Posts Tagged ‘Turn to the Lord in your need and you will live.’

Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, July 18, 2017 — God saves us so that we can save others.

July 17, 2017

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 390

Image result for Pharaoh's daughter finds a basket by the river, art, photos

Pharaoh’s daughter finds a basket by the river

Reading 1 EX 2:1-15A

A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman,
who conceived and bore a son.
Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months.
When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket,
daubed it with bitumen and pitch,
and putting the child in it,
placed it among the reeds on the river bank.
His sister stationed herself at a distance
to find out what would happen to him.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe,
while her maids walked along the river bank.
Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it.
On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying!
She was moved with pity for him and said,
“It is one of the Hebrews’ children.”
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter,
“Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women
to nurse the child for you?”
“Yes, do so,” she answered.
So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother.
Pharaoh’s daughter said to her,
“Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.”
The woman therefore took the child and nursed it.
When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter,
who adopted him as her son and called him Moses;
for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

On one occasion, after Moses had grown up,
when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor,
he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen.
Looking about and seeing no one,
he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting!
So he asked the culprit,
“Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?”
But the culprit replied,
“Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us?
Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?”
Then Moses became afraid and thought,
“The affair must certainly be known.”

Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death.
But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

R. (see 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I am sunk in the abysmal swamp
where there is no foothold;
I have reached the watery depths;
the flood overwhelms me.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me;
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

AlleluiaPS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Matthew and the Angel by Rembrandt

Gospel MT 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns
where most of his mighty deeds had been done,
since they had not repented.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum:

Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom,
it would have remained until this day.
But I tell you, it will be more tolerable
for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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18 JULY, 2017, Tuesday, 15th Week, Ordinary Time
THE TRAGEDY OF INDIFFERENCE AND INGRATITUDE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Ex 2:1-15Ps 68:3,14,30-31,33-34Mt 11:20-24   ]

God is our deliverer and He is our savior.  Indeed, it is God’s desire to save us.  He has always wanted to save His people.  It is significant that God saves us so that we can save others.  God saved Moses so that he could save His people.   The name given to Moses means “I draw you out of the waters.”  In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist also prayed, “I have sunk into the mud of the deep and there is no foothold.  I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me. This is my prayer to you, my prayer for your favour.  In your great love, answer me, O God, with your help that never fails.”   We too were in our sins and sunk deep in the mess of life.  But Christ saved us through the waters of baptism when we died to our sins.  Through the passion and death of Christ, we are raised with Him in the resurrected life.

But we are not saved for our sake.  We are always saved for others.  When God delivers us, He has in mind for us to deliver others as well.  That was the case of Moses when he was saved from the waters so that he could lead the people across the waters from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land.  This was true of Peter and Paul as well.  They were saved by the Lord, forgiven and set free.  In turn they became great evangelizers.  This is something we must never forget.  God does not bless us just for our sake but for the sake of others.  Moses likewise responded by protecting his countryman from being bullied by an Egyptian.  He saw one of them being ill-treated and his natural instinct was to fight for his rights. Having been rescued himself, he did the same for others.

Only those who have suffered much can empathize much.   We tend to champion the underdogs only because we were once underdogs ourselves.  Those who have gone through difficult times can better identify with those who are suffering.  That was why Jesus became man.  He assumed our humanity, born into the poverty of His people and shared in the humanity of His people.  For this reason, Jesus was a compassionate high priest.  He understands our pains and our struggles.  He feels with us in our sickness, alienation and rejection.  We too, especially when we become better off and or have recovered from our struggles or illnesses, should learn to be more compassionate with those who are suffering.  The call to mission always springs from a desire to save and heal those who have suffered much like us.

