and it came to me.
Looking intently into it,
I observed and saw the four-legged animals of the earth,
the wild beasts, the reptiles, and the birds of the sky.
I also heard a voice say to me, ‘Get up, Peter. Slaughter and eat.’
But I said, ‘Certainly not, sir,
because nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
But a second time a voice from heaven answered,
‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’
This happened three times,
and then everything was drawn up again into the sky.
Just then three men appeared at the house where we were,
who had been sent to me from Caesarea.
The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.
These six brothers also went with me,
and we entered the man’s house.
He related to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, saying,
‘Send someone to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter,
who will speak words to you
by which you and all your household will be saved.’
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them
as it had upon us at the beginning,
and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said,
‘John baptized with water
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us
when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I to be able to hinder God?”
When they heard this,
they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying,
“God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 42:2-3; 43:3, 4

R. (see 3a) Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling-place.
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Athirst is my soul for the living God.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 10:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel Jn 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
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File:Rumunia 5806.jpg
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Commentary on John 10:1-10 or 10:11-18 from Living Space

GOSPEL (John 10:1-10) [for alternative Gospel see here]

“Two kinds of sheepfolds or corrals are mentioned in today’s reading.  In the common town sheepfold, the shepherd makes his special call and his sheep follow him out confidently.  Out on the range, however, the shepherd sleeps across the corral opening: his body is the protecting door.  So we live, pray and are saved through Jesus our Good Shepherd.” (Vatican II missal)

We now jump from chap 7 to chap 10, omitting the whole episode linked with Jesus as the Light of the World and the dramatic healing of the man born blind, texts which we reflected on during Lent in relation to Baptism.

We begin today to consider two images that Jesus gives of himself: the first is that of a gate and the second that of a shepherd.

We have to imagine a sheepfold as an area surrounded by walls or wooden fencing but open to the sky, and with only one entrance.  The walls kept the sheep from wandering and protected them from wild animals at night.  Only a genuine shepherd enters the sheepfold through the single gate.  Thieves and brigands will try to enter by another way, such as by climbing over the walls or breaking through the fence.

“All who came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep do not listen to them.”  Jesus is referring to all the “false shepherds”, including some of the Pharisees and religious leaders of his time who are quite unlike the true prophets of the past.

The real shepherd, however, enters by the gate and is recognised and admitted by the gatekeeper (the one mentioned above who sleeps across the entrance).  There are many sheep in the sheepfold belonging to different shepherds so the shepherd calls his own sheep out one by one.  He then walks ahead of them and they follow their shepherd because they know his voice.  They never follow strangers.  (This is quite different from the European or Australian custom where the sheep are driven from behind.)

We are told that his hearers failed to understand the meaning of what Jesus said.  They failed to realise that the parable applied particularly to the religious leaders.

So he spoke more clearly: “I AM the gate of the sheepfold.”  Here we have the second of the seven ‘I AM’ (‘ego eimi, ‘ego ‘eimi) statements made by Jesus in this gospel.  Again Jesus’ points to his divine origin by using the name of God which was given to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

On the contrary, Jesus, as the Gate, the Way, has come “that they may have life and have it to the full.”  This is a constant theme we have heard many times already and especially in chapter 6 about Jesus as the food and nourishment giving us life.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/e1042g/

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Papa Ioan Paul al II-lea in 1979
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Homily from the Abbot

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

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Jesus tells us that He is the gate for the sheep. This is an image that is to help us understand that Jesus protects us and watches over us always and everywhere. If a shepherd leaves his flock on its own, the flock will scatter and the sheep will be lost. This is also an image that teaches us that we belong to one flock and that we are called to learn to live as a community.

The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, shows us the Apostles preaching and evangelizing in the name of Jesus. The message is simple: repentance and baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repentance implies that we recognize that we are sinners. This is not popular today. Yet anyone with spiritual vision is able to see that we humans fail so frequently at so many things. Sin is missing the mark. It can be serious or it can be less serious. It always implies that there is some objective for which we have been created.

Baptism is a gift that we can renew regularly. At times we remind ourselves of our baptism simply by using Holy Water. At other times, especially during the Easter Season, we renew our baptismal promises. All of this points us to the Holy Spirit.

We can ask ourselves about the energy of our lives: does it come from our living in Christ or is it still just something human? There is nothing wrong with our humanity other than sin, but the strength of the Holy Spirit is so incredibly different from our mere human energies. This whole Easter Season points us to Pentecost and to the Holy Spirit.

