Posts Tagged ‘St. Teresa of Avila’

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, April 2, 2018 — Monday in the Octave of Easter — “O God; you are my hope!”

April 1, 2018

Monday in the Octave of Easter
Lectionary: 261

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Reading 1  ACTS 2:14, 22-33

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.“You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 16:1-2A AND 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11

R. (1) Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,
my body, too, abides in confidence;
Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Allelluia  PS 118:24

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

Gospel  MT 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce the news to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”While they were going, some of the guard went into the city
and told the chief priests all that had happened.
The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel;
then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,
telling them, “You are to say,
‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’
And if this gets to the ears of the governor,
we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”
The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

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Lectio Divina:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Time
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Easter! Today’s Gospel describes the experience of the Resurrection which the disciples of Jesus had. At the beginning of his Gospel, in presenting Jesus, Matthew had said that Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us (Mt 1, 23). Now, at the end, he communicates and increases this certainty of faith, because he proclaims that Jesus is risen (Mt 28, 6) and that he will be with us always, up to the end of time! (Mt 28, 20). In the contradictions of life, this truth is questioned, contested very much. Opposition is not lacking. The enemies, the chief priests of the Jews, defended themselves against the Good News of the Resurrection and sent word to say that the body had been stolen by the disciples (Mt 28, 11-13). This also happens today. On the one side, the effort of many persons to live and to witness to the resurrection. On the other side, so many evil people who fight against the resurrection and against life.
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• In the Gospel of Matthew, the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus is told through a symbolical language, which reveals the hidden sense of the events. Matthew speaks about the earthquake, of lightening and of the angels who announce the victory of Jesus over death (Mt 2-4). It is an apocalyptic language, very common at that time, to announce that finally the world had been transformed by the power of God! The hope of the poor, who reaffirmed their faith, was fulfilled: “He is alive in our midst!”
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• Matthew 28, 8: The joy of the Resurrection overcomes fear. On Sunday morning, the first day of the week, two women went to the tomb, Mary of Magdala and Mary of James, also called the other Mary. All of a sudden the earth trembled and an angel appeared as lightening. The guards who were guarding the tomb were so shaken up with fear that they were like dead men. The women were frightened but the angel encouraged them, announcing the victory of Jesus over death and sending them to go join the disciples of Jesus in Galilee. And in Galilee they would be able to see him again. Everything began there; they received the great revelation of the Risen Lord. The joy of the Resurrection began to overcome fear. Thus the announcement of life and resurrection begins in this way.
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• Matthew 28, 9-10: Jesus appears to the women. The women left quickly. In them there is a mixture of fear and of joy. These are sentiments typical of those who have a profound experience of the Mystery of God. Suddenly, Jesus himself went to meet them and said to them: “”Rejoice!” And they fell on their knees and adored him. It is the attitude of the one who believes and accepts the presence of God, even if it surprises and goes beyond the human capacity of understanding. Now, Jesus himself orders them to go and join the brothers in Galilee: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me”.
• Matthew 28, 11-15: The astuteness or guile of the enemies of the Good News. The opposition itself which Jesus had to face during his life, springs up again now after his Resurrection. The chief priests meet and give money to the guards. They should spread the news that the disciples have robbed the body of Jesus, and this in order to avoid everything which is said about the resurrection. The chief priests do not accept the Good News of the Resurrection. They prefer to believe that it is an invention on the part of the disciples – men and women – of Jesus.
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• The significance of the testimony of the women. The presence of the women at the death, at the burial and at the resurrection of Jesus is significant. They are witnesses of the death of Jesus (Mt 27, 54-56). At the moment of the burial, they remain sitting before the tomb and, therefore, they can render witness of the place where Jesus was buried (Mt 27, 61). Now, on Sunday morning, they are there once again. They know that the empty tomb is truly the tomb of Jesus! The profound experience of death and resurrection which they had, transformed their lives. They themselves become qualified witnesses of the Resurrection in the Christian Communities. This is why they receive the order to announce: “Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead!”
Personal questions
• Which is the experience of resurrection that I have in my life? Is there in me some force which tries to oppose the experience of the resurrection? How do I react?
• Today, which is the mission of our community, of us, disciples of Jesus? From where can we draw force and strength and courage to fulfil our mission?
Concluding Prayer
I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand,
nothing can shake me. (Ps 16,7-8)
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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
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This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Image result for St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827)
St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard (1827)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
02 APRIL, 2018, Easter Monday
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IS FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION DEPENDENT ON THE EMPTY TOMB?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ACT 2:1422-33MT 28:8-15 ]

The resurrection of our Lord is a claim that is unique.  No religious founders have made this assertion that they would rise from the dead.  Only Christians make this declaration of Jesus’ resurrection.  Indeed, faith in Christ rests entirely on this foundation, without which, all the other claims by Jesus would have been invalidated.  We accept all that Jesus said and did only because He is Lord and God, which is vindicated by His resurrection.   Indeed, St Augustine remarked that the great thing about Christians is not that we believe Jesus died but that He rose from the dead, for even non-believers believe that Jesus died.

But the gospel tells us that apparently at the beginning of the Church, there was a rumor that went around that His body was stolen.  So, it seems that not all believed that Jesus had died.  There were attempts then to dispute the death of Jesus.  Some skeptics circulated what was called the “swoon theory”, which claimed that Jesus never really died, or He was wrongly presumed dead. This was proposed only to support the other psychological theory that the apostles were hallucinating after the death of their master and made up the story to declare Him as their Lord.

Of course, such a theory is ridiculous. It would be impossible for the Guards to be asleep when the stone was removed, as a few men would have been needed to remove that heavy stone.  And we can be sure that Jesus died as His legs were not broken to hasten His death.  Because they wanted to make sure that He was dead and for that reason, the solider pierced His side with a lance and then blood and water flowed.  (Jn 19:31-37) Furthermore, the Romans were never known to have bungled over any crucifixion because it would have cost the soldiers their lives.  Even if the body was stolen, the resurrection is not the same as resuscitation.  And why would they want to steal the body and then proclaim Him as Lord.  If the master could not even save Himself, how could the apostles save themselves and indeed the whole world? So, this swoon theory appeals only to those who just want to disprove the resurrection.  For this reason, the evangelist suggested that when the guards told the chief priests all that had happened, they were given a considerable sum of money to say that “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.”

But this swoon theory invites us to ask a deeper question.  Does faith in the resurrection of the Lord depend on the empty tomb?  Strictly speaking, faith in the resurrection of our Lord is independent from faith in the Empty Tomb. The gospel proclaimed by St Paul never mentioned the story of the Empty Tomb to bolster faith in the resurrection.  The gospels were written much later than the letters of St Paul.  They were written only in the 70’s until early 90’s.  It was never intended to be a proof of the resurrection.

At any rate, if the resurrection of Christ is dependent on the Empty Tomb, that is, to say, that the resurrection is concerned with the same earthly body, then it means that we will not be raised because our body will be corrupt after death.  When we die, our bodies will become corrupt, and worse still, some cremated and reduced to ashes.  And science tells us these would turn into molecules and eventually form new bodies.  What then will happen at the resurrection if our bodies are corrupted? Precisely, the truth is that the resurrected body is not a simple continuity of the earthly body.  Resurrection is not resuscitation, a coming back to life of the same earthly body. It is a transfigured body.  Although it is somehow related to this earthly body of ours, yet it will be totally transformed. It can walk through doors, come and go when one likes as the Risen Lord did. We will not look the same as we did on earth.   What our faith holds is that the same person, body and soul will be transfigured, but the resurrected person will not be a different person.

In order to illustrate that the resurrected Lord is not a different person from Jesus of Nazareth even though His body had been radically transformed, it is important then, to hold that the body of Jesus was not found in the tomb.  That this same body has been radically transformed.  So, although faith in the resurrection of our Lord does not depend on the Empty Tomb or even the missing body of Jesus, it is a tangible sign of faith, and leading to faith.  When the disciples discovered the Empty Tomb, it was just a fact.  But just because the tomb was empty does not immediately mean that He is risen.  Faith has to add this conclusion.   The angel said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.” (Mk 16:6)  But we read that “they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”  (Mk 16:8)

Indeed, seeing the Risen Lord requires faith.  That was why not all saw the Risen Lord.  The apostles, including Peter, initially lacked the faith and therefore could not see the Risen Lord.  But the Empty Tomb story opened up their hearts to faith.  And as they surrendered their minds and hearts to faith, the Lord appeared to them.  And when those who had seen the Risen Lord testified to the others who did not see, their hearts too became more open to the Risen Lord. This was the case of St Thomas.  It was the faith of the rest of the apostles that gave him the courage to see the Lord in faith.

Only in faith then could they begin to see more into the scriptures.  They came to realize that the earthly life of Jesus corresponded to the Jesus that was foretold in the scriptures all the while.  St Peter said, “Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you all know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified by men outside the Law. You killed him, but God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power.”

So we have St Peter preaching the Pentecost homily when he cited from the Old Testament to bolster faith in the Risen Lord.  He cited from the text of the psalm of David when he prophesied that his descendent would not see death and corruption.  “I saw the Lord before me always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So my heart was glad and my tongue cried out with joy; my body, too, will rest in the hope that you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your holy one to experience corruption. You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.”  (cf Ps 16:7-11)   Only in faith could they see the resurrection of the Lord as the fulfillment of scriptures.

Seeing the Risen Lord is analogous to a love relationship.  When we love a person, we believe the person in faith.  It takes faith to fall in love with someone because lasting love is never proven or guaranteed.  But when we allow ourselves to fall in love, we begin to see more of the person, and believe in him or her more and more.  When there is no love, we remain an observer from the outside.  So long as we stay out, we cannot experience the love of our beloved.  Only those who open their hearts to love can receive love.  So too is faith in the Risen Lord.  Without faith, we cannot enter into the resurrection experience.

Today, we can still encounter the Risen Lord if we surrender in faith to Him.  How will we encounter Him?  In a similar but not exactly the same way the apostles encountered the Lord.  We will encounter Him when we allow His Spirit to dwell in us as the apostles did at Pentecost.  St Peter, after receiving the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues said, “Now raised to the heights by God’s hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit.”   We encounter the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit resting on us and showing forth His power and glory.

The obvious sign that we have encountered the Risen Lord is the experience of uncontained joy and freedom.  We will experience a radical transformation in our lives when we believe in the Risen Lord.  Like the women, “filled with awe and great joy”, we too will run to announce the Good News to all.  Those who have encountered the Risen Lord no longer fear the future and their enemies.  This was what happened to the cowardly apostles after the resurrection.  But the same message of our Lord when He appeared to the disciples was always this, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 1, 2017 — Feast of All Saints — “Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven.”

October 31, 2017

Solemnity of All Saints
Lectionary: 667

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Reading 1 RV 7:2-4, 9-14

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.  After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:”Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:”Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Reading 2 1 JN 3:1-3

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

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 5:1-12A

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:”Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”
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From Abbot PhilipThe Gospel from Saint Matthew today gives us what we call the Beatitudes.  The sayings of Jesus reflect what it is to follow the Lord:  poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, clean of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of righteousness, insulted for Christ, persecuted for Christ, and evil spoken about us because of Christ.  This is a pretty strong list of characteristics for us!

The implication today is that we must give our whole being to God.  We must follow Jesus with all of our strength.  When we fail, we must get up and start again.  Compromising with anything less than Jesus simply means following the world and its values and not following our Lord.

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

https://christdesert.org/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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1 NOVEMBER, 2017, Wednesday, All Saints
BEING AND BECOMING SAINTS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ REV 7:2-49-14JN 3:1-3MT 5:1-12 ]

“Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?”  (Apoc 7:13).  This question demands an answer from each one of us.  Because the answer that we give indicates how we understand ourselves, our origin and destiny in life.  And unless we know, the celebration of All Saints Day will have no relevance in our lives.

Now if I ask ‘who are the saints’, the answer that most people would give is that they are those who have lived their lives in such a way that they have arrived at sainthood.  And this means that we are all in the process of becoming saints.  All Saints Day therefore is a celebration not only of those who have become saints but all of us who will become saints at the end of our journey.  However, such an answer is only partially correct.  It starts with the fact that we believe that we are sinners even before we were born.  Now this is not really true, and even contradicts scripture.

St John tells us that we are already the children of God because of His love that He lavished on us.  Regardless of the fact that we are baptized or not, it would not be really wrong even to say that all of us are God’s children by the mere fact of our coming into existence in this world.  After all, do we not believe that God is the Father of all humankind and not just Christians?   To be born into the world means that we share in the very being and love of God.   This is implied also in the answer given by one of the elders to the question that I quoted from Apocalypse at the beginning of this homily.  He said, “These are people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.”   Now, how can they wash their robes white again unless their robes were white before?  Unless you narrowly interprete these texts as referring to those who were baptized. If that were so, then it means to say that the unbaptized cannot be saved.  But this would not be in harmony with what the Church has taught us with regard to the salvation of the unbaptized.

However, one might raise the problem of original sin.  Isn’t it true that the Church teaches that we are all born with original sin?  This is undeniably true both theologically and existentially.  It is our own experience that everyone of us shares the sinful nature of Adam and are under the influence of the situation of sin in the world when we are born.  But let us also not forget that corollary to the doctrine of original sin, there is the doctrine of original justice.  What the Church wants to say also is that even before we were born, God has in His eternal plan meant for us to be saints.  In other words, our original nature before we were born is already saintly.  But somehow things have gone wrong from the very beginning.  In other words, all of us have had a bad start.

What are the implications that we can draw from this premise.  Firstly, the fact is that we are already saints even before we came into the world.   The problem is that from the moment we were born, we forget that we are actually saints.  We have forgotten about our real nature, namely, our sainthood.  This, then, is the difference between the baptized and the unbaptized.  The baptized understands and knows that their real nature is their sainthood, whereas those who are unbaptized do not know.  In the words of John, the unbaptized are those in the world who refuse to acknowledge God as their Father.

Secondly, since we are already saints, since our very being is already sainthood, it means to say that in history, our sainthood is coming to be.  That is to say that in history, the saint in us is being unfolded concretely.  It is in history that we work out and manifest the sainthood in us.  We are just like the seed that already contains the tree in us.  And the tree is nothing else but the externalization of the seed.  Unfortunately, due to our fallen nature and our forgetfulness of our nature as saints, we live unsaintly lives, contradicting our very being.

For this very reason, Jesus, who is the true God and true man, offers us His blueprint on how we can recover our essential nature, which is to be both divine and human like Him, although differing ontologically. In fact, this is what John said:  “we are already the children of God, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him.”    And what is His blueprint for us?  It is spelt out in the beatitudes.  It is His program of life and for life.  The beatitudes help us to form a vision of life that is a Godly vision.  They are meant to help us to see ourselves, others, success and sufferings in the right perspective.   They will be the ways in which we will purify ourselves to be like Christ, as John tells us; and the way in which our tainted robes can be washed clean.  They are the necessary stages and process to help us to return home, namely, to our original nature even before we were born.

However, it is not enough to say that we were already saints before we were born.  To be purified does not mean simply to return to square one.  In that sense, we must also maintain that while it is true that our very being is saintly, and that we need to realize that sainthood in history, we must also in the same vein say that we can become saints.  In other words, we can become more than what we originally were.  In this sense, we are all becoming saints.  Sainthood, like love, can grow.  To become saints is similar to growing in love.  We cannot say that our love is no longer capable of growing at any point of time; so likewise in our sainthood.  We can become more and more like God.  And this would be an endless process and journey.  But this journey of becoming more and more saintly is not a frustrating process because it is not an implication that we are lacking fulfillment but simply pointing out the fact that we are capable of being enriched further and move on to a higher plane of life and love in God.