But seeking to save others does not mean that we should right a wrong with another wrong.  Quite often in the world, we see much violence in the name of justice.  So called ‘religious people’ kill in the name of God.  Those who champion justice would kill others to fight for their rights.   We must be careful that we do not fall into extremes in the desire to help those who are in the same situation as were in.  That would be only a reaction, not an action on our part, in the face of suffering.  In the case of Moses, instead of helping the situation, he made it worse by killing the Egyptian.  In his disgust, he allowed his anger against injustice done to his countryman to be expressed in violence.  He took things into his own hands.  He did not follow the right way in his desire for justice.  To take a life was not in accordance with the plan of God. This was not the way to right a wrong.  We cannot overcome evil with evil.  “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.”  (Rom 12:17) St Paul made it clear.  “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Rom 12:19-21)

As a result he had to flee “from Pharaoh and made for the land of Midian.”  Perhaps, God needed to teach Moses the right way to deliver others from their misery.  He had to understand the ways of God.  He had to be healed of his old wounds first before he could heal others.  Otherwise, when we act out of our raw wounds, we tend to be excessive and reactive towards the oppressors or in undertaking certain actions. St Paul preached at Damascus soon after his conversion and almost got himself murdered as well.  (cf Acts 9:23-25) He too went away to Arabia to reflect on his conversion experience and grow in his relationship with the Lord. “Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.”  (Gal 1:17)  It is always dangerous when one acts from one’s wounds as many do in their attempts to fight for the marginalized.  It is said that oppressors were once a victim.  So much so that in helping those who are suffering, we act from the raw wounds that are still hurting us.

On the other hand, there are those who, although have been helped and delivered, remain inward-looking.  They take their privileges for granted, like the townsfolks from Chorazin and Bethsaida.  “Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you.” In spite of the miracles that Jesus performed for them, they were not responsive to the Good News.  Their lives were not changed or transformed.  Perhaps Jesus’ remark in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine’s, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you” (Mt 7:6), came from such encounters.

There are many who have taken for granted the blessings they received in life.  Instead of being grateful and thankful to God and to those who have blessed them, they remained indifferent.  This is the tragedy of life.  There are some people who are so grateful for the little things we have done for them.  They remember our kindness for life and in turn want to bless others with whatever blessings they have received.  Indeed, we hear stories of those who have been helped by the Church when they were poor.  Now that they have become rich, they recount their stories of their gratitude to the Church for standing by them in those difficult times.  They remain eternally grateful to God and the Church and seek to help those who are less fortunate.

Then there are others we have helped much, financially and in so many other ways.  They take us for granted, remain unappreciative and demanding.  What is most hurting is that those people whom we have sacrificed our lives for, given all we could and supported them in every way, would later turn against us.   For such people, we do not condemn them.  They deserve our pity rather than judgment.  This was the way Jesus felt for those people in Chorazin and Bethsaida.  He spoke out of sorrow for them rather than anger at their ignorance and indifference. At the end of the day, they were the ones who deprived themselves of the fullness of the grace of God’s blessings.

Today, we are called to be like the psalmist who is ever so grateful to God for delivering him from the troubles of life.   “I have sunk into the mud of the deep and there is no foothold.  I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me.  In your great love, answer me, O God, with your help that never fails.  As for me in my poverty and pain let your help, O God, lift me up.  I will praise God’s name with a song; I will glorify him with thanksgiving.  The poor when they see it will be glad and God-seeking hearts will revive; for the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains.”  The Lord listened to the prayers of the needy and those in the depths of their pains.  Filled with gratitude and joy, they glorify God in their lives.  Let us not receive the grace of God in vain, like the people in the towns that Jesus preached.


Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved

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

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Exodus 2:1-10 . BIRTH AND PRESERVATION OF MOSES.

1. there went a man of the house of Levi, &c. Amram was the husband and Jochebed the wife (compare Exodus 6:2 , Numbers 26:59 ). The marriage took place, and two children, Miriam and Aaron, were born some years before the infanticidal edict.

2. the woman . . . bare a son, &c. Some extraordinary appearance of remarkable comeliness led his parents to augur his future greatness. Beauty was regarded by the ancients as a mark of the divine favor.
hid him three months–The parents were a pious couple, and the measures they took were prompted not only by parental attachment, but by a strong faith in the blessing of God prospering their endeavors to save the infant.