So we return to the image of the Good Shepherd in the second reading today, from the First Letter of Peter, we can reflect on this part of the reading: He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

From this second reading, we can see that it is repentance that renews our baptism and our relationship with the shepherd and guardian of our souls.

Once more the Gospel teaches us: Jesus is the gate for the sheep. May Jesus be our gate today and always. May we become more the sheep of his flock. May we be strong in our Christian communities and faithful to the Church. The Church is truly the body of Christ and we belong to that body. Christ is risen! Christ is our Shepherd. Let us be His flock and rejoice in Him!

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http://christdesert.org/News/Abbot_s_Homily/

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First Thought from Peace and Freedom

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Some time ago, an older more learned member of the flock encouraged us to try just a few small live saving and life changing matters of routine.

The first one is this: to pray each day upon waking — to let God know, we know, He is responsible for all good things.

Now after years of trying different things, we start each day with this simple prayer:

God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!

The second little life changer is this: each day, open and meditate upon some valuable spiritual topic. Again, after trying different things, I have a two pronged way to keep my spiritual life nourished. Each day, I open a small daily prayer and meditation book called “Twenty Four Hours a Day.” After years of just keeping this practice, we added here our on-line thoughts along with the daily scripture readings.

The longer we have successfully kept this small daily devotion, the more we see the scripture and our other spiritual readers coming into confluence or, if you will, synchronicity.

On April 19, the final line from the “Twenty Four Hours a Day” was:

“I pray that I may see beautiful horizons ahead on the upward way. I pray that I may keep going forward to the more abundant life.”

Today’s scripture lesson reinforces that notion.

“I came so that [you] might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Last week, at lunch, my Vietnamese Father smiled and said, “God wants us to be happy — and live life more abundantly.”

It seems, if we are seeking to hear the word of God, we find it repeatedly all around us.

If we aren’t seeking, we’ll never find.

 

Related:

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore (Homily Given in 2014)

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As the Good Shepherd, Jesus is taking the place of God who is the Shepherd of Israel.  This explains why St John had Jesus saying, “I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.  …I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’” 

If indeed, we come to realize this truth, then like the Jews on “hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, What must we do, brothers?”  Peter responded, “You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Indeed, repentance and baptism is the consequence of recognizing Jesus as the Risen Lord and therefore our Good Shepherd and Saviour.  To repent is to give up our old way of life and turn to Jesus our Good Shepherd who will lead us to greener pasture of life.  Being baptised is to put on Christ and acquire the Spirit of Jesus given to us the moment we accept him.  Truly, as St Peter urges the early Christians, “You had gone astray like sheep but now you have come back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

But the Good News that Jesus is our Good Shepherd leading us to new life is not simply given to us only.  Salvation and fullness of life in Christ is a gift entrusted to us for the whole world.  St Peter recognized the obligation to announce Him as the Gift of God for the world when he said, “the promise that was made is for you and your children, and for all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.”  Consequently, there is urgency for us proclaim Jesus as the Shepherd of life and love for the world. 

But how can we as Christians powerfully proclaim Jesus as the Shepherd of life and the Saviour to the world unless we are strengthened and nurtured in our faith?  For if we Catholics are truly His sheep, then as Jesus said, “the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.”

The stark reality is that we are not hearing the voice of Jesus.  Although we claim to be Catholics, many of us do not really know Jesus because the lives we live contradict our claims.  Instead of listening to the voice of the Shepherd leading us to eternal life, we only hear the voice of the secular world, which is promoting a culture of death, egotism and materialism.  We are even subscribing to the values promoted by the world, values that are short-lived and even contrary to what they claim to give.  Many of these values are against the promotion of life.  Abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research involving embryos and cloning are against life. Same sex union, homosexual behaviour, contraceptives, permissive sex, premarital sex are all against the culture of true love and against the unity of marriage and the family.  Materialism and consumerism give people a false sense of satisfaction when their hearts and spirits remain thirsty.

Yes, the Church needs shepherds in order that our Catholics can bring Christ to the world, especially as Jesus said, “there are still many who have not yet heard of his voice.”  Indeed, Pope John Paul II constantly reminded us that as Church, we need to be re-evangelized first so that we can be evangelizers in the world.  We need to renew the faith and the spiritual life of our Catholics.