Yes, as we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, let us remember that we are celebrating the fact that we are already saints and that we are historically living out this sainthood on earth.  But more importantly, we are also celebrating the hope and the reality that we are called to greater heights in saintliness, by joining the communion of saints in fellowship and love which will lead us to ever greater and more enriching love now and for all eternity.  Finally, it means that in love and fellowship, we truly become more and more in God,  who ultimately is the one who can sustain and fulfill us completely.

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

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

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Homily for the November 1st – Solemnity of All Saints

by Fr. Tommy Lane

It is quite amazing that we who have faith and believe we will live forever can sometimes allow ourselves to be influenced or contaminated by the unspiritual viewpoint of western culture. We could have heaven on earth, but sometimes we create hell on earth. In my last parish in Ireland I said a number of times in homilies that the programs on TV do not reflect who we are. Who are we? St. John answers that beautifully in our second reading:

we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

We are not usually portrayed as spiritual beings in this fashion on TV. There is always somebody in some trouble. The TV does not reflect our deepest reality described by St. John in our second reading.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. (1 John 3:1)

If we know who we are, we will know how to act. If we know who we are, we will know how to act.

The Solemnity of All Saints today reminds us of who we are and what a bright future can be ours. As we celebrate today all the saints, both those canonized and those who are unknown, we are joyful that they have reached the goal of life, heaven. They remind us to keep our sights fixed high, to remember who we are and the glorious possibility that God offers us.

The saints encourage us in our own struggles because like us they also endured struggles, they grew from strength to strength, they matured in the Lord as they grew in years. We also see this journey of growth in the great people of the Bible. We could think of Abraham whom Genesis tells us pretended his wife was his sister because he was afraid but Abraham grew to become our father in faith. Moses had a speech impediment and had murdered and protested against being called by God but he led his people to the Promised Land. In the Gospels Peter is impulsive and doesn’t want the Lord to suffer but in Acts he is totally transformed and considers it an honor to suffer for the Lord. Interestingly in Acts even Peter’s shadow is a source of healing, something which is not said of Jesus in the Gospels. Obviously Peter’s Formation Adviser was out of this world!

The journey of growth in the great people of the Bible is also seen in the canonized saints. The Curé of Ars struggled with learning while in seminary but so many pilgrims went to Ars to confess to him that by 1855 there was a daily service of two horse buses between Lyons and Ars, and two other buses met the Paris train at Villefranche. The railway station in Lyons even had a special ticket office for people going to Ars, so many were the pilgrims.

St. Thérèse wrote in her autobiography that after the death of her mother, “I, once so full of life, became timid and retiring, sensitive to an excessive degree. One look was enough to reduce me to tears.” (Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, Third Edition pp34-35) She went on to become the Little Flower of Jesus whose relics even stopped the traffic on Fifth Avenue New York because so many people came to venerate her, and three million people venerated her relics during their visit to Ireland in 2001, the same number of people who attended Papal Masses in Ireland in 1979.

St. Augustine struggled with impurity in his youth. As a teenager he was influenced by the loose living of his companions. When he was studying in Carthage he decided to take a mistress. He was such a scoundrel that he even once said to his mother St. Monica that there would be no problems between them if she gave up her faith! He underwent a conversion in Milan and went on to become a priest at the age of 36 and a bishop at the age of 41, and was Bishop of Hippo in North Africa for 35 years. One example of the influence Augustine has on the Church is that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church there are more quotations from St. Augustine than from any other writer.

St. Ignatius of Loyola had a colorful past before his conversion. In 1515 Ignatius and his brother Pedro Lopez were arrested and prosecuted for nocturnal misdemeanors that were outrageous. Ignatius says up to his twenty-sixth year he was given to worldly vanities. He was proud, sensuous, and driven by violent and powerful impulses, he demanded adventure and glory. But after his conversion he noticed that day dreaming about the saints brought him joy but not worldly matters. And thus gradually he developed the rules for discernment of spirits and established the Society of Jesus. He established a college in Rome for young men entering the Society of Jesus and also set up colleges in Jerusalem, Cyprus and Constantinople. At his death in 1556 the Society of Jesus had 1000 members with 100 houses throughout the world. We see this same journey of growth in the lives of all the saints.

(In another homily I discuss the growth of St Francis from his colorful past.)

The saints remind us of who we really are, the reality described by John in our second reading:

we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

Not only the saints’ lives but also their writings are precious gifts of grace to us to remind us of who we are and the glory that God is offering to us. We could think of St. Thérèse’s Story of a Soul with this beautiful excerpt:

“Charity is the most excellent way that leads to God. I finally had rest…I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was burning with love. I understood that love comprised all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraced all times and places, in a word, that it was eternal! Then in the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out: O Jesus, my love, my vocation, at last I have found it, my vocation is love!” (Chapter 9, Clarke 194)

We treasure the Confession of St. Augustine with its words,

“You have made us for yourself O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

We treasure the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the writings of all the saints. Although the saints had much room for growth early in their lives by the end of their lives we see that they were living the beatitudes of our Gospel today (Matt 5:1-12). Therefore they give encouragement to us as we are aware of our need for further growth. The saints were happy because they were poor in spirit, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful and clean of heart. Among the saints we venerate in a special way the martyrs. As our first reading from Revelation states:

These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev 7:14)

They remind us to keep our sights fixed high, to remember who we are and the glorious possibility that God offers us. We know that they are praying for us.

We hope and pray that all those near and dear to us who have departed are already or will be numbered among the saints and so we pray for them especially during this month. I conclude with our second reading:

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

http://www.frtommylane.com/homilies/years_abc/all_saints4.htm

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, October 21, 2017 — Righteousness that comes from faith — “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

October 20, 2017

Saturday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 472

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“The promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world…”

Reading 1  ROM 4:13, 16-18

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:6-7, 8-9, 42-43

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations –
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
For he remembered his holy word
to his servant Abraham.
And he led forth his people with joy;
with shouts of joy, his chosen ones.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Alleluia JN 15:26B, 27A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel LK 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.”Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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21 OCTOBER, 2017, Saturday, 28th Week, Ordinary Time
THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Rom 4:13.16-18Ps 105:6-942-43Lk 12:9-12 ]

We always speak about God’s unconditional love and mercy.  Yet in today’s gospel, Jesus said there is one sin that cannot be forgiven. “Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  Is there a contradiction in the message of Jesus?  Why is the sin against the Holy Spirit not forgivable whereas the sin against Jesus is pardonable?

There are people who reject Jesus because of various factors.  They lack faith in the Lord.  They have not yet had a chance to encounter the Lord.  They might know about Him intellectually but they have not yet arrived at a conviction in their hearts.  Hearing about Jesus does not mean that a person would have faith.   This is true of people from other religions.  They might have known about Jesus because they were educated in mission schools, or they have read about Him.  Yet, they are not converted to Christianity because they have not arrived at a personal encounter with the Lord.

For such people, a general faith in God is sufficient. This is what St Paul says, “The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith.  That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us.”   We are saved not by what we do and by our merits.  If that were the case, then God would not have promised Abraham that he woud be a father of all nations.  It was not because Abraham did anything to earn the promises of God.  It was not because Abraham fulfilled the laws or that he was righteous, but that he simply put his faith and trust in God’s promises.

But the sin against the Holy Spirit is different.  It is not just a rejection of our Lord but a rejection of goodness, truth and love.  When we are numb to what is right and wrong, we are closed to the Holy Spirit.  Life is such that when we neglect our prayer life or a relationship with someone, we become indifferent after some time.  It is the lack of touch with our faith, our prayer life and with God that will cause us to fall into indifference.  When we reject God’s word repeatedly and continue to sin again and again without any repentance, we will eventually lose sensitivity to the truth.  We will come to a stage of relativism before we arrive at amorality.   This is what is happening in the world.  Those who are without faith rely on their own intellect and judgment.  They reject any judgment that comes from others.  Because of pride, they very soon fall into relativism.   Truth becomes a matter of personal judgment and preferences.  Of course, in relativism, one can always rationalize and convince oneself that what one is doing is right.  Our mind can always adduce reasons for what we want to do.  From relativism, one becomes amoral, because nothing is wrong or right.

When a person is blind to the truth and what is right, how could he or she repent?  If he cannot see that what he is doing is wrong, there is no reason to change. This is precisely the sin of many people.  They are so sure of themselves, so presumptuous that they are right that they would not listen to correction.  There is totally no way we can reach out to such people.  They insist on doing things their way and those who disagree with them are all deemed to be wrong and out to victimize them.  Indeed, it is almost impossible to enlighten someone who has a victimization complex, or show him the way to the truth because he thinks that the world is against him all the time.  This is the sin against the Holy Spirit.

When a person arrives at such a stage, no forgiveness is possible.  It is not that God has rejected such a person, but he has rejected God and has shut Him out of His life.  Those of us who have sinned and are aware of them could still have our sins forgiven because we know that we have done something wrong.  Our inability to repent is due to our human weakness, particularly the weakness of the flesh.  In our minds, we desire to live a righteous life but our will is weak and wounded.  Consequently, only those who commit sins and are unable to recognize them as sins even when brought to their attention, cannot be forgiven; not because God does not want to forgive them but because the sinners do not want to be forgiven.

Indeed, the good news is that God does not take into account our sins before He justifies us.  We are forgiven and we do not need to earn merits to be loved and forgiven.  This is what divides us from those religions that underscore merits and fulfillment of the laws.  Christianity speaks of grace that is unearned and unmerited.  We can never earn the love of God.  We do not speak of what we can do for God but what God is doing in our lives.  Grace speaks of what God’s unconditional love and mercy can do to transform our lives.   This is not to say that we continue sinning.  On the contrary, because of His love for us, we stop sinning, not because we are afraid of punishment or because it is our duty, but because we love God who loved us first.   We are compelled by love.

Conversely, the laws cannot set us free.  They can at most tell us that something is wrong but they cannot give us the motivation to observe them.  All laws are made to be broken, or else no laws are necessary.   We all know the laws and yet we see crimes and offences committed every day.  The rule of thumb is to break the law but just don’t get caught!  The laws cannot give us the power to fulfill them.  On the contrary, the laws tempt us to commit more sins because what is forbidden is even more desirable.  This is how the Devil tempted Eve.   At any rate, after seducing us to sin, the devil accuses us and makes us feel condemned before God. “The accuser of our comrades[c] has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”  (Rev 12:10b)  So not only does the law condemn us to death but the devil as well.

Hence this requires faith in His grace on our part.  This is why anyone who has the faith of Abraham would have the promises of God fulfilled in Him.  We are called to trust in His grace alone, not on our efforts.  If we depend on our merits, none of us would ever attain the promises of God.  Abraham himself trusted in God and he was richly rewarded. “Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.” Indeed, it was Abraham’s faith in God, who is the author of life and death and the origin of all things, that made it possible for him to trust in God alone.

The great thing about Abraham is that even though he did not see all the promises realized in his time, he continued to have faith that somehow God will fulfill all His promises.  And thus it took another 2000 years later before Jesus the Messiah was born and another 1500 years before Christianity spread all over the earth.  As Christians, we too are the descendants of Abraham.   “Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars.”   This is what the psalmist says, “He remembers his covenant for ever, his promise for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.  For he remembered his holy word, which he gave to Abraham his servant.”

For us, Christians, Jesus is the incarnation of God’s grace and mercy in person.  By His life, passion, death and resurrection Jesus shows us the face of God. Consequently, the Lord said, “I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of God’s angels.  But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.”  If we deny Jesus, we will be losers in the end because we forfeit the grace to recognize God’s unconditional love in Christ.  But for those of us who testify to Christ, our faith will increase by leaps and bounds.  The Holy Spirit will inspire us and lead us to a deeper conviction of Christ as our savior.  In our helplessness, we find the power of God at work in our lives.  “When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.”  When we surrender our lives to God, He will do the impossible.  With God, all things are possible.  But we can know this only when we entrust our lives to Him and take His Word and promises in faith as Abraham did. So long as we depend on our strength and efforts alone, we can do things for God, but if we rely on Him, He can do great things for us and through us.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Commentary on Luke 12:8-12 From Living Space

Jesus continues to prepare his disciples for trials to come in the future.

He encourages them to be faithful to their Christian commitment and to their faith in Christ as Lord. When we publicly acknowledge Jesus as Christ and Lord, Jesus too will acknowledge us as his faithful disciple. Of course, it will be difficult during times of abuse and persecution but they must always be ready to acknowledge their allegiance to Jesus. To deny that allegiance may win them a reprieve in this life but not in the next. “He who saves his life will lose it,” as Jesus said on an earlier occasion. The word for ‘deny’ here is the same word used in Peter’s denial and disowning of his Master (Luke 22:34 and 61).

There comes now a saying which can cause difficulty to some. “Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” Why should there be just one exception to the forgiveness of sin? And why is speaking against the Son acceptable but not against the Spirit?

To speak against the Son is clearly wrong but, with repentance, there can be reconciliation. But to sin against the Spirit is to go against Truth itself. This was basically the sin of the Scribes and Pharisees. They not only criticised Jesus; that could be understood. But they locked themselves into a situation where they shut out any openness to the truth, the Truth that others could so easily see present in Jesus. As long as they were in that situation, there was no possibility of reconciliation. Forgiveness in the Gospel is not just a unilateral move on one person’s part. It always involves a coming together of two opposing parties in reconciliation. To sin against the Spirit is to close the door on reconciliation.

It seems that in Luke’s context he may be applying the saying to those Christians who are under attack for their faith. If they deny the Spirit of Truth they too lock themselves out from being reached by God. In times to come, Jesus’ disciples will be dragged before civic and religious authorities. They are not to be afraid or worried about how to defend themselves or about what they should say.

People who have been in this position have attested that the words do indeed come and with them a certain peace and strength, provided one retains one’s integrity and wholeness. And it is the presence of that Spirit, the Spirit of God and of Jesus, that is at work.

Most of us will not have to suffer severely for our faith. But there will likely be times when we may find our religious beliefs and practices ridiculed and made fun of. We can be tempted at such times to go into hiding, to conceal our Christian identity. We may even fail to come to the support of people who are under attack, refuse to stand by them, refuse to stand up and be counted as committed followers of the Gospel.

If that has happened in the past, let us ask forgiveness. Let us pray that in future we may have the courage and integrity in word and deed to let people know who we are and what we stand for.

Source: http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2287g/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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15 OCTOBER 2016, Saturday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time
CHRISTIAN HOPE IS FOUNDED ON FAITH IN CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  EPHESIANS  1:15 – 23LUKE 12:9 – 12 ]

The world seems to have lost its focus, whether in politics or in morals.  This is why even in the midst of progress; many feel lost and hopeless in the world.  Without hope, life cannot continue.  Whether in work, relationship, marriage or in health, many people in the face of difficulties want to give up, because they see no hope.  Even those working for a just world today are often tempted to give up, because they feel that the power of evil is stronger than good. By cooperating with His divine plan, we will find our purpose and meaning in this life on earth as we wait for the fullness of sharing God’s life in heaven.

But for us Christians, we know there is hope.  The readings from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians over the last couple of days told us that there is hope.  Through the grace of revelation, St Paul revealed to us the plan of God for humanity, which is that everything will be united in Christ.  Above all, we are given the hope of true freedom because we are called to the great destiny of being adopted sons in Christ.  That this hope be always in our minds is the prayer of St Paul for the Ephesians and for us when he prayed, “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”

What then is the basis of hope?  Our hope is founded on Christ.  Indeed, Paul says, “This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.”  The responsorial psalm similarly declares “You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.”  Christ, therefore, having won victory over sin and death rules over all of creation.

