Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

Paul Keating: Voluntary euthanasia is a threshold moment for Australia, and one we should not cross

October 19, 2017
  • By Paul Keating

There is probably no more important issue in contemporary bioethics or a more serious ethical decision for our parliaments than that raised by the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 being debated this week in the Victorian Parliament.

Under this bill, conditions and safeguards are outlined that will allow physicians to terminate the life of patients and to assist patients to take their own life. This is a threshold moment for the country. No matter what justifications are offered for the bill, it constitutes an unacceptable departure in our approach to human existence and the irrevocable sanctity that should govern our understanding of what it means to be human.

The justifications offered by the bill’s advocates – that the legal conditions are stringent or that the regime being authorised will be conservative – miss the point entirely. What matters is the core intention of the law. What matters is the ethical threshold being crossed. What matters is that under Victorian law there will be people whose lives we honour and those we believe are better off dead.

In both practical and moral terms, it is misleading to think allowing people to terminate their life is without consequence for the entire society. Too much of the Victorian debate has been about the details and conditions under which people can be terminated and too little about the golden principles that would be abandoned by our legislature.

One of the inevitable aspects of debates about euthanasia is the reluctance on the part of advocates to confront the essence of what they propose. In this case it means permitting physicians to intentionally kill patients or assisting patients in killing themselves. Understandably, the medical profession is gravely concerned by this venture.

An alarming aspect of the debate is the claim that safeguards can be provided at every step to protect the vulnerable. This claim exposes the bald utopianism of the project – the advocates support a bill to authorise termination of life in the name of compassion, while at the same time claiming they can guarantee protection of the vulnerable, the depressed and the poor.

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No law and no process can achieve that objective. This is the point. If there are doctors prepared to bend the rules now, there will be doctors prepared to bend the rules under the new system. Beyond that, once termination of life is authorised the threshold is crossed. From that point it is much easier to liberalise the conditions governing the law. And liberalised they will be. Few people familiar with our politics would doubt that pressure would mount for further liberalisation based on the demand that people are being discriminated against if denied. The experience of overseas jurisdictions suggests the pressures for further liberalisation are irresistible.

While there are different views strongly expressed within the medical profession, the president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Michael Gannon, has explained that the formal position of the AMA is opposition to interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.

Dr Gannon recently said: “Once you legislate this you cross the Rubicon. The cause for euthanasia has been made in a very emotional way and this is the latest expression of individual autonomy as an underlying principle. But the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the chronically ill and the dying must never be made to feel they are a burden.”

Palliative Care has issued the most serious warnings. It says at least one in four Victorians who die each year (about 10,000 people) do not have access to needed palliative care, that access in aged residential care is “very low”, that between 2 and 10 per cent of older Australians experience abuse in any given year and that its funding is inadequate to meet growing demand.

The submission highlights the problems with this bill – it is a disproportionate response to the real problems of patient pain and suffering, a situation that demands greater priority in public care and funding. It is true that if this bill fails then some people will endure more pain and this is difficult for legislators to contemplate. It is also true, however, that more people in our community will be put at risk by this bill than will be granted relief as its beneficiaries. This is the salient point.

Palliative Care said the bill ‘sends the wrong message to people contemplating suicide and undermines suicide prevention efforts.’ How could this not be the case? Suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 15-44 and the second leading cause of death among people aged 45-54. International studies offer no support for the view that legalising euthanasia is associated with a decrease in non-assisted suicides.

The bill’s failure is pre-set by its design.

The issue is not how many people will choose to die under this proposed law. It is how many people may die when otherwise they wouldn’t. As Dr Gannon says it is “commonplace” for patients to tell doctors in front of their loved ones that they have no wish to be a burden on families.

Once this bill is passed the expectations of patients and families will change. The culture of dying, despite certain and intense resistance, will gradually permeate into our medical, health, social and institutional arrangements. It stands for everything a truly civil society should stand against. A change of this kind will affect our entire community not just a small number of dying patients. It is fatuous to assert that patients will not feel under pressure once this bill becomes law to nominate themselves for termination.

Opposition to this bill is not about religion. It is about the civilisational ethic that should be at the heart of our secular society. The concerns I express are shared by people of any religion or no religion. In public life it is the principles that matter. They define the norms and values of a society and in this case the principles concern our view of human life itself. It is a mistake for legislators to act on the deeply held emotional concerns of many when that involves crossing a threshold that will affect the entire society in perpetuity.

Paul Keating is a former prime minister of Australia

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/paul-keating-voluntary-euthanasia-is-a-threshold-moment-for-australia-and-one-we-should-not-cross-20171019-gz412h.html

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

September 14, 2017

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 441/639

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Our Lady of Sorrows by Sassoferrato

Reading 1 1 TM 1:1-2, 12-14

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

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

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

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

mothercrucified3

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

Sequence (Optional) — Stabat Mater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia

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

Gospel JN 19:25-27

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

Image result for Our Lady of Sorrows, art, pictures

Our Lady of Sorrows by Tianna Mallett

Or LK 2:33-35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rohingya Muslims ‘maimed by landmines’

September 12, 2017

BBC News

Roshida Haque

Roshida Haque says her 15-year-old son is unlikely to survive

The BBC has spoken to Rohingya Muslims maimed after apparently stepping on landmines as they fled Myanmar (Burma).

A boy of 15 being treated in Bangladesh lost both legs while a woman at the same hospital said she had trodden on a landmine after being fired on.

The area was mined in the 1990s but Bangladeshi sources say Myanmar’s army recently planted new mines – an allegation denied by Myanmar officials.

More than 300,000 Rohingya have fled a brutal security crackdown in Myanmar.

On Monday UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein said that a “cruel military operation” was taking place, calling it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

What sparked latest violence in Rakhine?

The Rohingya, a stateless mostly Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Rakhine, have long experienced persecution in Myanmar, which says they are illegal immigrants.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, is due to visit one of her country’s main refugee camps for Rohingya. She said earlier that Myanmar had to solve a problem of its own making.

The White House has called on Myanmar to respect the rule of law and end the displacement of civilians.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto leader, is facing mounting criticism for failing to protect the Rohingya.

