Posts Tagged ‘pain’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, June 23, 2018 — Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

June 22, 2018

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The Gospel today, from Saint Matthew, tell us again:  Don’t worry about your life.  God will provide for you. Do God’s will each day and things will turn out wonderfully well!

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 370

Reading 1 2 CHR 24:17-25

After the death of Jehoiada,
the princes of Judah came and paid homage to King Joash,
and the king then listened to them.
They forsook the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers,
and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols;
and because of this crime of theirs,
wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the LORD,
the people would not listen to their warnings.
Then the Spirit of God possessed Zechariah,
son of Jehoiada the priest.
He took his stand above the people and said to them:
“God says, ‘Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands,
so that you cannot prosper?
Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.'”
But they conspired against him,
and at the king’s order they stoned him to death
in the court of the LORD’s temple.
Thus King Joash was unmindful of the devotion shown him
by Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, and slew his son.
And as Zechariah was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge.”At the turn of the year a force of Arameans came up against Joash.
They invaded Judah and Jerusalem,
did away with all the princes of the people,
and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus.
Though the Aramean force came with few men,
the LORD surrendered a very large force into their power,
because Judah had abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers.
So punishment was meted out to Joash.
After the Arameans had departed from him,
leaving him in grievous suffering,
his servants conspired against him
because of the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest.
He was buried in the City of David,
but not in the tombs of the kings.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 89:4-5, 29-30, 31-32, 33-34

R. (29a) For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.
I will make his posterity endure forever
and his throne as the days of heaven.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“If his sons forsake my law
and walk not according to my ordinances,
If they violate my statutes
and keep not my commands.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“I will punish their crime with a rod
and their guilt with stripes.
Yet my mercy I will not take from him,
nor will I belie my faithfulness.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.

Alleluia2 COR 8:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
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Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
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Your Life is a Gift From God:
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Reflection from The Abbot, The Monastery of Christ in the Desert

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

God loves us!  This is not easy for many of us to accept.  We modify this statement in our minds and in our actions so something like this:  God loves us if we are good.  The readings today are a teaching about the unqualified and unconditional love that God has for us, always and in every circumstance, when we do good and when we do evil.  God loves us!

The Gospel today, from Saint Matthew, tell us again:  Don’t worry about your life.  God will provide for you.

Probably we don’t experience life that way!  We hear people say:  I have to take of myself because God never gives me what I need!  We can recognize some truth in that, but the truth is only that we don’t see God providing for us and look at our lives as something that we must accomplish, with or without God.  We are invited to change our way of looking at life and to recognize that God wants us to live in His love and that He always provides all that we need.  If we look at our lives as simply a gift of God that we give back to God, then life can be experiences in the way of the Gospel.  Far too often, however, we look at life as something for our pleasure, something that is supposed to bring us pleasures and goods and happiness, etc.  This changes life from a gift of God to something that I must take up on my own to get all that I want.

So today, my sisters and brothers, we are invited to refocus our lives.  Life is a gift and each of us is a particular mystery God has created for His glory.  If we can find a way to live in that love, by following the Word of the Lord, then our lives become peaceful and filled with meaning.  We won’t have all that we want in terms of physical goods and money and pleasure.  But we will have God now and forever.  Amen.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

https://christdesert.org/about/

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 
 
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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom

In the Gospel: Jesus invites us to follow Him. But he makes it clear we shouldn’t get bogged down by the customs and work and goodies of this world.

“Look at the birds in the sky they do not sow or reap“ is a lot like, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

My priest friend says, “The devil wants us thinking about the past and ourselves. God wants us thinking about others and the future (eternity).”

So why do we over eat?

We want to feel good.

We want to consume the abundance of our modern abundant world. The entire American economy is based upon “consumer spending.”

Americans consume more food, electricity, water and just about everything else more than just about all people on the globe today.

And we make more trash than any civilization ever on this earth. And that’s not even counting all the trashy Hollywood films we churn out…

We are all users, takers and consumers.  And I’m not leaving myself out here: I am as bad as any other American from what we used to call “White Middle Class.”

We are “the feel good people.”

And we want no pain or suffering — for ourselves. We are always first thinking about ourselves.

And if pain knocks on our door: screw that. We have drugs for that.

Drugs for anxiety. Drugs for depression. Drugs for “I just don’t feel right.”

It is almost as if Americans feel entitled to take more and more of this world and its resources — and without feeling any pain, guilt, anxiety or anguish.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about anguish:

Anguish is a term used in philosophy, often as a translation from the Latin for angst. It is a paramount feature ofexistentialist philosophy, in which anguish is often understood as the experience of an utterly free being in a world with zero absolutes (existential despair). In the theology of Kierkegaard, it refers to a being with total free will who is in a constant state of spiritual fear that his freedom will lead him to fall short of the standards that God has laid out for him.

In the teachings of Sartre, anguish is seen when an utterly captured being realizes the unpredictability of his or her action. For an example, when walking along a cliff, you would feel anguish to know that you have the freedom to throw yourself down to your imminent death.

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19)

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Good Friday Message from Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Homilist to Pope Francis — In each of us, to varying degrees, is a “heart of darkness”

March 30, 2018

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Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Homilist to Pope Francis

ROME – Even as sinful people in a society filled with violence and increasing secularism, we have hope because Christ’s cross perdures, the papal preacher said at the Vatican’s Good Friday Service.

“The cross, then, does not ‘stand’ against the world but for the world: to give meaning to all the suffering that has been, that is, and that will be in human history,” Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., said April 14.

He gave the homily during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. Cantalamessa also gave the homilies at Mass at the chapel of Casa Santa Marta on Fridays throughout Lent.

Today, we are constantly hearing about death and violence, he said. “Why then are we here to recall the death of a man who lived 2,000 years ago?

“The reason is that this death has changed forever the very face of death and given it a new meaning,” he said.

Cantalamessa preached: “The cross is the living proclamation that the final victory does not belong to the one who triumphs over others but to the one who triumphs over self; not to the one who causes suffering but to the one who is suffering.”

RELATED: Pope’s preacher today once again fills a singular slot

He explained how the Carthusian monks have adopted a coat of arms that hangs at the entrance to their monastery. It has a globe of the earth with a cross above it, and written across it: “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis,” or “The cross stands firm as the world turns.”

He described a painting by Salvador Dali, called “Christ of St. John of the Cross.” It depicts Christ on the cross as if you are looking from above. Beneath him are clouds, and below that, water.

In a way, the water beneath Christ in this image, instead of earth, is a symbol of the lack of firm foundation of values in our current society, he explained. But even though we live in this very “liquid society,” there is still hope, because “the cross of Christ stands.”

“This is what the liturgy for Good Friday has us repeat every year with the words of the poet Venanzio Fortunato: ‘O crux, ave spes unica,’ ‘Hail, O Cross, our only hope.’”

The point of Christ’s Passion, however, is not an analysis of society, he said. “Christ did not come to explain things, but to change human beings.”

In each of us, to varying degrees, is a “heart of darkness,” he said. In the Bible, it is called “a heart of stone.”

“A heart of stone is a heart that is closed to God’s will and to the suffering of brothers and sisters, a heart of someone who accumulates unlimited sums of money and remains indifferent to the desperation of the person who does not have a glass of water to give to his or her own child; it is also the heart of someone who lets himself or herself be completely dominated by impure passion and is ready to kill for that passion or to lead a double life,” he said.

He explained that even as practicing Christians we have these hearts of stone when we live fundamentally for ourselves and not for the Lord.

Quoting God’s words through the prophet Ezekiel, Cantalamessa said: “I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.”

He went on to explain how in Scripture we are told that at the moment of Christ’s death, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.”

This description, using apocalyptic language and signs, indicates “what should happen in the heart of a person who reads and meditates on the Passion of Christ.

“The heart of flesh, promised by God through the prophets, is now present in the world: it is the heart of Christ pierced on the cross, the heart we venerate as the “Sacred Heart,’” he said.

We believe that though he was slain, because Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, his heart has also “been raised from the dead; it is alive like the rest of his body.”

And when we receive the Eucharist, we “firmly believe” that the very heart of Christ has come to “beat inside of us” as well, he explained.

“As we are about to gaze upon the cross, let us say from the bottom of our hearts, like the tax collector in the temple, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ and then we too, like he did, will return home ‘justified’.”

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/04/14/good-friday-papal-preacher-changing-world-cross-remains/

Dr. Jordan Peterson Talks Up The ’12 Rules For Life’

March 26, 2018

Peterson believes that the catastrophe of our times is a loss of sense of meaning in life. We need to seek deep engagement and meaning from life, he believes. He says this will not come from instant gratification but from seeking and taking responsibility and meaning. Our sense of meaning and purpose is what allows us to get through the hard times in life and the suffering. He says we are not teaching this to young people which is a mystery and a catastrophe. He tells us to live out the truth — much as Christianity teaches…

Interesting that this discussion was held just before the Christian Holy Week….

Related:

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For more on Peterson’s thinking:

Related:

  (Pope Francis says we must choose who we stand with. Are we with those that yell “Crucify Him” or are we with those that cheer “

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We just recently became interested on Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” after a professor we know said, “His is the inconvenient truth. Three hundred years before Christ, Aristotle believed he proved the existence of God using logic from his teacher Plato. College students today don’t want to think — even though they cast out religion. Therefore, Aristotle is usually overlooked these days….”

Can’t make truth, ideas or monuments go away by refusing to accept them!

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Tending to the spirit of the dying

December 28, 2017

James Low For The Straits Times

Responding to earlier articles on euthanasia, a doctor advocates better spiritual care of the dying.

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We humans must be the only creatures in this universe who grapple with the awareness that our existence in this world will come to an end some day in the future.

Death awareness starts from the age of five when one attempts to make sense of events, people and the surrounding world. In trying to find the meaning of life, existence and death, we contemplate the past, present and future in relation to the universe that we live in. The why, how and what-if questions plague most humans at various points in life regardless of what our belief systems may be and whether we are atheists or profess a religion.

This existential or spiritual dimension of humans is part of the multi-dimensional human model first described by the late psychiatrist George Engel in the 1970s.