The psalmist reminds us that we, too, in Christ, have been given authority over creation and to rule the earth with His wisdom and love.  “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.”  By cooperating with His divine plan, we will find our purpose and meaning in this life on earth as we wait for the fullness of sharing God’s life in heaven.

Of course, we cannot do what Christ has done unless we have found our hope in Him.  Only then can we be certain of “how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”  If the Father had raised Jesus from the dead and “put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation”, then we can be confident that we will overcome all things in Him.  This is particularly so because it will not be on our strength that we will overcome the tribulations of the world.  Rather, it is Christ who acts in us, He being the Head of the Church and we the members of His body.  With Christ at work in us, we need not ever fear that we are fighting a losing battle in the proclamation of the Good News, even though at times, we might feel rather discouraged at the hostility of secularism against the Church and all religions.

For this reason, the gospel warns us that those who have no faith in Christ will lose all hope.  By failing to declare our faith in Jesus, it shows our lack of confidence in Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of God’s angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.”  It is not so much that He will disown us, but that we will disown His Spirit at work in us.  By not standing up for Jesus on earth before men, we will be so embarrassed to stand before Jesus Himself when we meet Him face to face, for we know that we have betrayed Him.

Accordingly, we can understand why Jesus said, “Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  To deny the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us is to live without hope.  We must not think that God will hold our sins against us.  Rather, it will be our sins that will hold out against God who reaches out to us in mercy and forgiveness. If the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven, it is because when a man has lost all faith in God and in his fellowmen and himself, he would fall into nihilism.  Being totally closed to the love of God, he condemns himself into meaninglessness and hopelessness.   Indeed, all those who have given up on life have in the first place given up on God and on man.   So long as one continues to have faith in God, there is hope for himself and hope for others.

But for those who have faith in Jesus, then He assures us that “When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.”  So long as we have faith in Jesus, “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him.”  Yes, He will enlighten us and give us not just hope in this world but the everlasting joy of sharing in the life of God, together with His saints in glory.  He will help us to understand the ambiguities of life, to find faith and strength in times of confusion and trials and most of all, teach us about the eternal truths, what to say and how to proclaim the truth that He has given to us.

And so today it is important to strengthen our faith in Jesus who is at work in our lives.  But we must surrender ourselves, especially our work.  We must remember those many events in our lives when we thought we were powerless and helpless and yet the Lord came to our help and enabled us to do much more than we could imagine or thought of.  By remembering the power of God in Christ Jesus, we will find hope.

So hope is born from faith in Christ. Through hope comes charity.  We hope we will never give up on situations, especially on people.  If at times, we feel like giving up it is because we lack hope and therefore have no capacity to love.  Indeed, St Paul sums up so beautifully the inter-relationship between faith, hope and charity when he commended the Ephesians, saying, “I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, March 29, 2017 — “They shall not hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them….”

March 28, 2017

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 246

I bless the Lord:  O Lord my God, how great you are!  You are robed with honor and majesty and light!

Reading 1 IS 49:8-15

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 145:8-9, 13CD-14, 17-18

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Verse Before The Gospel JN 11:25A, 26

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.

Gospel JN 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom

The counterintuitive propositions of the Gospels.

Society tells us: be strong. Seek money. Show off your skills. Rise to the top.

Jesus tells us: be humble. Become totally dependent upon the father. Seek out and do service for the marginalized.

Embraces all his creatures.

Eat my body. Drink my blood.

Can we follow him? Can we imitate him? There is little in the way of reward here on earth…..

Do not be afraid…

The Gospels also say, “No matter what you encounter, be joyful. Your reward shall be in heaven.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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29 MARCH, 2017, Wednesday, 4th Week of Lent

THE FOUNDATION FOR DOING GOOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Is 49:8-15; Ps 144:8-9,13-14,17-18; Jn 5:17-30]

Today, the liturgy continues with the theme of joy in expectation of the feast of the resurrection, albeit in the shadow of hostility and death.  “Shout for joy, you heavens; earth, exult! Mountains, break into joyful cries! For Yahweh has consoled his people, is taking pity on his afflicted ones.”  In the first reading, we read the consoling words of the Lord to the Israelites who felt forsaken and abandoned in their exile at Babylon, “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast; feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you.”   On the day of salvation, the Lord would restore Israel.  “Along the roadway they will graze, and any bare height will be their pasture. They will never hunger or thirst, scorching wind and sun will never plague them; for he who pities them will lead them, will guide them to springs of water. I shall turn all my mountains into a road and my highways will be raised aloft.”

This promise of the Lord of course was fulfilled in Jesus who is the Suffering Servant prophesied in the first reading.   The words spoken to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah aptly applies to Jesus when God said, “I have formed you and have appointed you to be the covenant for a people, to restore the land, to return ravaged properties, to say to prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’” In the last few days, the gospel narrated how Jesus manifested Himself as a life-giver.  He told the story of the Prodigal Son and the mercy of His Father whom He sought to imitate.  He said, “I tell you most solemnly, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too.”

The works of Jesus was done in union with the Father.  He said, “My father goes on working, and so do I.”  So like the Father, Jesus gave life to the Court Official’s son who was on the brink of death.  Yesterday, we read how Jesus healed the paralyzed man and forgave his sins.  This is justified by the fact that “the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does himself, and he will show him even greater things than these, works that will astonish you. Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses.”   The authority and powers of Jesus to heal, raise and forgive were given by the Father.  Jesus saw Himself as acting on His behalf.

On this basis, Jesus claimed identification with the Father!   And the Jews knew what He was implying.  “That only made the Jews even more intent on killing him, because, not content with breaking the Sabbath, he spoke of God as his own Father, and so made himself God’s equal.”   By healing on the Sabbath and giving the basis for doing good works of mercy on the Sabbath, in imitation of His Father, Jesus was making implicit claims that He was God.  They were fully aware that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of Man mentioned in the Book of Daniel, chapter 7.  The miracles He performed were messianic signs, especially the raising of the dead, curing the lame and giving sight to the blind. He was thus seen as making a blasphemous claim to be the Son of God.

Secondly, He claimed to speak the Word of God.  He said, “I tell you most solemnly, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live.”   He is the Word of God in person.  If He were to speak God’s words, then it means that one has to believe in Him and all that He said.  It means that we need to accept Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life.   Only by accepting Jesus, can we find life, not just life after death but life on this earth.   In following the path that Jesus set out for us, the way of love and humble service, in obedience to the Father’s will, in everything, we will live the fullness of life.  Hence, for such a person, “without being brought to judgement he has passed from death to life.”

Thirdly, Jesus claimed to be the Judge as well, a position reserved for the Father.  He said, “For the Father, who is the source of life, has made the Son the source of life; and, because he is the Son of Man, has appointed him supreme judge.  Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graces at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation.  I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just.”   Jesus could judge only because He is holy and perfect like the Father.  Because He is the Word of God, He could judge with full knowledge and understanding.   He judges with love and compassion, as the psalmist says. “The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.”  So the judgement of Jesus is founded on truth, love and compassion.  In speaking of Himself as the judge, He takes the place of God.

How could Jesus dare to make such claims of divinity and authority to act on behalf of the Father?  How could He be so confident and courageous to make such claims at the risk of courting death?  How is it that He was not afraid of being misunderstood, condemned or opposed? How do we explain the confidence in Jesus if not because of His intimate relationship with the Father? 

This identity with the Father is based on a mutual union between the Father and the Son.  This union with the Father must be seen as a union of mind and heart.  Jesus performed everything in union with the Father, based on the union of mind and will.  Jesus would not do anything except in alignment with the Father’s will.  He reiterated, “I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”   Jesus’ obedience to the Father was not a reluctant obedience or simply a submission of will. Rather, His obedience was the consequence of a union of will and love.  As Jesus said to the disciples, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” (Jn 4:34)  Jesus loved His Father because of His Father’s love for Him.  He lived and died for His Father.  He said, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”  (Jn 10:17f)

What about us?  What is the basis for our good works?  What is the basis for living a life of love and truth?  Is it based on purely humanitarian reasons, simply because we feel the sufferings of our fellowmen or because of moral obligation to contribute to society because we have been beneficiaries?   In truth, many of us do good out of guilt, or at most out of responsibility because of our conscience.  Of course, some do out of love for their fellowmen but many help because of fear of condemnation or at least to gain respect and honour from the world.

In the case of Jesus, His good works came from His identification with the compassion and love of His Father.  His union with the Father was the cause of His mission to humanity.  As the psalmist says, “The Lord is faithful in all his words and loving in all his deeds.  The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down. The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds. He is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts.”  So it was out of the love of the Father in Him that He went about doing good so that the Father could be seen through Him. This too must also be the source of our strength in doing good. We must not be like the pagans.  “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  (Mt 5:46-48)

So today, we need to return to the ancient times when Catechumens were instructed more intensely during this time.  At this mass, salt would be placed in their mouths so that they would receive the Word of God and be the salt of the earth.  They too would be given the creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Four Gospels so that they will become more identified with the Lord in how they live their lives.  For those of us who are baptized, let us renew our appreciation for the love of God in Christ as we contemplate on His passion.  We must come to know the identity of Jesus more and more so that we can truly be identified with Him in mind and in heart as Jesus is with the Father.

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Related:

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“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Commentary on John 5:17-30 From Living Space

Let us not be afraid or cast down; God is on his way in the person of Jesus

Today’s Gospel follows immediately on yesterday’s story of the healing of the crippled man by the pool. That passage had ended with the words: “The Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this [i.e. the healing] on a sabbath.” We might point out, as with some other sabbath healings, that there was absolutely no urgency to do the healing on a sabbath for someone who had waited 38 years. It is just another indication of the divine authority with which Jesus works.

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So Jesus’ reply is direct and unapologetic: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” Because Genesis speaks of God resting on the seventh day (the origin of the Jewish sabbath), it was disputed whether God was in any way active on the sabbath. Some believed that the creating and conserving work of his creation went on and others that he continued to pass judgement on that day. In any case, Jesus is claiming here the same authority to work on the sabbath as his Father and has the same powers over life and death.

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The Jewish leaders are enraged that Jesus speaks of God as his own Father. They want to kill him. They understand by his words that Jesus is making himself God’s equal. Jesus, far from denying the accusation, only confirms it.

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“A son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will also do.” This saying is taken from the model of an apprentice in a trade. The apprentice son does exactly what his father does. Jesus’ relation to his Father is similar. “For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, so that you may be amazed.” And “just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes” – and whenever he wishes. And such giving of life is something that belongs only to God. As does the right to judge, which Jesus says has been delegated to him.

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Jesus is the perfect mirror of the Father. The Father is acting in him and through him. He is the Word of God – God speaks and acts directly through him. God’s Word is a creative Word. Jesus, like the Father, is life-giving, a source of life.

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The right to judge has been delegated by the Father to the Son. And to refuse to honour the Son is to refuse the same honour to the Father. In everything Jesus acts only according to the will of his Father and does what his Father wants.

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Jesus, then, is the Way, the Way through whom we go to God. For us, there is no other Way. He is God’s Word to us and for us.

Source http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1044g/

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I cannot fathom what it must have been like for You Lord. Most of our hearts cried out for salvation while others could not, having been bound and gagged by Sin.

Your love for us was so great that You promised to come save us, prepared us for Your coming and then fulfilled Your promise to us. What did we do? How did we welcome You? We turned our backs on You, We mocked You, plotted to kill You and eventually did.

Knowing all this You still came seeking out Your lost sheep. You brought light into our darkness, living water to quench our thirst, bread from heaven to nourish bodies and souls. With Your precious blood You washed us so that we can stand spotless before our heavenly Father. How great is our God!

Our lives are nothing without You and without You there is no relationship with our heavenly Father. All love, peace and joy comes from You for in You is life eternal. May we always seek to do our Father’s Will. Amen

Source http://catholicjules.net/2014/04/01/on-todays-gospel-395/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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 Reflection

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• The Gospel of John is different from the other three. It reveals a more profound dimension which only faith is able to perceive in the words and gestures of Jesus. The Fathers of the Church would say that the Gospel of John is “spiritual”, it reveals what the Spirit makes one discover in the words of Jesus (cf. Jn 16, 12-13). A beautiful example of this spiritual dimension of the Gospel of John is the passage which we are going to meditate on today.

• John 5, 17-18: Jesus explains the profound meaning of the healing of the paralytic. Criticized by the Jews for having cured on Saturday, Jesus answers: “My Father still goes on working, and I am at work too!” The Jews taught that no work could be done on Saturday, because even God had rested and had not worked on the seventh day of creation (Ex 20, 8-11). Jesus affirms the contrary. He says that the Father has always worked even until now. And for this reason, Jesus also works, and even on Saturday. He imitates his Father! For Jesus the work of creation is not finished as yet. God continues to work, unceasingly, day and night, holding up the Universe and all of us. Jesus collaborates with the Father continuing the work of creation in such a way that one day all may be able to enter into the eternal rest that has been promised. The reaction of the Jews was violent. They wanted to kill him for two reasons: because he denied the sense of Saturday and for saying he was equal to God.

• John 5, 19-21: It is love which allows the creative action of God to shine and be visible. These verses reveal something of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Jesus, the Son, lives permanently attentive before the Father. What he sees the Father do, he does it also. Jesus is the reflection of the Father. He is the face of the Father! This total attention of the Son to the Father makes it possible for the love of the Father to enter totally into the Son and through the Son, carry out his action in the world. The great concern of the Father is that of overcoming death and to give life. It is a way of continuing the creative work of the Father.

• John 5, 22-23: The Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgment to the Son. What is decisive in life is the way in which we place ourselves before the Creator, because it radically depends on him. Now the Creator becomes present for us in Jesus. The plenitude of the divinity dwells in Jesus (cf. Col 1, 19). And therefore, according to the way in which we are before Jesus, we express our position before God, the Creator. What the Father wants is that we know him and honour him in the revelation which he makes of himself in Jesus.

• John 5, 24: The life of God in us through Jesus. God is life, he is creating force. Wherever he is present, there is life. He becomes present in the Word of Jesus. The one who listens to the word of Jesus as a word that comes from God has already risen. He has already received the vivifying touch which leads him beyond death. Jesus passed from death to life. The proof of this is in the healing of the paralytic.

• John 5, 25-29: The resurrection is already taking place. All of us are the dead who still have not opened ourselves to the voice of Jesus which comes from the Father. But “the hour will come” and it is now, in which the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who will listen, will live”. With the Word of Jesus which comes from the Father, the new creation begins; it is already on the way. The creative word of Jesus will reach all, even those who have already died. They will hear and will live.

• John 5, 30: Jesus is the reflection of the Father. “By myself I can do nothing; I can judge only as I am told to judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me”. This last phrase is the summary of all that has been said before. This was the idea that the community of the time of John had and diffused regarding Jesus.

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, October 15, 2016 — “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened” — “Listen with your heart”

October 14, 2016

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 472

Reading 1 EPH 1:15-23

Brothers and sisters:
Hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus
and of your love for all the holy ones,
I do not cease giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers,
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the Church,
which is his Body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Responsorial Psalm PS 8:2-3AB, 4-5, 6-7

R. (7) You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
O LORD, our LORD,
how glorious is your name over all the earth!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
you have fashioned praise because of your foes.
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
or the son of man that you should care for him?
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.
You have made him little less than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under his feet.
R. You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.

Alleluia JN 15:26B, 27A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.