‘Suffering so much’

On Sunday the human rights group Amnesty International accused the authorities of laying landmines at border crossings used by fleeing Rohingya.

Bangladeshi government sources made the same allegation speaking to Reuters news agency last week.

Azizu Haque lost his legs in a blast, as Reeta Chakrabarti reports

The hospital visited by the BBC has seen an influx of people with landmine injuries, doctors say.

The 15-year-old boy, Azizu Haque, arrived with his legs destroyed. His brother, in another hospital, suffered the same fate, his mother says.

“Their injuries are so bad it’s as if they are dead,” she told the BBC. “It’s better that Allah [God] takes them, they are suffering so much.”

Who is burning down Rohingya villages?

The injured woman, Sabequr Nahar, says she fled Myanmar because the military had been targeting her community, and she was crossing the border with her three sons when she stepped on a landmine.

“We’d been fired on, shot at, and they planted mines,” the 50-year-old said.


Horrific injuries – by Reeta Chakrabarti, BBC News, Bangladesh

Azizu Haque’s body has been devastated by a blast, his legs gone, and parts of his torso also injured. His doctor is visibly emotional when he talks of trying to save him – he doesn’t expect to be successful. Azizu has a rare blood type, and the hospital has no blood bank, and has run out of donors.

Next door in the women’s ward, Sabequr Nahar is a tiny, exhausted figure. She says she crossed the Myanmar border behind her three sons – they got through unscathed.

It is unclear who laid the traps that caused these injuries – and when – but the condition of these people nevertheless raises questions about the Myanmar government’s version of events.


How the did the violence start?

The violence began on 25 August when Rohingya militants attacked police posts in the northern state of Rakhine, killing 12 security personnel.

The attacks triggered a vast security operation that has drawn international criticism.

Rohingya who have fled Myanmar say villages have been burned and civilians attacked in a brutal campaign to drive them out.

The UN Security Council said it was looking to meet on Wednesday to discuss the violence after Sweden and the UK requested a closed-door meeting on the “deteriorating situation” in Rakhine state.

Aid agencies say Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are in desperate need of aid

Bangladesh is already host to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled previous outbreaks of violence in Rakhine.

Existing refugee camps are full and the new arrivals are sleeping rough in whatever space they can find, reports say.

The Rohingya are extremely unpopular inside Myanmar. On Sunday, police fired rubber bullets to break up a mob attacking the home of a Muslim butcher in Magway region in central Myanmar. One protester was quoted by AFP news agency saying it was a response to events in Rakhine.

Myanmar: Who are the Rohingya?

How much pressure is there on Suu Kyi to speak out?

Five Nobel peace Laureates have accused her of showing “indifference” to the Rohingya’s plight.

In an open letter issued by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, they say Ms Suu Kyi has a “personal and moral responsibility to uphold and defend the rights” of Myanmar’s citizens.

The letter is signed by Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, who were awarded the Nobel peace prize between 1976 and 2011.

“How many Rohingya have to die; how many Rohingya women will be raped; how many communities will be razed before you raise your voice in defense of those who have no voice?,” they ask in the letter.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41234315

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Before the killing started: Myanmar Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s commander-in-chief, shakes hands with National League for Democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi in December 2015. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

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

August 10, 2017

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin
Lectionary: 411

Reading 1  DT 4:32-40

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

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

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

AlleluiaMT 5:10

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

Gospel MT 16:24-28

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

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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

LIVING LIFE RADICALLY


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Commentary on Matthew 16:24-28 from Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Personal questions

What is “MY CROSS?”

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

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

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Concluding Prayer

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

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

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom

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

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What are Christians called to do?

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Hit any of these search terms:

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

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,  ,  ,  , , 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, July 26, 2017 — Never Give Up!

July 25, 2017

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 397

Reading 1 EX 16:1-5, 9-15

The children of Israel set out from Elim,
and came into the desert of Sin,
which is between Elim and Sinai,
on the fifteenth day of the second month
after their departure from the land of Egypt.
Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel
grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The children of Israel said to them,
“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,
“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.
On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in,
let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole congregation
of the children of Israel:
Present yourselves before the LORD,
for he has heard your grumbling.”
When Aaron announced this to the whole assembly of the children of Israel,
they turned toward the desert, and lo,
the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!
The LORD spoke to Moses and said,
“I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel.
Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.
In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert
were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.
On seeing it, the children of Israel asked one another, “What is this?”
for they did not know what it was.
But Moses told them,
“This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 78:18-19, 23-24, 25-26, 27-28

R. (24b) The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
They tempted God in their hearts
by demanding the food they craved.
Yes, they spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the desert?”
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Yet he commanded the skies above
and the doors of heaven he opened;
He rained manna upon them for food
and gave them heavenly bread.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Man ate the bread of angels,
food he sent them in abundance.
He stirred up the east wind in the heavens,
and by his power brought on the south wind.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
And he rained meat upon them like dust,
and, like the sand of the sea, winged fowl,
Which fell in the midst of their camp
round about their tents.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
All who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 13:1-9

Image result for jesus near the sea, art

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

26 JULY, 2017, Wednesday, 16th Week, Ordinary Time

SURRENDERING TO THE MYSTERY OF GRACE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ex 16:1-59-15Ps 78:18-19,23-28Mt 13:1-9]

In the first reading, we read of the trials of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Sin.  They had left Egypt for 45 days, wandering in the desert.  The provisions would have run out and thus they “began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”  In their frustrations they began to exaggerate how good their life was in Egypt.  They said, “Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!”

Before we condemn them, it is important to put ourselves in their shoes. Life in the desert was certainly not easy.  They had to combat the extreme heat and cold and strong winds.  They had to look for water.  Nothing can grow in the desert.  The land is rocky and sandy.  They had to protect themselves from wild beasts and from peoples from other tribes.  So leaving the sheltered life in Egypt and going to a land of nowhere must have been extremely trying for them.  They were not too sure when they would ever reach the Promised Land.  At the same time, they had to contend with their daily needs.