3. she took for him an ark of bulrushes–papyrus, a thick, strong, and tough reed.
slime–the mud of the Nile, which, when hardened, is very tenacious.
pitch–mineral tar. Boats of this description are seen daily floating on the surface of the river, with no other caulking than Nile mud (compare Isaiah 18:2 ), and they are perfectly watertight, unless the coating is forced off by stormy weather.
flags–a general term for sea or river weed. The chest was not, as is often represented, committed to the bosom of the water but laid on the bank, where it would naturally appear to have been drifted by the current and arrested by the reedy thicket. The spot is traditionally said to be the Isle of Rodah, near Old Cairo.

4. his sister–Miriam would probably be a girl of ten or twelve years of age at the time.

5. the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river–The occasion is thought to have been a religious solemnity which the royal family opened by bathing in the sacred stream. Peculiar sacredness was attached to those portions of the Nile which flowed near the temples. The water was there fenced off as a protection from the crocodiles; and doubtless the princess had an enclosure reserved for her own use, the road to which seems to have been well known to Jochebed.
walked along–in procession or in file.
she sent her maid–her immediate attendant. The term is different from that rendered “maidens.”

6-9. when she had opened it, she saw the child–The narrative is picturesque. No tale of romance ever described a plot more skilfully laid or more full of interest in the development. The expedient of the ark, the slime and pitch, the choice of the time and place, the appeal to the sensibilities of the female breast, the stationing of the sister as a watch of the proceedings, her timely suggestion of a nurse, and the engagement of the mother herself–all bespeak a more than ordinary measure of ingenuity as well as intense solicitude on the part of the parents. But the origin of the scheme was most probably owing to a divine suggestion, as its success was due to an overruling Providence, who not only preserved the child’s life, but provided for his being trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Hence it is said to have been done by faith ( Hebrews 11:23 ), either in the general promise of deliverance, or some special revelation made to Amram and Jochebed–and in this view, the pious couple gave a beautiful example of a firm reliance on the word of God, united with an active use of the most suitable means.

10. she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter–Though it must have been nearly as severe a trial for Jochebed to part with him the second time as the first, she was doubtless reconciled to it by her belief in his high destination as the future deliverer of Israel. His age when removed to the palace is not stated; but he was old enough to be well instructed in the principles of the true religion; and those early impressions, deepened by the power of divine grace, were never forgotten or effaced.

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he became her son–by adoption, and his high rank afforded him advantages in education, which in the Providence of God were made subservient to far different purposes from what his royal patroness intended.

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she called his name Moses–His parents might, as usual, at the time of his circumcision, have given him a name, which is traditionally said to have been Joachim. But the name chosen by the princess, whether of Egyptian or Hebrew origin, is the only one by which he has ever been known to the church; and it is a permanent memorial of the painful incidents of his birth and infancy.