“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

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Commentary on Luke 12:8-12 From Living Space

Jesus continues to prepare his disciples for trials to come in the future.

He encourages them to be faithful to their Christian commitment and to their faith in Christ as Lord. When we publicly acknowledge Jesus as Christ and Lord, Jesus too will acknowledge us as his faithful disciple. Of course, it will be difficult during times of abuse and persecution but they must always be ready to acknowledge their allegiance to Jesus. To deny that allegiance may win them a reprieve in this life but not in the next. “He who saves his life will lose it,” as Jesus said on an earlier occasion. The word for ‘deny’ here is the same word used in Peter’s denial and disowning of his Master (Luke 22:34 and 61).

There comes now a saying which can cause difficulty to some. “Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” Why should there be just one exception to the forgiveness of sin? And why is speaking against the Son acceptable but not against the Spirit?

To speak against the Son is clearly wrong but, with repentance, there can be reconciliation. But to sin against the Spirit is to go against Truth itself. This was basically the sin of the Scribes and Pharisees. They not only criticised Jesus; that could be understood. But they locked themselves into a situation where they shut out any openness to the truth, the Truth that others could so easily see present in Jesus. As long as they were in that situation, there was no possibility of reconciliation. Forgiveness in the Gospel is not just a unilateral move on one person’s part. It always involves a coming together of two opposing parties in reconciliation. To sin against the Spirit is to close the door on reconciliation.

It seems that in Luke’s context he may be applying the saying to those Christians who are under attack for their faith. If they deny the Spirit of Truth they too lock themselves out from being reached by God. In times to come, Jesus’ disciples will be dragged before civic and religious authorities. They are not to be afraid or worried about how to defend themselves or about what they should say.

People who have been in this position have attested that the words do indeed come and with them a certain peace and strength, provided one retains one’s integrity and wholeness. And it is the presence of that Spirit, the Spirit of God and of Jesus, that is at work.

Most of us will not have to suffer severely for our faith. But there will likely be times when we may find our religious beliefs and practices ridiculed and made fun of. We can be tempted at such times to go into hiding, to conceal our Christian identity. We may even fail to come to the support of people who are under attack, refuse to stand by them, refuse to stand up and be counted as committed followers of the Gospel.

If that has happened in the past, let us ask forgiveness. Let us pray that in future we may have the courage and integrity in word and deed to let people know who we are and what we stand for.

Source: http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2287g/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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15 OCTOBER 2016, Saturday, 28th Week of Ordinary Time
CHRISTIAN HOPE IS FOUNDED ON FAITH IN CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  EPHESIANS  1:15 – 23; LUKE 12:9 – 12 ]

The world seems to have lost its focus, whether in politics or in morals.  This is why even in the midst of progress; many feel lost and hopeless in the world.  Without hope, life cannot continue.  Whether in work, relationship, marriage or in health, many people in the face of difficulties want to give up, because they see no hope.  Even those working for a just world today are often tempted to give up, because they feel that the power of evil is stronger than good. By cooperating with His divine plan, we will find our purpose and meaning in this life on earth as we wait for the fullness of sharing God’s life in heaven.

But for us Christians, we know there is hope.  The readings from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians over the last couple of days told us that there is hope.  Through the grace of revelation, St Paul revealed to us the plan of God for humanity, which is that everything will be united in Christ.  Above all, we are given the hope of true freedom because we are called to the great destiny of being adopted sons in Christ.  That this hope be always in our minds is the prayer of St Paul for the Ephesians and for us when he prayed, “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”

What then is the basis of hopeOur hope is founded on Christ.  Indeed, Paul says, “This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.”  The responsorial psalm similarly declares “You have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.”  Christ, therefore, having won victory over sin and death rules over all of creation.

The psalmist reminds us that we, too, in Christ, have been given authority over creation and to rule the earth with His wisdom and love.  “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.”  By cooperating with His divine plan, we will find our purpose and meaning in this life on earth as we wait for the fullness of sharing God’s life in heaven.

Of course, we cannot do what Christ has done unless we have found our hope in Him.  Only then can we be certain of “how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers.”  If the Father had raised Jesus from the dead and “put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation”, then we can be confident that we will overcome all things in Him.  This is particularly so because it will not be on our strength that we will overcome the tribulations of the world.  Rather, it is Christ who acts in us, He being the Head of the Church and we the members of His body.  With Christ at work in us, we need not ever fear that we are fighting a losing battle in the proclamation of the Good News, even though at times, we might feel rather discouraged at the hostility of secularism against the Church and all religions.

For this reason, the gospel warns us that those who have no faith in Christ will lose all hope.  By failing to declare our faith in Jesus, it shows our lack of confidence in Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of God’s angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.”  It is not so much that He will disown us, but that we will disown His Spirit at work in us.  By not standing up for Jesus on earth before men, we will be so embarrassed to stand before Jesus Himself when we meet Him face to face, for we know that we have betrayed Him.

Accordingly, we can understand why Jesus said, “Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”  To deny the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us is to live without hope.  We must not think that God will hold our sins against us.  Rather, it will be our sins that will hold out against God who reaches out to us in mercy and forgiveness. If the sin against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven, it is because when a man has lost all faith in God and in his fellowmen and himself, he would fall into nihilism.  Being totally closed to the love of God, he condemns himself into meaninglessness and hopelessness.   Indeed, all those who have given up on life have in the first place given up on God and on man.   So long as one continues to have faith in God, there is hope for himself and hope for others.

But for those who have faith in Jesus, then He assures us that “When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.”  So long as we have faith in Jesus, “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him.”  Yes, He will enlighten us and give us not just hope in this world but the everlasting joy of sharing in the life of God, together with His saints in glory.  He will help us to understand the ambiguities of life, to find faith and strength in times of confusion and trials and most of all, teach us about the eternal truths, what to say and how to proclaim the truth that He has given to us.

And so today it is important to strengthen our faith in Jesus who is at work in our lives.  But we must surrender ourselves, especially our work.  We must remember those many events in our lives when we thought we were powerless and helpless and yet the Lord came to our help and enabled us to do much more than we could imagine or thought of.  By remembering the power of God in Christ Jesus, we will find hope.

So hope is born from faith in Christ. Through hope comes charity.  We hope we will never give up on situations, especially on people.  If at times, we feel like giving up it is because we lack hope and therefore have no capacity to love.  Indeed, St Paul sums up so beautifully the inter-relationship between faith, hope and charity when he commended the Ephesians, saying, “I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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St. Teresa of Avila

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Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada

Born at Avila, Old Castile, 28 March, 1515; died at Alba de Tormes, 4 Oct., 1582.

The third child of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda by his second wife, Doña Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, who died when the saint was in her fourteenth year,Teresa was brought up by her saintly father, a lover of serious books, and a tender and pious mother. After her death and the marriage of her eldest sister,Teresa was sent for her education to the Augustinian nuns at Avila, but owing to illness she left at the end of eighteen months, and for some years remained with her father and occasionally with other relatives, notably an uncle who made her acquainted with the Letters of St. Jerome, which determined her to adoptthe religious life, not so much through any attraction towards it, as through a desire of choosing the safest course. Unable to obtain her father’s consent she left his house unknown to him on Nov., 1535, to enter the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation at Avila, which then counted 140 nuns. The wrench from her familycaused her a pain which she ever afterwards compared to that of death. However, her father at once yielded and Teresa took the habit.

After her profession in the following year she became very seriously ill, and underwent a prolonged cure and such unskillful medical treatment that she was reduced to a most pitiful state, and even after partial recovery through the intercession of St. Joseph, her health remained permanently impaired. During these years of suffering she began the practice of mental prayer, but fearing that her conversations with some world-minded relatives, frequent visitors at the convent, rendered her unworthy of the graces God bestowed on her in prayer, discontinued it, until she came under the influence, first of the Dominicans, and afterwards of the Jesuits. Meanwhile God had begun to visit her with “intellectual visions and locutions”, that is manifestations in which the exterior senses were in no way affected, the things seen and the words heard being directly impressed upon her mind, and giving her wonderful strength in trials, reprimanding her for unfaithfulness, and consoling her in trouble. Unable to reconcile such graces with her shortcomings, which her delicate conscience represented as grievous faults, she had recourse not only to the most spiritual confessors she could find, but also to some saintly laymen, who, never suspecting that the account she gave them of her sins was greatly exaggerated, believed these manifestations to be the work of the evil spirit. The more she endeavoured to resist them the more powerfully did God work in her soul. The whole city of Avila was troubled by the reports of the visions of this nun. It was reserved to St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter of Alcantara, and afterwards to a number of Dominicans (particularly Pedro Ibañez and Domingo Bañez), Jesuits, and other religious and secular priests, to discern the work of God and to guide her on a safe road.

The account of her spiritual life contained in the “Life written by herself” (completed in 1565, an earlier version being lost), in the “Relations”, and in the “Interior Castle”, forms one of the most remarkable spiritual biographies with which only the “Confessions of St. Augustine” can bear comparison. To this period belong also such extraordinary manifestations as the piercing or transverberation of her heart, the spiritual espousals, and the mystical marriage. A vision of the placedestined for her in hell in case she should have been unfaithful to grace, determined her to seek a more perfect life. After many troubles and much opposition St. Teresa founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Primitive Rule of St. Joseph at Avila (24 Aug., 1562), and after six months obtained permission to take up her residence there. Four years later she received the visit of the General of the Carmelites, John-Baptist Rubeo (Rossi), who not only approved of what she had done but granted leave for the foundation of other convents of friars as well as nuns. In rapid succession she established her nuns at Medina del Campo (1567), Malagon and Valladolid (1568), Toledo and Pastrana (1569), Salamanca (1570), Alba de Tormes (1571), Segovia (1574), Veas and Seville (1575), and Caravaca (1576). In the “Book of Foundations” she tells the story of these convents, nearly all of which were established in spite of violent opposition but with manifest assistance from above. Everywhere she found souls generous enough to embrace the austerities of the primitive rule of Carmel. Having made the acquaintance of Antonio de Heredia, prior of Medina, and St. John of the Cross, she established her reform among the friars (28 Nov., 1568), the first conventsbeing those of Duruelo (1568), Pastrana (1569), Mancera, and Alcalá de Henares (1570).

A new epoch began with the entrance into religion of Jerome Gratian, inasmuch as this remarkable man was almost immediately entrusted by the nuncio with the authority of visitor Apostolic of the Carmelite friars and nuns of the old observance in Andalusia, and as such considered himself entitled to overrule the various restrictions insisted upon by the general and the general chapter. On the death of the nuncio and the arrival of his successor a fearful storm burst over St. Teresa and her work, lasting four years and threatening to annihilate the nascent reform. The incidents of this persecution are best described in her letters. The storm at length passed, and the province of Discalced Carmelites, with the support of Philip II, was approved and canonically established on 22 June, 1580. St. Teresa, old and broken in health, made further foundations at Villanuava de la Jara and Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Granada (through her assistant the Venerable Anne of Jesus), and at Burgos (1582). She left this latter place at the end of July, and, stopping at Palencia, Valladolid, and Medina del Campo, reached Alba de Torres in September, suffering intensely. Soon she took to her bed and passed away on 4 Oct., 1582, the following day, owing to the reform of the calendar, being reckoned as 15 October. After some years her body was transferred to Avila, but later on reconveyed to Alba, where it is still preserved incorrupt. Her heart, too, showing the marks of the Transverberation, is exposed there to the veneration of the faithful. She was beatified in 1614, and canonizedin 1622 by Gregory XV, the feast being fixed on 15 October.

St. Teresa’s position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences, which a deep insight and analytical gifts enabled her to explain clearly. The Thomistic substratum may be traced to the influence of her confessors and directors, many of whom belonged to the Dominican Order. She herself had no pretension to found a school in the accepted sense of the term, and there is no vestige in her writings of any influence of the Areopagite, the Patristic, or the Scholastic Mystical schools, as represented among others, by the German Dominican Mystics. She is intensely personal, her system going exactly as far as her experiences, but not a step further.

A word must be added on the orthography of her name. It has of late become the fashion to write her name Teresa or Teresia, without “h”, not only in Spanishand Italian, where the “h” could have no place, but also in French, German, and Latin, which ought to preserve the etymological spelling. As it is derived from aGreek name, Tharasia, the saintly wife of St. Paulinus of Nola, it should be written Theresia in German and Latin, and Thérèse in French.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14515b.htm

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Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint,Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time and the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor Saint John were alive when the two orders separated.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and on 27 September 1970 was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.[5] Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle), are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices. She also wrote Camino de Perfección (trans.: The Way of Perfection).

After her death, Saint Teresa’s cult was known in Spain during the 1620s, and for a time she was considered a candidate to become a national patron saint. A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, said to have been sent with one of her brothers to Nicaragua by the saint, is now venerated as the country’s national patroness at the Shrine of El Viejo.[6] Pious Catholic beliefs also associate Saint Teresa with the esteemed religious image called Infant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, June 17, 2016 — “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.”

June 16, 2016

Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 369

Reading 1 2 KGS 11:1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah,
saw that her son was dead,
she began to kill off the whole royal family.
But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah,
took Joash, his son, and spirited him away, along with his nurse,
from the bedroom where the princes were about to be slain.
She concealed him from Athaliah, and so he did not die.
For six years he remained hidden in the temple of the LORD,
while Athaliah ruled the land.But in the seventh year,
Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carians
and of the guards.
He had them come to him in the temple of the LORD,
exacted from them a sworn commitment,
and then showed them the king’s son.The captains did just as Jehoiada the priest commanded.
Each one with his men, both those going on duty for the sabbath
and those going off duty that week,
came to Jehoiada the priest.
He gave the captains King David’s spears and shields,
which were in the temple of the LORD.
And the guards, with drawn weapons,
lined up from the southern to the northern limit of the enclosure,
surrounding the altar and the temple on the king’s behalf.
Then Jehoiada led out the king’s son
and put the crown and the insignia upon him.
They proclaimed him king and anointed him,
clapping their hands and shouting, “Long live the king!”

Athaliah heard the noise made by the people,
and appeared before them in the temple of the LORD.
When she saw the king standing by the pillar, as was the custom,
and the captains and trumpeters near him,
with all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets,
she tore her garments and cried out, “Treason, treason!”
Then Jehoiada the priest instructed the captains
in command of the force:
“Bring her outside through the ranks.
If anyone follows her,” he added, “let him die by the sword.”
He had given orders that she
should not be slain in the temple of the LORD.
She was led out forcibly to the horse gate of the royal palace,
where she was put to death.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD as one party
and the king and the people as the other,
by which they would be the LORD’s people;
and another covenant, between the king and the people.
Thereupon all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal
and demolished it.
They shattered its altars and images completely,
and slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars.
Jehoiada appointed a detachment for the temple of the LORD.
All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet,
now that Athaliah had been slain with the sword
at the royal palace.

Responsorial Psalm PS 132:11, 12, 13-14, 17-18

R. (13) The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
The LORD swore to David
a firm promise from which he will not withdraw:
“Your own offspring
I will set upon your throne.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
“If your sons keep my covenant
and the decrees which I shall teach them,
Their sons, too, forever
shall sit upon your throne.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for his dwelling.
“Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.
“In her will I make a horn to sprout forth for David;
I will place a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but upon him my crown shall shine.”
R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

Alleluia MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Pacific ocean waves crash the rocky beach coast by the Pigeon Point lighthouse in California by the Cabrillo highway US 1. It is California’s most-photographed light house and the tallest one on the Pacific Coast

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Commentary on Matthew 6:19-23 from Living Space

This short passage contains two related teachings.