So what must we do?  The Holy Father tells us that we must “put out into the deep!”  We must reflect on the vocation to follow Christ and live out our baptismal life more faithfully and devoutly.  We must strive to deepen our relationship with the Lord, hearing His voice especially by “cultivating a deep spirit of prayer nourished by a daily listening to the Word of God.”

Indeed, the Holy Father wrote, “whoever opens his heart to Christ will not only understand the mystery of his own existence, but also that of his own vocation; he will bear the abundant fruit of grace.  The first fruit will be his growth in holiness, which begins with the gift of Baptism and continues even to the fullness of perfect love.  Living the gospel … the Christian becomes always increasingly capable of loving in the way that Christ loved.  He will commit himself to persevering in unity with his brothers within the communion of the Church and he will place himself at the service of the new evangelization to proclaim and bear witness to the wonderful truth of the saving love of God.”

For the young people, to “put out into the deep” means to “listen attentively to the teachings of Christ, fix your eyes on his face, and persevere in listening to his Word.  Allow him to focus your search and your aspirations, all your ideals and the desires of your heart.”  Perhaps if you listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd in you, you might come to realize that He is calling you to a priestly or religious life, to share with him the task of bringing abundant life to all.  Do not think that you are not called.  The Lord will not leave the harvest and his flock unattended.  He has sent the labourers but unfortunately many are unable to hear his voice today and if they have heard, they lack the courage to respond generously.

As for parents and Christian educators, catechists, you must never forget that “God has entrusted to you the peculiar task of guiding young people on the path to holiness.”  At the same time, for vocations to take root, you must be an example of generous fidelity to Christ.  Without living an authentic Christian life and giving a Christian ambience, our young people will not be able to hear the voice of the Shepherd calling. Indeed, only when “adult Christians show themselves capable of revealing the face of Christ through their own words and example,” could young people “be more ready to welcome His demanding message, stamped as it is with the mystery of the Cross.”

Thus, as parents and educators, you must “encourage them to ‘put out into the deep’ without hesitation, responding eagerly to the invitation of the Lord.”  It is true that not all are called to the consecrated life or ministerial priesthood.  It is not for us to decide or impose a priestly or religious vocation on them.  It is a calling from the Lord and our task is to make it possible for them to discern their path and calling in life.  Whether they are called to family life or other vocations in life, it is but the one vocation of love common to all but lived out differently.

Yes, let us hear the words of Jesus to Peter again, “Put out into the deep.”  Let us hearken to the words of Mary who said to us in Cana, “Do whatever he tells you”.  Only by responding to our calling in life, be it a priestly or religious calling or otherwise, can we find real peace, happiness and fulfillment.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/11-may-2014-4th-sunday-of-easter-world-day-of-prayer-for-vocations/#sthash.e8CjRwXk.dpuf

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

Homily for April 27, 2015

SHEPHERDS MUST LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD

SCRIPTURE READINGS:  ACTS 11:1-18; JOHN 10:1-10

Regardless of who we are, we are all shepherds in our own ways, whether at work, at home or in the Church.  All leaders, in their respective capacities, are all called to a shepherding role.  To be good leaders, we must endeavour to be shepherds after the heart of Christ, our Good Shepherd.  It is not even enough to aspire for leadership; we must earnestly seek all means to make this dream of ours a reality.

For this to happen, it is essential to listen to His voice speaking to us.  Jesus makes it clear that, “The sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.”  So the question is: are we hearing Him clearly enough?  Are we sufficiently intimate with Jesus to recognize His voice amidst our activities?  Or have the voices of the world, our friends, our enjoyments, our academic pursuits and even apostolic zeal prevented us from hearing His voice?  There is a real danger that we might not be listening to Him sufficiently.

If we have not listened to Him and we pretend to be His shepherds, are we not guilty of being thieves and brigands?  Why is that so?  Jesus said, “I am the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture.”  How can we be shepherds when we do not have the heart of the Shepherd, His mind and will?  By shepherding those under us with the counterfeit values of the world, we lead those under our care away from truth and from God.  We steal them away from Jesus because we are often misguided, and thus we kill them.

In contrast, in the first reading, we have Peter who listened attentively to the voice of the Lord.  He must be a man of prayer, otherwise he would not have been so sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, who showed him a vision of the animals and wild beasts, which God declared all to be clean, when he was at prayer.  He recounted thus, “I fell into a trance as I was praying and had a vision of something like a big sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners.” Again, St Peter underscored that when the three men from Caesarea were outside his house to fetch him to meet the Centurion Cornelius, it was the Spirit who told him “to have no hesitation about going back with them”.  On this basis and prompting, he went with them to Cornelius’ house.