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/exodus/exodus-2.html

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Commentary on Matthew 11:20-24 From Living Space
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After the apostolic discourse of chap 10, Matthew goes back to narrative.  In two passages preceding today’s Jesus reassures the disciples of John the Baptist that he is indeed the “one who is to come”, that is, the Messiah and Saviour-King.
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This is followed by a passage where Jesus complains of those who close their minds to God’s word.  John the Baptist led the life of an ascetic in the wilderness and they did not listen to him.  Jesus socialised freely with all kinds of people and they accused him of being a glutton and a drunkard.
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So today Jesus warns three towns where he spent much of his time: Chorazin, Bethsaida and especially Capernaum.  If Jesus had done in the pagan towns of Tyre and Sidon what he had down in these predominantly Israelite towns, they would have converted long ago. Even Sodom, the biblical image of the very worst in immorality, would have done better.
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It is important for us to realise that, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is primarily speaking to us today.  If many non-Christians had been given the opportunities that we have received through our membership of the Christian community, they could very well be living much more generously than we do.  To what extent are we listening to God’s word?  How much of it do we try to understand?  And how much of it is reflected in our lifestyle?  Are we clearly and obviously followers of Christ and his Way?
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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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• The Discourse of the Mission occupies charter 10.  Chapters 11 and 12 describe the Mission which Jesus carried out and how he did it. The two chapters mention how the people adhered to him, doubted the evangelizing action of Jesus, or rejected it.
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John the Baptist, who looked at Jesus with the eyes of the past, does not succeed in understanding him (Mt 11, 1-15). The people, who looked at Jesus out of interest, were not capable to understand him (Mt 11, 16-19). The great cities around the lake, which listened to the preaching of Jesus and saw his miracles, did not want to open themselves up to his message (this is the text of today’s Gospel) (Mt 11, 20-24). The wise and the doctors, who appreciated everything according to their own science, were not capable to understand the preaching of Jesus (Mt 11, 25). The Pharisees, who trusted only in the observance of the law, criticized Jesus (Mt 12, 1-8) and decided to kill him (Mt 12, 9-14).
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They said that Jesus acted in the name of Beelzebul (Mt 12, 22-37). They wanted a proof in order to be able to believe in him (Mt 12, 38-45). Not even his relatives supported him (Mt 12, 46-50). Only the little ones and the simple people understood and accepted the Good News of the Kingdom (Mt 11, 25-30).  They followed him (Mt 12, 15-16) and saw in him the Servant announced by Isaiah (Mt 12, 17-21).
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• This way of describing the missionary activity of Jesus was a clear warning for the disciples who together with Jesus walked through Galilee. They could not expect a reward or praise for the fact of being missionaries of Jesus. This warning is also valid for us who today read and meditate on this discourse of the Mission, because the Gospels were written for all times.  They invite us to confront the attitude that we have with Jesus with the attitude of the persons who appear in the Gospel and to ask ourselves if we are like John the Baptist (Mt 11, 1-15), like the people who were interested (Mt 11, 16-19), like the unbelieving cities (Mt 11, 20-24), like the doctors who thought they knew everything and understood nothing (Mt 11, 25), like the Pharisees who only knew how to criticize (Mt 12, 1-45) or like the simple people who went seeking for Jesus (Mt 12. 15) and that, with their wisdom, knew how to understand and accept the message of the Kingdom (Mt 11, 25-30).
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• Matthew 11, 20: The word against the cities which did not receive him. The space in which Jesus moves during those three years of his missionary life was small; only a few square kilometres along the Sea of Galilee around the cities of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin. Only that!  So it was in this very reduced space where Jesus made the majority of his discourses and worked his miracles.  He came to save the whole of humanity, and almost did not get out of the limited space of his land.  Tragically, Jesus has to become aware that the people of those cities did not want to accept the message of the Kingdom and were not converted.
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The cities become more rigid in their beliefs, traditions and customs and do not accept the invitation of Jesus to change life.
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• Matthew 11, 21-24: Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum are worse than Tyre and Sidon. In the past, Tyre and Sidon, inflexible enemies of Israel, ill treated the People of God. Because of this they were cursed by the prophets. (Is 23, 1; Jr 25, 22; 47, 4; Ex 26, 3; 27, 2; 28, 2; Jl 4, 4; Am 1, 10). And now Jesus says that these cities, symbols of all evil, would have already been converted if in them had been worked all the miracles which were worked in Chorazin and Bethsaida.
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The city of Sodom, the symbol of the worse perversion, was destroyed by the anger of God (Gn 18, 16 to 19, 29). And now Jesus says that Sodom would exist up until now, because it would have been converted if it had seen the miracles that Jesus worked in Capernaum. Today we still live this same paradox.  Many of us, who are Catholics since we were children, have many solid and firm convictions, so much so that nobody is capable of converting us. And in some places, Christianity, instead of being a source of change and of conversion, becomes the refuge of the most reactionary forces of the politics of the country.
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Personal questions
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• How do I place myself before the Good News of Jesus: like John the Baptist, like the interested people, like the doctors, like the Pharisees or like the simple and poor people?
• Do my city, my country deserve the warning of Jesus against Capernaum, Chorazion and Bethsaida?
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Concluding Prayer
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Great is Yahweh and most worthy of praise
in the city of our God, the holy mountain,
towering in beauty,
the joy of the whole world. (Ps 48,1-2)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore (July 14, 2015)
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St John captured it so poignantly when he wrote “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”  (Jn 1;11)  Jesus who loved His people so much and who came for them even instructed His disciples “not to go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Mt 10:5f)

 

The failure to respond to grace is the gist of today’s gospel.  The scripture readings invite us to consider the graces that we have received from God.  Like the Chosen People of God, we fail to take cognizance of the many wonderful graces we have received from Him with respect to our faith, life, health, material sufficiency, loved ones and friends.  Miracles are happening all around us every day and yet we are so blind to the wondrous works that God is doing for us and with us.  We fail to see these as signs from God, tokens of His love and mercy for us.