The first may seen as a commentary on the petition in the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. It is a teaching about the things which are really valuable, which really count. We live in a highly materialistic world where a very large number of people seem to believe that material wealth is the solution to every problem. There is nothing that money cannot buy, no problem it cannot solve. This belief prevails even though every day it is shown to be false.

Jesus urges us to put our trust and our security in something less perishable, something more lasting. To ‘store up treasure in heaven’ is not just to pile up a whole lot of ‘good works’ which will be to our credit in the next life. That credit too can be very quickly lost. It is much more a question of growing more and more into the kind of person who is steeped in the values and the outlook of the Gospel. It is less a question of doing than of becoming. We also build treasure by what we give away, by sharing with others whatever gifts we have, especially those most in need. “As long as you do it the least of my brothers you do it to me.”

And, as Jesus so wisely says, ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’. Obviously, the question for me to ask today is: Where is my treasure? What do I value most in life? And how do I reveal that in the way I live?

And that brings us to the second part.

“The lamp of the body is the eye.” That is to say, what I see with my inner eye determines everything else about my life. “If your eye, that is, your vision is sound, your whole body, that is, your whole being will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be all darkness.”

It is that light which we need in order to have a clear vision of what is most valuable in our lives. The person who cannot see beyond money, status, power, or fame is truly in darkness. Life is not about getting these things. Life is about who we are; it is about love and relationships.

Let us pray today for vision and light and to be able to discern what are the real treasures, the most precious things of human living. Our Christian life is above all a vision of life.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2116g/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection• In today’s Gospel we continue our reflection on the Sermon on the Mountain. Two days ago and yesterday we have reflected on the practice of the three works of piety: alms giving (Mt 6, 1-4), prayer (Mt 6, 5-15) and fasting (Mt 6, 16-18). Today’s and tomorrow’s Gospel presentsfour recommendations on the relationship with material goods, explaining clearly how to live the poverty of the first Beatitude: (a) not to accumulate (Mt 6, 19-21); (b) to have a correct idea of material goods (Mt 6,22-23); (c) not serve two masters (Mt 6,24); (d) to abandon oneself to Divine Providence (Mt 6,25-34). Today’s Gospel presents the first two recommendations: not to accumulate goods 19-21) and not to look at the world with diseased eyes (6, 22-23).• Matthew 6, 19-21: Do not accumulate treasures on earth. If, for example today on TV it is announced that next month sugar and coffee will be lacking in the market, we all will buy the maximum possible of coffee and sugar. We accumulate because we lack trust. During the forty years in the desert, the people were tested to see if they were capable to observe God’s Law (Ex 16, 4).

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The test consisted in this: to see if they were capable to gather only the necessary manna for a single day, and not accumulate for the following day. Jesus says: “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and woodworm destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal. What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven? It is a question of knowing where I place the basis of my existence.

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If I place it on material goods of this earth, I always run the danger of losing what I have stored up. If I place the basis one God, nobody will be able to destroy it and I will have interior freedom to share with others what I possess. In order that this may be possible and feasible it is important to reach a community life together which will favour sharing and reciprocal help, and in which the greatest richness or the treasure is not material riches, but rather the richness or the treasure of fraternal living together born from the certainty brought by Jesus: God is Father and Mother of all. Because there where your treasure is, there is your heart.

• Matthew 6, 22-23: The light of your body is the eye. To understand what Jesus asks it is necessary to have new eyes. Jesus is demanding and asks very much; do not store up (6, 19-21), do not serve God and money together (6, 24), do not worry about what you are to eat or drink (6, 25-34). These demanding recommendations have something to do with that part of human life where persons are more anguished and worried. It also forms part of the Sermon on the Mountain, that it is more difficult to understand and to practice. And this is why Jesus says: “If your eye is diseased ….”.

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Some translate this as diseased eye and healthy eye. Others translate asmean or poor eye and generous eye. It is the same, in reality, the worse sickness that one can imagine is a person closed up in herself and in her goods and who trusts only these. It is the sickness of being stingy! Anyone who looks at life with this eye lives in sadness and in darkness. The medicine to cure this sickness is conversion, the change of mentality and of ideology. To place the basis of life on God and in this way our look becomes generous and the whole life becomes luminous, because it makes sharing and fraternity emerge.

•Jesus wants a radical change. He wants the observance of the Law of the sabbatical year, where it is said that in the community of believers there cannot be poor (Dt 15,4). Human living together should be organized in such a way that a person should not have to worry about food and drink, about dress and house, about health and education (Mt 6, 25-34). But this is possible if we all seek the Kingdom of God and his justice first (Mt 6, 33).

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The Kingdom of God means to permit God to reign: it is to imitate God (Mt 5, 48). The imitation of God leads to a just sharing of goods and of creative love, which brings about a true fraternity. Divine Providence should be mediated by the fraternal organization. It is only in this way that it will be possible to eliminate any worry or concern for tomorrow (Mt 6, 34).

Personal questions

• Jesus says: “There where your treasure is, your heart is also”. Where is my richness found: in money or in fraternity?

• Which is the light which I have in my eyes to look at life, at events?

Concluding Prayer

For Yahweh has chosen Zion,
he has desired it as a home.
‘Here shall I rest for evermore,
here shall I make my home as I have wished. (Ps 132,13-14)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-matthew-619-23

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“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19: 24

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore — The lamp of the body is the eye
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17 JUNE 2016, Friday, 11th Week in Ordinary Time
BLINDNESS IS THE CAUSE OF OUR FOLLY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 Kg 11:1-4, 9-18, 20; Mt 6:19-23 ]

Jesus said, “The lamp of the body is the eye.  It follows that if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light.  But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be all darkness.  If then, the light inside you is darkness, what darkness that will be!”  This warning of our Lord is indeed so true.  The eye is the window of the soul and the body.   What we see will determine how we think and what we think will be conceived in words and actions.  Hence, if we see things both in the physical sense and in the intellectual sense wrongly, then our hearts will be skewed into desiring the wrong things.  This will lead us to our ultimate destruction and even that of our loved ones. So if we were to ask why are we so shortsighted to seek the things of the world just to satisfy the flesh and allow our soul to die, then it is simply because we are blinded by pride, fear, prejudice, envy and greed!

This was the case of Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah.  She was obsessed with power and even had her grandchildren, the children of Ahaziah, her son, killed so that she could grab power. Indeed, power and glory and perhaps fear of her enemies consumed her, so much so that anyone who was perceived to be a threat to her power was murdered.  She was so blinded by her thirst for power and control that she would even kill her own loved ones.  This is unthinkable, but that is the truth of obsession.  As Jesus says in the gospel, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart also.”   The prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9)

This desire for power is so real, both within and without the Church.  The thirst for power exists not only in the secular, corporate and political world.  It is present very subtly even in religious life.  Often, the Church is divided because priests, religious and the laity fight for power and control over their organizations.  In the name of God, all kinds of sins are committed, such as, slander, distortion of facts, false accusations, manipulation and even the use of threats and coercion.  Everyone is purportedly working for the good of the Church but in truth it is for their own glory and security.  They desire power in their hearts but their eyes are so blinded that they cannot recognize their true desire.  It is sad, but politicking is a reality in Church life and this is entirely against the gospel values where the Lord asks us to choose the lowest place and be a humble servant of all.

Perhaps we are not consumed by power and fear like Athaliah; but we could be consumed by material things and worldly pleasures.  This is what Jesus warns us in the gospel, “Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal.”    We think that worldly pleasure is sufficient to keep us happy and satisfied.  The truth is that nothing in this world can fill the vacuum and the desire of the human heart.

What is it that moths can destroy if not the beautiful clothes that we wear?  When we buy and hoard all these beautiful fine silk clothes, moths will destroy them.  They do not last.  Such things cannot bring us lasting happiness.  Clothes will get old and out of fashion and we will have to discard them.   This is why we are never satisfied with material things.  When we move into a big bungalow, we are happy for a few months, but soon we take it for granted and tire of it.  It is true for those who buy big luxury cars as well.  Initially they feel great driving it, but the happiness wears off after some time.  Likewise, we get tired of our tech gadgets, TV, our mobile phones, etc.  For this reason, we keep on changing them because they cannot satisfy us any longer.

What are those things that woodworms can destroy if not our food?  Those who are obsessed with food and pleasure will left dulled once they reach satiation point.  Food has a diminishing pleasure.  The more we eat, even of the best foods, the less pleasurable it becomes.  Indeed, the things of this world cannot sustain our pleasure for long.  We go for better and newer foods.  After some time, we get so sick of good and rich foods that we go back to the simple food of the ordinary folks, such as porridge and a bowl of noodles.  This is true for sex and wine.  There is a certain limit after which we lose our interest and our desire.  When the climax or saturation point is reached, we quickly sink into the doldrums.  This is what Jesus meant when He referred to the woodworms that eat up the corn and wheat in the barns.  Indeed, those who are consumed by lust, gluttony and sloth are reduced to the level of animals.

What are those things that thieves can steal?  People can steal our things, property and intellectual rights.  But the most devious thieves are those who can rob us of our peace, joy and love.  When we allow pride, anger and envy to consume us, we lose our peace because pride, revenge and envy will eat into us.  There is no joy in our hearts but only bitterness. When we allow lust and greed to consume us, we lose our joy because we cannot love others or share our love with them.  A man can lose many things in life, but when he loses himself, he has lost everything.  That is what Jesus meant when He remarked, “what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”  (Mt 16:26)

The wisdom of St James’ advice is timely when he remarked that even those in the religious world can use spiritual powers for earthly gains, but to their own destruction.  He wrote, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.” (1 Tim 6:6-10)

So what treasure should we seek in life if not the treasure that is kept safe for us in heaven?  When we seek heavenly things, we will never get tired of them and always hunger for more. When we seek heavenly things, we experience joy, peace, love, generosity, goodness and kindness in our hearts.  (Cf Gal 5:22)   Indeed, when we spend time basking in the love of God or our loved ones, we just want to be with that person forever.  When we read something inspiring and uplifting, like the Word of God, we want to keep on reading because it nourishes our soul and keeps us hungering for more.  When we are generous with the poor and serve unconditionally in love, the joy that we receive in touching the hearts of others is so much greater than what we can receive from our worldly success and the honours bestowed upon us by the world.

So let us store treasures not in our houses or in the banks but in our hearts.  If we build ourselves up and have a good character, no one can steal from us.  If we increase in knowledge, wisdom and understanding, no one can take them from us.  They can rob us of material things but they cannot take what belongs to us. That is why cultivating a life of virtue, a life of wisdom, love and compassion is the best treasure that we can store in this life.  Such treasures will also see themselves into the next life because these are the only things we can bring with us when we die.  Only charity and its fruits that constitute the life of the “Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice and peace” will last.  (GS 39)  Let us therefore humble ourselves before the Lord and seek His wisdom and love by focusing our eyes on the Lord and seek guidance from Him, for as the psalmist says, “From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Ps 119:104f)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
 
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Dark nights provoke deep questions

These seasons of confusion can be a scary experience, for laypeople and pastors alike. The fifteenth-century Christian writer John of the Cross described this experience; he called it la noche oscura, or dark night, that difficult invasion of God’s astringent grace that opens us to new realms of spiritual experience. However, it’s easy to miss this moment of grace, especially if we fail to ask deeper questions about what God might be up to.

Consider this scenario: a 38-year-old pastor called me for advice. His church wasn’t growing. His prayer lacked passion. His preaching seemed to fall on deaf ears. Previously helpful spiritual practices no longer delivered. And growing temptations to look at pornography or lose himself in Fantasy Football were worrying him and his wife. Feeling helpless and depressed, he wondered if he’d hit a ministry wall. I told him that I sensed an extraordinary moment of grace and growth. As I often do, I told him that he needed to talk to a psychologist to evaluate therapeutic issues and possibly the need for medication.

His story, and countless others like it, raises tough questions about how we should view the dark night. Is there a difference between depression and the dark night? What practical steps can we take to move through it and grow spiritually and emotionally?

Dark nights are both spiritual and psychological

St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila envisioned the dark night as a time of spiritual purging and illumination, but they also understood that psychological dynamics are often at play in a dark night experience. Though they lacked modern categories and definitions, they were some of the most adept psychological minds of their day. St. John taught that melancholia, or depression, would often accompany the dark night. For him, it wasn’t an either/or, but more often a both/and. The spiritual and psychological are interconnected.

Unfortunately, we’ve failed to learn this valuable lesson. Often psychologists see depression merely as a neurochemical problem that needs to be fixed. And too often pastors spiritualize psychological maladies that may require further expertise. On the other side, I find that many therapists (Christian therapists included) have little insight into employing spiritual disciplines, or challenging clients to avail themselves of the spiritual benefits of worship, the liturgy, and the sacraments. This divide would have been completely foreign to St. Teresa or St. John.

Dark nights provide opportunities for growth

One lesson we can learn from the ancient mystics is that dark nights are not problems, but opportunities. Grasping this reality moves us beyond “How do we fix this?” to “What might I learn in this?”

In our North American context, failure and struggle are often viewed as problems, jagged detours on what is supposed to be the smooth, straight road of life. It’s a distinctly Western phenomenon, but one that subtly impacts our Christian perceptions. Thus, many pastors feel as if depression, doubt, or distance from God amount to obstacles to ministry, rather than opportunities for it.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2015/february-online-only/3-truths-of-dark-night-of-soul.html

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, March 9, 2016 — The counterintuitive propositions of the Gospels

March 8, 2016

“Whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation.”

“The Son cannot do anything on his own but only what he sees the Father doing”

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 246

Reading 1 Is 49:8-15

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Responsorial Psalm PS 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Verse Before The Gospel Jn 11:25a, 26

I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.

Gospel Jn 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom

The counterintuitive propositions of the Gospels.

Society tells us: be strong. Seek money. Show off your skills. Rise to the top.

Jesus tells us: be humble. Become totally dependent upon the father. Seek out and do service for the marginalized.

Embraces all his creatures.

Eat my body. Drink my blood.

Can we follow him? Can we imitate him? There is little in the way of reward here on earth…..

Do not be afraid…

Related:

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“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Commentary on John 5:17-30 From Living Space

Let us not be afraid or cast down; God is on his way in the person of Jesus

Today’s Gospel follows immediately on yesterday’s story of the healing of the crippled man by the pool. That passage had ended with the words: “The Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this [i.e. the healing] on a sabbath.” We might point out, as with some other sabbath healings, that there was absolutely no urgency to do the healing on a sabbath for someone who had waited 38 years. It is just another indication of the divine authority with which Jesus works.

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So Jesus’ reply is direct and unapologetic: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” Because Genesis speaks of God resting on the seventh day (the origin of the Jewish sabbath), it was disputed whether God was in any way active on the sabbath. Some believed that the creating and conserving work of his creation went on and others that he continued to pass judgement on that day. In any case, Jesus is claiming here the same authority to work on the sabbath as his Father and has the same powers over life and death.

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The Jewish leaders are enraged that Jesus speaks of God as his own Father. They want to kill him. They understand by his words that Jesus is making himself God’s equal. Jesus, far from denying the accusation, only confirms it.

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“A son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will also do.” This saying is taken from the model of an apprentice in a trade. The apprentice son does exactly what his father does. Jesus’ relation to his Father is similar. “For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, so that you may be amazed.” And “just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes” – and whenever he wishes. And such giving of life is something that belongs only to God. As does the right to judge, which Jesus says has been delegated to him.

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Jesus is the perfect mirror of the Father. The Father is acting in him and through him. He is the Word of God – God speaks and acts directly through him. God’s Word is a creative Word. Jesus, like the Father, is life-giving, a source of life.