We can be certain that Peter had the courage to do so, only because of the vision and the prompting he received from the Holy Spirit. Indeed, without listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, St Peter, a Jew, would not take the risk of being made spiritually unclean by visiting Cornelius.  Non-Jews were considered profane and unclean, and thus Jews were forbidden to mix with people of another race or to visit them.  This also explains why the three men stood outside the house; they knew the sensitivity of the Jews.

But what happened to Peter also happened to Cornelius.  For in the Acts, we are told that Cornelius sent his men to fetch Peter because he was directed by an angel to bring him to his house, so as to listen to what he had to say.  He too had a vision when he was at prayer.  He “suddenly saw a man in front of him in shining robes saying to him, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been accepted as a sacrifice in the sight of God.’”  It is significant that it was at the ninth hour when this event took place, because this was the hour that the veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle, and when Jesus cried out, “Father into your hands I commit my Spirit” (Lk 23:44-46).  Yes, it was that hour when He poured forth His Spirit on the world.

Finally, we read that when Peter was still speaking to them, the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners.  Peter and the rest of the Jewish Christians “were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God.”   As a result, Peter said, “Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these people, now they have received the Holy Spirit just as much as we have?”

Unlike the apostles, we are no longer sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so much so, we no longer hear the intimate voice of Jesus speaking to us.  We have lost the Spirit of discernment because we cannot distinguish the voice of the master from the voice of the world, and the voice of the Holy Spirit from our own human spirit.  This explains why we are often lacking in wisdom in leading our people.  Instead of boosting their faith, we weaken their faith by indirectly leading them away from God.  Instead of promoting the values of the gospel and the Church, we begin to think and act like the rest of the secular world.

We must encourage prayers, devotions, conversion experience, love for the Eucharist and frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Why?  Because this is the way in which the Holy Spirit is given to us; especially in and through the sacraments, besides praise and worship, as in the case of Cornelius.  Yes, the Holy Spirit is given to all freely, but we must make use of the means available to us.  As Acts told us, the Holy Spirit was given through the preaching of Peter. This was completed with the Sacrament of Baptism, when they were incorporated into the Body of Christ.

The Late Pope John Paul II once told the ordinands, “Each one of you will become a good shepherd with Jesus’ help, ready even to give your life for him if it is necessary.”  But, “to be worthy ministers you will have to unceasingly nourish yourselves by the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life … Draw near to the altar, your daily school of sanctity, of communion with Jesus, the way of entering into his sentiments; draw near to the altar to renew the sacrifice of the cross, you will discover the richness and tenderness of the divine master’s love more and more … He is the one who is calling you today to a more intimate friendship with him … If you will listen to him with docility, if you will follow him faithfully, you will learn how to translate his love and passion for the salvation of souls into everyday life.”  Furthermore, the Holy Father assured them, that they will have “the certainty that Christ will not abandon you and that no obstacle can stand in the way of his universal design of salvation be for you a reason for constant consolation – even on the difficult days – and indestructible hope.”

When leaders lack holiness, the people too cannot grow in holiness.  At the root of it all, we ourselves need conversion, which we are not fully aware of.  Because of a tepid prayer life, we do not realize our sinfulness and the need for a real conversion of heart.  I truly believe that when we put our prayer life in order, everything will be put right.  We need to intensify our prayer life and our relationship with the Lord.  Put Him first in our life, and the rest will follow.

Let us therefore be faithful to the grace we have received.  Listen to His voice daily through the Word of God, and especially when we adore Him before the Eucharist.  It is necessary to be empowered in the ministry by the Holy Spirit, who gives us the qualification we need to be His servants.  He will speak in and through us, from our heart, a heart that has become one with Jesus.  If Jesus is truly the Good Shepherd after His Father, it is because, as He said in the gospel, “the Father and I are one”.

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, April 8, 2015 — “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”

April 7, 2015

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 263

Legend of St Joachim, Meeting at the Golden Gate, by Giotto di Bondone circa 1305 .