As one nears the end, spiritual issues take on greater significance. The late Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the palliative care movement, proposed the concept of “total pain” based on Dr Engel’s model of the human.

Pain in terminally ill patients emanating as physical or psychological pain may progress into spiritual pain when the patient doubts the value and worth of his existence. This may be compounded by the perceived hopelessness, meaninglessness, guilt and a sense of being a burden to family and friends. A sense of fear, foreboding, confusion and grief compounds the situation, further leading to a desire for a quick death.

Patients who wish death upon themselves for whatever reason almost invariably have some degree of spiritual pain. For such patients, addressing the root causes, such as uncontrolled physical suffering, clinical depression and complex grief, may not suffice for the crux of the problem could be an underlying spiritual pain.

Individuals seeking to end their lives, another feature of human spirituality, via euthanasia or suicide may look towards a wonder drug that can “save them from the misery”.

Doctors are increasingly called upon to provide the miracle “cure” for existential and spiritual pain. “Aid-in-dying” and “physician-assisted suicide”, euphemisms for euthanasia, are means to providing death in a controlled, sanitised and quick manner by way of prescribing a drug or cocktail of drugs.

This approach, however, does not consider the spiritual dimension of the human and seemingly affords a quick-fix physical solution to what is essentially a spiritual problem.

The balm for spiritual pain does not come in the form of a medication or drug. Dr Harold Koenig, director of the Centre for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Centre, remarked that building a personal narrative, aided by a healthy perspective of spirituality or religion, is important in people undergoing severe trauma.

Dr Viktor Frankl, another renowned psychiatrist who was incarcerated in a German concentration camp during World War II, observed in his seminal book, Man’s Search For Meaning, that finding meaning in the most difficult of times, amid pain and suffering, determines whether a prisoner would survive or succumb quickly. Those who held a purpose or hope in life were more resilient and survived longer.

Spiritual care remains an underdeveloped facet of holistic care in this part of the world. Health issues and illnesses serve as catalysts for spiritual questions to emerge. Spirituality is often confused with religiosity.

For many, the latter provides a framework of beliefs and practices to answer questions of the former. Many of the principles of spiritual care are secular in nature and can be applied universally.

Spiritual care is journeying with patients and seeing them off in a compassionate and loving way, neither hastening nor slowing that journey. It is to restore meaning, purpose and hope to patients right to the last moment of their life and impressing upon them that their continued existence, no matter how difficult it may be for others, is important.

There is increasing evidence in scientific literature showing the association between spiritual wellness and resilience in the face of trauma, pain and suffering.

We are discovering, just like Dr Frankl did 60 years ago, that resilience, suffering and survivability are all interrelated and are founded on a strong sense of meaning, worth and personhood of the human spirit.

Unfortunately, a recent study by researchers from the University of Bristol, across nine countries, found that spiritual distress, though highly prevalent, is hardly recognised and, therefore, not managed well at the end of life. The participants reported a need for staff to be trained in spiritual care.

Spirituality and humankind’s quest for longevity gave birth to medicine. The early practice of medicine was steeped in spiritual and religious traditions. This preceded the development of the science of medicine. It will do our society well to pay greater heed to spiritual care for the sick and dying.

Spiritual or pastoral care, as it is known in some countries, is fast developing into a much-needed aspect of healthcare. Should the last piece of the healthcare jigsaw be put in place, it would seem that medicine has come a full circle from where it originated.

• The writer is a council member at the Singapore Hospice Council and a senior consultant at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/tend-to-the-spirit-of-the-dying?&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-media&utm_campaign=addtoany

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“No life is complete without pain, suffering and death.” — Viktor Frankl
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First Thought From Peace and Freedom
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St. Ignatius of Loyola believed very strongly that every person could and should achieve a transformational change in life — a change toward a more God-centered and less self-centered existence.
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Ignatius started his transformation or conversion while in recovery from wounds of war. For centuries, pain, suffering and hardships in life have become the catalyst for a complete change of self for many people. The Spiritual Exercise were written by  St Ignatius of Loyola to assist everyman in achieving this life-saving transformational change.
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Centuries later, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and its “Twelve Steps” provided a new but very similar roadmap to those seeking a transformational change.
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When the Big Book was first published, Fr. Eddie Dowling bought a copy in St. Louis to read. He was so taken by the book, he took the train to New York City to meet Bill Wilson, whom people said had written the book. When Fr. Dowling met Bill W. he asked him, “Where did you get all this Ignatian teaching?”
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Do you pray? Saint John Paul II said, “No prayer, no spiritual life.” If you aren’t talking to God who are you talking to when you pray? Yourself?

John Paul II also said,  “No faith, no miracles….”

When we are on the doorstep of death, it’s too late to develop a spiritual framework that will sustain us. That’s why so many people invest large parts of their life in spiritual development using religion or whatever else is most helpful to them…

Below is a list of resources that can be of use to everyone and anyone who “fears” death…. Or for your loved ones who seem disconnected from the spiritual reality of death…

 (This is our most complete look at resources for people reaching out on a spiritual level….)

Many of us struggle with ego, false pride and self-esteem issues. Many of us constantly worry about money, our jobs, our future security, our health or health care.
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Yet Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life.” Again and again the theme in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.”
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A basic teaching of Christianity is: With Jesus we are OK. Do not be afraid.
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“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
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In other words: stay in the present moment.
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How come we refuse to believe?
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It is interesting to me that Alcoholics Anonymous teaches newcomers to believe in what they were often taught as very young children — but they somehow refused or neglected to believe.
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The Twelve Steps of AA start with “We admitted that we were powerless…” The very start of AA suggests humility and self-abandonment. By the Third Step, alcoholics are taught to put all their trust in a Higher Power.
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Self-abandonment can also be thought of as surrender. Each of us knows in our heart when its time for that…
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Humility, self -abandonment, trust in God and the “Christian way of life”  are the tonic used by patient, kind, forgiving, useful people to keep their lives in order.
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The readings also remind us today of an old friend, now gone to his heavenly reward, who often said, “God won’t give us more than is equal to the strengths of the gifts he has given us.” In other words, “Fear not, God is on our side.”
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I have come to ask myself at the start of each day: What are we seeking — and What are we using to get there?

How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt? (Unless you try it…)

December 26, 2017

The Incredulity of St. Thomas, 1602-03, by Caravaggio.
Credit Bridgeman Images

Why is it that, according to Jesus, faith is better than proof? That’s a question I’ve struggled to answer ever since I began my pilgrimage of faith as a young man. Sometimes it seemed more pressing, other times less so. It can intensify during periods of grief and pain, when faith may not offer much consolation or even make much sense in a world that seems random and cruel.

This question is compounded during periods like this one, when faith seems to distort reality rather than clarify it, when it’s easily manipulated for low rather than high purpose and when some of those who claim to be people of faith act in ways that bring dishonor to it and themselves.

Why take a leap of faith, given all that? Insisting on a little more empirical evidence before you make the leap seems pretty reasonable.

The apostle Thomas clearly thought so. According to the Gospel of John, the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the risen Lord, to which Thomas replied he wouldn’t believe until he put his fingers in the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his hand into Jesus’ side.

Fast-forward a week, when Thomas encounters Jesus, who tells him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas does, to which Jesus replies, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Not seeing and still believing is held up by Jesus as a greater thing than seeing and believing. But I’m not sure I have ever fully grasped what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of God. Recently, with the help of friends — pastors, theologians, authors, fellow believers — I’ve tried to deepen my understanding on that subject.

To start out, it’s worth noting that treating Christian faith as different from proof doesn’t mean it’s antithetical to evidence and reason. Christianity is a faith that claims to be rooted in history, not abstract philosophy. St. Paul wrote that if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, the Christian faith is “futile” and followers of Jesus are “of all people most to be pitied.”

Christians would say, in fact, that reason is affirmed in Scripture — “Come now, and let us reason together,” is how the prophet Isaiah puts it — and that faith properly understood is consistent with and deepens our understanding of reality. “Reason purifies faith,” George Weigel, my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told me. “Faith without reason risks descending into superstition; reason without faith builds a world without windows, doors or skylights.”

But faith itself, while not the converse of reason, is still distinct from it. If it seems like that’s asking too much — if you think leaps of faith are for children rather than adults — consider this: Materialists, rationalists and atheists ultimately place their trust in certain propositions that require faith. To say that truth is only intelligible through reason is itself a statement of faith. Denying the existence of God is as much a leap of faith as asserting it. As the pastor Tim Keller told me, “Most of the things we most deeply believe in — for example, human rights and human equality — are not empirically provable.”

“The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason,” is how Blaise Pascal put it. Something would not require faith if the proof of it was absolute. According to Philip Yancey, the author of “The Jesus I Never Knew,” “Faith requires the possibility of rejection, or it is not faith.”

Perhaps the key to understanding why faith is prized within the Christian tradition is that it involves trust that would not be needed if the existence of God were subject to a mathematical proof. What God is seeking is not our intellectual assent so much as a relationship with us. That is, after all, one of the purposes of the incarnation of God in Jesus.

Every meaningful relationship — parent-child, spouse to spouse, friend to friend — involves some degree of trust. It is better and more vivifying to be the object of someone’s trust rather than the last person standing after a series of logical deductions. That’s true for us as individuals, and it can be true for God as well.

Faith demonstrates human trust in him — and, according to James Forsyth, pastor at McLean Presbyterian Church in Virginia, which my family attends, it demonstrates that we accept God’s love for us. “There is a force within love that longs to be received,” he says.

Craig Barnes, the president of Princeton Theological Seminary, told me, “Faith is a greater blessing than proof because it gives us a relationship with Jesus. All good relationships are bound together by love. And love is always an expression of faith.” He also pointed out that proofs don’t necessarily inspire belief. Toward the end of his Gospel, Matthew mentions that some still doubted after they looked right at the risen Christ. (“When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”)

Some of those who witnessed the miracles of Jesus eventually sought to kill him. And Judas, one of Jesus’ original disciples, betrayed him with a kiss. So sensory experience isn’t enough to compel belief and allegiance.

