Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

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

June 22, 2018

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

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 370

Reading 1 2 CHR 24:17-25

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

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

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

Alleluia2 COR 8:9

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

Gospel  MT 6:24-34

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

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

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

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

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

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

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

https://christdesert.org/about/

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

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

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

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

So why do we over eat?

We want to feel good.

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

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

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

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

We are “the feel good people.”

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

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

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

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

Here’s what Wikipedia says about anguish:

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

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

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

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Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain — Preventable Tragedies

June 9, 2018

The pattern of highly accomplished and successful people committing suicide is transfixing. It assures the rest of us that a life of accolades is not all that it’s cracked up to be and that achieving more will not make us happier. At the same time, it reveals the fact that no one is safe from suicide, that whatever defenses we think we have are likely to be inadequate.

Kate Spade’s handbags were playful and fun. Her quirky look was unmistakable and bespoke exuberance. Anthony Bourdain was almost inconceivably high-functioning, and won so many awards that he seemed ready to give an award to his favorite award.

High-profile suicides such as these cause copycat suicides; there was a nearly ten-per-cent spike in suicides following Robin Williams’s death. There is always an upswing following such high-profile events. You who are reading this are at statistically increased risk of suicide right now. Who knows if Bourdain had read of Kate Spade’s suicide as he prepared to do the same thing? We are all statistically more likely to kill ourselves than we were ten years ago. That increased vulnerability is itself depressing, and that depressing information interacts with our own unguarded selves. If life wasn’t worth living for people such as Bourdain and Spade, how can our more ordinary lives hold up? Those of us who have clinical depression can feel the tug toward suicide amped up by this kind of news. The gap between public triumph and private despair is treacherous, with the outer shell obscuring the real person even to those with whom he or she had professed intimacy.

There has long been an assertion popular in mental-health circles that suicide is a symptom of depression and that, if we would only treat depression adequately, suicide would be a thing largely of the past. We learn of Kate Spade’s possible marital woes as though marital woes rationalized a suicide. It is true that, in someone with a significant tendency to suicide, external factors may trigger the act itself, but difficult circumstances do not usually fully explain someone’s choice to terminate his or her own life. People must have an intrinsic vulnerability; for every person who kills himself when he is left by his wife, there are hundreds who don’t kill themselves under like circumstances.

Get Support

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows a vast increase in American suicides over the past decade, and asserts that fifty-four per cent of the suicides reviewed didn’t have a previously known mental-health issue. “Instead, these folks were suffering from other issues, such as relationship problems, substance misuse, physical health problems, job or financial problems, and recent crises or things that were coming up in their lives that they were anticipating,” Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the C.D.C. and the lead author of the new study, told NPR.

But that finding mostly calls into question the definition of mental-health issues. For someone without a mental disorder or illness, would suicide seem like the permanent answer to temporary woes? Suicide is a result of despair, hopelessness, the feeling of being a burden on others. It can be fed by mental illness or by life circumstances, but is almost always the result of both. “The highest rates are white men in their fifties or sixties,” Victor Schwartz, the chief medical officer of the jed Foundation, a suicide-prevention group, told me. “Divorce, losing your family, feeling like there isn’t a runway ahead of you. That’s a very desperate place to be. Throw in alcohol and a gun, and it’s lethal.”

Suicide is on the rise nationwide. It claims more American lives each year than do automobile accidents. It has gone up twenty-five per cent in the past two decades, with increases in almost every state. There were close to forty-five thousand deaths from suicide in the United States in 2016 alone. It is now one of the top ten causes of death in the country, one of the top three for adolescents. What explanation can there be for this catastrophic escalation? The answers swirl around like a dust cloud. Opioid dependency drives self-annihilation, and many of the drugs to which people become addicted are easy to take in fatal doses, especially opioids in combination with benzodiazepines.

A third of Americans are sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation has a devastating effect on mental health. The mental-health system has deteriorated; according to Schwartz, there is less access to good care in most parts of the country than there was fifteen or twenty years ago. Rates of teen depression have risen since 2011, and students are carrying more debt and face more uncertainty about their lives. Despite a growing economy, people who are employed today do not feel confident that they will be employed tomorrow; with automation, many jobs feel terribly precarious. And the social safety net is being reeled in at every opportunity.

The proximity of a means to suicide swells suicide numbers; when you reduce access to means of suicide, you reduce suicide. When barriers went up at the Golden Gate Bridge, the suicide rate in San Francisco diminished. Australia has shown a decrease in suicide since the establishment of better gun restrictions there. Fifty per cent of American suicides involve a firearm. And gun control would be the quickest path to reducing American suicides. Whereas only about ten percent of those who attempt an overdose with pills succeed, according to Schwartz, some ninety per cent of those who attempt with a firearm are successful in ending their own lives. Suicide is often impulsive, and, if the means do not spring to hand, the impulse passes and people go on to good lives.

John MacPhee, the executive director of the jed Foundation, told me, “If you look at C.D.C. data, there appears to be a relationship to being in a rural area; rates are escalating most in the same demographics where opioid dependency and gun ownership coincide with economic trouble. Meanwhile, young people everywhere perceive that the stakes are higher, and also that they are binary: you’ll win in life or you’ll lose. Kids are putting more pressure and stress on themselves and have a lot more anxiety. There’s social norming: the appearance of suicide in the media in ways that have a tragic impact for some number of people.” Schwartz observes that school shootings undermine a sense of safety; young people who are already anxious have their anxiety validated by the news from Parkland or Santa Fe. But those shootings also affect adults; if schools have become unsafe, then what real safety do any of us have?

Modernity is alienating, and it has been alienating for a great while; look at an Edward Hopper painting if you think this post-industrial misery has come about only since the Internet was invented. Isolation is another significant suicide risk. People who believe that no one will miss them have little to stand between them and the final act. As someone who has written and spoken about depression, I receive frequent letters from people grappling with the condition, and what is most striking to me is how alone many of them are. I hear from people who wake up, eat breakfast, go to a job at which they interact with a machine all day, pick up food on the way home, eat in front of a television, and then go to bed. These people are so alone that they are effectively invisible to the rest of us; we don’t get to interact with them enough to see their misery. Many of them describe suicidal feelings.

There are no perfect solutions; there is no vaccine against suicide on the way. “We need to beef up our mental-health system: we are not training enough clinicians, not getting enough clinics built across the country,” Schwartz says. “Many clinicians are untrained in suicide prevention. We need preventive public-health initiatives on managing depression and anxiety in the pre-crisis stage. Every school should have an approach—but so should every employer and every small town.” We also need an insurance structure that gives more people with mental-health challenges ready access to care. Veterans make up about eighteen per cent of adult suicides, and we need to support those who have served the country.