Reading 1 Acts 3:1-10

Peter and John were going up to the temple area
for the three o’clock hour of prayer.
And a man crippled from birth was carried
and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day
to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple,
he asked for alms.
But Peter looked intently at him, as did John,
and said, “Look at us.”
He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.
Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you:
in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”
Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up,
and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong.
He leaped up, stood, and walked around,
and went into the temple with them,
walking and jumping and praising God.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
they recognized him as the one
who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple,
and they were filled with amazement and astonishment
at what had happened to him.

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (3b) Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

File:Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 023.jpg

Christ at Emmaus by Rembrandt, 1648, Louvre.

Gospel Lk 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
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Commentary on Luke 24:13-35 from Living Space

One of the great passages of the New Testament. It encapsulates in a little over 20 verses the whole Christian life. It is Easter Sunday as the passage opens. In Luke all the resurrection appearances take place in the vicinity of Jerusalem and on Easter Sunday.

It begins with two disciples on the road leaving Jerusalem. For Luke the focal point of Jesus’ mission is Jerusalem – it was the goal to which all Jesus’ public life was headed and from there the new community would bring his Message to the rest of the world.

They are on their way to a place called Emmaus, about 7 miles (11 km) from Jerusalem, whose exact location is not now known. It does not really matter and that is the point. They were on the “road” – they are pilgrims on the road of life. Jesus is the Way, the Road. The problem is that at this moment they are going in the wrong direction.

The Risen Jesus joins them as a fellow-traveller. “Something” prevents them from recognising him. What was that “something”? Their presumption that he was dead? Was it their pre-conceived idea of what Jesus should look like?

Seeing their obvious despondency and disillusionment, he asks what they are talking about. With deliciously unconscious irony they say, “You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.”

Jesus plays them out a little more with a totally innocent-sounding, “What things?” He wants to hear their version of what happened. To them the death was the failure of Jesus’ mission. They refer to him as a “prophet” as if, after the debacle of his death, they could not see in Jesus the Messiah they had earlier acknowledged. “We were hoping (‘hlpizomen, elpizomen, sperabamus) that he would be the one to set Israel free.” Again the delicious irony of their own words is lost on them. For them, freedom meant liberation from the tyranny of foreign domination and perhaps the inauguration of the Kingdom of God as they understood it.

They are puzzled also by the stories of the women describing an empty tomb and angels – but there is still no sign of Jesus. More irony! They are addressing these very words to Jesus!

Jesus then gives them a lesson in reading the Scriptures and shows them that all that happened to Jesus, including his sufferings and death, far from being a tragedy was all foreordained. Luke is the only writer to speak clearly of a suffering Messiah. The idea of a suffering Messiah is not found as such in the Old Testament. Later, the Church will see a foreshadowing of the suffering Messiah in the texts on the Suffering Servant in Isaiah.

This story emphasises that all that happened to Jesus was the fulfilment of Old Testament promises and of Jewish hopes. All through Acts, Luke will argue that Christianity is the fulfilment of the hopes of Pharisaic Judaism and its logical development. In many respects, Matthew’s gospel has a similar theme.

As they reach their destination, Jesus makes as if to continue his journey. However, they extend their hospitality to the stranger. “I was a stranger and you took me in.” “It is nearly evening time and the day is almost over,” they say. So Jesus goes in to stay with them. Wonderful words. But it would not have happened if they had not opened their home to him.

As they sat down to the meal, Jesus, the visitor unexpectedly acting as host, took the bread, said the blessing over it, broke it and gave it to them. And in that very act they recognised him. This is the Eucharist where we recognise the presence of Jesus among us in the breaking of bread. Not just in the bread, but in the breaking and sharing of the bread and in those who share the broken bread.

Then Jesus disappears. But they are still basking in the afterglow. “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” In the light of all this experience, they turn around [conversion!] and go back along the road to Jerusalem from which they had been fleeing. There they discover their fellow-disciples excited that the Lord is risen and has appeared to Simon. And they tell their marvellous story and how “they had recognised him at the breaking of bread”.

All the ingredients of the Christian life are here.

– Running away from where Christ is to be found. We do it all the time.

– Meeting Jesus in the unexpected place or person or situation. How many times does this happen and we do not recognise him, or worse mistreat him?

– Finding the real meaning and identity of Jesus and his mission in having the Scriptures fully explained. Without the Scriptures we cannot claim to know Jesus. Yet how many Catholics go through life hardly ever opening a bible?

– Recognising Jesus in the breaking of bread, in our celebration of the Eucharist. The breaking and sharing of the bread indicates the essentially community dimension of that celebration, making it a real comm-union with all present.