Our most important forms of knowledge rarely come from logic or proof, according to Cherie Harder, the president of the Trinity Forum. Citing the work of the theologian Lesslie Newbigin, she says it comes through a more personal knowledge. For example, I know my wife loves me because I know her, I know her heart, I know her character, and because I trust her. “Your knowledge of her is less about physical certainty,” Ms. Harder wrote to me, “and more about a well-placed confidence in who she is (a faith in her that is qualitatively different, and far more personal and holistic, than intellectual certainty).”

“Faith,” Ms. Harder added, “is tied to love in a way that logical deduction and reason are not. We are changed by what we love more than what we think.”

Faith can allow us to understand things in a different way than reason does, in a manner similar to what J.R.R. Tolkien meant when he said that pagan myths weren’t lies but rather pointed toward deep truths. The imagination could be integrated into reason, he believed, in a way that helped us to see reality a bit more clearly. Reason is one way to perceive reality; faith — rooted not in partisan ideology but in grace and a sense of the sacred — is another.

There’s one other difference between faith and reason. The latter can analyze things like quantum physics and modern cosmology. But what faith can do is to put our lives in an unfolding narrative in ways reason cannot. It gives us a role in a gripping drama, of which the Christmas story is one defining scene. It’s a drama that includes sin and betrayal, redemption and grace; and ultimately it gives purpose to our lives despite the brokenness and pain we experience. This may mean nothing to you, but to people of faith, it can mean everything. If God is real, perhaps it should.

It’s notable that when Thomas makes his request to Jesus, he’s not condemned. Rather, Jesus gives Thomas what he needed — in his case, proof — and in doing so makes it clear that Jesus is willing to meet us where we are. Some need proof, at least as a start; for others, faith alone is enough.

According to Christian tradition, Thomas would eventually go on to serve as a missionary in India, where he was martyred. I imagine his faithfulness had less to do with putting his hand in the side of Jesus than what transpired within his heart. His intellectual doubts gave way to calm trust. In my experience, at least, that journey hasn’t always been an easy one. For many of us, shadows of doubt coexist with faith.

To emphasize faith is not to cast out doubt. In fact, it is precisely to take doubt seriously, but also to understand the doubter more completely — not just as a reasoning mind but as a full person, possessed of a divine spark that lets us see, now and then, right through the walls we have built between faith and reason.

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, September 15, 2017 — Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows — “I am grateful to him who has strengthened me.” — “Because I live, you also will live.”

September 14, 2017

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 441/639

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Our Lady of Sorrows by Sassoferrato

Reading 1 1 TM 1:1-2, 12-14

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior
and of Christ Jesus our hope,
to Timothy, my true child in faith:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm PS 16:1B-2A AND 5, 7-8, 11

R. (see 5) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

mothercrucified3

https://www.markmallett.com/blog/category/mary/page/2/

Sequence (Optional) — Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.
Amen. (Alleluia)

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the martyr’s crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Image result for Our Lady of Sorrows, art, pictures

Our Lady of Sorrows by Tianna Mallett

Or LK 2:33-35

Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

https://www.markmallett.com/blog/category/mary/page/2/

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Our Lady of Sorrows – Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9; Ps 30; Luke 2:33-35 or John 19:25-27 From Living Space

There are two choices for the Gospel reading. The first is from Luke’s account of the Presentation in the Temple. While they were in the Temple, Mary and Joseph met the holy man Simeon, who had been promised that he would not die before laying eyes on the Messiah.

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When he meets Mary and Joseph, he recognises the Messiah in the Baby she is holding. He then proceeds to make some prophecies about Jesus and, addressing Mary herself, tells her that a “sword of sorrow” will pierce her heart. He does not specify what that “sword” might be but now we can see that it particularly alludes to the suffering and death of Jesus which she witnessed. However, the “sword” can also be applied to the other painful experiences we remember in the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

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The alternative Gospel reading is from John’s account of the Crucifixion where he mentions that the “mother of Jesus” was standing by the foot of the Cross as her Son died. With her were two other women, her sister called Mary (wife of Clopas), Mary of Magdala and the “beloved disciple”.

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Seeing them there, Jesus entrusts the Beloved Disciple to the care of his Mother, while telling the Beloved Disciple that Jesus’ Mother is his also. Some would see in this scene the Mother of Jesus as symbolising the Christian community. There is to be a relationship of mutual support between the community and its dedicated members. The community exists for the well-being of the individual members and each member is committed in turn to the well-being of the community.

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The First Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and speaks of Jesus’ passionate prayer to his Father that he not have to go through the terrible death of the Cross. And his prayer was heard, because of his total submission to his Father. It was precisely through the acceptance of his suffering that he learnt to be totally at one with the will of his Father. And, being made perfect through his obedience, he became a source of salvation for all others who unite themselves to him.

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And who was more united to Jesus than his Mother? It is because of her acceptance of and identification with the sufferings of her Son that we celebrate her memory today.

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Related:
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Our Lady of Sorrows — The Madonna in Sorrow, by Sassoferrato, 17th century
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
(From September 15, 2014)
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There are many ways to look at sufferings in life.   Those who are negative will look at sufferings as a curse from God.  Such an attitude can turn them bitter against God and the world.  When we try to run away from our sufferings or deny them, we will end up being miserable.

Fortunately, most of us assume a positive approach to suffering; seeing it as a pedagogy of life.  In other words, it teaches us about life and most of all, it purifies our attitude towards people.  It helps to sanctify us.  Indeed, as the letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus Himself learned obedience through suffering.  In other words, we can embrace suffering as part of the mystery of life or fight it.  If we fight against suffering, then we open ourselves to greater pain, like when we harden our muscles when receiving an injection.  The way to overcome suffering is to let go and embrace it as God’s will for our growth, purification and strengthening of character.

However, it is not sufficient to see suffering in this manner as it is still very much focused on the self.  Rather, suffering should teach us to reach out, for it is only in reaching out that we are able to forget our own sufferings.  The clue to reaching out is found in the gospel of St John, when we are told that “the disciple made a place for her in his home.”  In other words, like John, we are called to feel with Mary, just as Mary felt with Jesus and identified herself with Him.

When St Paul tells us that if we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will also share in His glory, and that if we share in His death, we also share in His resurrection, he is not simply suggesting that if we suffer just like Jesus, we too will be glorified and raised like Jesus.  Of course, this is true, but there is a deeper significance to this exhortation of Paul.

St Paul is telling us that in sharing the sufferings of Christ, we will understand not only what Christ has gone through, but what He has suffered for us, for our sake and for our salvation.  In other words, by sharing in His sufferings, we can now identify with Him, not just in His sufferings, but also feel the depth of His love for us.  Only when we come to know how much He has loved us, can we come to love Him even more.  If we are called to know how much He suffered, it is so that we can appreciate the extent of His selfless love for us.  It is important that we understand the purpose of His sufferings.

Suffering in itself is not redeeming unless it is experienced for love of others.  So in sharing Christ’s sufferings and understanding His love for us, we are now ready to suffer for Him in return as our grateful response to His love.  Indeed, this was the way Christ suffered.  If He could suffer so much for us, it was because He had experienced the Father’s self-emptying love for Him.

Even in human relationships, we are inclined to be more sympathetic to people whom we encounter, and those who share their sufferings and pain with us.  Without understanding their struggles, the natural reaction would be for us to apply the laws to them objectively, without taking into consideration their existential context.  But justice, especially the justice of God, requires that we apply laws within the context and circumstances of each individual, as opposed to a legalistic manner.  Indeed, when we lack contact with a person and lack understanding of his or her personal struggles, we cannot empathize very much with the person.

That is why dialogue and communion enables us to feel with and for each other.  It is not in our nature to act objectively; only robots do that.  But neither do we act subjectively, for if we do, then we are not living out the truth.  Rather, we act objectively in a subjective manner, taking into consideration both the person and his circumstances.  Compassion and justice meet in God and in the Christian.  Once we recognize the person as a person and not a thing, then we too, can help the person to transcend his struggles.

Truly, if we feel with each other, then like Jesus, we will look upon others with compassion and sympathy rather than judgmentally.  In silent tears, we pray for those who are suffering and in pain, especially for our enemies, because like Jesus, we can understand why they are acting the way they do.  Like Jesus, we are called to forget our own sufferings but instead, to look towards the sufferings of others, so that no longer will we judge them with condemnation but with mercy.  For like Christ, we are called to share not just in His sufferings but we must also share in the sufferings of our enemies.

Today, Mary is our model.  If she is so associated with the redemptive suffering of Christ, it is because as a mother she must have felt with Jesus in His mission of love.  Most of all, if she could forgive the enemies of her Son, it was also because she could feel the way He felt for His enemies.  So, if we too, can feel with Jesus in His sufferings through our sufferings, we will repent of our own sins, return to Him in love and gratitude and undertake upon ourselves the same mission of love and mercy that we have received from Jesus.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/15-september-2014-our-lady-of-sorrows/#sthash.Z32XBVDT.dpuf

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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September 15, 2015
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SHARING THE SUFFERINGS OF OUR LOVED ONES IN SPIRIT
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Hebrews 5:7-9Luke 2:33-35

How often do we feel helpless in helping people, especially when they are suffering?  Not only are we unable to help them financially or physically, but even emotionally.  Indeed, we are often lost for words to encourage them.  We do not know what to say to comfort them.  We look at them and we feel so helpless and useless.  There is nothing we can do to relieve the suffering.  We use means in our power to help but to no avail.  We can only watch them suffer in pain and in depression.  We feel frustrated and even angry with God, besides being angry with ourselves.  In such a situation, what do we do?

Like Mary, we are called to simply stand by the cross of Jesus.  In celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we feel with Mary who stood by Jesus not just when He was rejected in His ministry and even thought to be mad by His relatives.  She had always stood by Him in good and in bad times.   Although alone and widowed, she did not prevent Jesus from leaving home for the work of His Father.  Mary was supportive of Jesus’ mission from beginning to the end.