Instead, most of us take God and His graces for granted.  In Singapore, we are so fortunate in that there are ample avenues for those of us who are serious about deepening our faith.  We have the daily Eucharist celebrated at our parishes, and as if these are not near enough, we even have the Eucharist brought to the vicinity of our work place.  We have plenty of Adoration chapels open for us to pray in comfort.  There is even one, the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at CSC, which is open 24 hours throughout the year.  For those of us who are internet savvy, there are plenty of websites that offer scripture reflections for the day.  In terms of faith formation, we have talks, seminars and retreats in the parishes and our retreat houses.  And if we need community, there are neighbourhood groups and numerous movements and organizations to join, according to the charisms God has bestowed us with.  But how many of us avail of these resources?  More importantly, how many of us are making full use of the graces given to us so that we can deepen our faith and grow in charity for ourselves and for each other?

Not only do we take God and our faith for granted, we take our loved ones for granted as well.  It is ironical that we are more grateful to strangers and acquaintances who help us with small favours now and then, rather than to our friends and loved ones who spend much time and resources on us.  The love and kindness shown to us by our spouse and intimate friends seem to be something owed to us and not perceived as graces given to us.  When we take people for granted, especially those who are close to us, we do not grow in our love for them.  We are not appreciative because what is supposedly a gift from their goodness is seen as a right due to us.

Finally, most of us have received the blessings of God in vain.  God has blessed us with talents, wealth, health, career and success, yet we do not use our resources to help others, to contribute to the Church and society.  Instead of using what the Lord has blessed us with for the good of humanity, we use them only for ourselves.  Worse still are those who use their talents and resources for evil purposes, to manipulate others, to acquire more power and wealth for themselves.

If we have received the grace of God in vain, there will be serious repercussions. Jesus has this to say to us, “And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgment day with Tyre and Sidon as with you.  And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven?  You shall be thrown down to hell.  For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet.  And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard as the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.” In warning them about the imminent judgment, He was not saying that God is a vindictive and merciless God.  On the contrary, Jesus was trying to express the lamentation of God who could not bear to see the self-destruction of His people.  The truth is that what we sow will be what we reap.  The disastrous consequences will be brought upon by ourselves.  For failing to use the graces of God responsibly and gratefully, we will cause ourselves and even our innocent loved ones to be destroyed by our sins.

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You can read all of Bishop Goh’s sermon from last year in our archives:
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O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small…

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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, July 10, 2016 — “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

July 9, 2016

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 105

Art: The Good Samaritan by Walter Rane.

Reading 1 DT 30:10-14

Moses said to the people:
“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.”For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37

R. (cf. 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness:
in your great mercy turn toward me.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
The descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it.
R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Or PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R.(9a) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
the decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Reading 2 COL 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Alleluia CF. JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law?
How do you read it?”
He said in reply,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself.”

He replied to him, “You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live.”But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
“And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied,
“A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
‘Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.’
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
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From The Abbot in the Desert

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Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?  This is the theme for our readings today.  All of us want to know what we must do for eternal life.  The way in which we ask the question is probably more important than the answer.  If I am looking only for the things that I must do, my question will take me to a dead end.  If I am asking how to follow the Teacher, the Lord Jesus, then all shall be well.  We should all be attentive to the difference in the way we ask questions!  The first way of asking this question could result in a handbook of the various things that I must do.  The second way of asking the question has only a vague answer that must be lived concretely each day:  Love God and love your neighbor!

The first reading today is from the Book of Deuteronomy and is very similar to today’s Gospel:  heed the voice of the Lord and keep His commandments and statutes.  Sure, there is something a bit more concrete in this advice than that of the Gospel, but it implies an ongoing listening to the voice of the Lord—and that is the same as loving God and neighbor.  God’s message to us, His people, has been consistent throughout all ages:  listen to His voice, love Him and others, follow Him in every moment of life.