We too are often like them.  But their situation is much worse than ours!  We have food, clothing and lodging.  We might not have as much luxury as we want, but most of all, we have our basic needs in life.  Most of us can be gainfully employed if we are not choosy over the work we do.  Health wise, we are quite well taken care of.  We might be able to afford the most advanced medical treatment, but we can get by in our sickness.  Yet, we are also not happy.  Whether we are earning lots of money, having a great career, we remain dissatisfied, always lamenting and comparing.   Rich or poor, healthy or sick, famous or ordinary, smart or average, we are never happy.  We are envious of others and we want more and more.  When we get what we want, we desire something more.   We are never contented.  This is the reality of life.  This was the case of the Israelites.  They asked for water and that was given.  They asked for bread and it was also given.  Then they asked for meat, which was also given.  But they remained a people that were always grumbling, complaining and testing the patience of Moses and the Lord.

Indeed, we often lament why our life is this way and not that way.  The parable of the Sower in today’s gospel illustrates the mystery of the grace of God.  The sower sowed the seeds.  Unfortunately, not all the seeds fell at the right place.  Some “fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away.  Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  Indeed, the question is, why did not all the seeds fall on good soil.  If they did, then all the seeds would have attained their ends, which is to grow and to flourish.

The parable of the Sower and the seeds tells us that life is a mystery.  It is but the grace of God.  Why some seeds fell on poor ground and some on good ground is not for us to ask.  It just happens and this is not within our control.  Why are our children not as smart as others?  Why is it that the other person who is less capable or intelligent promoted over me?  Why am I not born into a rich family?  Why am I not given the opportunities to further my studies or career?  Why am I born with poor health?  These are questions that we often ask but these are vain questions as there is no answer.  God has made us all different kinds of soils.  He gives His seed, that is, His grace, equally to all.  So it is about the soil, which is us.

In the final analysis, regardless whether we are the path, the rocky ground, a patch of thorns or fertile soil, we can make the best of the situation we are in.  It is self-defeating and destructive to adopt an attitude of envy and resentment at the situation we are in. Whining and lamenting over the so-called disadvantages of life will get us nowhere except make us vindictive and self-pitying. Such attitudes towards life will not make us grow.

Hence, we are called to turn our disadvantages into moments of opportunities and grace.  Those of us who are born on the path, the edge of society, can rise above others because we know what it is to be marginalized.  That should help us to struggle against where we are so that when we are able to get out of the situation, we too can help those who are on the margins of society.   Similarly, if we are that rocky patch, hardened by life’s suffering and trials, we need not be closed to the grace that comes from God and the many opportunities in life that people offer us. Rather, we should use the bad experiences of life, the failures, the mistakes and the injustices we have suffered to help us reach out to others who are still hardened to the grace of God.  And if we come from the thorny patch of life, choked by the burden of responsibilities, the demands of daily life and our work, the temptations of the world to dishonesty, power, wealth and glory, then we should make use of these thorns that choke us to make us see life in perspective.  When we feel choked, we should free ourselves from these thorns by finding what the essentials of life are and what the real happiness that we are seeking in life is all about.

Conversely, it does not mean that only those who are blessed with fertile soil can produce good harvest. In fact, quite often, those blessed with opportunities, talents, wealth and resources take them for granted.  They do not recognize the blessings that they receive.  It is just like the Israelites.  They prayed for food and God sent them manna.  “And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp: in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp.  When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground.”  Observe their reaction to the miracle.  They “said to one another, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was.  ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’”  They failed to recognize the grace of God when it was given. This is the tragedy of life.

Truly, we are called to surrender our lives to the Lord.  As the Lord said, “Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens.  Each day the people are to go out and gather the day’s portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not.”  The Lord wants to test whether we will follow His ways, trust in His divine providence, and stay focused.  The Lord is not deaf to our pleas.  He knows our pains and our struggles.  But He wants us to let Him be the Lord of our lives.  We should not presume that we have the last word and are able to manage our lives without Him.  They did not trust Him.  “In their heart they put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.  They even spoke against God.  They said: ‘Is it possible for God to prepare a table in the desert?”  Hence, “the Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel.  Say this to them, ‘Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s content.  Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.’”

To trust in the Lord is to let the Lord be our God!  The psalmist urges us to rely on the goodness of God instead of putting Him to the test.  “Yet he commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven.  He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels.”  God has given us Jesus the bread of life, the bread from Heaven.   This is the greatest blessing we can have.   Jesus shows us the way to live a life of fecundity, by giving ourselves in love and service to others and by walking in faith and in obedience to the Father’s will.  We too can share in this life if we follow Jesus, cooperating with God’s grace as He did, walking by faith and not by sight.

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

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Bible Gateway: Parable of the Sower
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The seed sown is the word of God. The sower is our Lord Jesus Christ, by himself, or by his ministers.
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Preaching to a multitude is sowing the corn; we know not where it will light. Some sort of ground, though we take ever so much pains with it, brings forth no fruit to purpose, while the good soil brings forth plentifully.
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So it is with the hearts of men, whose different characters are here described by four sorts of ground. Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it. Hypocrites, like the stony ground, often get the start of true Christians in the shows of profession. Many are glad to hear a good sermon, who do not profit by it.
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They are told of free salvation, of the believer’s privileges, and the happiness of heaven; and, without any change of heart, without any abiding conviction of their own depravity, their need of a Saviour, or the excellence of holiness, they soon profess an unwarranted assurance.
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But when some heavy trial threatens them, or some sinful advantage may be had, they give up or disguise their profession, or turn to some easier system. Worldly cares are fitly compared to thorns, for they came in with sin, and are a fruit of the curse; they are good in their place to stop a gap, but a man must be well armed that has much to do with them; they are entangling, vexing, scratching, and their end is to be burned, Heb 6:8.
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Worldly cares are great hinderances to our profiting by the word of God.
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The deceitfulness of riches does the mischief; they cannot be said to deceive us unless we put our trust in them, then they choke the good seed. What distinguished the good ground was fruitfulness. By this true Christians are distinguished from hypocrites.
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Christ does not say that this good ground has no stones in it, or no thorns;but none that could hinder its fruitfulness. All are not alike; we should aim at the highest, to bring forth most fruit. The sense of hearing cannot be better employed than in hearing God’s word; and let us look to ourselves that we may know what sort of hearers we are. (Mt 13:24-30)
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 Freedom in Christ: Parable of the Sower
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In this parable, one observes four different conditions associated with the soil of the land.
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In essence, Jesus is calling attention to the condition of one’s heart, which determines one’s receptivity to the truths of God. Jesus wants His listeners to listen with receptive hearts. The design of this parable is intended to illustrate the causes of rejection and acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God.
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Jesus drew upon an agricultural image in order to convey why some would reject and others would accept His teachings. It is through this parable that Jesus draws attention to His own ministry. In this parable the soil represents the various conditions of the human heart.
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One objective of this study is to draw attention to the “now” as well as to the “then.” The question that confronts every believer is: How can Christians relate this parable to their own lives?
Every individual should search his or her heart for an examination of the following question: How do you relate yourself in your study of the various conditions in the sowing by the sower? What kind of soil is your mind?
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Commentary on Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15

Give us this day our daily bread…and meat.