But we have no sufferings that can be compared with Mary’s sufferings.  No one can and will ever be able to suffer the way Mary suffered with Jesus.  She was His mother.  He was her only son, her flesh and blood.  She was one in mind and heart with her Son.  At the wedding in Cana, she was one with the will of God and invited us to do the same, “Do whatever He tells you.”   When presented with a problem she did not once exert the obligations of filial piety on Jesus to solve it. She just informed the Son that “they had no wine” without instructing Him what to do.  She knew her Son better and trusted in His wisdom and judgement.  (cf Jn 2)

Hence, when we reflect on the death of Jesus on the Cross, it must be said, that although Mary did not suffer in body like Jesus, she suffered in spirit.  She was a martyr in spirit. St Bernard wrote, “Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.” She suffered not so much in her body but she suffered as much as what Jesus suffered on the cross morally.  Jesus suffered because of our sins, which He carried in His body. Not only did He carry our sins but He was also condemned for our sins. Like the Suffering Servant, He was crushed for our sins.

What went through the heart of Mary when she saw her Son carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem on His way to Mount Calvary?  We cannot imagine how much she would have suffered, seeing her Son bathed in blood, scourged beyond recognition, losing so much blood and with raw and open wounds, carrying the cross and being paraded as a criminal.  Yet, Mary stood bravely with Jesus and moved with the crowd as she watched helplessly her Son struggling all alone with the weight of the cross and enduring the ignominy of being ridiculed and shamed by the people and mocked by the soldiers.  Yet, Mary did not utter a word against God or against His enemies.  In sorrow and in pain she shared with Jesus His sufferings in her heart.  She must have been such a strong woman to carry such pain in her heart.  Her grief cannot be compared to ours even when we lose our own loved ones.

Most of all, when she was at the foot of the cross, she had to endure the last filial act of our Lord on the Cross when He gave His disciple to Mary, “Behold your son!”  And to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother!”  (Cf Jn 19:26f)  On the surface, Jesus was doing a filial act by entrusting the care of His mother to one of His disciples, since Jesus was her only son.  But how can the Son of God be replaced by the son of man; or a master by a disciple?  There is no substitute for Jesus.  This is true for us when we love someone dearly and deeply.  Can anyone replace our spouse, our boyfriend or girlfriend or even our dog?

Mary fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon who said that a sword will pierce her heart. “As the father and mother of Jesus stood wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’”  (Lk 2:33-35)  So deep is the wound and so sharp is the sword that no one can ever feel the way she felt.  After the death of Jesus, He no longer felt the pain in His body or in His soul, but her soul suffered the violence of sorrow.  For this reason, the Church gave her the title, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows.  Beyond the prophecy of Simeon, she suffered when she had to flee for their lives to Egypt.  She suffered the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple.  She was filled with sorrow when she met Jesus on the way to Calvary.  Certainly, she must have been so overwhelmed at the way Jesus died on the cross.  As if it was not enough to see Him crucified, Mary had to see her Son pierced on the side by a soldier’s lance.  This last action would have pierced her heart even more.  Finally, all that was left for Mary was to receive the lifeless bloody body of Jesus in her arms and leave Him in the tomb.  Such were the seven sorrows of Mary.

Yet in all these events, she was not angry with God or vindictive of the enemies of her Son.  She stood by the cross in silence and joined her sufferings with that of her Son, forgiving those who killed Him.  There was no anger but only grief for her enemies because of their ignorance.  She was so full of love that she could love beyond herself and her own pain of seeing her Son suffering.   Like her Son on the cross, she would have uttered the same words of Jesus in her heart, “Father, forgive them for they knew not what they were doing.”  Like Jesus, Mary not only forgave her enemies but she prayed for them and made excuses for their actions, reducing them to ignorance.  Such was the magnanimity of Mary.  How many of us pray for our enemies with love and compassion, much less to make excuses for them for hurting us and making us suffer?

In the light of this feast of our Lady of Sorrows, we too are called to suffer in spirit with those who are suffering, especially when they suffer innocently and unjustly.  Our blessed Mother is asking us to suffer in silence and in love for them, whether they are our friends or our enemies.  If we feel helpless like her for her Son, let us offer that inadequacy in helping our loved ones with Mary to Jesus. With those who are the cause of our suffering, we must remember what St Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called – that you might inherit a blessing.”  (1 Pt 3:9)  And again, he wrote, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.”  (1 Pt 3:17f)

Indeed, following the example of Jesus in our weakness, we need to surrender everything to the Lord in faith and trust and in obedience.  If we surrender ourselves to Him in total obedience to His divine will and wisdom, the Lord will hear us and He will transform us.  This is all that is needed of us.  We cannot take things into our own hands.  We need to allow God to be God.  Just as He did the impossible by raising Jesus from the dead, He will do the same for us.   We only need to pray in faith.  We are called to stand by the cross like Mary.  We feel with them and for them.  Remaining helpless, we need to believe in the power and wisdom of God that He will act in His own time.

So let us obey Jesus and give a place to Mary in our home, in our spiritual life.  Like the beloved disciple, let us bring Mary to our home.  This means that we are called to accept Mary as our spiritual mother.  She is the mother of the Church represented by the unnamed disciple of the Lord.  We are called to learn from her to share the sufferings in spirit of those whom we cannot help in body.   We may not be able to take away the sufferings of the other person but we can always pray for them and offer them the hope of Christ.  Let us in faith take the assurance of Jesus to heart, “Because I live, you also will live.” (Jn 14:19)

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Prayer and Meditation for Friday, August 11, 2017 — “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

August 10, 2017

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin
Lectionary: 411

Reading 1  DT 4:32-40

Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
All this you were allowed to see
that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other.
Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you;
on earth he let you see his great fire,
and you heard him speaking out of the fire.
For love of your fathers he chose their descendants
and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power,
driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you,
so as to bring you in
and to make their land your heritage, as it is today.
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart,
that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 77:12-13, 14-15, 16 AND 21

R. (12a) I remember the deeds of the Lord.
I remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I remember your wonders of old.
And I meditate on your works;
your exploits I ponder.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
O God, your way is holy;
what great god is there like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
among the peoples you have made known your power.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the sons of Jacob and Joseph.
You led your people like a flock
under the care of Moses and Aaron.
R. I remember the deeds of the Lord.

AlleluiaMT 5:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.
Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here
who will not taste death
until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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11 AUGUST, 2017, Friday, 18th Week, Ordinary Time

LIVING LIFE RADICALLY


SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ DT 4:32-40MT 16:24-28 ]

“What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life?  Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?”  These are fundamental questions in life.  If we can answer these questions from the depths of our being, our fundamental option in life would change.  Indeed, when St Francis Xavier came upon this text, his whole life changed.  It suddenly dawned on him what life was all about!

So the truth is that if we want to live, we must live in the most radical manner. Unfortunately, most people always live on the superficial level.  They never bother to ask the ultimate questions of life.  They just drift and go through life without living it.  It is just like the way the greedy man eats.  The food is not tasted but goes straight from his mouth to the stomach.  He never tastes the joy of life.  When we live on the mundane level, we will never find satisfaction in life.

To drift along in life is equally disastrous.  Think of your life’s journey. When you get to where you’re going, where will you be? One year, five years, or even 20 years from now, if you keep heading in the same direction and keep doing what you are doing, what will your life look like? Not only vocationally and financially, but what kind of person will you be? Do you have a pretty clear picture of the way you would like things to turn out, or will you be as surprised when it happens as it does everybody else?  It has been my experience that most people do not spend much time with these questions. But as Henry David Thoreau once said, “In the long run, we only hit what we aim at.” To live aimlessly is to waste this precious gift of life. But to live with direction is to live fully.  Hence, the gospel challenges us to consider why and what we are living for.

In these questions, Jesus is inviting us to examine what is our greatest desire in life? What is it that can bring us real happiness?  Indeed, it is of utmost importance that each one of us must ask the question:  what is the ultimate security of my life or where do I put my security?  The answer to this question is vital since the decision we make will determine our character and our future.  If we place our hopes in material things, money and wealth or in other status symbol, can we find real happiness? Indeed, some have managed to attain what they set out to achieve but only to discover the vanity of it all.

Of what value is money or possessions if they cannot bring us happiness, peace in our heart, relationships with our fellowmen and most of all, our relationship with God?  But St Alphonsus Maria De Liguori said, “We do not fix our affections on borrowed goods, because we know that they must soon be returned to the owner. All earthly goods are lent to us: It is folly to set our heart on what we must soon quit. Death shall strip us of all. The acquisitions and fortunes of this world all terminate in a dying grasp, in a funeral, in a descent into the grave. The house which you have built for yourself you must soon give up to others.” Would we, as Jesus is asking us, exchange our lives for this temporal or illusive happiness?

In the final analysis, only living for God can bring us real happiness.  But how can one live for God unless one is convinced?  The Israelites could live for God only because of the experience of the majesty, power and love of Yahweh for them.  In order to live for God, Moses reminded the people that God is everything – our lives belong to him.   “This he showed you so that you might know that the Lord is God indeed and that there is no other.  He let you hear his voice out of heaven for your instruction; on earth he let you see his great fire, and from the heart of the fire you heard his word.  Because he loved your fathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out from Egypt, openly showing his presence and his great power, driving out in front of you nations greater and more powerful than yourself, and brought you into their land to give it you for your heritage, as it is still today.”

Everything we have is an out-right gift from God.  We owe Him everything, including our very lives.  It’s possible for many of us to give God our money, but not our entire self.  What we give to God or even to our fellowmen is just a token, not even 10% of what we have received from Him!   More often than not, we pay Him only lip-service, but our hearts are far from Him.  A wise disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God.  Our God gives without measure and to share His life and joy means that we too must do the same.  When we give without measure, what we give actually is never given away.  The joy and happiness we give to others remain with us!  In fact, it is doubled.  We suffer no loss in joy but only material loss which cannot bring us real happiness anyway.

We must therefore make a decision to surrender our entire life to the plan of the Father, for He is our joy and life.  ‘Understand this today, therefore, and take it to heart: the Lord is God indeed, in heaven above as on earth beneath, he and no other.” He knows best.  We just have to walk in truth and love and He will take care of us.  “Keep his laws and commandments as I give them to you today, so that you and your children may prosper and live long in the land that the Lord your God gives you forever.”