Dr. Kelly Posner, who helped develop the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C.-S.S.R.S.), pointed out that more policemen die of suicide than die on the job; more soldiers die of suicide than die in combat; more firefighters die of suicide than die in fires. “And it’s one preventable cause of death,” she said. The C.-S.S.R.S. is used in the military and elsewhere to identify people with suicidal leanings and give them help; suicide in the Marines is down twenty per cent since the tool was introduced. Posner proposes that it, or something like it, should be used at every G.P. visit. “Fifty per cent of suicides saw their G.P. in the months before they killed themselves,” Posner said. “If we don’t ask and monitor, we have a lost opportunity for prevention. There’s a dangerous myth that, if you ask people about suicidal feelings, it causes people to become suicidal; in fact they are relieved. Aggressive screening could be transformative.” On the one hand, ghoulish media reports increase suicide’s contagion; on the other, silence is deadly. Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, the C.E.O. of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, has said, “If you are concerned about a loved one, you should express your concern. Some people have the misconception that asking a person about suicide will increase the risk, but in reality asking does not increase the risk of suicide, but can save a life.”

But it won’t answer the question entirely. In a compelling installment of Head Talk, a series of online mental-health videos, titled “When Not Killing Yourself Becomes the Goal,” the psychotherapist Maggie Robbins, who herself has bipolar disorder, says, “There was a point where I realized that, if I died of old age, I would win, because so many people with bipolar disorder kill themselves that simply not to kill myself would be a big goal. And I thought, ‘That’s really a low bar.’ And then I said, ‘No, it’s not a low bar, because it can be that hard.’ ” It’s hard for people who have never been suicidal to understand how seductive it can seem. Though their acts may have been impulsive, the likelihood is that both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had struggled with demons for many years.

There is another factor that should not be underestimated. On a national stage, we’ve seen an embrace of prejudice and intolerance, and that affects the mood of all citizens. My psychoanalyst said that he had never before had every one of his patients discuss national politics repeatedly, in session after session. Now there is a continuous strain of anxiety and fear from one side, and brutality from the other. Hatred is depressing—it is of course depressing to be hated, but it is also depressing to hate. The erosion of the social safety net means that more and more people are at a sudden breaking point, and there are few messages of authentic comfort to offer them in these pitiless times. One is done in by disease, by isolation and despair, and by life crisis. At the moment, many people’s vulnerability is exacerbated by the unkindness manifest in each day’s headlines. We feel both our own anguish and the world’s. There is a dearth of empathy, even of kindness, in the national conversation, and those deficits turn ordinary neurosis into actionable despair.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/preventable-tragedies

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Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain
Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan/Getty

and KAREN MIZOGUCHI

June 08, 2018 11:15 PM

Anthony Bourdain‘s apparent suicide is a “complete shock” to those who worked with him on his award-winning CNN show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

“It’s such a shock we don’t know where this is coming from, how this could possibly happen. When I was working with him last week he was giddy,” Karen Reynolds, director of CNN PR and Bourdain’s longtime publicist for Parts Unknown, tells PEOPLE on Friday.

“He was effusive and happy about the Hong Kong episode that was all he could talk about weeks leading up to it, how it was like a high water mark for him,” Reynolds says of the June 3 episode directed by Bourdain’s girlfriend Asia Argento that featured Australian-Hong Kong cinematographer Christopher Doyle.

“He was so happy. I didn’t talk to him this week but all I know was he was so happy last week. I mean giddy,” she recalls. “He was texting me and emailing me which he doesn’t normally do about publicity for episodes but he was like, ‘This is a high water mark, this is the best thing I’ve ever done.’ He was so excited to be working with Christopher Doyle. I saw nothing that would indicate what happened like why this would happen. We’re just floored. A complete shock.”

On Friday, longtime friend and renowned chef Eric Ripert found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room in France. Ripert was in France with him to film an upcoming episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

“I never get into the personal stuff with him but the last I heard was he was excited and thrilled that Asia was part of the Hong Kong episode,” Reynolds says of Bourdain and Argento’s relationship which first blossomed when they collaborated on the Rome episode of Parts Unknown in 2016. They began dating a year later.

“He was so proud of her work and the fact that [Argento and Doyle] collaborated on that episode. That’s the last I heard from him and he was so happy. It’s such a loss for all of us,” Reynolds shares.

A police spokesperson in Strasbourg confirmed Bourdain’s death to PEOPLE, but would not confirm the cause of death. The manner of death has been classified as a suicide.

WATCH: Remembering Anthony Bourdain’s Illustrious Life and Career

Amid the shock and sadness of Bourdain’s passing, Reynolds remembers her friend as a “good person” in addition to a great collaborator.

“He wasn’t typical. This is such a mystery. Everything was on the record and he was upfront he didn’t shy away from any issue that’s why this is so shocking,” she says.

On whether she had any indication that Bourdain, who was open about his struggle with drug addiction in the past, was using again, Reynolds explains, “No not at all. He was just so happy with the work. He was so proud. You could see in the show itself how happy he is in the whole episode.”

RELATED: Padma Lakshmi, José Andrés and More of Anthony Bourdain’s Close Friends Mourn His Death

On Sunday, just two days after Bourdain’s death, CNN will air the new episode of Parts Unknown set in Berlin.

“When Berlin airs Anderson Cooper is going to give an introduction before the episode airs. They were good friends,” Reynolds says, adding that Bourdain’s CNN colleagues are also understandably shocked.

“No one can understand it. When a 61-year-old dies and somebody as vibrant as Tony, it’s so shocking and devastating which is what everybody says but it’s the truth,” Reynolds says.

RELATED: ‘I Like Being a Father — No, I Love Being a Father,’ and Everything Else Anthony Bourdain Has Said About Daughter Ariane

Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain
Rich Fury/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Colmar, France, public prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny du Fayel told PEOPLE that Bourdain died by hanging at a luxury hotel in Kaysersberg called Le Chambard, and said, “at this stage, nothing suggests the intervention of a third party.”