– The central experience of Scripture and Liturgy draws us to participate in the work of proclaiming the message of Christ and sharing our experience of it with others that they may also share it.

– The importance of hospitality and kindness to the stranger. “I was hungry… and you did/did not feed…” Jesus is especially present and to be found and loved in the very least of my brothers and sisters.

The scene is also a model of the Eucharist:

Those walking together on the Road gather together and meet Jesus, first, in the Liturgy of the Word as the Scriptures are broken open and explained, and, second, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where what Jesus did for us through his suffering, death and resurrection is remembered with thanksgiving and the bread that is now his Body and the wine that is now his Blood, is shared among those who are the Members of that Body to strengthen their union and their commitment to continuing the work of Jesus.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/e1014g/

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Related:

Homily from the Abbot

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Stay with us, for it is nearly evening–this is the invitation of the disciples to Jesus. Only when He stays with them and then blesses and breaks bread and gives it to them do they finally recognize Him. Then He disappears.

The Gospel brings us back to the Emmaus experience: in listening the Scriptures, we can encounter the Lord. In listening to others who are the images of Scripture, we can encounter the Lord. In seeking to hear the other person, we might encounter Jesus Himself.

Stay with us, Lord, because it is almost evening! Our lives are finite and so it is always evening. The only value of this life, from a deeply spiritual point of view, is to encounter the Lord, to know the Risen Christ, to live in His love and to proclaim that love to all the earth. Amen. Alleluia.

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

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The context in which Luke is writing:

* Luke is writing in about the year 85 for the Greek community of Asia Minor, who were living in difficult circumstances, due to factors both external and internal. Internally, there were divergent tendencies that made life together difficult: ex-Pharisees who wanted to impose the law of Moses (Acts 15,1); those who followed John the Baptist more and who had not even heard of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19,1-6); Jews who used the name of Jesus to drive out demons (Acts 19,13); and those who said they were followers of Peter, others of Paul, others of Apollo, and others of Christ (1Cor 1,12). Externally, persecution by the Roma Empire was growing (Ap 1,9-10; 2,3.10.13; 6,9-10; 12,16) plus the insidious infiltration of the dominant ideology of the Empire and of the official religion, much the same way communism today infiltrates all aspects of our life (Ap 2,14.20; 13,14-16).

* Luke is writing to these communities that he may give them a sure direction in the midst of their difficulties and so that they may find the strength and light in living out their faith in Jesus. Luke writes a two volume work: the Gospel and the Acts, and he has the same general aim, “to learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received” (Lk 1,4). One of his specific aims is to show, through the beautiful story of the two disciples from Emmaus, how the community ought to read and interpret the Bible. In reality, those walking the streets of Emmaus were the communities (and all of us). Each of us is and all of us together are companions of Cleophas (Lk 24,18). With him we walk the streets of life, seeking a word of support and of guidance in the Word of God.

* The way Luke narrates the meeting of Jesus with the disciples from Emmaus, tells us how the communities of his time used the Bible and practised what we today call the Lectio Divina or Prayerful Reading of the Bible. They used three aspects or steps in interpreting the Bible:

b) The steps or aspects used in the process of interpreting the Scriptures:

First step: Start from facts (Lk 24,13-24):
Jesus meets the two friends who are experiencing feelings of fear and dispersion, of lack of trust and dismay. They were fleeing. The force of death, the cross, had killed in them all hope. Jesus approaches them and walks with them. He listens to their conversation and says: “What matters are you discussing as you walk along?” The prevailing ideology prevents them from understanding and having a critical conscience. “Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free, but…” (Lk 24,21). What do those who suffer talk about today? What matters today put our faith in a state of crisis?
The first step is this: to approach people, listen to reality, problems; be capable of asking questions that help to look at reality more critically.

Second step: Make use of the Bible (Lk 24,25-27)
Jesus uses the Bible, not in order to give lessons on the Bible, but to shed light on the problem worrying the two friends, and thus shed light on the situation they were experiencing. With the help of the Bible, Jesus leads the two disciples into God’s plan and shows them that God has not allowed history to go astray. Jesus does not use the Bible as an expert who knows everything, but as a companion who wishes to help his friends to remember things they had forgotten, namely, Moses and the Prophets. Jesus does not give his friends the feeling of being ignorant, but seeks to create an ambient within which they can remember and thus arouse their memory.
The second step is this: with the help of the Bible, to shed light on the situation and transform the cross, symbol of death, into a symbol of life and of hope. In this manner, that which prevents us from seeing, becomes light and strength along our way.