Hence, the responsorial psalm invites us to reflect on the deeds of God.  We cannot be convinced that living for God ultimately gives us life unless we experience His love for us.  The Israelites could commit their lives to the One and True God because they experienced His mighty power and love.  “I remember the deeds of the Lord, I remember your wonders of old, I muse on all your works and ponder your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is great as our God? You are the God who works wonders. You showed your power among the peoples. Your strong arm redeemed your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. You guided your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

Similarly, if Jesus could live for God only, it was because of the experience of His Father’s love.  For Jesus lived a radical life for God and His kingdom even unto death.  Jesus did the Father’s will and lived according to the Father’s plan and vision.  His mission was rooted in the unconditional love of God as His Abba Father.  For us to do the Father’s will requires that we live according to our vocation, which is the vocation of love. To live life radically, one must lose one’s life, that is, to give up this present kind of life for the life of Christ.  “For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

To live for God is to offer our lives to Him.  The cross that Jesus speaks about is the symbol of our total commitment and giving.  When we love we are ready to suffer.  Because Jesus loves the Father, He was ready to carry the cross.  Similarly if we love then we will be ready to carry the cross.  Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Of course, carrying the cross presupposes that we believe that that is the way to life; that the cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death.  To carry our daily cross means to love our spouse, children, colleagues and bear with each other’s imperfections and negligence.  It means to keep on forgiving our brothers and sisters, tolerating their limitations and human frailties.  It entails living out our vocation faithfully each day, and being responsible in our duties.

To love means to carry the cross.  Those who cannot love are those who cannot suffer the cross of loving.  They only love themselves.  But when we love, we are ready to sacrifice ourselves, our pleasures and comforts for the greater joy of bringing happiness and love to other people’s life.  Do we seek true joy and happiness or passing pleasures and the happiness of life that comes from earthly things, like power, glory and pleasures?  So with St Ignatius, we pray, “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will, all that I have and possess.  You have given them to me; to you, O Lord, I restore them; all things are yours, dispose of them according to your will.  Give me your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.” (Prayer of Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28 from Living Space

Jesus has already shocked his disciples by telling them in advance what is going to happen to him as Messiah. Now he goes further and tells them that they, too, will have to have a part in his experience.

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They are to follow in his footsteps. Like him, they are to be ready to take up their cross, whatever it may be, and carry it behind him. For some, it will mean dying for Christ and the Kingdom. For others, it will mean living totally for Christ and the Kingdom. Notice, Jesus tells them to take up their own cross, not his. That cross will be different for each person; it takes the form of some difficult thing which it is clear we must accept and not run away from. It is not to be sought for; that would not be a healthy thing to do. It will come, unmarked and unchosen but clear.

The other way, to avoid all pain and seek only what brings pleasure and enjoyment, is to go down a cul-de-sac, a blind alley that leads nowhere. That is what we mean by trying ‘to save our life’. It is a sure way to lose it.

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What is the use of “gaining the whole world”, becoming a multi-millionaire and being profoundly unhappy? Living for oneself only is to end up finding one’s self dying. Letting go of one’s life to live for others, to live for truth, love and justice is to live a full life, even if shortened by physical death. Many of the saints died long before their time but achieved in a few years what most of us cannot do in a long life.

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“Consummatus in breve, explevit tempora multa” is a scriptural phrase applied to some of the saints who died relatively young. It says that, although their life came to an early end, they had filled it with many good things.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o1186g/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection

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• The five verses of today’s Gospel continue with the words of Jesus to Peter which we meditated on yesterday. Jesus does not hide nor lessen the demands of discipleship. He does not allow Peter to take the initiative and puts him in his place: “Far from me!” Today’s Gospel makes explicit these demands for all of us;

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• Matthew 16, 24: “Take up his cross and follow me”. Jesus draws the conclusions which are valid even until now: “If anyone wants to follow me, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”. At that time, the cross was the death sentence which the Roman Empire inflicted on marginalized persons and bandits. To take up the cross and carry it behind Jesus was the same as to accept to be marginalized by the unjust system which legitimized injustice. The Cross is not fatalism, nor exigency from the Father. The Cross is the consequence of the commitment freely taken up by Jesus to reveal the Good News that God is Father and that, therefore, we all have to be accepted and treated as brothers and sisters. Because of this revolutionary announcement, Jesus was persecuted and he was not afraid to give his life. Nobody has greater love than this: to give one’s life for his friends (Jn 15, 13). The witness of Paul in the letter to the Galatians indicates the concrete significance and importance of all this: “But as for me, it is out of the question that I should boast at all, except of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”. (Ga 6, 14). And he ends by referring to the marks of the tortures which he suffered: “After this, let no one trouble me, I carry branded on my body the marks of Jesus” (Ga 6, 17).

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• Matthew 16, 25-26: “Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it”.These two verses make explicit universal human values which confirm the experience of many Christians and non Christians. To save one’s life, to lose one’s life, to find one’s life. The experience of many is the following: Anyone who is always seeking goods and riches is never satisfied. Anyone who gives himself to others, forgetting himself, experiences a great happiness. This is the experience of the mothers who give themselves, and of so many people who do not think of self but think of others.

Many do this and live in this way almost out of instinct, as something which comes from the bottom of the heart. Others act in this way because they have had a painful experience of frustration which has led them to change attitude. Jesus is right in saying: “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it”. The reason is important: “For my sake”, or like Mark says: “For the sake of the Gospel” (Mk 8, 35).

And he ends saying: “What, then will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life? Or what can anyone offer in exchange for his life?” This last phrase recalls the Psalm where it is said that no one is capable of paying the ransom for his life: “But no one can ever redeem himself or pay his own ransom to God; the price for himself is too high, it can never be that he will live on for ever and avoid the sight of the abyss” (Ps 49, 8-10).

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• Matthew 16, 27-28: The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of the Father and he will reward each one according to his behaviour. These two verses refer to the hope regarding the coming of the Son of Man in the last times, as judge of humanity, as he is presented in the vision of the Prophet Daniel (Dn 7, 13-14). The first verse says: “The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels and will reward each one according to his behaviour”. (Mt 16, 27).

This phrase speaks about the justice of the Judge. Each one will receive according to his own behaviour. The second verse says: “There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom”. (Mt 16, 28). This phrase is an advertisement to help to perceive the coming of Jesus, the Judge of the actions of life. Some thought that Jesus would have come afterwards (1 Th 4, 15-18). But in fact, Jesus was already present in persons, especially in the poor. But they did not perceive this, Jesus himself had said: “Every time that you have helped the poor, the sick, the homeless, the prisoner, the pilgrim, you helped me, it was me!” (cfr. Mt 25, 34-45).

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Personal questions

What is “MY CROSS?”

• Anyone who loses his life will find it. What experience do I have regarding this?

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• The words of Paul: “As for me, instead, there is no other glory than the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified for me and I for the world”. Do I have the courage to repeat these words in my life?

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Concluding Prayer

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Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh,
let us acclaim his name together.
I seek Yahwe4h and he answers me,
frees me from all my fears. (Ps 34, 3-4)

http://www.ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-1624-28

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom

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“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it.”

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What are Christians called to do?

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Hit any of these search terms:

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Go the extra mile,  pour yourself out,  carry the cross,  do not be afraid,  service to others, When you are worried pray, Simon of Cyrene, be a beacon.

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,  ,  ,  , , 

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Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Clearly then, losing one’s life for the sake of Jesus is the way to make Jesus’ life our own.  What is the life of Jesus if not one of total self-emptying and carrying the cross?

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Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Clearly then, losing one’s life for the sake of Jesus is the way to make Jesus’ life our own. What is the life of Jesus if not one of total self-emptying and carrying the cross? For centuries men have learned how to do this from J.P. de Caussade, J.J.

De Caussade was born in Cahors, Lot, France. He was spiritual director at the Nuns of the Visitation at Nancy, France from 1733 to 1740. During this time and after he left Nancy, he wrote letters of instruction to the nuns. Some material ascribed to him was first published in 1861 by Henri Ramière (fr) under the title ” L’Abandon à la providence divine”.

However, according to research on The Treatise on Abandonment to Divine Providence, discussed in a paper by Dominique Salin SJ, emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Theology at the Centre Sèvres, published in The Way, 46/2 (Apr 2007), pp. 21–36, “it now seems almost impossible that the author was in fact the Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade” as “[n]othing in de Caussade’s biography would suggest that this man was the author of a famous treatise” and the style of letters of spiritual direction that can genuinely be attributed to de Caussade “is far removed from the lyricism” marking it.

Whoever the author was, he or she believed that the present moment is a sacrament from God and that self-abandonment to it and its needs is a holy state – a belief which, at first glance, would appear to be heretical relative to Catholic dogma. In fact, because of this fear (especially with the Church’s condemnation of the Quietist movement), the work was kept unpublished until 1861, and even then they were edited by Ramière to protect them from charges of Quietism. A more authoritative version of these notes was published only in 1966.[1] In his writings, the author is aware of the Quietists and rejects their perspective.{{Section VIII of Abandonment to Divine Providence }} Abandonment to Divine Providence has now for many years been read widely and is considered a classic in the spiritual life by Catholics and many others.

De Caussade also spent years as preacher in southern and central France, as a college rector (at Perpignan and at Albi), and as the director of theological students at the Jesuit house in Toulouse, which is where he died.[

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Pierre_de_Caussade

Has this man found the secret of happiness? — Man’s Search for Meaning

July 21, 2017

Image result for vintage Rolls-Royce, photos

  • Mo Gawdat personally started many of the Google’s worldwide operations
  • He was a former stock market trader, and made ‘a ton of money’ in Dubai
  • His ‘life had ticked every box’ but he was still feeling miserable
  • Death of Mr Gawdat’s son, Ali, 21, made him realise an equation for happiness

One click — and I had bought a vintage Rolls-Royce. Another click — and I bought a second. Just like that. It might sound like something from your wildest dreams, but this was just an average evening for me. Successful, wealthy and at the pinnacle of my career, I had every luxury you could imagine.

A top executive at Google, I had personally started close to half of the company’s worldwide operations. And even before I made it big at Google, you could certainly say that I was at the top of the tree. A former stock market trader, I had made a ton of money while working in Dubai.

I had a huge house. My colleagues and friends were similarly rich and successful. And to top it all, I had married my university sweetheart and had two beautiful children. My life had ticked every box.