In a statement provided to PEOPLE, the U.S. Embassy in Paris said, “We can confirm the death of Anthony Bourdain in the Haut-Rhin department of France. We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family. We stand ready to provide appropriate consular service. Out of respect for the family at this difficult time we have no further comment.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

https://people.com/food/anthony-bourdain-giddy-just-week-before-death/

Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, June 6, 2018 — Suffering indicates neither dishonor nor failure

June 6, 2018

Stir into flame the gift of God that you have…God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. He is not God of the dead but of the living… Have Faith in the resurrection and you will never die…

Image result for Faith in the resurrection, art, pictures

Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 355

Reading 1 2 TM 1:1-3, 6-12

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
for the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
to Timothy, my dear child:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.I am grateful to God,
whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did,
as I remember you constantly in my prayers, night and day.

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

He saved us and called us to a holy life,
not according to our works
but according to his own design
and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,
but now made manifest
through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus,
who destroyed death and brought life and immortality
to light through the Gospel,
for which I was appointed preacher and Apostle and teacher.
On this account I am suffering these things;
but I am not ashamed,
for I know him in whom I have believed
and am confident that he is able to guard
what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 123:1B-2AB, 2CDEF

R. (1b) To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.
To you I lift up my eyes
who are enthroned in heaven.
Behold, as the eyes of servants
are on the hands of their masters.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.
As the eyes of a maid
are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the LORD, our God,
till he have pity on us.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes.

Alleluia  JN 11:25A, 26

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

Gospel  MK 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection,
came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying,
“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers.
The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants.
So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants,
and the third likewise.
And the seven left no descendants.
Last of all the woman also died.
At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be?
For all seven had been married to her.”
Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
When they rise from the dead,
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but they are like the angels in heaven.
As for the dead being raised,
have you not read in the Book of Moses,
in the passage about the bush, how God told him,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob?

He is not God of the dead but of the living.
You are greatly misled.”
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Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:1-14

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We often expect wisdom and special insight from those preparing to die, so our lives might be richer for what we learn from their perspective. Examples from modern literature may come to mind (recent bestsellers such as The Last LectureTuesdays with Morrie, and the novel Gilead), but they have ancient forerunners. Think of testaments, literature in which an about-to-die leader offers reflections on a life lived and advice to family or friends who will live on. Examples include Genesis 49:1-28, 1 Kings 2:1-9, Acts 21:17-38, several extrabiblical writings (such as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs), and the letter we call Second Timothy.
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Following the letter’s salutation, a thanksgiving introduces themes of continuity and succession. The mention of Paul’s “ancestors,” Timothy’s “sincere faith” with roots in his grandmother and mother, and Timothy’s need to “rekindle” God’s gift — these all encourage Timothy to understand his identity and his obligations by considering those who have gone before him (see also 2 Timothy 3:14-15). The letter construes Christian faith and ministry entirely in communal and familial settings, extended through time. This makes Timothy anything but an independent agent peddling new insights. His faith’s roots in the past make it reliable, proven. Timothy’s job, for the sake of the future, involves more preservation than innovation.

Right out of the gate, Second Timothy presents itself as a conservative letter, understanding “conservative” in the most literal sense of the word. It imagines “the faith” as something to be guarded (see 2 Timothy 1:14), lest it become corrupted or diluted. This makes the letter especially attractive to some contemporary Christians, while others get worried. Wise preachers will avoid using a single sermon to adjudicate those battles or to speak about tradition and change in abstract terms. Additional options for a sermon include these:

  • The letter tells Timothy his faith and calling aren’t ancillary to his identity; they are part of who he is. Consider, then, exploring with a congregation how our beliefs and ministry are meaningfully connected to our personal and corporate identities, rooted in particular yet shared heritages.
  • Taken as a whole, Second Timothy expresses great concern about false teachers and rival doctrines (some of these appear, based on 1 Timothy 6:20-21, to have involved ideas taken from gnostic thought). It worries about other teachings possibly leading Christians astray or making them cantankerous, thereby wounding the ministry of the gospel. Consider, then, asking questions about what kinds of perceived threats make you and your congregation determined to secure yourselves against “outside” or “foreign” influences. What influences must really be resisted? What do we resist only because we are scared or think we ourselves are under attack?

Confidence beyond Shame and Suffering (1:8-14)

Next, the letter exhorts Timothy to remain faithful, proceeding with numerous clusters of exhortations through 2:13. The first set of exhortations comes in 1:8-14, which instructs Timothy to emulate Paul in enduring suffering and shame (for the letter describes Paul as incarcerated here and elsewhere). Suffering indicates neither dishonor nor failure when the gospel is involved, because the gospel is all about God’s power to bring life from death (2 Timothy 1:10). That power, enacted in Christ Jesus, reconfigures our perspectives on the anguish and humiliation that supposedly must accompany suffering. Suffering cannot nullify God’s grace, which was “revealed” (phaneroo) or made known in the “appearing” (epiphaneia) of Christ Jesus. This leads Paul to express confidence in Jesus’ (or God’s?) ability to guard what Paul has entrusted to Jesus, meaning, perhaps, Paul’s very own self. Correspondingly, and mirroring that activity, Timothy must faithfully guard the apostolic teaching entrusted to him.

The language about Christ abolishing death (2 Timothy 1:10) strikes many hearers as powerful, good news. A sermon might devote itself to exploring how the defeat of death and the promise of immortality are expressions or consequences of God’s grace.

Read more:

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1834

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Related:

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Do not be afraid:

Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
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This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
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God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

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06 JUNE, 2018, Wednesday, 9th Week, Ordinary Time

FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [2 Tim 1:1-36-12Ps 123:1-2Mark 12:18-27  ]

We can appreciate the question of the Sadducees to Jesus if we understand the context of their doubts about the resurrection.  Faith in the resurrection was a historical development.  In the early years of the Israelites’ faith, there was no teaching on the resurrection.  The Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, which every Jew subscribes to as the most important part of their sacred scriptures, does not speak about the resurrection.  It was believed that in death, we would all enter Sheol, a place of non-existence, both for the good and bad alike.  It was later on during the time of the prophets, Daniel and Ezekiel, and the wisdom books such as Job and Wisdom, that faith in life after death gradually emerged.  In the later part of the Old Testament, especially towards the inter-testamental period and by the time of the Maccabean era (170 B.C.), belief in the afterlife became more explicit.  Nevertheless, the Jews were divided over this doctrine, as seen in the time of Jesus, with the Sadducees denying the doctrine of the resurrection, and the Pharisees upholding it.

It is within this context that the reality of the resurrection was challenged.  So, all those who were skeptical about the resurrection would see the argument of the Sadducees concerning the case of the man whose brothers had to marry his widow in order to raise up children for him.  If she were to marry all the seven brothers who died, then the logical question was, “when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?”