Third step: Celebrating and sharing in community (Lk 24,28-32)
The Bible alone does not open their eyes but makes their hearts burn! (Lk 24,32). That which opens the eyes of the friends and allows them to discover the presence of Jesus is the sharing of the bread, the communitarian gesture, the celebration. As soon as they recognise Jesus, he disappears. And they then experience the resurrection, they are reborn and walk on their own. Jesus does not take over his friends’ journey. He is not paternalistic. Now that they are risen, the disciples can walk on their own two feet.
The third step is this: we must know how to create a prayerful and fraternal atmosphere where the Spirit is free to act. It is the Spirit who allows us to discover and experience the Word of God in our lives and leads us to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words (Jn 14,26; 16,13). It is especially at this point of the celebration that the practice of basic ecclesial communities, sustained by the margins of the world, help us religious once more to come across and drink from the ancient well of Tradition.

Aim: To rise and go towards Jerusalem (Lk 24,33-35)
Everything has changed in the two disciples. They themselves rise, regain courage and go back to Jerusalem, where the forces of death that killed Jesus are still at work, but where also there are the forces of life in the sharing of the experience of the resurrection. Courage in place of fear. Return in place of flight. Faith in place of its absence. Hope in place of despair. A critical conscience in place of fatalism before power. Freedom in place of oppression. In a word, life in place of death! And in place of the news of the death of Jesus, the Good News of his Resurrection!
This is the aim of reading the Bible: to experience the presence of Jesus and of his Spirit in our midst. It is the Spirit who opens our eyes to the Bible and to reality and draws us to share the experience of the Resurrection, as it is true even to this day, in community meetings.

c) The new way of Jesus: a prayerful reading of the Bible:

* Often, it is not possible to understand whether the use of the OT in the Gospels comes from Jesus or an explanation given by early Christians who sought to express their faith in Jesus in this way. However, what cannot be denied is the frequent and constant use of the Bible by Jesus. A simple reading of the Gospels shows us that Jesus found his bearings in the Scriptures in the performance of his mission and in instructing his disciples and the crowd.

* At the root of Jesus’ reading of the Bible is his experience of God as Father. His intimate relationship with the Father gives Jesus a new criterion, which places him in direct contact with the author of the Bible. Jesus looks for meaning at the very source. He does not go from the writings to their root, but from the root to the writings. The comparison of the photo, as described in the Lectio Divina of Easter Sunday, helps us to shed light on this topic. As by a miracle, the photo of the harsh face was lit up and acquired traits of great tenderness. The words, born of the lived experience of the son, transformed everything, without changing anything (see Lectio Divina for Easter Sunday).

* Thus, looking through the photos of the Old Testament, people in the time of Jesus, formed an idea of a very distant God, harsh, difficult to contact, whose name could not even be mouthed. But Jesus’ words and actions, born of his experience as Son, without changing even one word (Mt 5,18-19), transformed the whole meaning of the Old Testament. The God who seemed to be so distant and harsh acquires the features of a Father full of tenderness, always present, ready to welcome and liberate! This Good News of God, communicated by Jesus, is the new key to a re-reading of the whole of the Old Testament. The New Testament is a re-reading of the Old Testament done in the light of the new experience of God, revealed by Jesus. This different way of shedding light on life in the light of the Word of God, creates for him many conflicts, because it renders the small of this world critical, while it makes the great uncomfortable.

* When interpreting the Bible to the people, Jesus revealed the traits of God’s face, the experience that he experienced of God as Father. To reveal God as Father was the source and aim of the Good News of Jesus. By his attitude, Jesus manifests God’s love for his disciples. He reveals the Father and incarnates his love! Jesus was able to say, “To have seen me is to have seen the Father” (Jn 14,9). Hence, the Father’s Spirit was also with Jesus (Lk 4,18) and went with him everywhere, from the incarnation (Lk 1,35) to the beginning of his mission (Lk 4,14), even to the end, his death and resurrection (Acts 1,8).