Formula: Mo Gawdat was a former stock market trader, and made 'a ton of money' in Dubai. His 'life had ticked every box' but he was still feeling miserable (file pic)

Formula: Mo Gawdat was a former stock market trader, and made ‘a ton of money’ in Dubai. His ‘life had ticked every box’ but he was still feeling miserable (file pic)

My Rolls-Royces soon arrived. Exquisitely engineered, they were as perfect as my own existence appeared. I looked at them for 20 minutes. Then I left them in the garage without even opening a car door — and returned to my unhappy thoughts.

Yes, that’s right. Despite attaining all the things the modern world tells us we need for happiness, I was profoundly miserable.

The bitter irony of my situation was deepened by the fact that one of my personal side projects was developing a scientific formula for happiness.

I wanted to find a ‘code’ that could be applied to deliver happiness every time. I spent thousands of hours trying to apply logic to the issue of happiness, in the hope of finding an algorithm to summarise how the brain processes joy and sadness. My son Ali, then a teenager, helped me, vetting many of my ideas.

Eventually, in 2010, young Ali and I came up with a formula: a few letters and mathematical symbols that I thought nailed the art of happiness.

Little did I imagine that the sudden death of my beloved boy when he was just 21 — an earth-shattering, pointless event — would show me what fleets of cars and algorithms never could: the true meaning of happiness and how to be content, every day.

My path to finding the meaning of happiness began with a vision of unimaginable catastrophe.

Machines bleeped, tubes wove their terrible path in and out of my boy’s body — and Ali lay there, unconscious in an intensive care unit. It was 2014, and my son had been rushed to hospital for the most routine of operations, an appendix removal.

Mo Gawdat (pictured) personally started many of the Google's worldwide operations

Mo Gawdat (pictured) personally started many of the Google’s worldwide operations

But something went wrong. A needle punctured a major artery and precious moments slipped by before the doctors realised the blunder.

Then a series of additional mistakes were made. The words ‘agony’ and ‘despair’ do not come even remotely close to how Ali’s mother and I felt at the moment we realised we were going to lose our precious son.

We stood helplessly by his bedside, and I kissed his forehead. He looked so handsome, even in that state — as peaceful as I’d ever seen him.

We’d endured the worst night of our lives, as Ali was hooked up to machines, his life hanging delicately in the balance. We were tormented by the thought he might be in pain as his organs failed one by one.

Then came the moment to say goodbye. And as we left the hospital, leaving our 21-year-old son behind, our minds collapsed as grief set in, and penetrated every cell in my body.

The pain was like a spear piercing my heart. There were countless hours of tears, guilt and anger about what had happened, as well as my fear about having to exist in a world I could no longer contemplate without my beloved son.

Ali was kind, clever, loving and in the prime of his life, and losing him unexpectedly to preventable human error seemed unbearably cruel. How was I going to cope?

My feelings were all the more painful because Ali was the one person I would ordinarily seek out for comfort when times were hard. But now he was gone. Nothing made sense.

Without my son to anchor me, my thoughts spiralled and became toxic. ‘That doctor murdered my son,’ I thought. Then: ‘What’s the point of living even a day without him?’.

I couldn’t stop wondering whether his death was somehow my fault. Could life be punishing me for something I’d inadvertently done? Was this a sort of karma for my success, for not realising how blessed my existence had been?

I spent excruciating days in this state, numb to the outside world. I was terrified of what might happen to my wife, my daughter — of what else this cruel life might take from me. How could I ever be happy again?

Someone suggested we pursue a medical negligence investigation and we were asked if an autopsy could be performed on Ali’s body. I asked my wife what she wanted to do. She paused, then uttered the words that saved us: ‘Will it bring Ali back?’

It was like a lighthouse cutting through the fog. Nothing we could do — nothing — would bring Ali back. Any thought beyond this simple truth was pointless.

It was the turning point I needed.

No doubt any parent reading this will wonder how I can say I am happy after I’ve lost a child. Of course, life today is nothing like what it was when Ali was alive. But I am happy, despite the tragedy of his death.

How? It’s thanks to Ali. Deep down, I knew if I’d asked him Ali would say, with the precocious wisdom he was blessed with, ‘I’ve already died, Papa. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it’.

In the purgatorial time after his death, I heard no other voice in my head but Ali’s repeating those sentences. So when a negative thought popped into my mind I asked myself: ‘What would Ali do or say in this situation?’ It became a healing process.

When I angrily thought, ‘That doctor murdered my son!’, I would hear Ali’s reply: ‘Is that true? What doctor wakes up in the morning and says: “Today is the day I’m going to kill someone”?’

I am happy, despite the tragedy of his death. How? It's thanks to Ali. Deep down, I knew if I'd asked him Ali would say, with the precocious wisdom he was blessed with, 'I've already died, Papa. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it'

I am happy, despite the tragedy of his death. How? It’s thanks to Ali. Deep down, I knew if I’d asked him Ali would say, with the precocious wisdom he was blessed with, ‘I’ve already died, Papa. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it’

To my despairing howl, ‘No one should die at such a young age,’ Ali would answer: ‘Is that true? Youngsters die by the thousands every hour of every day.’

As for the cry of all grieving parents, ‘This is the worst thing that could have happened!’, Ali’s voice echoed in my mind, saying: ‘Is that really true? I could have been diagnosed with a lingering cancer or drafted into the madness of war instead of leaving peacefully in my sleep.’

When I recriminated with myself, saying again and again, ‘I drove you to the hospital myself. I should have known better’, Ali would soothe me, saying: ‘Is that true? You did what you thought was right. You wanted me to recover. No one could have known this was going to be how things turned out.’

And to my most common thought of all, ‘I can’t bear this pain, it will torture me for years and years,’ Ali brought solace and clarity: ‘Is that really true? You will live, and time will pass. The days will be long, and the years will be short. Instead of thinking about the years to come, focus on now. Do the best you can. Make me proud.’

And so, 17 days after that terrible night, I began to write. I felt compelled to follow Ali’s advice and do something positive. Those writings eventually became a book, in which I sought to spread the true meaning of happiness — and it wasn’t to be found in flashy cars or expensive gadgets.

And as I wrote, it brought my mind back to that algorithm I’d created with Ali. Except now I finally understood the meaning of my equation for happiness.

Because, as I had found, the more successful I became, the more happiness seemed to elude me.

Each time I reached the next rung of the corporate ladder, there would always be another goal just out of reach. Yet I couldn’t stop myself working, striving to be better, wealthier, and ultimately, I hoped, happier.

I was driven by the misguided assumption that, sooner or later, all this effort would pay off and I’d find a pot of gold — happiness — at the end of my high-achievement rainbow. But it seemed like the more literal gold I accrued, the more miserable I became.

In the years where I worked myself into the ground in pursuit of more success, I was probably pushy and unpleasant — even at home. I spent too little time appreciating the remarkable woman I’d married and not enough time with my wonderful children or pausing to enjoy each day as it unfolded.

All the while I treated happiness as something I needed to succeed at, a puzzle that my rational brain needed to solve. I spent almost ten years investigating the mathematics behind happiness, and eventually developed an equation: a well-engineered model of happiness and how to sustain it.

Yet despite finding the ‘secret’ to happiness, I did nothing to implement this into my own life.

Then came Ali’s death — and my own moment of reckoning when I was forced to confront my secret equation head-on.

So what is the magic formula, I hear you ask. It’s H ≥ e – E. Or in other words: happiness is greater than or equal to the events of life, minus the expectations of life.

What I discovered was that, for most, happiness is the default setting. Children are born happy. But as we move through life, we grow out of that happy state.

As we strive for more, flashes of unhappiness appear every time life misses our expectations. The key to happiness, I concluded, lay in controlling the way we compare the events of our life with our expectations. It lay in being content with what we have in the present moment, rather than striving for the intangible ‘more’.

Until Ali’s death, I didn’t apply this discovery to my own life. But his departure forced my hand.

That’s not to say the pain of losing my son isn’t still very real. Indeed, it will never go away. Every time I remember Ali I weep.

But I have learned there’s a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is a mechanism the body uses to keep us alive — it protects us from further suffering. We learn from our pain.

Suffering, however, is not useful. It is a cycle where a thought causes more anguish through feelings of guilt. Pain should be enough of a motivation to improve your life.

And so, the minute I feel the pain of Ali’s death, which I feel every time I miss him, instead of self-flagellation and guilt, I think ‘What can I do about it? How can I make the world slightly better even though Ali is not in it?’. It has taught me that we are all in charge of our lives, our destiny and, ultimately, our happiness.

Because happiness really can be controlled. Anyone can be happy — even in the face of what appeared to be an unparalleled catastrophe like mine. Happiness is about filling your mind with beautiful memories, and finding reasons to be truly thankful, despite the pain life can bring.

And so sometimes I find it easier to think of Ali as a kind guest who was just visiting, but who brought light and happiness to our home.

The 21 years with him zoomed by, and if we’d had another 21 years together, they would have zoomed by just as fast. And even that wouldn’t have been enough.

So instead of thinking about losing him, I try to be grateful that we had him at all. I’ve changed my expectations. Rather than thinking that my son should never have died, I choose to be grateful for the times we had, rather than mourn the times we didn’t.

Happiness is not about what the world gives you — whether it’s a lottery win or the loss of a child — it’s about what you think about what the world gives you.

It’s not always easy, but it’s an exercise I run through many times a day. I think of it like going to the gym — I’m getting better at it all the time.

I’m glad to say I’ve helped many others, too; those who have found peace through mine and Ali’s discovery. One interview I did with Channel 4 has had 32 million hits and counting.

Yes, my heart aches. Yes, I want my son back by my side more than anything in the world. But I understand that I can’t have him — and so I have made the commitment and choose to be happy instead.

Interview by LOUISE ATKINSON

  • Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat, Bluebird, £10.49 on Amazon

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4716514/Google-executive-devises-scientific-formula-happiness.html#ixzz4nSJvVHqi
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Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, July 20, 2017 — God is not in any way bound by human wisdom and expectation — Our faith requires unconditional commitment — Our reward is unconditional love

July 19, 2017

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 392

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Art: God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush. Painting from Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

Reading 1 EX 3:13-20

Moses, hearing the voice of the LORD from the burning bush, said to him,
“When I go to the children of Israel and say to them,
‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel:
I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.