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The right to judge has been delegated by the Father to the Son. And to refuse to honour the Son is to refuse the same honour to the Father. In everything Jesus acts only according to the will of his Father and does what his Father wants.

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Jesus, then, is the Way, the Way through whom we go to God. For us, there is no other Way. He is God’s Word to us and for us.

Source http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1044g/

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image

I cannot fathom what it must have been like for You Lord. Most of our hearts cried out for salvation while others could not, having been bound and gagged by Sin.

Your love for us was so great that You promised to come save us, prepared us for Your coming and then fulfilled Your promise to us. What did we do? How did we welcome You? We turned our backs on You, We mocked You, plotted to kill You and eventually did.

Knowing all this You still came seeking out Your lost sheep. You brought light into our darkness, living water to quench our thirst, bread from heaven to nourish bodies and souls. With Your precious blood You washed us so that we can stand spotless before our heavenly Father. How great is our God!

Our lives are nothing without You and without You there is no relationship with our heavenly Father. All love, peace and joy comes from You for in You is life eternal. May we always seek to do our Father’s Will. Amen

Source http://catholicjules.net/2014/04/01/on-todays-gospel-395/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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 Reflection

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• The Gospel of John is different from the other three. It reveals a more profound dimension which only faith is able to perceive in the words and gestures of Jesus. The Fathers of the Church would say that the Gospel of John is “spiritual”, it reveals what the Spirit makes one discover in the words of Jesus (cf. Jn 16, 12-13). A beautiful example of this spiritual dimension of the Gospel of John is the passage which we are going to meditate on today.

• John 5, 17-18: Jesus explains the profound meaning of the healing of the paralytic. Criticized by the Jews for having cured on Saturday, Jesus answers: “My Father still goes on working, and I am at work too!” The Jews taught that no work could be done on Saturday, because even God had rested and had not worked on the seventh day of creation (Ex 20, 8-11). Jesus affirms the contrary. He says that the Father has always worked even until now. And for this reason, Jesus also works, and even on Saturday. He imitates his Father! For Jesus the work of creation is not finished as yet. God continues to work, unceasingly, day and night, holding up the Universe and all of us. Jesus collaborates with the Father continuing the work of creation in such a way that one day all may be able to enter into the eternal rest that has been promised. The reaction of the Jews was violent. They wanted to kill him for two reasons: because he denied the sense of Saturday and for saying he was equal to God.

• John 5, 19-21: It is love which allows the creative action of God to shine and be visible. These verses reveal something of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Jesus, the Son, lives permanently attentive before the Father. What he sees the Father do, he does it also. Jesus is the reflection of the Father. He is the face of the Father! This total attention of the Son to the Father makes it possible for the love of the Father to enter totally into the Son and through the Son, carry out his action in the world. The great concern of the Father is that of overcoming death and to give life. It is a way of continuing the creative work of the Father.

• John 5, 22-23: The Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgment to the Son. What is decisive in life is the way in which we place ourselves before the Creator, because it radically depends on him. Now the Creator becomes present for us in Jesus. The plenitude of the divinity dwells in Jesus (cf. Col 1, 19). And therefore, according to the way in which we are before Jesus, we express our position before God, the Creator. What the Father wants is that we know him and honour him in the revelation which he makes of himself in Jesus.

• John 5, 24: The life of God in us through Jesus. God is life, he is creating force. Wherever he is present, there is life. He becomes present in the Word of Jesus. The one who listens to the word of Jesus as a word that comes from God has already risen. He has already received the vivifying touch which leads him beyond death. Jesus passed from death to life. The proof of this is in the healing of the paralytic.

• John 5, 25-29: The resurrection is already taking place. All of us are the dead who still have not opened ourselves to the voice of Jesus which comes from the Father. But “the hour will come” and it is now, in which the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who will listen, will live”. With the Word of Jesus which comes from the Father, the new creation begins; it is already on the way. The creative word of Jesus will reach all, even those who have already died. They will hear and will live.

• John 5, 30: Jesus is the reflection of the Father. “By myself I can do nothing; I can judge only as I am told to judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me”. This last phrase is the summary of all that has been said before. This was the idea that the community of the time of John had and diffused regarding Jesus.

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Personal questions

• How do you imagine the relationship between Jesus and the Father?

• How do you live faith in the resurrection?

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Concluding Prayer

Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all,
his tenderness embraces all his creatures. (Ps 145,8-9)

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Source http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-john-517-30

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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09 MARCH 2016, Wednesday, 4th Week of LentRECLAIMING OUR SONSHIP IN CHRIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Isaiah 49:8-15; John 5:17-30

The whole season of Lent is to prepare Catechumens to share in the divine sonship in Christ, and for those already baptized, to renew their filiation with God as their Father.  Although we are the Chosen People of God, yet we, like the Israelites in the first reading, have lost our identity and freedom as God’s people.  Through our sins and infidelity, we have become prisoners of our passions and our enemies.   But God is bountiful in mercy and compassion, as the psalmist declares, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.”

Truly, God wants to set us free by helping us to recover our dignity as His children.  He wants to restore us to wholeness.  This is what God spoke through the Prophet, “Along the roadway they will graze, and any bare height will be their pasture. They will never hunger or thirst, scorching wind and sun will never plague them; for he who pities them will lead them, will guide them to springs of water. I shall turn all my mountains into a road and my highways will be raised aloft.”  When we become conscious that He is our God and Father, and we are His people and His children, we will regain all that we have lost.  There will be joy and freedom in our lives.

In these tender words of assurance to His people in exile who were feeling abandoned and about to give up hope, God reveals not only His fatherhood but motherhood for us all. Hence the prophet of hope exhorted the people, “Shout for joy, you heavens; earth, exult! Mountains, break into joyful cries! For Yahweh has consoled his people, is taking pity on his afflicted ones. Zion was saying, ‘Yahweh has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you.”  So, if we are feeling burdened, abandoned, alone in our problems and imprisoned by our past, crippled by sin and anger, then let it be known that God has not abandoned us.  He is with us even during such dark periods in our lives, when everything seems so hopeless and forlorn.  God, who is our Father and our Mother, will never abandon us.

What is needed is to have faith in Jesus who came to give us back our sonship.  Jesus is the Suffering Servant, as prophesied in Isaiah.   “At the time of my favour I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have helped you. I have formed you and have appointed you to be the covenant for a people, to restore the land, to return ravaged properties, to say to prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’” Jesus is the One who will lead us prisoners out of our dungeon of darkness and misery.  To come out of this hell, we must first “show ourselves”, that is, make ourselves available to Him.  What does showing ourselves entail?  Simply, it means that we must learn from Jesus what and how one can become the son of the Father.  Only in Jesus can we be restored to our sonship, since we are sons of the Father only in the Son.  We are sons and daughters by adoption, not by nature. To be sons and daughters in the Son, we must deepen our knowledge of Jesus’ relationship with His Father.

In the gospel, Jesus tells us that the Father loves Him and has given everything to Him.  “For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does himself, and he will show him even greater things than these, works that will astonish you.”  In claiming this love of His Father, Jesus made it clear that He is the Mediator of the Father.  He came to reveal to us His Father’s love and mercy in His teachings, and especially in His works, particularly of forgiveness and in setting people free from sin, illnesses and the bondage of the Evil One. Most of all, His passion, death and resurrection will reveal the greater things that God does.

It is true for us too.  If we want to learn how to be children of God, we must learn from Jesus who Himself learnt from His Father.  To be a son implies having full knowledge of the Father. Sonship is the corollary of Fatherhood and vice versa.  Every child must therefore represent the Father and become one with the Father who is the source of his life.  Indeed, in another text of the gospel Jesus says, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Mt 11:27)  Knowledge of the son is at the pleasure of the Father, who communicates Himself to His son.  All parents would like to hand down their values and traditions to their children, especially their skills and trade.  They hope that their children will perpetuate the values of their fathers and race as well.  In the case of God our Father, He entrusted everything to the Son without reservation.

To His Son, He gave Him the power to give life.  “Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses; for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father.”  Jesus therefore is our life-giver.  He is the source of life and light for everyone.  This life however is only ours if we accept Jesus as the Son of the Father.  Faith in Jesus is paramount and the ultimate criterion in finding the fullness of life.

Faith in Jesus, therefore, is more than mere trust in Him but to believe in Him so that His life is reflected in ours.   He assures us of fullness of life if we listen to Him, a life that begins the moment we accept Him.  “Whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; without being brought to judgement he has passed from death to life. I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live.”  What a wonderful promise from the Lord; that without being brought to judgement, we have already passed from death to life.  In other words, even before we face the final judgement at the end of our life, this life of God is already ours, if we share in the life of Jesus.

This life requires that we do the will of the Father as Jesus did.  “I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”  To be a true son and daughter, like all good children, we endeavour to please our parents.  Children always seek approval and the love of their parents for whatever they do, because they owe their origin and life to them.  Similarly, if we are called to be God’s children, it will not be to the approval of man that we seek, but only God’s.  This was always the attitude of Jesus towards His enemies, and the people as well, for His one and only desire was to serve His Father and to do what the Father would have done. Identified with the Father fully, He gives life to all who comes to Him.

We must also bear in mind that sonship is ultimately spelt out in servanthood.  This explains why Jesus considered Himself as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.  He took upon Himself as the One His Father had chosen to be the light of the Covenant and set His people free.  As we come closer to the passion and death of our Lord, let us continue to walk in this path of servanthood too.  Life is ours as we give ourselves more and more to Christ and His people.  We who have been chosen as His sons and daughters are called too, to bring others into God’s family.  So the concrete way for us to participate in the sonship of Christ is the way of humble service and self-emptying for the good of humanity.  As Jesus assures us, “Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graces at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation.”  So let us not wait till Easter to live the resurrected life, but this life is already ours as a foretaste, if we imitate Jesus in being the instrument of God’s love for others.   Following Jesus, let us be life-givers by our words and actions.  Let us be people of hope and be like God who assures those who are depressed and alone or lost, that we are with them and there is hope in God.  Giving life to others is the way to find life ourselves.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

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Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, March 5, 2015 — Life is not measured by wealth but by relationships

March 4, 2015

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent
Lectionary: 233

Reading 1 Jer 17:5-10

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.

Responsorial Psalm PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so, the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Verse Before the Gospel See Lk 8:15

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.

Gospel Lk 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man’s table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.’
Abraham replied, ‘My child,
remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing
who might wish to go from our side to yours
or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him
to my father’s house,
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.’
He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
Then Abraham said,
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded
if someone should rise from the dead.’”
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And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores … Dogs even used to come and lick his sores
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Commentary on Luke 16:19-31 from Living Space

Here we have illustrated in parable form two of Luke’s beatitudes: “Happy are you who are poor, you who are hungry now!” and “Woe to you who are rich, who are filled now!” The links with the First Reading are also obvious.

On the one hand, you have a rich man dressed in purple and fine linen, both signs of great wealth. He also has a good table and enjoys the choicest of foods every day. (He is sometimes called ‘Dives’, which is simply the Latin word for ‘rich’.)

At the same time you have a poor man called Lazarus. (The rich man is nameless. In spite of all his money, he is a Nobody.) He was hungry and longed, like the dogs, to pick up the scraps that might fall from the dining table. The dogs even licked his sores. Dogs were abhorrent to Jews so this was a particularly degrading thing to happen.

What is striking about this scene is that nothing seems to be happening. The rich man is eating; the poor man is sitting and waiting. There are no words between them. The poor man is not abused or chased away; he is simply ignored as if he did not exist. “As often as you neglected to do it to the least of these brothers of mine, you neglected to do it to me.”

Then both men die. Lazarus is brought by angels to the bosom of Abraham; the rich man is condemned to an existence of great suffering in Hades, the place of the dead. The rich man now begs for even the slightest relief from the man he ignored in his lifetime. But it is now too late.

The rich man had his chance and he blew it. He had his life of “good things”; he now knows just how “good” they really were. It is now Lazarus’ turn to have the really good things, the companionship of his God.

The rich man begs on behalf of his brothers that they be warned. “They have Moses and the prophets [the whole Jewish religious tradition],” replies Abraham. “But if only someone would come to them from the dead, they would change their ways.” “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

Surely a reference to Jesus himself and to the many Jews who refused to believe in him even after his resurrection. There are people today who want some special signs from God in order to believe. We have the Good News of the New Testament and the living, experienced presence of Jesus among us; we do not need any more. We have all the guidance we need to lead the kind of life which will ensure we spend our future existence in the company of Lazarus.

And that life is measured not by wealth, status, or power but in a life of caring and sharing relationships. In a world of extreme consumerism, hedonism and individualism, today’s readings have a very important message. Those are truly rich who enrich the lives of others.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1025g/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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INDIFFERENCE AS THE REAL OBSTACLE TO CONVERSION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: JER 17:5-10; LK 16:19-31
http://www.universalis.com/20150305/mass.htm

The general theme during the second week of Lent is conversion.  This theme takes its cue from the gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Lent, which speaks of the Transfiguration of Jesus and the transforming experience of the apostles.  The motive for conversion, according to today’s scripture readings, is that there is some kind of continuity between this present life and the next; between now and the future.  Indeed, as Jeremiah prophesied, “I, the Lord, search to the heart, I probe the loins to give each man what his conduct deserves.”  We all know that this is certainly true.  But in spite of such warnings, how is it that we are still not responding to the call for conversion?

Where, then, is our heart?  What kind of heart do we have?  Are we a compassionate and merciful person, or are we indifferent towards those who suffer, be they human beings or even animals?   Very often, conversion, seen as metanoia, is a change of life, from one form to another.  It is supposedly a radical change.  We understand conversion as a change from an evil, worldly and selfish life to a good, godly and selfless life.  Why is it that some of us continue to live in a selfish manner towards other beings? How could we, in the face of human suffering, especially seeing our fellowmen suffering either from injustice, poverty, hunger or discrimination, turn a blind eye to their pain or worse still, be the cause and perpetuators of their suffering?  What is the cause of a hardened heart?

If conversion is difficult, it is because indifference has entered into our lives. This is the real obstacle towards conversion of heart.  Why? Because indifference is worse than hatred.  Between love and hatred, there is only a thin line.  Thus those whom we hate are really those we love.  But when love is spurned, hatred sets in. Indifference is the worst of all sins because it is the sin against the Holy Spirit.  It is when one is numb to the pains of our fellowmen, and of course to the pain of God, who showed His love for us in the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Being oblivious to their pain is what makes us commit sin since what we do not see, we do not feel and therefore do not care.  Seeing, of course, is more than physical sight, but the seeing of the heart.  So if we find ourselves not only sinning against our fellowmen but against God, it is because we do feel with them and certainly not with God, since He seems to be an invisible and absent figure.  No wonder, fools in the bible are those who think that God does not see.

This sin of indifference is exemplified by the rich man in today’s parable.  His real sin was not his hatred for Lazarus, but selfishness and worldliness expressed in his indifference.  He was so filled with himself, consumed by his wealth and the pleasures of life, that he did not even notice Lazarus outside his door.  As far as he was concerned, anyone outside his house was not his business.  He was totally oblivious to the predicament of Lazarus.  As the proverb says, there is none so blind as those who would not see.  Possibly, for the rich man, he could not stand the sight of Lazarus and so he mentally closed his mind to Lazarus’ presence.  It was not because he could not see but that he did not want to see.  Isn’t it true for many of us?  We see injustice and scandals all around us, but we turn a blind eye to the reality.  We are afraid to take action or champion the cause of truth and right, especially the voiceless, marginalized and the poor, for fear of falling out of favour with the powerful and the rich in society.   We try to soothe our conscience by suppressing it and rationalizing it.  Most likely, the rich man must have tried to justify why he should not help Lazarus. But as Jeremiah says, God knows the depth of our hearts.  We cannot deceive Him!