The second reading, from the Letter of the Colossians, again contains this same type of teaching, but is now specific that God is in Jesus and it is Jesus, our Teacher, that we must follow, and He is the head of the Church and so we must belong in the Church.  Jesus is God and Jesus is encountered now in His Church.  So many today would like to say:  I love Jesus but I don’t like the Church.  This kind of thinking has no place in us who follow the Teacher, the Lord Jesus.  Jesus is the head of the Church and the Spirit guides the Church.  Jesus and the Spirit show us the Father in His Church.

The whole focus of Luke’s Gospel today is on the story of the Good Samaritan.  Clearly we are called to love our neighbor.  This is the direct teaching of Jesus.  And who is my neighbor:  everyone who comes into my life in any way.  My neighbor is every person I treat with mercy for love of the Lord Jesus, my Teacher.  My neighbor is each person who needs my help or asks my help or who enters my life in any way.  We can see quickly that this answer makes us leave aside any book of good deeds that I must do and instead I must serve each person according to that person’s needs.  An incredible commandment!  It demands everything of us, just as it demanded everything of Jesus, even unto death.

My sisters and brothers, we are invited to walk the way of the Teacher, the Lord Jesus, and serve all others and to give our lives up completely in the love of others.  Let us walk in the way of the Lord!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Abiquiu, New Mexico

https://christdesert.org/2016/07/15th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-cycle-c-2016/

 

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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10 JULY 2016, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
FINDING LIFE BY ENCOUNTERING GOD IN NEIGHBOR AND SELF

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ DT 30:10-14; COL 1:15-20; LK 10:25-37  ]Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  In seeking for eternal life, he is seeking for the life of God, a share in God’s life.   So, what must we do in order to have a share in the life of God?

The first thing we need to do, the first reading exhorts us, is that we must return to the Lord our God with all our heart and soul.  Why is this so?  Because only God who is eternal life can give us this kind of life!   If there is no life in us, it is because we are far from Him.  Indeed, the stark reality today is that many people are finding God very far from them and are losing faith in Him.  This is more so especially when they meet crises in life.  When we are beset with misfortunes, how can there be God when He does not seem to care?  We are just like the wounded man on the roadside, abandoned, robbed of life.  So a person who has no life cannot see God.  As it is often said, we cannot preach God to a hungry man.  Indeed, atheism is the result of helplessness in the face of innocent and apparently meaningless sufferings.  It is not a theoretical problem but an existential and personal problem.  In the face of suffering, we fall into despair, and give up on life and therefore on God as well.

However, it is equally true to say that the real reason why we give up on life in the face of sufferings is because we have given up on God.  It is because we are just the like Israelites who often wandered far away from God and did not listen to His voice nor obey His commandments and as a result brought disasters upon themselves.  Jesus reiterates this in the gospel when He said, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength.  Without God, we will not only be unable to live our lives meaningfully but we will not live with wisdom and love.   Not the world’s riches and glory can make us happy.

Consequently, we are in a conundrum.  In the first place, we said that we have no life because we cannot find God.  But in denying God, then there is no way for us to find life either.  Is there a way out?  Whatever it is, the fundamental point remains that eternal life is synonymous with God.  To find true life is to find God.  Conversely in finding God, we always find life.  We can begin from one or the other, but both will meet since to meet God is to meet man and if we truly meet man, we will meet God too.  But we must begin somewhere and not sit around doing nothing, languishing in our predicament.  Where then do we begin?

For most of us, we should begin by finding God in life or else God seems too ethereal and abstract to us.   Why is this so?  Because God is found in creation and most of all in our fellow human beings!  But how can this be so?  Moses said to the people, “the Word is very near to you.”  The question is how near?  So near, Moses said, “it is in your mouth and in your heart!”   What Moses prophesied is fulfilled in Jesus who is truly the Word made flesh.  He is the New Law and the New Covenant.  Jesus is the compassion of God in person.  He is love and compassion incarnated.  In Jesus, the Law of the Old Testament written in words and with ink is now written in the flesh and in the Spirit.   Thus, St Paul tells us that “Christ Jesus, is the image of the invisible God and the first born of all creation; for in him were created, all things in heaven and on earth.”  In other words, by His incarnation Jesus enjoins humanity to Himself; and especially at the resurrection, we become members of His body since He has identified Himself with us by being the first-born from the dead.