Anyone who has ever led a large group of people through unfamiliar territory is sure to have heard complaints — often over trivial matters — from some or even many members of the group. The complaining can quickly sour relationships and provoke the leader to regret that he or she took the group away in the first place.

The complaining is loud and clear in this Exodus passage. Moses, Aaron and God get an earful. For us as readers, it is tempting to adopt the position of story outsider and treat the complaining as whiners, condemning the Israelites as faithless.

No one likes listening to complaint. Individuals in power or in the majority can often choose to ignore a complaint, dismiss it as mere whining, or punish the complainant. In contrast, to listen to a complaint involves seeing the world from another’s position and hearing a call to act.

Thus, to condemn the Israelites for complaining in Exodus 16 would be to introduce a judgment that the text itself does not make, sending the message that complaint has no place in life with God.

This, of course, is not true. The laments in the Book of Psalms give voice to the human experience of abandonment, suffering, fear, and danger. The laments call upon God to see, arise, and act (e.g., Psalm 10, 13, 89). In the Book of Job, Job rejects an attitude of resignation toward his suffering. Instead, he unleashes a lengthy and detailed complaint against God’s treatment of the righteous and God’s management of the world. From the cross, Jesus cries out in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; Psalm 22:1).

At its core, complaint is a turning to God — not away — trusting that God the Almighty does not ignore, dismiss or punish those who call out in fear, anger, suffering, and need.

In Exodus 16, the Israelites are beginning their second month of wilderness walking (16:1) following their deliverance from Egypt. The dangers of the wilderness are real — the Israelites have already faced thirst (Exodus 15:22-25), now hunger, and later they will face attack (Exodus 17:8-13). They do not exaggerate their predicament. They are no longer part of the system of labor that fed them in the past. They cannot supply their own needs. They are hungry. Their situation is dire and there is no visible way out.

The complaint that there is no food, the fear of the present, and the longing to be back in an earlier time are not constrained to the pages of Exodus. The situation is the same for the world’s poor today, and they are joined by increasing numbers of people losing homes, jobs, health care, pensions, dignity, property, and savings in the wake of global economic turbulence.

Exodus 16 offers the assurance that the wilderness of want is not a God-forsaken time or place. As Moses instructs Aaron to say to the Israelites: “Draw near to the LORD, for he has heard your complaining” (16:9).

It must be acknowledged that a complaint does not always contain the best solution. In their complaining, the Israelites declare it would have been better to have died in Egypt than be facing hunger in the wilderness. In recalling Egypt, they think not of death but of food, specifically meat and bread. In their complaint, Egypt sounds like the good life as they remember how they “sat by the fleshpots and ate [their] fill of bread” (16:3). In their real fear for the future, the Israelites look back to Egypt as the way of life that sustained them.

The wilderness is a place of danger and want. It is also a space for learning new ways of relating that are not based on the identity the Israelites had and the life they lived in Egypt.

In Egypt, the Israelites’ lives and service benefitted Pharaoh. In the wilderness, their lives begin to be reordered. In the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 20:1-17) the loyalty of the Israelites is redirected from Pharaoh to Yahweh. Their service no longer benefits Pharaoh but goes towards building a community characterized by integrity, honor, care and compassion.

The wilderness is also the place where the Israelites come to know the God who has demanded and accomplished their release from slavery. In the dispute with Pharaoh, Yahweh claims the Israelites as Yahweh’s own (“Let my people go so that they may worship me” Exodus 9:13). God demonstrates power over humans in defeating Pharaoh and power over creation in delivering the Israelites.

What is unknown as the Israelites exit Egypt is how this powerful God will relate to them in the future. Exodus 16 offers a glimpse of this emerging relationship.

God hears the complaining of the Israelites. God recognizes not only their need for sustenance — daily bread — but their desire for a life beyond scarcity — meat. God responds by sending quail for meat and manna for bread. God proves to be a different type of lord than Pharaoh.

What an awesome scene as the dew lifts and the sun rises: the wilderness ground is covered with a “flaky substance, as fine as frost” (16:14). It is unfamiliar to the Israelites and they are puzzled, perhaps even fearful, as they ask each other: “What is it?” (16:15).

It is, Moses explains, bread from Yahweh given to them. As the Israelites move into their wilderness journey God has found new ways to provide for them. The manna supplied to the Israelites may offer hope to people today that God can and does provide in new and fitting ways in changed and uncharted conditions.

There is another amazing surprise in this passage. As the people “looked toward the wilderness…the glory of the LORD appeared” (16:10). It is not just on a mountaintop or just to Moses and Aaron that God appears.

God is near and listening to those whom we might be tempted to call faithless: those who complain to God because they are hungry, anxious, dislocated, in unfamiliar territory and without a clear plan for the future. There God is present. For them the glory of the LORD is revealed in daily bread…and meat.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=354

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

July 21, 2017

Image result for vintage Rolls-Royce, photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was the turning point I needed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview by LOUISE ATKINSON

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

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

July 19, 2017

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 392

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

Reading 1 EX 3:13-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia MT 11:28

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

Gospel MT 11:28-30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest:

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

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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

FEELING WITH GOD AS THE KEY TO OVERCOMING OUR PAINS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Commentary on Matthew 11:28-30 From Living Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, July 2, 2017 — The promises of the LORD I will sing forever

July 1, 2017

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 97

No automatic alt text available.