In fact, this question is not only relevant to those who challenge the reality of the resurrection but also for those who believe in the resurrection.  There are many naïve Catholics who similarly ask me, “Would my husband still recognize me as his wife in heaven?  And suppose I remarry after his death, would I then have two husbands in heaven?”, or, “Will I see my parents and friends or my dogs and cats in heaven?”  Such questions, sincere and innocent though they may be, belie the fact that many do not understand the true meaning of the resurrection.

The resurrection of the body is not a resuscitation.  In the next life, our body would be transfigured.  The body would possess a glorified matter with the soul. Whilst it remains a body, it would be an incorruptible body.  As St Paul says, “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.”  (1 Cor 15:42-44)  So at the resurrection we will have a spiritual body filled with the glory of God.

Accordingly, in the next life, we will share the life and love of God so totally that we will love each other as God loves us, individually, personally and yet inclusively.  That is why the Lord said to them, “Is not the reason why you go wrong, that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, men and woman do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven.”   Heaven is a communion of saints.  We will still recognize each other but we will love without possessiveness.  We will love all others as much as we love our spouses when they were on earth.  Regardless whether they were our loved ones on earth or not, in heaven, we will have so much capacity to love that our love includes all.  Isn’t this the kind of love that priests and religious are supposed to live already in this life?  We are called to love everyone, rich and poor, friends and strangers, male and female, without discrimination or exclusivity.  We are called to share the love of God with everyone because all are our brothers and sisters.   We love others as much as God loves each one of us.

Of course, this cannot be understood or accepted through human logic alone.  This is the mistake of the Sadducees and all those who deny the resurrection.  They want to rationalize and prove the resurrection through reason.  Indeed, Jesus did try to offer them an argument based on scriptures to indicate the truth of the resurrection. “Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the Bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead but of the living. You are very much mistaken.”  And this is what systematic theology also seeks to do when proving the resurrection.  We will use the scripture texts and illustrate the gradual belief in the doctrine of the resurrection from the time of Abraham till the period before Christ.

However, this is insufficient because without a proleptic experience of the resurrection, such reasoning remains a theory and a hypothesis.  This is why our faith in the resurrection is not dependent on reason but on our personal encounter with the Risen Lord.  Only an encounter with the Risen Lord can cause us to believe in the resurrection.  This was true of the apostles and particularly St Paul who was a great persecutor of the Church until his encounter with the Lord. He wrote, that Christ “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”  (1 Cor 15:5-9)

Indeed, in the final analysis, faith in the resurrection requires a personal encounter with the Risen Lord, without which, it remains an empty doctrine and lacks the power to change lives.  With the resurrection, we can “proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”  (1 Cor 1:23-25)

The resurrection is the basis for the proclamation of the gospel.  After encountering the Risen Lord, Jesus commanded them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19f)   Indeed, the Lord repeatedly told the disciples when they saw Him, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers.”  (Mt 28:10)

This explains why St Paul too could encourage Timothy, the young bishop to proclaim the faith without fear or favour.  He reminded him, “never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy – not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace.”  We should not be afraid to witness for Christ like the apostles who preached with boldness after the resurrection because “this grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time, but it has only been revealed by the Appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus. He abolished death, and he has proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News.”  Faith in His death and resurrection is the power of God that we are called to rely on. St Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  (Phil 3:10f)

So what must we do?  St Paul told Timothy, “I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control.”  The Risen Lord has given us His Spirit at Pentecost. This same Spirit that empowered Jesus in His ministry will empower us as well.

So we must renew the Holy Spirit in our lives.  That is why He ordered the disciples “not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This is what you have heard from me;  for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4f)  With the Holy Spirit in us, we know with confidence that the Lord is also with us.  We can say with St Paul, “It is only on account of this that I am experiencing fresh hardships here now; but I have not lost confidence, because I know who it is that I have put my trust in, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to take care of all that I have entrusted to him until that Day.”

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

Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, May 1, 2018 — “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

April 30, 2018

Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory.

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Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 286

Reading 1  ACTS 14:19-28

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium
arrived and won over the crowds.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing that he was dead.
But when the disciples gathered around him,
he got up and entered the city.
On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.After they had proclaimed the good news to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the Church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Then they spent no little time with the disciples.
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Responsorial Psalm  PS 145:10-11, 12-13AB, 21

R. (see 12) Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R. Alleluia.
May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia  SEE LK 24:46, 26

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Gospel  JN 14:27-31A

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom

There is nothing new in the themes presented in today’s readings.

It may come as some surprise to our society that wants nothing to do with pain and suffering that pain and suffering can have meaning in our lives. In fact, not to many human being escape pain and suffering.

Jusus tell us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” This may be one of the most frequent teachings in the Gospels.

Related: (Pain and Suffering)

Do not be afraid:

Over and over again in the scripture we see the words “do not be afraid.” God expects us to know and believe that he has our back!
.
This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
.
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
.
Another anti-anxiety prayer is this one:
.
God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
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Related:
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Praise Jesus for St. Teresa of Ávila who gave us one of the simplest and finest prayers, “Let Nothing Disturb You” –
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Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
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Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
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Related:
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore 
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01 MAY, 2018, Tuesday, 5th Week of Easter
DISCOURAGEMENT IN MINISTRY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ACTS 14:19-28PS 144:10-13,21JOHN 14:27-31  ]

Many of us who are involved in Church ministry, whether as volunteers or full time collaborators, begin with passion and enthusiasm, lots of excitement and hope.  But after some time, many of us fall into routine.  We just keep on doing the same things over and over again.  We lose our zeal and fervor.  We get discouraged or lose hope because of the opposition we get in ministry.  Our superiors and team members oppose our plans. We are being attacked in everything we seek to do.  We are misunderstood.  We see favouritism and discrimination practiced.  We experience injustices.  Instead of appreciation and gratitude, we are taken for granted, or worse still, discredited for all our efforts and sacrifices.  In such a situation, many of us give up serving the Church.  Eventually, some even leave the Church for good because of deep hurts, resentment and disillusionment.

If we are feeling discouraged and feel like giving up doing good at home, in workplace or in church ministry,today we can seek consolation and strength from Paul and Barnabas.  We read of the fortitude and perseverance of St Paul in proclaiming the gospel.  “Some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and turned the people against the apostles. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the town, thinking he was dead.”  However, he was not dead as they thought.  Instead, “he stood up and went back to the town. The next day he and Barnabas went off to Derbe.” Paul was undeterred by the opposition and enemies.  He got up and returned to the city to preach the Good News.  They were not afraid of suffering.