The implication therefore is that we are all by virtue of our humanity inserted in creation, and we are all the image and presence of God to each other.  Every one of us has the capacity and potential to mediate the presence, the life and love of God.  Yes, we are called to make God present to each other so that we can encounter God and in encountering Him, we experience life.  In this way, we will share the mission of Jesus who came to reconcile everything on heaven and on earth, man with man; and man with God.

The corollary to this is that if we were to find God today, we must therefore find him in a special way in our neighbors.  But who are our neighbors?  This precisely is the question that the lawyer asked.  Of course, to begin with, it is relatively easy to find God in those who love us.  But we would be certainly short-changing ourselves if we only find God in those who love us.  This is because the focus is not on others but on oneself.  This is not truly sharing the heart of God.  So if we are concerned solely with receiving love from others, it can lead us to become more egoistic and self-centered.

So according to Jesus, if we want to find the life of God, then we must seek it in our neighbors who are in need.  This is what the parable of the Samaritan is teaching us.  It teaches us to be concerned for others, even strangers and people who are hostile to us.  This was the case of the Samaritan.  He helped the injured Jew even though the latter regarded him as an enemy.  But that did not prevent him from reaching out to someone who was in need.  We can be certain that there was nothing for the Samaritan traveler to gain from this act.  He helped simply because he was moved with compassion.  By responding to the needs of this man, he therefore shared in the compassionate heart of God.

But there was something else in the way he helped.  He did not simply help from a distance.  Quite often when it comes to helping people, we are willing to help but only on certain conditions.  We are willing to help but we are not willing to get ourselves too involved in their lives.  So long as we are not personally involved in the lives of others, especially the poor, we will miss out the joy of service and compassion.  We will also not be able to truly empathize with them and share in their lives.  As a result, our compassion remains incomplete and perhaps cerebral.

However, those who are truly involved in the lives of the poor and the oppressed are also changed by them.  When we identify themselves with the poor and their sufferings in a very concrete way, we are charged with even more compassion and love.  Compassion implies having a common passion with the ones we love.  This explains why those who are involved in social work and works of compassion for the poor and needy are willing to exhaust not only their money and resources to help them, but their time and energy as well.  We must have a first-hand encounter with the sick and the poor in order to feel with them.

As we reach out to the poor, paradoxically we become more conscious of ourselves and learn to love ourselves.  Hence, to love God, we must love our neighbors as ourselves. In loving our neighbors, we actually truly love ourselves.  Through our involvement in the lives of the poor, we begin to be more appreciative of what we already have and how blessed we are.  If we think that our lives are miserable, we only need to reach out to those who are sick and poor, then we will come to realize how much more they are deprived than us; and yet many of them can be quite cheerful and contented with the little they have.  We will learn the art of contentment; the art of counting our blessings instead of our woes; appreciating what we already have and not what we have not.  Once we do this, we begin to love ourselves authentically and we become less envious, resentful and angry with others.

In loving ourselves, we discover the living God in us as well, since we too are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  So by loving our neighbors, we find God within us.  This explains why the commandment to love our neighbors is put on the same level as loving ourselves.  When we love ourselves, then we find God is alive in us.  If God is absent from our lives, if we do not have a share in the life of God, it is because many of us do not love ourselves truly.

It is not surprising therefore that when we reach out to others; many of them in their need are able to see the presence of God in us.  The fact that they can see us as instruments of God and the messengers of God means that it is only through our participation in the compassionate love of God that we can truly claim to have a share in the life of God.  So many non-Catholics who stay in Catholic Aged Homes are eventually converted, not because of any compulsion or aggressive evangelization but simply because they can see the presence of God in those who serve them in the homes.   So too, many of us who studied in Catholic schools and got converted in the later years of our lives, did so because we were inspired by the religious brothers and sisters whom we came into contact with.   And this is because we saw the love of God in them through their selfless and humble service.