Art: Chariot — The Second Book of Kings —
Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of Fire
By Giuseppe Angeli

Reading 1 2 KGS 4:8-11, 14-16A

One day Elisha came to Shunem,
where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her.
Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine.
So she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God.
Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof
and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp,
so that when he comes to us he can stay there.”
Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.

Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?”
His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes!
She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.”
Elisha said, “Call her.”
When the woman had been called and stood at the door,
Elisha promised, “This time next year
you will be fondling a baby son.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19

R. (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever,
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever;”
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
You are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and the Holy One of Israel, our king.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 ROM 6:3-4, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life.

If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
As to his death, he died to sin once and for all;
as to his life, he lives for God.
Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin
and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Alleluia  1 PT 2:9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 10:37-42

Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is a righteous man
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because the little one is a disciple—
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

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From The Abbot in the Desert

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

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My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

“What is my relationship with my family of origin?  How do I relate to my parents, my sisters, my brothers and to my extended family?  How do I relate to friends?  How do I relate to those in authority over me?”  These are the challenges from the readings this week.

We begin with the first reading, from the Second Book of Kings.  This is such a wonderful reading!  We see the concern of the Prophet for this woman who has no son.  The Prophet, like many religious leaders, is able to benefit from the love and care of those who are relatively well off.  Now it is a question of how to thank such people.  Most of us would not thinking of promising a baby!  On the other hand, the Prophets have more resources than we do!  We also know that later, when this baby is a young man, he dies unexpectedly and the woman turns again to the Prophet.  The gifts of Prophets and of God Himself are not always without suffering!

The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans.  Here we find a strong theology for ourselves.  If we have died in Christ, then we must embrace that death so that we can live in Christ.  We must become dead to sin.  That is so easy to say or to state, yet the reality implies for us and for all who seek the Lord that we must enter the spiritual combat and remain in combat all the days of our lives.  The life of Jesus is a wonderful gift and yet always comes with the condition of death to sin in ourselves.  We are invited to embrace the struggle against sin each day so that we can live more and more in the Lord.

The Gospel, today from Saint Matthew, brings the first two readings together.  We must love God more than anything or anyone.  We must love Christ more than our parents, our sisters, our brothers, our children—more than anyone.  This statement never implies not loving our parents, sisters, brothers, children, etc., but simply tells us that God is more important.

If we are looking for our own life, we shall lose that life.  It we are seeking the life of Jesus, we shall have our own life.  It is only in giving up our lives that we are given life.  This is one of the great challenges of following Jesus.  The more we deny ourselves, the more life of Jesus we have.  Again the strong reminder:  when we deny ourselves, we are doing this out of love and not out of any other motive.  If we judge others, then we condemn ourselves.  If we seek simply what the Lord asks of us today and every day, we are blessed—over and over and over.

May we seek the face of the Lord and respond to His love!  May we accept the gifts of the Lord and know that in those gifts there is also hardship.  May we die to ourselves in the very best way, but loving God first and always.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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02 JULY, 2017, Sunday, 13th Week, Ordinary Time
DEAD TO SIN BUT ALIVE FOR GOD IN CHRIST JESUS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 KGS 4:8-11.14-16; PS 89:2-3,16-19ROM 6:3-4.8-11; MT 10:37-42 ]

The world is most fearful of death.  This is because it believes we have only one life on this earth; that we are just like the rest of creation, the plants and the animals.  There is no hope beyond this life.  Once we are dead, we disappear from this world completely.  We have no soul, no immortality and no life after death and least of all, no resurrection.  Understandably, people seek to prolong their life.  Instead of looking forward to the resurrection, they want to clone themselves so that they can live forever.  Otherwise, to hide their fear of death, they go for makeovers so that they appear forever young.  We are afraid to be reminded of the mortality and the shortness of life.

If life is short and there is only one life, the philosophy of most people is to enjoy all they can and grab as much for themselves.  Why should they care for others?  Why should they sacrifice for others?  Why should they suffer for the good of others? Why can’t they just pamper themselves and enjoy life like the Rich Man in the gospel.  So it is the survival of the fittest.  Everything revolves around the person.  To make himself happy, he indulges in the things of this world. Believing that he has no soul, he seeks to satisfy his body with all the comforts, food and sensuality of this world.  He is the modern epicurean of our day.  Life is nothing but a search for pleasure.

As a result they are dead to sin.  In order to have more for themselves or to satisfy themselves, they make use of people for their sexual pleasure or for wealth, power and status.  It is not about others but about themselves.   They are only good to those who can be useful to them or can satisfy their needs.  People are treated as things to be used and manipulated, not to be loved.  Often, the greed for things, the envy we have for others who are better than us, our desire for food and pleasure and sex, cause us to be proud and angry.  Such a life of debauchery and sensuality, envy and jealousy is what makes us dead in sin.  There is no life because there is no real love in our hearts.  So whilst we appear to be alive, we are dead.

In place of such an aimless and meaningless life, Jesus comes to offer us the fullness of life.  “Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.”  To find life, we need to give our life away.  Only those who die to themselves, to their selfishness and pride, can live joyfully and happily because they are capable of love and service.  The joy that comes from authentic love and service is a joy that is out of this world and the pleasures of this world cannot be compared to the joy of loving.   Pleasures have a limit and a saturation point.  We get sick and tired of food and sex and travelling after sometime.  But with joy, it never arrives.   Pleasures have diminishing returns whereas joy grows from strength to strength and move to a higher point in life.

Consequently, the way to peace and joy in life is to die to sin, which is a form of spiritual death at work in us.  One who lives in sin cannot be happy and at peace.  How can a greedy, selfish, proud, egoistic, envious, angry, resentful, promiscuous and unfaithful person be at peace?  St Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23)   The irony is that those who fear death are those who are already living an eternal death.  They are bodily alive but the soul is dead.  The heart is dead.  They are not capable of love, of sacrifice and of giving.   Hence, St Paul urges us to conquer sin and the fear of death so that we can truly live.  How do we overcome sin and death?

St Paul invites us to join Christ in baptism.  He wrote, “When we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.”  To be baptized is to enter into the tomb, that is to bury the sins of our previous life and rise up anew, having been bathed in the Holy Spirit, we live a new life in Christ.  When we die to sin, we also die to death because as St Paul wrote, “Death has no power over him anymore. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.”