What was the secret of Barnabas’ and Paul’s courage and passion for the preaching of the gospel?  Right from the outset, they were fully conscious that suffering is part of the ministry.  They did not enter into the ministry thinking that it would be a life of comfort.  On the contrary, they were fully aware of the sacrifices involved, the sufferings ahead of them.   They considered sufferings in the ministry as part of the process of purification in love and a test of faith. They were clear that “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God.”

Unfortunately, many of us think that serving in Church, taking care of the poor, or just looking after our family will bring us peace and joy.   We think life would be one of comfort and satisfaction.  This could be true but not the way we think it is.  Jesus clarified for us the peace that He came to bring.  He said, “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.”  The peace and joy that Jesus came to bring us is not that of the world’s, where there is no fighting, no quarrels, no sufferings and no misunderstandings.  If we are looking for such peace, then we are seeking the peace of the world, as in the absence of conflict and war.

The peace that Jesus came to bring is peace within the storms of life.  Peace is the consequence of being assured that in any situation God is with us.  This was what the Lord said to the disciples who felt abandoned, knowing that the Lord was leaving them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.”  Indeed, Christ returned to be with them.  Again, He gave them this promise, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.”  (Jn 14:18f)  Such words were certainly comforting for the apostles because they knew that they were not alone.  Jesus would be with them in a new way, which of course, we know from hindsight is through the Holy Spirit, for earlier on He said, “whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”  (Jn 14:26)

Indeed, the assurance of God’s presence and love is sufficient to see us through the difficulties in life.  We cannot take away the sorrows and sufferings of people because most of us have to grow through suffering.  To prevent a child from going through the pains of learning, a young person from the struggles of finding his or her identity, or a young adult struggling with relationships, would be to short-change them and hinder them from growing.  What they want from us is not to take away their dignity and deprive them of the opportunity to grow in knowledge and in maturity.  All they need is to feel assured that we are with them all the way; that we are walking alongside them, nudging them, encouraging them and praying for them.  This is all that is needed for a person to be strong and to persevere.

That was how the apostles gave hope and courage to the Christians.   “Having preached the Good News in that town and made a considerable number of disciples, they went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith.”  Through their own testimonies of how the Lord looked after them in their trials and how often they escaped death from their enemies, they gave much courage to their fellow Christians to continue to persevere in their faith in spite of the oppositions they faced.

But that is not all. The peace that comes about is not merely the presence of Christ but the assurance that God will triumph in the end.  Jesus said to the disciples, “I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. I shall not talk with you any longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me.”  At times, we feel that evil is stronger than goodness, falsehood has an upper hand over truth, death over life.  But this is not the case.  We are ignorant of the path of the wicked.  The psalmist says, “Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; on awaking you despise their phantoms.” (Ps 73:18-20)

The devil may be powerful but only because God allows him.  However, he could not overcome Jesus.  He tried to tempt Jesus at the beginning of His ministry but failed.  He continued to tempt Jesus in giving up the ministry but Jesus showed Himself to be the strongman.  Hence, Jesus reminds us, “no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.”  (Mk 3:27)  So long as we align ourselves with Jesus the strongman of our house, we will be safe and we will triumph.  This is what the responsorial psalm says, “All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, and your friends shall repeat their blessing. They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might, O God, to make known to men your mighty deeds and the glorious splendour of your reign. Yours is an everlasting kingdom; your rule lasts from age to age.”

In our discouragement, we can also take a page from Jesus.  He said, “the world must be brought to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.”  Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity and humanity out of love for His Father and in obedience to His Father’s will.  When we love someone, we are ready to do anything for that person, even if we have to make sacrifices.  This is true in all forms of love, whether that of parent-child, teacher-student, priest-parishioner.  When we love, all sacrifices and sufferings are made easier but not taken away because we do not suffer in vain but for a purpose.  St Paul too could give up his whole life for the gospel simply because as he said, “I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal 2:19f)

How, then, can we be strong in Jesus unless we are people who are connected with Christ through our leaders and fellow brothers and sisters?  This explains why Barnabas and Paul went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch.  “In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.”  It was important that they appointed good leaders of faith to lead the people of God.  Without good, exemplary and faith-filled leaders, the sheep would be led astray or be lost.  In everything they did, they commended to the grace of God.

Besides having faith-anointed leaders, we need to be connected with our fellow Christians.  “On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans. They stayed there with the disciples for some time.” Prayer, fasting and testimony of what God is doing in our lives will help us to find strength in times of trials and difficulties.  If many of us lose faith and hope so easily, it is because we do not commend ourselves and our activities to the grace of God, and we do not support each other in faith through sharing and testifying to how God is working in our lives.  Unless we listen and share our faith and how God is working in our lives, we will not know that He is alive and that He is still at work in us.

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

Leaving the Pain Behind

April 13, 2018

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Topic: Leaving the Pain Behind

Love…is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. – 1 Corinthians 13:5, The Amplified Bible

Have you ever tried to forgive someone…and found you simply couldn’t do it? You’ve cried about it and prayed about it and asked God to help you, but those old feelings of resentment just failed to go away.

Put an end to those kinds of failures in the future by basing your forgiveness on faith rather than feelings. True forgiveness doesn’t have anything at all to do with how you feel. It’s an act of the will. It is based on obedience to God and on faith in Him.

That means once you’ve forgiven a person, you need to consider them permanently forgiven! When old feelings rise up within you and Satan tries to convince you that you haven’t really forgiven them, resist him. Say, “No, I’ve already forgiven that person by faith. I refuse to dwell on those old feelings.”

Then, according to 1 John 1:9, believe that you receive forgiveness and cleansing from the sin of unforgiveness and from all unrighteousness associated with it—including any remembrance of having been wronged!

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I may forgive, but I’ll never forget!”? That’s a second-rate kind of forgiveness that you, as a believer, are never supposed to settle for. You’re to forgive supernaturally “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

You’re to forgive as God forgives. To release that person from guilt permanently and unconditionally and to operate as if nothing bad ever happened between you. You’re to purposely forget as well as forgive.

As you do that, something supernatural will happen within you. The pain once caused by that incident will disappear. The power of God will wash away the effects of it and you’ll be able to leave it behind you once and for all.

Don’t become an emotional bookkeeper, keeping careful accounts of the wrongs you have suffered. Learn to forgive and forget. It will open a whole new world of blessing for you.