“This is my name forever;
this my title for all generations.

“Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and tell them:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
has appeared to me and said:
I am concerned about you
and about the way you are being treated in Egypt;
so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt
into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites,
Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites,
a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Thus they will heed your message.
Then you and the elders of Israel
shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him:
“The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word.
Permit us, then, to go a three-days’ journey in the desert,
that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God.

“Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go
unless he is forced.
I will stretch out my hand, therefore,
and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there.
After that he will send you away.”

Image result for God Appeared to Moses in Burning Bush. Painting from Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

Responsorial Psalm  PS 105:1 AND 5, 8-9, 24-25, 26-27

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generationsB
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He greatly increased his people
and made them stronger than their foes,
Whose hearts he changed, so that they hated his people,
and dealt deceitfully with his servants.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He sent Moses his servant;
Aaron, whom he had chosen.
They wrought his signs among them,
and wonders in the land of Ham.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 11:28-30

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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Reflection on Moses in the Desert With God by Mark A. Barber
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It was business as usual in all the rest of the world. The world was entirely ignorant of an event that was to take place in a remote desert. Yet it is what happened here that has changed the world and not whatever decrees might have come that day from the throne of Pharaoh or the talk in the street about politics, the economy, or some other subject. This often is the way that God works. Yet when He speaks to a fugitive in the middle of nowhere, His word comes to pass.

Moses was a miracle child, a type of the miracle child who would later be born in a mange in Bethlehem. The decree had gone forth from Pharaoh that all the Israelite male children were to be cast into the river (Exodus 1:22). His mother hid him for three months but eventually complied with the order. But Moses instead of being cast out into the river to drown was placed in a little boat and left to the mercy of God.

We read that this child floating in a boat was caused to be found by Pharaoh’s daughter whom God put pity in her heart. She knew this child was a Hebrew, yet had her raided in her house as her son. So Moses was raided as the Scripture says in all the learning and wisdom of Egypt. He would have learned about Egypt’s gods and his standing as part of Pharaoh’s family his being enrolled among them.

Moses who had to be nursed was providentially nursed by his own mother. From this he seems to have learned his true identity as an Israelite. When he was older, he saw a Egyptian taskmaster mistreating a fellow Hebrew and killed the man and hid his body. But he was found out and betrayed by one of his own countrymen and had to escape for his life. This was the occasion for his removal to the backside of the desert. Thus ended the first forty years of the life.

Moses would spend the next forty years of his life as a shepherd guiding sheep through the wilderness. It seems like quite a demotion in life. But in forty years, Moses knew where to find forage for his sheep and to know good water from bad. In order to survive, he had to be an expert.

Moses had probably seen dry bushes erupt into flames before in the dry hot desert, but today was different. The bush he saw on fire did not disintegrate into ashes. The fire kept on burning. God used Moses’ curiosity to attract him to this place.

What we see here is a magnificent encounter between the Lord and Moses. Moses was in no need of some sort of argument about the existence of God. He did not chance upon the ontological argument or teleological argument. Rather He was personal encountered by God Himself. What we learn here is that God is self-authenticating. Moses did not find God through his advanced learning and wisdom, not even the truths that his mother had shared about God. Rather God allowed Himself to be found.

God is not in any way bound by human wisdom and expectation. He cannot be found by such means. He only can be known by His revelation and only to the extent that He wishes to be revealed. The Lord did not reveal Himself to the world that day but just one person. And He did so to reveal to Moses that he was chosen by the Lord as His instrument to deliver them from the cruel bondage of Egypt and lead them out.

Read the rest:

https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/i-am-that-i-am-mark-a-barber-sermon-on-moses-206569?ref=SermonSerps

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

20 JULY, 2017, Thursday, 15th Week, Ordinary Time

FEELING WITH GOD AS THE KEY TO OVERCOMING OUR PAINS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ex 3:13-20Ps 105:1,5,8-9,24-27Mt 11:28-30 ]

When we are going through difficult times, we can get rather discouraged.  We feel alone, lacking support and understanding.  We tend to focus on our pains.  We become depressed and resentful.  We feel like giving up because it is not worth the sacrifices and pains.  We begin to doubt whether what we are doing is benefiting  anyone.  We look for scapegoats and become angry with God and society.

If we are feeling burdened and discouraged, the Lord invites us to find rest in Him.  He said, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”  How can we deal with our pains? The key to overcoming our pains is to feel with God in His suffering and pains.  That is why Jesus invites us to come to Him to find rest by shouldering His yoke and learning from Him.  He said, “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  He invites us to share in His pain and love for the People of God.  This is what it means to shoulder His yoke and to learn from Him. Only by entering into the mind and heart of the Father as Jesus did, can we become gentle and humble in heart and find rest for our souls.  Unless we carry the heart of God, we will not be able to look at others’ sufferings with gentle compassion and be able to surrender our responsibilities to God with humility, asking Him for divine assistance.

What is the yoke of God?  His yoke is to see us in our misery.  It is natural that when you love and care for someone, you identify with his pains and sufferings.  In fact, often, those who see their loved ones suffer, suffer more emotionally and psychologically.  To see our loved ones in pain because of an illness or  emotional distress causes us much anxiety and grief.  When we feel for our loved ones, we would do anything to help them.  If we are not moved by the sufferings of others, it is because we have no relationship with them and we do not feel with them enough to want to help.  We close our hearts to their sufferings.  But not for God. His heart is open to all and that is why He suffers most because whenever He sees us suffering, He suffers as much with us.

Indeed, God, who is love and created us in love, feels much with and for us.  He told Moses, “I have visited you and seen all that the Egyptians are doing to you.”  God could not bear to see His chosen people suffer.  Their anguish was also His anguish.  He is close to His people and feels for them.  So He told Moses, “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and tell them, “The Lord, the God of your fathers, has appeared to me, – the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.”   So love is the reason for one to act and to be moved.  God is moved by love and by our suffering.

God wanted Moses to let the people know that He has always been with them and is faithful to the covenant that He established with their forefathers.  “He remembers his covenant for ever, his promise for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.  He gave his people increase; he made them stronger than their foes, whose hearts he turned to hate his people and to deal deceitfully with his servants.”  This has always been the testimony of the people of Israel.  God is faithful to the promises He made with the Fathers of Israel.

Most of all, God calls Himself “I Am who I Am.”  In other words, He is not so much a noun, something that is static.  He is dynamic and always in process.  He is a verb and therefore always present to His people in every new situation.  Hence, His reply to Moses was,  “This is what you must say to the sons of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”   Furthermore, He reiterated, “This is my name for all time; by this name I shall be invoked for all generations to come.”

But God does not only feel with us, He will act in love.  Many of us feel sorry for those who are suffering but are unable to act or not able to help. This is understandable because we feel inadequate. Of course, sometimes it is because we are selfish and do not wish to trouble or inconvenience ourselves.  We only pay lip service to those who ask us for our assistance or who need our intervention.  But God does not stand by to watch us in our helplessness.  He steps in to help us to get out of the situation.  “And so I have resolved to bring you up out of Egypt where you are oppressed, into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites. the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land where milk and honey flow.”  He acted by sending His special messenger to save His people.  God also said to Moses, “You are to say to the sons of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.”

Not only does He send His messengers but He empowers them as well.    The Lord assured Moses.  “They listen to your words, and with the elders of Israel you are to go to the King of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, of God of the Hebrews, has come to meet us.  Give us leave, then, to make a three days’ journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to the Lord our God.’”  The reponsorial psalm says, “Then he sent Moses his servant and Aaron the man he had chosen. Through them he showed his marvels and his wonders in the country of Ham.”  He will help us to do His work.  Moses did not find himself worthy to be the leader of Israel but God qualified Him.  He was the one who would ensure success, not by the strength and wisdom of Moses.  He assured Moses that through His mighty hand, the Egyptians would let them go.  “For myself, knowing that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced by a mighty hand, I shall show my power and strike Egypt with all the wonders I am going to work there.  After this he will let you go.”  We too will find rest for our souls if we have the humility of heart to entrust all our projects to God and wait for Him to act.  If God is for us, there is nothing to fear.  He will ensure our success.

Truly, every burden is heavy when we carry it alone without the grace of God and His divine assistance; and when we carry it without the love and compassion of God in our hearts.  Thus, the key that Jesus is offering to us all if we are feeling tired and weary because of our responsibilities, anxieties and fears for our work, family and church, is to see them and our challenges as means to share His love with them.  At the same time, we must not think we can accomplish all these by ourselves.  Rather, we must identify with Jesus for He accomplished His mission by being one with the Father in doing His will.

Finally, to find strength to continue believing in Him, we must, like the psalmist, “give thanks to the Lordtell his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.  Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, the judgements he spoke.”  By recalling all the great things He has done for us in the past, we will find hope and inspiration to carry on. We are not always successful in everything we do but He comes to bless us in different ways in accordance to His plan.  If it is His divine will, He will bring forth fruits from the work of our hands.  So by giving thanks to what we have received and been blessed by Him, we will find greater courage to continue to hope in His mercy and love.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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

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Commentary on Matthew 11:28-30 From Living Space

The Gospel in many of its passages is very demanding and requires an unconditional commitment to the following of Christ. We have seen that clearly in the contrast Jesus made between the demands of the Law and what he expected from his followers. But, again and again, that is balanced by the other side of God – his compassion and his understanding of our weakness and frailty.

Today he invites “all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest”. He seems to be referring to the burden of the Law and the many other legalistic observances which had accumulated over the generations. In fact there was a common rabbinic metaphor which spoke of the ‘yoke of the Law’. We will see some of this in the two remaining readings of this week. Jesus did not have much time for this kind of religion. He invites us to come to him instead and experience comfort and consolation.

Jesus invites us to take on his yoke instead. A yoke can be heavy but it makes it easier for the ox to pull the cart or the plough. Jesus’ yoke is the yoke of love. On the one hand, it restricts us from acting in certain ways but at the same time it points us in the right direction. In the long run, it has a liberating effect. It is not unlike the idea of the “narrow door” which Jesus invites us to go through rather than follow the wide road to nowhere.