Ironically, only the dogs were sensitive to the presence of Lazarus and they attended to him by licking up his wounds.  Indeed, the dogs were more present to Lazarus than human beings.  This situation echoes the first reading when we are told, “A curse on the man who puts his trust in man, who relies on things of flesh, whose heart turns from the Lord.”   This is always the mistake of man, trusting in their fellowmen more than they trust God.  When we rely on the things of the world like the Israelites, tragedy befalls us. The Israelites trusted in their military might and their strength instead of being faithful to the Lord.  The rich man trusted in his own wealth, failing to realize he would not be able to take them to the next world.

Thus, those who have hardened their hearts to the needs and sufferings of their fellowmen, and continue to hurt and harm them or fail to assist when they can, will hinder themselves from finding true peace and joy.  Within this context, we can understand why Abraham told the rich man, “between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.” Indeed, indifference is the worst sin against ourselves and our neighbours.  Indifference is worse than hatred, for if we are hated by our enemies, at least they acknowledge our existence.  But not so when people are indifferent to us because we do not even exist in their sight.

When we apply this truth to our personal and spiritual life, we can say that the real obstacle to conversion is not simply because we are sinners.  The real problem is that we have become indifferent to our sinful situation.  Like the rich man, we have grown used to the state of misery that we are in, so much so that we think that is the best kind of life to live.  Losing sensitivity to sin is the worst of all sins.  At least if we are aware that we are sinful, there is still an opportunity for conversion.  But when we have become identified with our sinfulness, there is very little hope of conversion.  As a result, sin, like cancer, grows gradually in us until we become totally indifferent to what life is all about.

But the most serious consequence of indifference is that we cannot hear God anymore.  We are unable to see the signs from God, like the Pharisees implied in today’s gospel.  The rich man symbolized the Pharisees who refused to change their lives even after hearing the gospel message of Jesus.  Like the rich man who implored that Lazarus be sent to warn his brothers of their impending destiny but was told that they would not listen to him; a time will come too when we who are so full of ourselves, our luxuries or our hurts that we cannot hear God’s promptings anymore.  Not even, as Jesus rightly said, “if someone should rise from the dead.”  To be incapable of love, of feeling with those in pain, is as good as being dead.  When the heart no longer feels, one ceases to be a real person.

Indeed, today, we are called to heed the advice of Jeremiah.  We must trust in God.  God knows our hearts, devious as they may be.  He knows our fears, our hurts, our attachments, and our slavery. He knows that perhaps these could be the reasons why we are too numbed to hear the invitation of Jesus to repent and live the life of the gospel.  Let us pray that God will soften our heart so that we can be docile to hear His Word and allow ourselves to melt in His love and so be able to love again.  Until that happens, conversion cannot yet begin.

But if we do not harden our hearts, then Jeremiah assures us that if we place our security in Him instead, relying on His strength, love and mercy, we will bear fruits of love and joy in our lives.  “A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord. With the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.”  The psalmist confirms these words when he said, “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord. He is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever he does, prospers.”

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.Bpi5XpED.dpuf

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The rich man and Lazarus

See also:

http://www.smokeybarn.com/the-sunday-post-november-16-2014/

Related:

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, February 23, 2015 — “We cannot be sure if we are loving God, but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor.”

February 22, 2015

Monday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 224

Jesus entering the desert as imagined by William Hole, 1908

Reading 1 Lv 19:1-2, 11-18

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.“You shall not steal.
You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another.
You shall not swear falsely by my name,
thus profaning the name of your God.
I am the LORD.“You shall not defraud or rob your neighbor.
You shall not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer.
You shall not curse the deaf,
or put a stumbling block in front of the blind,
but you shall fear your God.
I am the LORD.“You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment.
Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty,
but judge your fellow men justly.
You shall not go about spreading slander among your kin;
nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake.
I am the LORD.“You shall not bear hatred for your brother in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove him,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 19:8, 9, 10, 15

R. (John 6:63b) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart
find favor before you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Verse Before the Gospel 2 Cor 6:2b

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

Gospel Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
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Commentary on Matthew 25:31-46 from Living Space

Both of today’s readings deal with the way we ought to behave towards each other. The First Reading tells us the kinds of things we ought not to do while the Gospel emphasises more what we should be doing.

The Gospel is the great scene of the Last Judgment when all will face their Lord Jesus. We will be divided into sheep and goats – those who are with Jesus and those who are not. The criteria on which we will be judged are interesting. Nothing about the Ten Commandments (normally the matter of our confessions). Nothing about the things mentioned in the First Reading, which more or less reflect the contents of the Ten Commandments. There is nothing about what we normally call ‘religious obligations’ (e.g. being ‘at Mass’ on Sundays and holydays).

The test will be very simple. Did we love all our brothers and sisters or not? There is some discussion as to the identity of these ‘brothers and sisters’. Does it refer to all who are hungry, thirsty, in need of clothes, in need of medical care or in jail or to a particular group? The passage may primarily be thinking of Christians, and especially Christian missionaries whose preaching brought them suffering and persecution. These were more likely, too, to end up in prison. To reject and abuse these people and their message is tantamount to rejecting Jesus himself.

However, we have traditionally extended the passage to include all who suffer in any way because of our neglect and we recognise Jesus as being present in these people in a special way.

And the things we are supposed to do are so simple: give food to Jesus hungry and drink to Jesus thirsty; to clothe Jesus naked; to visit Jesus sick and Jesus in jail. And naturally people will ask: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or sick or in prison?” And the Judge will answer: “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.” Whether we realise it or not, every time we spontaneously take care of a brother or sister in need it is Jesus himself we are serving.

Notice: You did it TO me, not FOR me. Jesus identifies himself especially with the person in need. Every time we neglect to help a brother or sister in need, we neglect Jesus himself. Our worst sins, our most dangerous sins will be our sins of omission. We can keep the 10 Commandments perfectly and still fail here. The next time we examine our conscience let us think about that.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/l1012g/

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From The Abbot

The Gospel from Matthew brings us to the image of the judgment. Using this image, Matthew makes clear that it is a judgment based on our love and care for others. This is where we are to focus our attention in this life: love and care of others, especially for those who have most needs.

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

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites . Reflection

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The Son of man:

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The Son of man is a Semitic expression that simply means a human being (see for instance the parallelism between “man” and “son of man” in Psalm 8:5). The book of Ezekiel often uses this term with this meaning when God addresses himself to the prophet as “son of man” (2:1, 3, 6, 8; 3: 1, 2, 4, 10, 16+) in order to emphasize the distance between God who is transcendent and the prophet who is but a man. However, in Daniel 7:13-14 the expression acquires a special meaning.

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The prophet sees “coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man” who receives from God “sovereignty, glory and kingship”. This text is still talking of a human being who, however, is introduced into the sphere of God. The text has been interpreted both in a personal and a collective sense, but always in a messianic sense. Thus, whether we are dealing with one person or with all of the People of God, the Son of man is the Messiah who gives rise to the Realm of God, an eternal and universal realm.

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The application of the term “Son of man” to Jesus as it is used in Daniel 7:13-14 is very common in the Gospels. We also find it in Acts 7:56 and the Apocalypse 1:13 and 14:14. Scholars think that Jesus gave himself this title. In the Gospel of Matthew this term is attributed to Jesus especially when he speaks of his passion (17:12, 22; 20:18, 28)), his resurrection as an eschatological event (17: 19; 26:64) and his glorious return (24:30 and 25:31, the beginning of our text).

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Jesus king, judge and shepherd:

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Matthew also gives Jesus the title of king (1:23; 13:41; 16:28; 20:21). The kingship of God is a theme very dear to the Bible. Because Jesus is the Son of God, he rules together with the Father. In our text the king is Jesus, but he exercises his royal power in close relationship with the Father. The elect are “blessed of my Father” and the realm to which they are invited is the realm prepared for them by God, as the passive form of the verb indicates. This form of the verb, called the divine passive, is often found in the Bible and always has God as its implicit subject. In this text, the realm points to eternal life.

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As in Daniel 7 (see especially verses 22, 26 and 27), in our text also the royal status of the Son of man is connected with the judgement. The king, especially in ancient times, has always been considered the supreme judge. The judgement that Jesus exercises is a universal judgement, a judgement that involves all peoples (see v.32). And yet it is not a collective judgement. It is not the peoples that are judged but individual persons.

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In the same way, the pastoral symbolism is connected with the royal status. In ancient times, the king was often presented as shepherd of his people. The Old Testament too speaks of God, king of Israel, as shepherd (see for instance Psalm 23, Is 40:11; Ez 34) and the New Testament also applies the title to Jesus (Mt 9:36; 26:31; Jn 10). The shepherds of the Holy Land, in the time of Jesus, shepherded mixed flocks of sheep and goats. However, at night they were separated because sheep sleep in the open while goats prefer to sleep under shelter. In our text the sheep represent the elect because of their superior financial value over goats and because of their white colour that often stands for salvation in the Bible.

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The least of my brethren:

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Traditionally, this Gospel passage was interpreted to mean that Jesus identified himself with the poor and marginalized. Jesus will judge everyone, and especially those who have not had the chance to know his Gospel, according to the mercy they have shown towards the needy. All have the opportunity to welcome or reject him, if not personally, at least in the person of the needy with whom Jesus identifies himself.

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Modern exegesis tends to read the text in a more ecclesiological sense. It is placed next to Matthew 10:40-42 and exegetes insist that it is not a question of philanthropy but of a response to the Gospel of the Realm that is spread by Jesus’ brethren, even the most insignificant of them, not by the leaders of the Church only.
The nations, that is the pagans, are therefore invited to welcome the disciples of Jesus who preach the Gospel to them and suffer for its sake, as if they were welcoming Jesus himself. Christians on their part are invited to practise generous hospitality towards their brothers who are itinerant preachers of the Gospel and who suffer persecution (see 2Jn 5-8). In this manner they would show the authenticity of their commitment as disciples.

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In the context of Matthew’s Gospel, this latter interpretation is probably more accurate. However, in the context of the whole of the Bible (see for instance Is 58:7; Jer 2:1-9; 1Jn 3:16-19) the first interpretation cannot be set aside entirely.

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Psalm 72

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The Messiah-King promotes justice and peace

Give the king thy justice,
O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge thy people with righteousness,
and thy poor with justice!

Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the needy,
and crush the oppressor!
May he live while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon,
throughout all generations!

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
In his days may righteousness flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!

May his foes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
and precious is their blood in his sight.

Long may he live, may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may men blossom forth from the cities like the grass of the field!
May his name endure for ever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May men bless themselves by him,
all nations call him blessed!

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name for ever;
may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

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Closing prayer

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Lord God, you have set Jesus, your Son, to be universal king and judge. He will come at the end of time to judge all the nations. He comes to us every day in a thousand ways and asks us to welcome him. We meet him in the Word and in the broken bread. But we also meet him in our broken brothers and sisters, disfigured by hunger, oppression, injustice, sickness and the stigma of our society. Open our hearts that we may welcome him today in our lives so that we may be welcomed by him in the eternity of his realm.
We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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http://www.ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-jesus-christ-king-universe

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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CHARITY AS THE SOUL OF HOLINESS AND HOLINESS AS THE PRE-REQUISITE OF MISSION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: LEV 19:1-2.11-18; MT 25:31-46
http://www.universalis.com/20150223/mass.htm

The first four days of Lent immediately after Ash Wednesday give an overall orientation to the whole season of Lent.  There are actually two parts to the celebration of Lent.  The first four weeks of Lent are concerned with the deepening of the Christian’s spiritual life.  It is only from the fifth week of Lent and the Holy Week that the Church begins to focus on the passion of Christ.  This is important as it gives us the right perspective to approaching Lent.

But what is the purpose of deepening our spiritual life?  Today, the liturgy touches on the fundamental calling of every Christian, which is the call to holiness. Indeed, this is what spiritual life is all about.  The goal of Christian living is holiness.   But why is holiness our goal?  As the first reading tells us, we are called to be holy for God is holy.  “The Lord spoke to Moses; he said: ‘speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them: “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”  So the call to holiness is fundamental to every Christian.  If we want to find fullness of life, then holiness is the only way.  To be holy is to be like God, as the Lord told Moses and the Israelites.

To be holy is to recover the likeness of God that we have lost through sin.  Because of sin and the lack of holiness, we live not as children of God but as slaves of Satan and his works.  Necessarily, striving for holiness should be a priority in our hearts.  Indeed, if we are to present the face of Christ to others, being the other Christ, then holiness is for us to reflect Christ in our lives.

How do we know we have grown in holiness?  Lest we think that holiness is something purely vertical and sentimental, the liturgy reminds us that holiness is essentially the perfection of charity.  The measure of holiness is not by how much time we spend in prayer, but how much we have grown in love for the Lord, which is measured by our love for others.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it ‘governs, shapes and perfects all the means of sanctification.’”  St. John of the Cross reminds us that we will be judged on the degree and the quality of our love for God and for man.

St. Teresa of Avila says that the Lord asks only two things of us: love for His Majesty and love of our neighbor.  However, she cautioned that the surest way that we know we are loving God is when we love our neighbors. She said, “We cannot be sure if we are loving God, although we may have good reasons for believing that we are, but we can know quite well if we are loving our neighbor.”

Furthermore, she assures us that when we increase in our love for our neighbors, we will love God even more, and He will increase His love in us.

This charity however must be seen in three dimensions.  The fundamental level of charity is justice.  In the first reading from Leviticus, charity is explained in terms of justice, what we must not do to our neighbors, like cheating, stealing, swearing falsely, slander and jeopardizing their lives and happiness.   Of course, charity is not to be seen in terms of not doing evil but not omitting the good we should do.  Furthermore, charity must not be confined to love of our friends and people whom we know.  Loving and caring for those whom we know is still on the level of human love.  True charity requires that we go beyond extending help to our friends and loved ones to those whom we do not know as well.  This is the height of charity that the Lord invites us to in today’s gospel.

That is why the third dimension of charity which is extended to those whom we do not know is intimately connected with mission.  The call to holiness is closely connected to mission.  It is a call to reach out to everyone regardless of race or religion.  Pope John Paul II reminds us: “The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission.  Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission.” There is no genuine holiness apart from the mission to care for the spiritual and material good of others.

Consequently, Christian charity is more than just social work. Rather, it is to bring Christ to others.  The parable in today’s gospel underscores that Christian service is not simply charitable work but rather, the service of our neighbours is performed with a supernatural motive, which is for the love of Christ who lives in our neighbours.  In doing good, we are called to meet Christ in the needy and at the same time, to bring Christ to those whom we serve.  This presupposes that we can see Christ in others.  This is our spiritual goal in life.

When we apply this to our own lives, it is important that we reflect on which level of charity we are at.  I suspect many of us are still only living out the level of justice and love for our neigbours, meaning our friends and loved ones.  On the level of justice, we are respectful of the privacy of others.  We do our part in the community.  In this way, we do justice to the Church.  On the level of charity towards others, we are kind and helpful to those who are closer to us. We feel with them and help them.

But if our charity remains on these two levels, then we have not arrived at the heart of charity, which is to reach out to those who are complete strangers to us.  The truth is that it is in strangers that Christ is most present, especially if that stranger is in need.  It is perhaps this level of charity that we need to reflect for ourselves since Christ died for us sinners and for all.  But more importantly, how often do we forget the purpose of our mission, which is ultimately to bring others to Christ by inviting them to a life of holiness.