This is because the new life is a life in Christ. “But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again.”  We no longer live just for this world but for the life that is to come.  In the meantime, we have a foretaste of the life to come by sharing in the life of Christ which is that of giving oneself in love and service to others.  This is what Paul wrote, “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.  And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” (2 Cor 5:14f)

What is this life of Christ?  It is about meaning and love.  It is about giving and generosity.   Jesus said, “Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.  If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.”   We are called to serve and to give ourselves in service to others in imitation of our Lord even unto death.

This entails the cross as well.  Jesus said: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.”  Service in humility, giving ourselves to others is a paradoxical joy unlike the happiness of the world.  It is a joy that comes from transcending oneself, going beyond oneself.  In service, there will be sacrifices, there will be pain and often we are misunderstood, taken advantage of, humiliated and criticized.  Yet, as the disciples of Christ, we carry our cross cheerfully believing that love will triumph over hatred; and life over death at the end of the day.

This is what discipleship is all about.  We have been chosen by the Lord to follow Him in discipleship.  To live out the life of Christ, we must necessarily put Him as the center of our lives.  “Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me.’”  This command might appear to be unreasonably harsh.  But the truth is that where our heart is, that is where we put all our soul and energy. So too, choosing anyone with one’s heart has consequences.  If we choose money as our god, then everything is measured by money.  If we choose our loved one as the center of our life, when the person leaves us, we will be crippled, failing to realize that man is weak and life is short.  But if we choose Christ, we will live forever.  So unless we put Jesus as the center of our life, everything else would be out of focus and perspective.  To make Him as the center of our life is to place Him above everyone and everything else.  It is to see all things and all people through the eyes, the mind and the heart of Jesus.

The conditions of discipleship might appear demanding.  The cost of disciples is great but greater is the joy as well.  This is what the Lord is saying to us.  He did not speak about just the sacrifices but also the rewards.  He said, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.”  When we serve others, the poor and the abandoned, it is Christ that we serve.  In the process of giving, we receive the joys of God.   This is the promise of our Lord when we follow Him.

Today, we have the shining example of the woman at Shunem.  She was generous with the prophet Elijah and was richly rewarded without her asking.   The prophet asked the Lord to take care of her.  Indeed, the responsorial psalm invites us to sing to the Lord. “I will sing forever of your love, O Lord; through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth. Of this I am sure, that your love lasts forever, that your truth is firmly established as the heavens.”  Those of us who are happy sing forever of His love because His love is in our hearts.  “Happy the people who acclaim such a king, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice the source of their bliss.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Reflection on Matthew 10: 37-42

A poor boy would always pass by a store in their neighborhood to ask for food that he could bring home to feed his sick father. He would always do this every day for the simple reason that the store owner was kindhearted.

After a few days had passed the store owner was wondering how come the boy was not passing by his store anymore. So he asked the people around the neighborhood about the boy and he was told that the boy’s family transferred to the city to stay with a relative.

After twenty years the store owner was now old and sick thus he already closed the store because no one would tend to it anymore. One day a young rich man was looking for the man who owned the store. So the young man was brought to the former store owner.

There he introduced himself to be the boy who would ask for food that he could bring to his sick father. The eyes of the sick man glowed and he asked: Why are you here? The rich man said: “I am here to give back your goodness.” He therefore brought the sick man to the hospital, paid for all of his hospital bills. When he was discharged he invited the old man to stay with him for good.

In the gospel for this Sunday, Jesus talks about giving back to those who do good to his followers. What does this mean? This simply means that whatever good that we do to those who follow Jesus we will receive back a hundredfold.

Of course we all know that Jesus doesn’t want us to limit our acts of goodness to His followers only. Jesus wants us to do good to anyone who is in need: To the poor loitering in the street, to the beggar asking for alms, to a relative who ask for help and the like. We do good not because we want something in return someday. We do good for the simple reason that we simply want to obey Jesus.

When was the last time you did good to somebody in need? – Marino J. Dasmarinas

http://mjdasma.blogspot.com/2017/06/reflection-for-sunday-july-2-thirteenth.html

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God’s Bible Promises (Old Testament)
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.God’s promises are something He always keeps. It’s in the Bible, Psalm 89:34, TLB. “No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back one word of what I said.”

The promises of God are yes and amen. It’s in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”


Bible Promises

Christian Understanding of Pain and Suffering

June 24, 2017

By Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán

The Thinking and Theology of John Paul II

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Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, gave a lecture in July, in Aachen, Germany, on “Pain, an enigma or a mystery?”. Cardinal Barragán also visited several institutions connected with the Grunenthal Foundation for Palliative Care. The following is a translation from Italian of excerpts of the Cardinal’s lecture.

I have been asked to expound on John Paul II’s incomparable thinking on human pain. I shall first mention briefly several facts about the physiology of human pain. Then, given the Holy Father’s openness to all human values, it seems to me that it would be interesting to allude to and discuss certain key thoughts on four solutions from outside the Christian context.

The enigma of suffering

Pope John Paul II does not conceal the fact that suffering is something complex, enigmatic and intangible that must be treated with full respect and compassion and even with awe; but this does not justify the attempt to understand it, since only in this way will it be possible to come to terms with it.

He then briefly outlines the context of suffering, speaking of the vast field of suffering and of the suffering person. He notes from the outset that a misunderstanding of suffering can actually lead to the denial of God.

Pope John Paul II states: “Suffering is something which is still wider than sickness”, because there is a “distinction between physical suffering and moral suffering” (Salvifici Doloris, n. 5).

In addition to individual suffering, there is collective suffering due to human errors and transgressions, especially war. There are also times when this collective suffering becomes more acute.

Suffering has a subject and it is the individual who experiences it; yet it is not imprisoned within the person but gives rise to solidarity with others who are suffering; for the only one who has a special awareness of this is the person, the whole person. Thus, suffering involves solidarity (cf. ibid., n. 8).

It is far from easy to define the cause of suffering or of the evil connected with it. People put questions to God about its cause and frequently reach the point of denying him when they are unable to discover the reason for it (cf. ibid., n. 9).

One first needs to frame the enigma correctly and begin to seek its cause.