Scripture Reading: Luke 6:27-37

This message was written by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, the leader of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries (www.KCM.org) that specializes in teaching principles of bible faith – prayer, healing, salvation and other biblical topics.

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/38126096/posts/10566

Suggested reading:

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Prayers of Hope by Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Good Friday 2018 Serrmon By Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa: “God desires us. His love is also ‘erotic’ in the noble sense of that word.” — “‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world…”

March 31, 2018

 

Pope’s preacher today once again fills a singular slot

Capuchin Father Rainero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Papal Household. (Credit: CNS.)

ROME – In a deliberately provocative turn of phrase, the Preacher of the Papal Household on Good Friday told worshippers in St. Peter’s Basilica, including Pope Francis, that the love revealed by Christ on the Cross wasn’t just about sacrifice and self-giving – it was also erotic.

“God not only exercises ‘charity’ in loving us, he also desires us,” said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivering the traditional Good Friday meditation.

“Throughout the Bible, he reveals himself as a loving and jealous spouse,” Cantalamessa said. His love is also ‘erotic’ in the noble sense of that word.”

Cantalamessa said the understanding of love today has suffered a “tragic drift,” which is forever contradicted by Christ on the Cross. Love, he said, is no longer “a gift of self, but only the possession – often violent and tyrannical – of the other.”

By way of contrast, he said, God’s love is always both eros and agape – both desire for the other, but also a willingness to sacrifice for them.

“It is not a question of renouncing the joys of love, attraction, and eros, but of knowing how to unite eros and agape in the desire for another, the ability to give oneself to the other, recalling what St. Paul refers to as a saying of Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’,” he said.

Now 83, Cantalamessa has served as the Preacher of the Papal Household for 38 years, having been appointed to the post by St. Pope John Paul II in 1980. Since 1753, it’s been reserved by papal edict to the Capuchins, the fourth largest men’s religious order in the Catholic Church after the Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscans.

(As a footnote, the name “Cantalamessa” in Italian literally means, “sing the Mass.”)

Cantalamessa’s comments on the erotic element of God’s love came in his homily during the Good Friday service, in the context of reflections on young people in a year in which Pope Francis has called a summit of Catholic prelates from around the world, known as a Synod of Bishops, to Rome in October.

A recent March 19-24 gathering of more 300 youth in Rome, buoyed by the participation of 15,000 more young people via Facebook, was intended to provide input to that synod.

RELATED: Youth leaders in Rome struck by ‘polarized’ American climate

Speaking about the upcoming summit, Cantalamessa expressed hope that, “in all the speeches about young people and to young people,” rather than focusing primarily on what youth can offer others, the accent will be instead on what Jesus offers them.

“It is appropriate during this year that we make an effort to discover together with young people what Christ expects from them, what they can offer the Church and society,” he said. “The most important thing, however, is something else: It is to help young people understand what Jesus has to offer them.”

The Capuchin preacher urged youth to take the evangelist St. John as a role model, since, according to tradition, he was quite young when he took up the call to follow Jesus. In particular, he pointed to John’s counsel to “not love the world or the things in the world.”

“The world that we must not love and to which we should not be conformed, as we know, is not the world created and loved by God or the people in the world whom we must always go out to meet, especially the poor and those at the lowest level of society,” he said.

“‘Blending in’ with this world of suffering and marginalization is, paradoxically, the best way of ‘separating’ ourselves from the world, because it means going in the direction from which the world flees as much as it can,” Cantalamessa said.

“It means separating ourselves from the very principle that rules the world, self-centeredness,” he said.

It’s that self-centeredness from which Cantalmessa urged youth to flee, however counter-cultural doing so may be. To drive the point home, he cited the American-born poet T.S. Eliot: “In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.”

Later tonight, Pope Francis will preside over the annual Via Crucis process at Rome’s Colosseum, recalling the steps of Christ on his way to the Cross, and which this year also has a focus on youth.

On Saturday, the pontiff will lead an Easter Vigil Mass beginning at 8:30 p.m. Rome time. On Sunday, he’ll celebrate a Mass for Easter morning in St. Peter’s Square, then deliver his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing, “to the city and the world,” at noon. Generally, popes use those addresses to deliver a sort of 360-degree review of the global situation, often indicating their most pressing diplomatic and political priorities.

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/03/30/papal-preacher-says-gods-love-isnt-just-sacrifice-its-erotic-too/

Related:

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Peace and Freedom Note: There is a lot of Christian literature that speaks to the nature of the love between God and man. Many authors refer to the erotic or jealous love — as Fr Cantalamessa did on Good Friday.

See also:

Why Sexual Metaphors of Jesus and His Bride Embarrass Us

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-sexual-metaphors-of-jesus-and-his-bride-embarrass-us

Many Americans prefer to think of God as the father in the “Prodigal Son” parable.

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Book: “Return of the Prodigal Son,” by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen says the book should have been called “Return to the All Loving, All Forgiving Father.”

Art by Rembrandt.

Good Friday Sermon To Pope Francis, 2018 — “Jesus makes self-giving love possible.” — By Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

March 30, 2018

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30 March 2018, 18:00

One of the eyewitnesses to the death of Jesus on the cross is “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This phrase of John’s Gospel proclaimed during the Celebration of the Lord’s passion forms the basis for Fr Cantalamessa’s homily.

Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap.

By Sr Bernadete Mary Reis, fsp

The Preacher of the Pontifical household focused on the eyewitness John who wrote an account of what he witnessed. John not only saw what everyone else saw. “He also saw the meaning of what happened,” Fr Cantalamessa says. He saw the sacrificial Lamb of God, the fulfillment of the Passover, the “new temple of God from whose side (…) flowed the water of life.” John witnessed the release of the Spirit of God who as, in the beginning, “transformed the chaos in the cosmos.”

What does the cross reveal?

Fr Cantalamessa explains that John understood that Jesus on the cross was revealing God “as he really is, in his most intimate and truest reality.” Later John would express this understanding as “God is love” (1 Jn 4:10), meaning that it is an oblative love, a love that consists in self-giving.” It is only on the cross that God manifests just how far his love will go: “He loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1).

John manifests a “real falling in love.” After his encounter with Jesus “everything else suddenly took second place,” Fr Cantalamessa recounts. Since the Church is preparing for the Synod on Young People, John’s witness can provide a model for the young to realize what Pope Francis invites us to in Evangelii gaudium: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ” (n. 3).