* Jesus, interpreter, educator and master, was a meaningful person in the life of his disciples. He influenced their lives forever. To interpret the Bible does not mean just to teach truth for the other to live by. The content that Jesus wished to convey was not limited to words, but included actions and his way of relating to people. The content is never separate from the person who communicates it. The goodness and love that emerge from his words are part of the content. They are his nature. Good content without goodness is like spilt milk.

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Psalm 23 (22)

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God is our inheritance forever

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I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou prepares a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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Final Prayer

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Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-3rd-sunday-easter-0

Related:

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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CRIPPLED BY BLINDNESS TO THE LARGER REALITY OF LIFE

08 April 2015, Wednesday within the Octave of Easter

SCRIPTURE READINGS:  ACTS 3:1-10; LK 24:13-35

During this octave of Easter, we are called to reflect on why is it that the power of the resurrection has not enabled us to live as a redeemed people yet.  Yes, Jesus might have risen, but it does not mean that we are subjectively redeemed.  The scripture readings today present to us two possible obstacles as to why we are still not experiencing the power of the resurrection.The first reason is that some of us are crippled like the man who begged at the beautiful gate of the temple.  That is to say that physical handicaps or material disadvantage can prevent us from seeing the larger reality of life.  Thus, people who are materially poor or lack skills and knowledge can become so obsessed with the need to build up their personal and material wealth that they fail to see the larger picture of life.   In that sense they are no different from the crippled man who too was begging for the mundane things of life.    But the tragedy of it all is that such people who focus only on acquiring such temporal things will end up living at the periphery of life.  Consequently, in seeking only for alms from Peter and John, the crippled man was missing out on the bigger dimension of life.

That was why Peter did not give him what he asked for, for to give him alms alone would not really liberate the man.  Hence, Peter told him, “Gold and silver, I do not have but I give you what I can”; namely, the ability to walk again in the name of Jesus.  To walk in the name of Jesus means of course more than just a physical recovery from his handicap, but it means that he is not able to live his life by the power of the Risen Christ, having faith in him and the gospel.   It is ultimately such kind of faith that would eventually set him free from being crippled in life.  Yes, Peter wanted to give him a larger view of life instead of looking at life from a narrow perspective.

However, some of us do not fall into this first category because we might feel quite adequate in life, knowing that we are materially well off and personally endowed with sufficient talents.   But then, the danger is that such material comforts can lead us to be blind to the total reality of life.  This group of people is well illustrated in the disciples of Emmaus.  We are told that they too were crippled, not physically but emotionally and spiritually.   Unlike the earlier group, this group is crippled due to their blindness.   They just could not understand how the great enterprise started by Jesus could end so abruptly.  It was perceived by them to be a tragedy.  Yes, it was their blindness to the real meaning of the event that crippled them from seeing the Risen Lord who was walking with them.  However, when Jesus explained to them the significance of the events, they could then recognize the Risen Lord at the breaking of bread.  In other words, it was when they were led to look at the whole situation in the perspective of faith that they realized that the Lord was present with them.

If we find ourselves believing in the Risen Lord but still not redeemed, it could be due to the fact that we are still crippled by our disillusionment and resentments and hence unable to see life through the eyes of the Risen Lord.  We are still looking at life according to our limited perspective, like the crippled man.  He only thought of begging for money but he did not have the courage and the foresight to look beyond his immediate needs.  He had no vision – a vision that could offer him a fuller life.

Or we could be like the disciples at Emmaus who, due to their lack of understanding and their blindness, were weighed down by their disappointments and thus unable to see the reality of life in its fullness, namely, the intrinsic connection between the cross and the resurrection.  We are still denying the cross in our lives in some ways or another.  But the moment we accept the cross as essential to the resurrection, then we will not be so weary and downhearted like the disciples at Emmaus.  We will know then, that the cross is not the end of the story.  Rather, we will realize that it is the cross that makes the resurrection possible in our lives.

Let me conclude this reflection with a short story of how a narrow view of life can prevent us from seeing the totality of life.  Once there was a man who was obsessed with gold.  Day and night, he thought of nothing but gold.  One day, he went to the goldsmith shop.  He snatched the gold of a potential buyer and fled.  But the shop owner cried for help.  Eventually, he was caught by the police.  When they asked what made him snatch the gold in front of so many people, he replied, “At the time when I snatched the gold, I did not see the people.  I only saw the gold.”  Indeed, when one’s mind is overly preoccupied with something, one becomes oblivious to all other things, often to the detriment of one’s being.

http://www.catholic.org.sg/scripture-reflection/reflection-b/

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