Suffering, the Pope says, consists in feeling cut off from good. Being cut off from good is an evil. Consequently, the cause of suffering is an evil; so, suffering and evil can be identified with each other.

As for evil, it is a deprivation; it has no positive value in itself and therefore cannot be a positive cause or principle, for its origin is a mere privation. There are as many evils as things that are wanting: an evil, according to its intensity, gives rise to pain, sorrow, depression, disappointment and even desperation; it exists in dispersion but at the same time entails solidarity. Since it originates in privation, the inevitable question is: “Why did this deprivation occur, what is its cause?”.

To respond, the Pope leaves the area of enigma and moves on to that of mystery. He does not attempt to do so with the nebulous obscurity of myth but penetrates to the very core of the Christian faith.

Mystery, in the Christian faith, is not darkness but dazzling brightness. The etymological root of the word helps us understand something about it: “mystery” derives from the Greek “Mυο” or “Mυєιν”, which means closing the eyes, not in the sense of going about blind, but of closing the eyes if they are dazzled, such as occurs, for instance, when we look directly at the sun. It is only the dazzling light, its excessive brightness, that prevents us from seeing anything in front of us, and it is in this that we car make out the mystery of suffering.

Furthermore, the Christian mystery is not only something contemplated but also experienced. Only by experiencing the mystery can we penetrate it with our minds. Only by living the mystery of Christian suffering can we get an idea of what suffering means and, as the Pope said previously, transcend it and overcome it. Let us now try to describe suffering.

The mystery of suffering

Three topics, among others, that the Pope addresses in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris with regard to suffering as a mystery are: “evil and suffering”, “Christ takes on suffering”, and “the value of human suffering”. To enter into the mystery, let us be guided by God himself. The Pope enables us to penetrate into Revelation in order to move on to ascension in the mystery.

The Holy Father tells us that in Old Testament biblical language, suffering and evil are at first identified with each other. Thanks to the Greek language however, a distinction is made particularly in the New Testament between suffering and evil. Suffering is a passive or active attitude to evil, or rather, to the lack of a good that it would be desirable to possess (cf. ibid., n. 7).

In fact, in the Book of Job and some other Books of the Old Testament the answer is that the cause of evil the transgression of the natural order created by God. Suffering and transgression were held to be the same, at least it was believed that suffering was caused by transgression. This the opinion of Job’s friends (cf. ibid., 10).

However, although God rejects this theory and approves Job’s innocence his suffering remains a mystery: not all suffering is consequential to transgression, which is proof of Job’s righteousness. It prefigures the Lord’s passion (cf. ibid., n. 11). It further affirms that suffering is a punishment inflicted for self-correction, since good follows evil, leading to conversion and to rebuilding goodness (cf. ibid., n. 12),

The Pope now goes a step further and reaches the heart of the mystery; in his mortal life, Christ put an end to pain by his miracles, He took upon himself the suffering of all and bore it with full consciousness on the Cross (cf. ibid., n, 16}.

The only answer [to the “why” of suffering] can come from the love of God in the Cross (cf. ibid., n. 13). It is God the Father who provides the answer to the problem of suffering: it consists in the fact that he “gives” his Son to the world. Evil is sin and suffering, death. With the Cross, he overcomes sin, and with his Resurrection, death (Jn 3:16; cf. ibid., n. 14).

In the Fourth Song of the Suffering Servant in the Book of Isaiah, the meaning of Christ’s suffering in the passion is portrayed even more vividly than it is in the Gospels. His suffering is redemptive; its depth can be measured by the depth of the evil in the history of the world, especially since the person who suffers it is God (cf. ibid., n. 17).

Christ provides an answer to the problem of suffering by offering his unreserved availability and compassion; his presence is effective: he gives help and gives himself (cf. ibid., n. 28).

Through suffering, human beings are incorporated into the pain of Christ. Suffering gives rise to love for those who suffer, a disinterested love to help them by relieving it. This is now official and organized through health-care institutions and the professionals who work in them, and also through volunteers. It is a matter of a real vocation, especially when one is united to the Church with a Christian profession.

The assistance that families give their sick relatives is important in this area. Moreover, those who not only act to help the sick but also to drive away a whole series of evils, those who fight hatred, violence, cruelty and every type of physical and spiritual suffering, belong to the same category as the Good Samaritan.

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The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane.

Every man and every woman should feel personally called to bear witness to love in suffering and must not leave those who are suffering to be cared for solely by official institutions (ibid., n.29). The Parable of the Good Samaritan corroborates what Christ said about the Last Judgment; “I was sick and you visited me”. Christ himself is the One who was cared for, and the one who fell into the hands of bandits is cared for and helped. The meaning of suffering is to do good by one’s suffering and to do good to those who suffer (cf, ibid., n.30).

The Pope ends by saying that the mystery of man is revealed in Christ, and the mystery of man is very specially connected to suffering. In Christ the enigma of pain and death is revealed. Only in love is it possible to find the saving response to pain. May the suffering of Mary and the saints help us discover this response. May pain and suffering be transformed into a source of strength for all humanity,

The comment

I think that the development of the Pope’s thought climbs six steps towards the fullness of the mystery of suffering and pain; we can sum them up as follows:

Suffering is not in itself evil but is the effect of a negative cause. Evil is not a positive entity but a privation. Deprivation does not demand a positive cause but the search for its origin.

The origin of the privation is sin. The sin committed by a person spreads by joint human liability. Sin can be eliminated through suffering itself in a very special context of solidarity.

Only God can bestow this solidarity upon us. This gift of solidarity is the meaning of the Incarnation and the meaning of Jesus Christ. For this solidarity, Christ brought the elimination of sin to completion through his suffering in his life, passion, death and Resurrection.

This divine action is an act of the Most Holy Trinity since the Eternal Father gave his Son to humanity so that he might redeem it through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Love of the Father and of the Son, and it is only through the Love of the Spirit that we can glimpse this mysterious, redeeming solidarity.

Through Christ’s solidarity with al humanity the human pain of all time; was suffered by Christ in his passion and his redeeming death. Thus, human pain and suffering are transformed from something negative into something positive, into a source of life, as it were because they become redemptive.