A mission for the young

It is precisely up to the young “to rescue human love from the tragic drift in which it has ended up,” Fr Cantalamessa proposes. “God revealed himself on the cross as agape, the love that gives itself.” Turning to young people, Fr Cantalamessa explains how they can do this: “it is necessary to prepare yourselves to make a total gift of self to another in marriage, or to God in consecrated life, beginning by making a gift of your time, of your smile, (…) of your lives in the family, in the parish, and in volunteer work,” he says. In this way, young people will learn how to unite eros to agape, he says.

Jesus makes self-giving love possible

In conclusion, Fr Cantalamessa proclaims that through his grace Jesus makes it possible for us to live self-giving love “to some extent, in our lives.” Today we can tap into this grace through the Church’s sacraments by which we come in contact with the water and blood that John saw flowing from Christ’s open side, and by weeping “tears of repentance and consolation” when we look on the pierced one.

http://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-francis-good-friday-homily-cantalamessa.html

text, Good Friday, 2018, Raniero Cantalamessa

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

March 30, 2018

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Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Homilist to Pope Francis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 26, 2018

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

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

Related:

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For more on Peterson’s thinking:

Related:

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

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

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

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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, February 13, 2018 — The Spirit helps us in our weakness and suffering — The first step begins with the acknowledgement that we are weak…

February 12, 2018

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 336

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Reading 1  JAS 1:12-18

Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life
that he promised to those who love him.
No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters:
all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 94:12-13A, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12a) Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me;
When cares abound within me,
your comfort gladdens my soul.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.

Alleluia JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Gospel MK 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

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Commentary on Mark 8:14-21 from Living Space

Today we see the blindness of Jesus’ own disciples.  This, of course, is pointing to our blindness in not recognising the clear presence of God in our own lives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Prayer

I need only say, ‘I am slipping,’
for your faithful love, Yahweh, to support me;
however great the anxiety of my heart,
your consolations soothe me. (Ps 94,18-19)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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13 FEBRUARY, 2018, Tuesday, 6th Week, Ordinary Time
RESISTING TEMPTATIONS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ JAMES 1:12-18;  MK 8:14-21  ]

We are all tempted in different ways.  No one is beyond temptation.  Not even Jesus, because He Himself was tempted throughout His ministry.   In fact, at the very beginning of His ministry, we read how the Devil tempted Him in the desert after 40 days of fasting.  (cf Mt 4:1-11) Temptations can come in many ways.  Not all temptations come from the Evil One.   Some come from the flesh and others from the world.  Because of our wounded nature, we are tempted to satisfy our bodily and sensual cravings.  The world with all its attraction and glory, power and beauty also can tempt us.  That was how the Devil tempted our Lord by asking Him to change stone into bread when He was hungry; and to worship him to receive the glory and kingdom of the world.

How, then, do we overcome temptations?  When we are tempted, the tendency is to push the blame on others instead of taking ownership for our sins.  We blame our friends for making us fall into the sin of lust.  We blame our parents and our teachers for making us cheat in our exams.  Or else, we blame the Devil and even God.  This is what St James wants us to realize.  He said, “Never, when you have been tempted, say, ‘God sent the temptation’; God cannot be tempted to do anything wrong, and he does not tempt anybody.”   We should not blame anyone because we have the choice. So, we must assume responsibility when we fall into temptation.

But as St James said, “Happy the man who stands firm when trials come.  He has proved himself, and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  Indeed, great joy waits those who can resist the temptations of the Evil One, the Flesh and the World.  Temptation is for us to grow stronger, not to weaken us.  It is through temptations and trials that our fidelity and love for God and for our loved ones is tried.  As we overcome one temptation after another, we become stronger to resist greater temptations.  As the Lord had said, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”  (Lk 16:11)

So how can we strengthen ourselves against the temptations that come our way? The first step begins with the acknowledgement that we are weak.   Acknowledgement of the temptation and our weakness is the first step.  If that is so, then we must study the cause and the origin of our temptations so that we can better preempt and protect ourselves from being exposed to unnecessary temptations.  We must be alert, as St Peter warns us, “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pt 5:8)  St James explains the origin and cause of every temptation.   “Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.”

Sin begins with the wrong desire.  The beginning of sin is always craving.  Not all cravings are wrong.  But craving is a form of attachment.  When we are attached, and we do not get what we want, there is the pain and misery.  What is worse is when our attachment to those things or person we desire are not truly good for us.  Many of us are ignorant about what is good and true.  We are deceived by our eyes because of our ignorance.  We are blinded by the conditioning of the world, presenting to us the things of this world as if they are everything; pleasure, power, glory, sex and all the passing things.  Such worldly possessions cannot make us happy.  If fact, they make us more frustrated because the moment you have them, that moment you lose your satisfaction.   What is worse is that some of these wrongful attachments and desires bring us misery and pain.

From desire, we are led to action, which is the birth of the thought that entices our minds, our hearts and our body. And if it is a wrong action, it is sin.  So the beginning of every action, good and evil comes from the mind.  It begins with either with a good and noble thought or an evil and selfish one.   If it were a good thought, then we should nurture that thought so that it can give birth to good actions.  But if it were a bad thought, then even before the thought develops, we must cease from thinking about it.  If we allow the thought to continue, then it will materialize into sin.  This was how Eve was tempted by the Evil One.  It began with a thought that was sowed into the mind of Eve by the Devil.  Then, it was presented as something beautiful and good.  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.”  (Gn 3:6)

So the key to overcoming temptation must begin at the beginning. To catch ourselves even before the craving begins.  Jesus warned us,  “Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.”  Why yeast?  Because a little yeast will help the flour to grow and expand.  So too the beginning of sin is like a little yeast put into our hearts and it will grow to consume our minds and hearts. For this reason, the wisdom of our fathers is true when they say, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”  When we are too free or when there is nothing exciting to engage us, mind and body, our minds begin to wonder and look for excitement and thrills.  This is when the devil will come to suggest to us what would be good for us.   If we are conscious of such thoughts and stifle them before they are embellished, then the temptation would not arise.   So the guide to overcoming temptation is always to occupy ourselves with meaningful and fulfilling activities.  Of course, a person of solitude and prayer will definitely be more attentive to the stirring of the spirits in his or her heart.

Secondly, in our deliberation of what we intend to do, we must bring to mind the mistakes of our past.  Jesus reprimanded the apostles, “Do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?  They answered, ‘Twelve.’  ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’  And they answered, ‘Seven.’”  The problem with us is that we do not remember our mistakes.  Instead of learning from them, we keep on repeating the same mistakes, forgetting the price of our sins.  Indeed the greatest tragedy is not making mistakes but to repeat them again.