Jesus asks us to learn from him in his gentleness and humility. This was in stark contrast to the severity and arrogance of other religious leaders. Not only are we to experience the gentleness of Jesus, we are also to practise it in our own dealings with others.

I think it is commentator William Barclay who offers another lovely idea. It was quite common to have double yokes when two animals pulled a vehicle together. Barclay suggests that Jesus is offering to share his yoke with us. He and I will pull together and he will share the burden with me. In either case, he assures us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Jesus expects us to give all of ourselves to him but, when we do so, we discover that what he asks is absolutely right for us. To follow Jesus is not to carry a great weight but to experience a great sense of liberation.

If we have not found that experience yet then we are not yet carrying the yoke of Jesus.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o1155g/

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Thank Heaven Prayer for Little Children
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“I thank you Father,
Lord of Heaven and of earth,
for hiding these things from the learned and the clever
and revealing them to little children”. 
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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• Certain texts of the Gospel reveal to us all their significance when we place them on the background of the Old Testament. This is how this very brief and very beautiful text of the Gospel of today is. In this text there are echoes of two themes greatly loved and recalled by the Old Testament, one from Isaiah and the other one from the so called Wisdom Books.
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• Isaiah speaks of the Messiah, the Servant and represents him as a disciple who is always looking for a word of comfort so as to be able to encourage those who are discouraged: “The Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple’s tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning, he makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple”. (Is 50, 4). And the Messiah Servant launches an invitation: “Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money come! Buy and eat; come buy wine and milk without money, free” (Is 55, 1).
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These texts were present in the memory of the people. They were like the songs of our childhood. When people listens to them, souvenirs come to mind, there is nostalgia. The same with the word of Jesus: “Come to me!” revived the memory and brought close the nostalgic echo of those beautiful texts of Isaiah.
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• The Books of Wisdom represent the divine wisdom as a woman, a mother who transmits to her sons her wisdom and tells them: “Buy her without money, put your necks under her yoke, let your souls receive instruction. She is near, within your reach. See for yourselves; how slight my efforts have been to win so much peace” (Si 51, 25-27). Jesus repeats this same phrase: “You will find rest!”.
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• Precisely because his way of speaking to people, Jesus awakes their memory and thus the heart rejoiced and said: “The Messiah, so greatly awaited for has come!” Jesus transformed the nostalgia into hope. He made people advance a step forward. Instead of fixing themselves on the image of a glorious Messiah, king and dominator, taught by the Scribes, the people changed opinion and accepted Jesus, Messiah Servant. A humble and meek Messiah, welcoming and full of tenderness, who made them feel at ease, they the poor together with Jesus..
Personal questions
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• Is the Law of God a light yoke which encourages me, or is it a weight which gets me tired?
• Have I felt sometimes the lightness and the joy of the yoke of the Law of God which Jesus has revealed to us?.
Concluding Prayer
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Bless Yahweh, my soul,
from the depths of my being, his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul,
never forget all his acts of kindness. (Ps 103)
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From 2015
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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EFFECTIVE PRAYER AND INTERCESSORY PRAYERS

SCRIPTURE READINGS:  1 Kings 18: 42b-45aPs 14:12-34Gal 4: 4-7Jn 19:25 – 27

We are living in challenging times.  Institutions, religious values and cultural practices and traditions are called into question.  The institution of marriage and family is being redefined.  Divorce and remarriage is accepted as not contrary to the gospel.  Abortion, euthanasia and stem cells research involving embryos are accepted forms of killing or destruction of life.  Surrogate motherhood and test-tube babies on the other hand are promoted to help couples to have children.  Among the Christian communions and within the Catholic Communion, the values of the gospel are compromised to fit the needs of the modern world.  Instead of humanity trying to be faithful to the values taught by Christ, we are attempting to manipulate the gospel to suit our needs.

Like Elijah, more than ever, we are called to preserve the purity of the gospel.  This was the context of today’s first reading.  The prophet Elijah was known to be a zealous prophet in keeping the faith of Israel uncontaminated.  He was a true prophet and servant of God in defending the true God of Israel.  Just earlier on, he confronted King Ahab and the false prophets.  He even went to the extent of killing the false prophets in obedience to Moses’ command as death sentence was imposed on those who apostatized.  Indeed, Elijah demonstrated his utter devotion and loyalty to God.  It showed his deep concern and protective love for his fellow Israelites who were being led astray by the false prophets.

What principal weapons did he use to purify the nation of Israel?   What can we learn from Elijah?  How do we preserve the purity of our faith and the health of society? 

Firstly, Elijah did not use weapons or force but the power of faith in God.  The secret of his courage in confronting the King and exposing the false prophets at Mount Carmel was his faith in God.  He had total confidence in Yahweh whom he believed would vindicate him.  True enough, the Lord allowed a severe drought in Israel at the command of Elijah.  And, unlike the false prophets who could not command their gods to consume their sacrifices, the Lord had the holocaust burn at Elijah’s command, even though it was deliberately drenched with water.  Finally, Elijah prayed for the rain to come and it became a storm.

Secondly, from Elijah, we learn that this faith in God must be expressed by fervent and persistent prayer.  His confidence in God’s power and fidelity was seen in the brevity and simplicity of his prayer.  He did not utter long and complicated prayers.  Elijah believed and his prayer was heard.  He never doubted the fidelity of God to his prayers.  His prayer was not only, fervent but it was also persistent.  “Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel and bowed down to the earth, putting his face between his knees.”  Elijah persevered in prayer, a prayer that was complete and total, symbolized by the seven times before the prayer was answered.  Even though Elijah received his prophetic word that God would send the rain, he persevered in prayer until the rains came.  (1 Kg 18:41-45)   If we want our prayers to be heard, we, too, should not give up too easily.  We must pray till it is given, search until we find and knock till the door is open.  (cf Mk 7:7)

Fourthly, he prayed with expectant faith that God would manifest His power.   Indeed, God manifested His power in response to his sincere prayer.   He sent fire to consume the sacrifice thereby showing Himself to be a living God and vindicating him as God’s prophet.   Through his persistent prayer, the rains came, symbolizing the renewed blessings of God for the nation.  We need to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a spiritual renewal in the Church.  This is what the New Evangelization is inviting us to.  We should pray also for a God-encounter so that we too will know that our God is a living God who is not only to be believed but one who acts in our lives. Without an experience of His love in our lives and His mighty power, the world which believes only in science and technology, in empirical and experimental sciences, would not come to have faith in our God.

However, it is not enough to pray rightly.  The way and attitude in prayer is no less important than the motives and the life of the pray-er.   Elijah did not pray for himself.  He interceded for the people of Israel because of his sincere desire to reveal God’s grace to them so that they would repent and turn their hearts back to God.  He asked for God’s grace to deal with the false prophets and Baalism and Asherah, the pagan gods.   He was not seeking for his glory and honour but the restoration of God’s hour and glory.  Indeed, this is what the Lord asks of us when He taught us the Lord’s Prayer, to pray thus, “Holy be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done!”

Besides having the right motives, we need to live a holy and righteous life.  St James reminds us that the prayer of the righteous man works wonders.  After saying, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed”, he added, “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” (James 5:16f)   It is important that we keep ourselves pure and holy if we were to be effective in the lives of others.  Righteousness comes from faith in Christ who justifies us.  But it also means that having been justified and reconciled with the Lord, we need to continue living a righteous, holy and God-fearing life in obedience to His commandments.  The psalmist underscores this necessity for a righteous life in prayer when he says, “Lord who shall be admitted to your tent and dwell on your holy mountain?  He who walks without fault.  He who acts with justice and speaks the truth from his heart.”

Without putting on the mind of Christ, we will not be able to always ask according to His holy will.  And the Lord will give us what we ask provided we ask with the mind of Christ.  This is an indispensable condition if we want to receive what we ask.  St John wrote, “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” (1 Jn 3:21f)

Hence, to pray according to His perfect will as the Lord asks of us in the Lord’s Prayer and as He did in the garden of Gethsemane, we must pray that we are not in the will or in the way of God because of our self-centered motives.  Like Elijah, we need to give our undivided attention to the Lord.  Just as he challenged the people earlier on to make a definitive choice between worshipping Baal or Yahweh, we too must with undivided heart render complete devotion to God.  Elijah, regardless of how he was taunted and ridiculed by the prophets of Baal and threatened by King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, he remained committed to the Lord to purify Israel from corruption and false compromises.  We, too, if we want our prayers to be heard must have undivided loyalty to God.

Within this context of prayer and the faith of Elijah and his spiritual warfare against the false prophets at Mount Carmel, we can now better appreciate why our Carmelite sisters are doing what they are doing.  Following the tradition of the spirituality of Elijah, they too seek to live a life of purity through penance and mortification in the monastery.  Through their sacrifices and self-denial, they unite themselves with the sufferings of Jesus on the cross so that they can do the will of God.  At the same time, this house is known as a house of prayer and, especially, a house for intercession.  The primary task of the sisters is to offer their whole life, not just at prayer but in their whole being, for the conversion of sinners and the petitions of the local church and the universal church and the world.  Their prayers, like Elijah’s, are effective because they are prayed with a purity of heart, with fervor, sincerity, persistence and most of all, with faith.   Indeed, we have much to thank our sisters for being our great intercessors.  We know that their prayers are effective because of their holiness of life and their faith.

Finally, we also take inspiration from Mary, our Lady of Mount Carmel in seeking to follow the spirituality of the Carmelite sisters.  The response in the responsorial psalm says, “Draw us after you, Virgin Mary; we shall follow in your footsteps.”  Indeed, let us follow Mary’s footsteps in doing the will of God and glorifying Him in our lives in obedience to His will.  She reminds us at Cana in Galilee, to do whatever He tells us if we want our prayers to be answered.  So through Mary, let us live out our sonship in Christ by living our lives not as slaves to the Law or to sin but truly as adopted sons and daughters in Christ, sharing in His life.  In this way, our prayers would be heard for we pray not just with the confidence as sons and daughters of God but with the same mind of Christ.

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