Each person in his or her suffering is united with the suffering of Christ, and thus this suffering mysteriously becomes a source of life and resurrection. Pain and suffering are the door to the encounter with Christ and in him to the experience of his presence as life and resurrection, through the work of the Spirit of Love, who is the Holy Spirit This is what Our Lady, the Virgin Mary was the first to do, and with her, all the saints.

This definitive destruction of suffering through suffering leads us to destroy our actual suffering with the whole panoply of means at our disposal, as in the case of the Good Samaritan.

The Pope thus situates us in the heart of the mystery whose light dazzles us. For we find ourselves in intimacy with the Blessed Trinity, in the loving reality of the unity of the Triune God and in the depths of this mystery. This is the central mystery of the entire Christian religion, not in the abstract nor in an immensely remote way, but in a closeness present in human history into whose temporal dimensions eternity bursts, through the historical Incarnation of the Word with his birth, life, passion, death and Resurrection.

This is a Trinitarian and Christological solidarity in which the absolute fullness of life is attained through death. It is called “cross” and “resurrection”. We find ourselves at the heart of the Christian mystery, inaccessible except through an experience of it: no one who does not know it can prove its efficacy or find its solution.

The solution to the mystery of evil is not only discovered through theological exposition but also by experiencing that something which, if steadily gazed at, darkens because of its excessive brightness yet is very real – we can say the most real reality -, for it is the only way to happiness.

In this way we are within the nucleus of salvation. This is the heart of Christianity. Tertullian said: “Credo quia ineptum“. By experiencing relief from evil through suffering, and through that cruelest form of suffering which sums up all imaginable forms of suffering, the Cross, this “ineptum“, becomes “aptum“, the most just and rational that we can imagine, for it is the only way to experience happiness.

This is why the mystery of pain shifts from pain in itself to the mystery of solidarity. Solidarity, as the foundation of the whole of existence, is not only sympathy with all, a way of being socially committed and aware that we all belong to the same race, culture, nationality, etc., but is also the experiencing of a bond with all other human beings so deeply within ourselves that it is not a qualification that comes to us as soon as we exist but constitutes our existence itself.

Solidarity belongs to divinized human life as a gift received which takes part in the mystery itself of God’s very life. The life of God is infinitely perfect in each one of the divine Persons through the internal solidarity between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This infinite solidarity is infinite Love, which is the Holy Spirit who has been poured out into our hearts, an infinite Love that is God himself. The mystery of suffering is contained in the mystery of Love, in the mystery of the Spirit.

In this way, the mystery of suffering-love enters into the very constitution of God incarnate, the Son made flesh through the work of the Holy Spirit. Since Christ is the most intimate model for every person, the Holy Spirit, the Love of God and redemptive suffering enter into the actual objective, and we might say ontological, constitution of humanity.

In contrast to cold objectivity, however, it is something that indeed belongs to the objectivity of our being, but with the maximum loving subjectivity, since it is and depends upon our free will in such a way that we can accept or reject it. In accepting it we become totally human through suffering-love; in rejecting it, on the contrary, we destroy ourselves as human beings through suffering and hatred.

The Pope is aware of the difficulty of reasoning in this way and therefore tells us that the reality of suffering in solidarity should only be understood through the Resurrection. From our solidarity with the essence of life which is the Risen Christ, we can understand our loving solidarity with Christ suffering on the Cross; just as the Risen Christ includes in his Resurrection the resurrection of humanity, of each and every one of us, so too the suffering of Christ contains the suffering and pain of each and every one of us. There is no separation between the Resurrection and the Cross but convergence, both in Christ and in us; the Pope says, therefore, that Christ contains the signs of his wounds in his glorified Body.

One can thus realize and understand what would otherwise be an untenable paradox, scandal and folly: the Cross is glorious; having been the evil most feared as total death, it becomes the glorious beginning of the whole of the second creation. The nothing from which this new world of happiness or the definitive Paradise flows is not an innocent nothingness but a guilty nothingness that is the greatest evil – sin – which leads definitively to the Cross. And from the Cross, not by virtue of the Cross but by virtue of the Father’s omnipotence and the Spirit’s solidarity and Love, the Incarnate Word recreates within us the authentic Adam, the man of truth, the model planned by God from all eternity so that we might be authentically human.

Conclusion

Love is the only key to deciphering the enigma of pain and suffering: love that can transform nothingness into full reality. The lack of meaning, the lack of direction, the radical anticulture, contradiction, death: in a fullness of meaning, of orientation, in an ascendant culture, in joyous affirmation, in life: folly and stupidity, in what is wisest and most sensible, it is the intimate solidarity of love triumphant that raises, in loving solidarity with the most atrocious suffering that kills. It is victory over death.

Thus, John Paul II leads us to scrutinize the meaning of human suffering in a mysterious and dazzling way, and which is also the only valid perspective; at last, the enigma becomes mystery. It is a joyful, shining mystery and full of happiness. It is the paradox that returns to being logical through the Omnipotent Love of God the Father who is his Spirit, and whose effectiveness is to be found in the culmination of human history when he grants to us the close solidarity of all peoples in the Pasch of the Incarnate Word.

from:
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
7 September 2005, page 9

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Pope: Learning From Refugees’ Hopes and Pain Dissolves Fear — “Jesus never promised us a blessed life without pain or suffering.”

June 18, 2017

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is calling for the faithful to not only welcome refugees, but to personally learn from their stories as a way to curb fears and “distorted” ideologies about them.

Francis made the appeal Sunday as he marked the U.N.’s World Day of Refugees, which will be celebrated on Tuesday.

Speaking from his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Francis prayed for all those who have lost their lives fleeing war and persecution. He said their stories of pain and hope are actually an opportunity for reciprocal understanding.

He said: “In reality, personal meetings with refugees can dissolve fears and distorted ideologies and become paths for growth in humanity.”

Francis’ four-year papacy has been marked by his profound solidarity with refugees and demand that countries build bridges of welcome, not walls.

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One can never do justice to telling the story of Padre Pio except to say, I think about him every day. He taught me: “If you are worried: pray.  Once you are praying, you can stop your worry.” Padre Pio had the stigmata.

“Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer. And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray. Pray to the Lord, because even God needs our prayers.”

– St. Pio of Pietrelcina
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“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”
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– St. Pio of  Pietrelcina
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