Let us seek inspiration from a story in the life of Martin of Tours.  He was a Roman soldier and still seeking the true faith.  One day, he met a man in the freezing cold without clothes begging for alms.  He took pity on him, cut his coat in two and gave half to the stranger. That same night he dreamt of Jesus appearing with a torn cloak.  When one of the angels asked him, “Master, why do you wear that battered cloak?”  Jesus replied, “My servant Martin gave it to me.”  After this vision, Martin got baptised immediately.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.mKVRVHbH.dpuf

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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, February 17, 2015 — “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?”

February 16, 2015

How much faith have we got in God’s care for us? Do we believe in miracles?

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 336

Reading 1 Gn 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10

When the LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth,
and how no desire that his heart conceived
was ever anything but evil,
he regretted that he had made man on the earth,
and his heart was grieved.So the LORD said:
“I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created,
and not only the men,
but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air,
for I am sorry that I made them.”
But Noah found favor with the LORD.Then the LORD said to Noah:
“Go into the ark, you and all your household,
for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just.
Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs,
a male and its mate;
and of the unclean animals, one pair,
a male and its mate;
likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs,
a male and a female,
and of all the unclean birds, one pair,
a male and a female.
Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth.
Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth
for forty days and forty nights,
and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth
every moving creature that I have made.”
Noah did just as the LORD had commanded him.As soon as the seven days were over,
the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9c-10

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Alleluia Jn 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
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First Thought from Peace and Freedom
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Jesus speaks to the disciples the same way we might expect him to speak to us.  “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?”
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God expects that we understand that we are not animals — that we are different, we human beings. Americans might recall their own “Declaration of Independence.”
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“We hold these truths to be selfevident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
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We are “endowed by the Creator.” We have some spark of God within us. God has given us rights and responsibilities. Our lives have a purpose. Our lives have meaning. We have work to do. We are not blind or deaf — we can see God’s plan for us if we want to listen and see. Or we can just as easily only listen to and see the goodies of this world: “sex, drugs and rock and roll.”
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It is up to us to listen and to find God’s plan for us — not the plan of the serpent in the garden! Any dog can find that.
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The readings also remind us to put aside our anxieties and to trust in the all giving and all forgiving God. We need not be worried and afraid once we find what God wants us to do and how he wants us to do it!
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Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
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This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Teresa of Avila
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Commentary on Mark 8:14-21 from Living Space

Yesterday we saw the blindness of the Pharisees in asking Jesus to give some sign of his authority from God.  Today we see the blindness of Jesus’ own disciples.  This, of course, is pointing to our blindness in not recognising the clear presence of God in our own lives.

The disciples are travelling across the lake in the boat.  They had forgotten to bring food with them and there was only one loaf between them all.  As they cross the lake, Jesus is talking to them.  “Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”  For the Jews yeast was a corrupting agent because it caused fermentation.  That was why at the Pasch they ate unleavened, incorrupt, bread.  And Paul tells the Corinthians: “Get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be” (1 Cor 5:7).

Jesus is telling his disciples to avoid two opposing kinds of corruption.  That of the Pharisees which is based on narrow-minded and intolerant legalism and that of Herod, which is based on amoral and hedonistic pleasure-seeking.

However, the disciples are not really listening to their Master.  They latch on to the word “yeast” and link it with their present obsession – not enough bread.  Their lunch is the only thing on their minds.  Jesus, of course, knows what is going in their minds.

He scolds them: “You are worried about having no bread?  Do you not understand?  Have you no perception?  Are your minds closed?  Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear?  Do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the 5,000, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”  “Twelve,” they answer.  “And when I broke the seven loaves for the 4,000, how many baskets of leftovers did you collect?” “Seven.”  “And you still do not understand?”

Five loaves for 5,000 with 12 baskets over, seven loaves for 4,000 with seven baskets over, and they, a mere dozen people, are worried about being short of food when Jesus is with them?

Mark tends to be very hard on the disciples.  They cannot see, they cannot hear, they fail to understand what is happening before their very eyes.  But they are learning gradually, as we shall see.  Of course, Mark is firing his shots not at the disciples but at you and me.  How much faith have we got in God’s care for us?  Can we hear, can we see?  Are we also without understanding?

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2063g/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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Yesterday’s Gospel spoke of the misunderstanding between Jesus and the Pharisees. Today’s Gospel speaks of the misunderstanding between Jesus and the disciples and shows that the “yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod” (religion and government), had, in such a way, taken possession of the mentality of the disciples to the point of hindering them from listening to the Good News.
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• Mark 8, 14-16: Attention to the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. Jesus warns the disciples: “Look out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod”. But they did not understand the words of Jesus. They thought that he spoke like that because they had forgotten to buy bread. Jesus says one thing and they understood another. This ‘clash’ was the result of the insidious influence of the “yeast of the Pharisees” in the mentality and in the life of the disciples.
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• Mark 8, 17-18a: The question of Jesus. In the face of this almost total lack of perception in the disciples, Jesus rapidly asks them a series of questions, without waiting for an answer. Hard questions which express very serious things and reveal the total lack of understanding on the part of the disciples. Even if it seems unbelievable, the disciples reached the point in which there was no difference between them and the enemies of Jesus. First Jesus had become sad seeing the “hardness of heart” of the Pharisees and of the Herodians (Mk 3, 5).
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Now, the disciples themselves have “hardened their heart” (Mk 8, 17). First, “those outside” (Mk 4, 11) did not understand the parables because “they have eyes and do not see, listen but do not understand” (Mk 4, 12). Now, the disciples themselves understand nothing, because “they have eyes and do not see, listen, but do not understand” (Mk 8, 18).
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Besides, the image of the “hardened heart” evoked the hardness of heart of the people of the Old Testament who always drifted away from the path. It also evoked the hardened heart of Pharaoh who oppressed and persecuted the people (Ex 4, 21; 7, 13; 8, 11.15.28; 9, 7…).
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The expression “they have eyes and do not see, listen but do not understand” evoked not only the people without faith criticized by Isaiah (Is 6, 9-10), but also the adorers of false gods, of whom the Psalm says: “they have eyes and see nothing, have ears and hear nothing” (Ps 115, 5-6).
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• Mark 8, 18b-21: The two questions regarding the bread. The two final questions refer to the multiplication of the loaves: How many baskets did they gather the first time? Twelve! And the second? Seven! Like the Pharisees, the disciples also, in spite that they had collaborated actively in the multiplication of the loaves, did not succeed in understanding the meaning.
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Jesus ends by saying: “Do you still not understand?”
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The way in which Jesus asks these questions, one after the other, almost without waiting for an answer, seems to cut the conversation. It reveals a very big clash. Which is the cause for this clash?
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The cause of the clash between Jesus and the disciples. The cause of the clash between Jesus and the disciples was not due to ill will on their part. The disciples were not like the Pharisees. They also did not understand, but in them there was malice. They used religion to criticize and to condemn Jesus (Mk 2, 7.16.18.24; 3, 5. 22-30).
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The disciples were good people. Theirs was not ill will. Because even if they were victims of the “yeast of the Pharisees and of the Herodians”, they were not interested in defending the system of the Pharisees and the Herodians against Jesus. Then, which was the cause? The cause of the clash between Jesus and the disciples had something to do with the Messianic hope.
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Among the Jews there was an enormous variety of Messianic expectations. Secondly, the diverse interpretations of the prophecies, there were people who expected a Messiah King (cfr. Mk 15, 9.32). Others, a Messiah, Saint or Priest (cfr. Mk 1, 24). Others, a Messiah, a subversive Warrior (cfr. Lk 23, 5; Mk 15, 6; 13, 6-8). Others, a Messiah, Doctor (cfr. Jn 4, 25; Mk 1, 22-27). Others, a Messiah, Judge (cfr. Lk 3, 5-9; Mk 1, 8). Others, a Messiah, Prophet (6, 4; 14, 65). It seems that nobody expected a Messiah, Servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (Is 42, 1; 49, 3; 52, 13).
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They did not expect to consider the messianic hope as a service of the people of God to humanity. Each one according to their own interests and according to their social class, expected the Messiah, but wanting to reduce him to their own hope.
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This is why the title Messiah, according to the person or social position, could mean very different things. There was a great confusion of ideas! And precisely in this attitude of Servant is found the key which turns on a light in the darkness of the disciples and helps them to convert themselves. It is only in accepting the Messiah as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, that they will be capable to open the eyes and to understand the Mystery of God in Jesus.For Personal Confrontation
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• Which is for us today the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod? What does it mean today for me to have a “hardened heart?
• The yeast of Herod and the Pharisees prevents the disciples to understand the Good News. Perhaps, today the propaganda of the Television prevents us from understanding the Good News of Jesus?

Concluding Prayer

I need only say, ‘I am slipping,’
for your faithful love, Yahweh, to support me;
however great the anxiety of my heart,
your consolations soothe me. (Ps 94,18-19)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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IGNORANCE AS THE CAUSE OF OUR DOWNFALL

SCRIPTURE READINGS: GENESIS 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; MARK 8:14-21
http://www.universalis.com/20150217/mass.htm

One of the most heartbreaking feelings in life is to see someone whom we know, especially our loved ones, taking a path that we know will lead to their perdition.  More painful still, when we see the writing on the wall, and yet they are so blind that they cannot see the price which they will have to pay for their folly, if they do not give up their wrongdoing and walk a righteous path.

Understandably, we will seek all ways to help them come out of the situation.  We offer them our advice, but most of the time, it seems to fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts.  Instead of being thankful for being their watchmen, they avoid us or even condemn us for interfering in their lives.  This is particularly true when it comes to extramarital affairs or infidelity in relationships.  Sometimes, it involves honesty and integrity in work and business dealings.  They are too blind or willful to listen to our advice.  They are not ready to face the outcome of their actions.

Wasn’t this how God felt for His rebellious and incorrigible people in the scriptures?  In the first reading from Genesis, we read of God’s grief over His people who were destroying themselves by living in sin. “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that the thoughts in his heart fashioned nothing but wickedness all day long.”  So disappointed was God with His people that He even “regretted having made man on the earth, and his heart grieved.”   No one can imagine how much pain God suffers for us when we sin, because of His total love and concern for us.   If we feel saddened when our loved ones continue to walk the path of destruction, how much more would God feel when we continue to disobey His Law, which is His wisdom?

Similarly, Jesus felt that same pain of His Father in His heart too.  In spite of His preaching, teaching and miracles, even His own disciples failed to understand His message and recognise His true identity as the Son of the Father.  When He warned them of “the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod”, their minds were focused on food instead.  They were as dumb as the deaf man the Lord healed earlier on.  They could not perceive what Jesus was telling them.  Hence, Jesus reprimanded them, saying, “Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember?”

What prevents such people from seeing?  Firstly, it could be because of their preoccupation with the things of this world.  In the case of the disciples, they were concerned that they might not have sufficient food to eat themselves, since they “had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.”  This was the situation of Noah and the people of his time as well.  They were eating and drinking without any thought for God.  We, too, can fall into the same trap.  Due to our desire to achieve more power, wealth and things for ourselves, we can be blinded to the means we use to attain our ends.  And when we are caught up with material things or with our ambitions, we make use of people and neglect them as persons, even our loved ones.  Some of us have no qualms in using unscrupulous and dishonest means to get what we want, even to the extent of destroying people’s character and life.

Isn’t this the sin of Herod that Jesus is warning us about?  What is this yeast of Herod if not the fact that he was a man who did not follow his conscience?  He knew, for example, that John the Baptist was right in reprimanding him for his adulterous relationship with Herodias.  Instead of doing the right thing, he allowed Herodias to use him to kill John the Baptist.  He was a man without scruples and not receptive to the Word of God.  By indulging in his pageantries and luxurious living, he could not listen to the voice of God, for he chose to live in sin and allow his selfish desires to have a better hold over him.

The other reason why we could be blind to the wisdom of God is because of pride. This would be the yeast of the Pharisees. The latter wanted to find justification based on their strength.  Externally, they sought to observe the laws so that they could feel justified before God.  But because they did not know the mercy of God, they could never experience His love and compassion.  Furthermore, deep in their hearts, they knew that they could not always observe the laws.  Even if they did, it was not done in the spirit of the laws.  So exteriorly, they were upright people but interiorly they were far from God.  They became proud and self-righteous.

Jesus wants us to avoid falling into the sin of hypocrisy.  This sin is rooted in pride, the yeast of the Pharisees.  A proud person cannot listen to God’s voice and would follow no other way than his way.  He thinks he has the answer to everything and would listen to no one, regardless of who they are.  Pride ultimately destroys us because we are left to our folly and ignorance.  By not listening to the wisdom of God spoken through His prophets and the Church and the Scriptures, a proud person, who is so confident of his intellectual prowess, will destroy himself, just as Adam and Eve did, for they too wanted to be like God without God.

The third reason why we are slow to perceive the wisdom of God and His truth is because we fail to remember the works of God.  This was what Jesus said to the disciples.  ‘“Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect? And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?”… Then he said to them, “Are you still without perception?”’ Truly, how often do we forget what God has done for us!  How often do we forget how God rescued us from dangers, distress and even death!  How often do we fail to remember that without His grace, we would have been destroyed by our sins, the silly mistakes we made and the tragedies of life!  Indeed, we are no better than the disciples because we have the faith imparted to us in the last 2000 years through the apostles, the wise guidance of our Holy Mother Church, the witnesses and testimonies of the lives of the faithful.

Yes, remembering the goodness of God is the way to walk in the truth and to live a righteous life.  When we remember how someone has loved us, we want to return that love, not because we have to, but because we want to.  Forgetting the love and mercy of God is the reason for our ingratitude and the loss of faith.  For this reason, the Mass is called a memorial.  Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we remember to give thanks to God for our redemption in Christ who, by His precious blood shed on the cross for us and through His resurrection has given us His Holy Spirit, making us one in union with Him.

Not only should we remember God’s forgiveness and merciful love, it is also important to bear in mind the consequences of sin.  When God said, “I will rid the earth’s face of man, my own creation and of animals also, reptiles too, and the birds of heaven; for I regret having made them”, it was said not out of vindictiveness.  Rather it is an expression of His suffering with us in our sins.  He knows that we would have to bear the consequences of our actions.  What we sow is what we will reap.   Being aware and with our eyes wide open, as Jesus advised us, will help us to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod.  In whatever we do, we must ask ourselves whether we are ready for the consequences ahead of us.  Have we thought through carefully and considered the risks and harm that will happen to us and our loved ones especially?  Jesus foresaw the dangers ahead for His disciples and so He took the occasion to warn them.  The flood during the time of Noah is but an expression of the consequences of the wrath of nature on a sinful world rather than the revenge of God.

Nevertheless, we need not fear if we turn to God and rely on His grace.  The psalmist assures us that God is on our side the moment we acknowledge Him.   He invites us to  “Give to the Lord, you sons of God, give to the Lord glory and praise, Give to the Lord the glory due his name; adore the Lord in holy attire.”  Indeed, even when God threatened to destroyed sinful creation, He did not actually carry it out.  His compassion for humanity is manifested by the very fact that He saved humanity by choosing Noah to begin a new humanity.  Again and again, man has failed God.  To ensure that His divine plan would be a success, Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, the Head of the body, the Church, and the New Man will ensure that we, who are in Him, are reconciled with His Father and that the fullness of God’s love and peace dwell in us.  Through Him, we find peace and become His adopted sons and daughters.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.OMHvAslS.dpuf

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Above: Simon of Cyrene assists Jesus

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