Hence, we must, as Jesus said, “Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt 26:41)  This is why prayer is the answer to overcoming temptation.   But the prayer that is needed is not just asking for God’s help but the prayer of examen.  This form of prayer requires us to examine our conscience, considering all that we had done, and failed to do; the presence of God in our daily life and the lack of consciousness of His presence.  Spiritual masters recommend that we do at least one examen daily, either in the morning or evening; or better still, do it three times a day.

Thirdly, we must grow in perception.  Often the thought comes so quickly that we are left unguarded.  Before we can even stop it, it has become full blown and waiting to be conceived in action.  If that is the case, it is important that we remember the futility of our past cravings.  We must recall how these cravings, even when satisfied, left us unfulfilled or even worse, to suffer the pain of guilt and self-hatred.  Indeed, every time we sin, we look at our mistakes and regret our folly.  Growing in perception of the folly of our past will give us the impetus to avoid repeating the same sin because we know that the pleasure of sin is short-lived and the incomparable peace and joy from God is lost.

If we lack perception and understanding, there is still one way to grow in discernment.  It is to rely on the Word of God.  St James urges us to seek God who is all light, truth and love.  “Make no mistake about this, my dear brothers; it is all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light; with him there is no such thing as alteration, no shadow of a change.  By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth so that we should be a sort of first-fruits of all that he had created.”  And St Timothy urges to read the Word of God because “all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Tim 3:16f)

Finally, we need to pray and depend solely on His grace alone.  The psalmist says, “When I think: ‘I have lost my foothold’; your mercy, Lord, holds me up. When cares increase in my heart your consolation calms my soul.”  Indeed, only the grace of God can help us to overcome all trials and temptations in life.  St Paul shares with us, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  (Phil 4:13) Finally, we take consolation in the words of St Paul when he said, “Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me”  (2 Cor 12:8f)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Admit Our Weakness
By Karla Hawkins
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A paradox is a statement that seems to contradict itself but may nonetheless be true. God’s written word, the Bible, is full of paradoxes. This is certainly true when discussing the terms “weakness” and “strength.” For example, many Christians say and believe that we are strongest when we are on our knees in prayer. This seems totally erroneous and contradictory to unbelievers, and yet when we turn things over to God in prayer our lives are strengthened and refreshed. With this idea in mind, here are my top 7 Bible verses about weakness.

Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

Our daily lives are often full of difficulties and challenges, and discouragement can come upon us quickly as well. We often find ourselves struggling with fear and anxiety about the unknown or because of the hardships we face. As Christians, though, we do not have to despair or give up. This verse gives us so much hope and encouragement, because the Lord is saying to us that the Holy Spirit will help us when we are weak or struggling. Sometimes in the middle of life’s storms it is even difficult to know how to pray, and once again the Lord tells us here in this verse that the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us even when we don’t know what to pray. The Lord cares about us at all times, and he has covered us with every contingency plan necessary.

I Corinthians 1:25 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

We all know that the Lord is wiser and stronger than any man that has ever lived, and this verse reinforces that fact. It is also a paradox to think about God being foolish or weak, as he certainly is neither of those. So the apostle Paul’s statement here verifies that we should never underestimate the paradoxical strength and wisdom of the Lord.

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bible verses about weakness

I Corinthians 15:43 “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.”

The apostle Paul is describing what will happen to our human bodies when we die as Christians in this passage. He explains that when we die, our bodies are laid to rest in dishonor but raised in glory. They are also put to rest in weakness, but that the Lord will then raise us up in power. Even though it seems contradictory, God’s plan is always to raise us up to a new level with him. Whether that is here on earth during our ministry time or when we go to heaven to be with him forever.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

In a culture that promotes strength and independence, it may seem strange that weakness should be exalted and even desired. In this passage, the apostle Paul had asked the Lord to take away a “thorn of the flesh” that Paul was struggling with. However, this verse gives the Lord’s response, as he tells Paul that God’s power is made perfect in our human weakness. This is obviously a paradox, as we would never think that a “weakness” could make us stronger. But in God’s economy, God’s strength can shine through us more easily when we are weak. This is true, because when we die to ourselves and give up our own desires to the Lord, then he is able to work amazing things through us. We become his vessels to be filled and used at his discretion.

2 Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The apostle Paul is such a great example of a man who loved God so completely that he was willing to suffer much for the cause of Christ. In this verse he even admits that he will endure insults, hardships, and persecutions for the sake of his Lord and Savior. Paul not only states that he will survive them, but he even says that he is “content” with these challenges. So in this verse there are several paradoxes, as who would be content with hardships? Also, he states the great contradiction that when he is weak, then he is strong. When we are “weak” and we turn our lives over to God, then he can be “strong” and work great things through us.

2 Corinthians 13:4 “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”

Jesus himself was considered weak by the Romans, because he went to the cross “like a lamb to the slaughter.” Likewise, as Christians we can be considered weak, because of God’s humility working in us. However, Jesus was actually filled with the power of God when he submitted his will to that of the Father, and that is the same for us. When Jesus lives in us, we can live by the power of God.

Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

This verse is very powerful, because it truly shows God’s love for us in that he sent his one and only son to live here on earth with us. That experience enabled the trinity to not only sympathize but actually empathize with our human struggles and weaknesses, as Jesus was tempted just like we are on a daily basis. However, Jesus never sinned, and he made a way for us to come back to the Father as well. So he is our high priest—a model of perfection—that even though he appeared weak, he actually pointed the way to heaven.

CONCLUSION

The Bible is full of paradoxes that God uses to teach us key elements in our walk with him. Prayer is one of the tools that he has given us to submit and lean on him as well. The Lord wants us to be totally dependent and reliant on Him for our guidance and salvation. He even tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against unseen spiritual forces. One such paradox is the biblical relationship between weakness and strength. So when we die to ourselves and are “weak,” then God is strong, and he can manifest his power and truth through us.

Written by Karla Hawkins

God has been good to me over the years, and I have much for which to be grateful to Him. First of all, I feel blessed to be the pastor’s wife of a thriving church in northern Michigan and the mother of four amazing grown children. It is also very rewarding to be a Christian author, editor and translator for the Kingdom of God. Some of my favorite pastimes include supporting my children’s contemporary Christian band ONLY9AM, singing on the worship team at church, traveling, and connecting with family and friends via social media. When I am not working, I love spending time with my family and especially with my precious three-year-old grandson.

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