But how can we find the courage to reach out beyond ourselves?  In other words, where can we find the capacity to love others selflessly so that we can share in the life of God?  How can we be God’s presence to others?  To be truly the presence of God to others, it presupposes that we be filled with God’s presence which enables us to recognize God in others too.   Receiving our Lord in the Eucharist and contemplating on His Word is the way to be filled with His Spirit of love and compassion.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

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What Does Jesus Tell Us To Do?
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Feed my sheep — 
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Follow me —
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Put yourself into my hands–
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Do not be afraid —
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Love Your Neighbor as Your Self —
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Be of service to others —
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Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you —
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This is one of our all time “most readers” Internet postings:
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Why do we need to pray?
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By Kevin Cotter

Book Synopsis So, what’s this Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic all about? Well, its author, Matthew Kelly, is taking up quite the task—how do we renew Catholic parishes across the country? Matthew Kelly spent a significant amount of time and money focusing on what makes Catholics highly engaged at their parishes. His logic: if we figure out the difference between highly engaged Catholics and un-engaged Catholics, we can figure out not only how to make more engaged Catholics, but we can also track their effectiveness in the parish. The book sold over 100,000 copies in the first month of publication and has started a conversation about how to renew the parish.

Ultimately, Kelly will say that only 7% of all Catholics are engaged Catholics or what he calls “Dynamic Catholics.” What makes someone a Dynamic Catholic? Here are the four signs Kelly sees:

  • Prayer Description: Specifically, Kelly notes that this consists of a daily routine of prayer. “Am I saying the other 93 percent of Catholics don’t pray? No. Their prayer tends to be spontaneous but inconsistent. The 7% have a daily commitment to prayer, a routine” (p. 8).
  • Study Description: “[Dynamic Catholics] see themselves as students of Jesus and his Church, and proactively make an effort to allow his teaching to form them” (p. 14). Kelly also notes that on average they spend 14 minutes each day learning about the faith.
  • Generosity Description: Generosity covers not only time and money, but also generosity in all things. This generosity is a way of life.
  • Evangelization Description: While many Dynamic Catholics don’t consider themselves to be evangelists, they “regularly do and say things to share a Catholic perspective with the people who cross their paths.”

Actually, this book could be named “The Four Signs of Any God Loving Human Being”  or the “Four Signs of a Person Dedicated to Sobriety” or “The Four Signs of a Recovering Addict in a 12 Step Program.”

Twelve step recovery programs like AA teach us to pray, study, give ourselves away in loving service to others and evangelize.

But in AA we don’t say evangelize, we says “Do 12 Step Work.”

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“Do you love me?”
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Sometimes I simplify this for myself: “What have you done today as proof of your love (for God, your spouse, your children, your community).
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If I can say, “I washed the dishes and took out the trash and tried to be of services to the other in this house” that’s proof.  I didn’t cause trouble and I did a little “good.”
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When I explain this to some people they come up empty handed. “Geez, I didn’t do a thing to prove my love today but I did say ‘I love you.’”
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That’s not good enough.
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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, July 16, 2013: Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live

July 16, 2013

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 390

Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Optional Memorial)

Art: Our Lady of Carmel by Pietro Novelli, 1641

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Mount_Carmel

Reading 1 Ex 2:1-15a

A certain man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, who conceived and bore a son. Seeing that he was a goodly child, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took a papyrus basket, daubed it with bitumen and pitch, and putting the child in it, placed it among the reeds on the river bank. His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
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Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river to bathe, while her maids walked along the river bank. Noticing the basket among the reeds, she sent her handmaid to fetch it. On opening it, she looked, and lo, there was a baby boy, crying! She was moved with pity for him and said, “It is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” “Yes, do so,” she answered. So the maiden went and called the child’s own mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will repay you.” The woman therefore took the child and nursed it. When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
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On one occasion, after Moses had grown up, when he visited his kinsmen and witnessed their forced labor, he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his own kinsmen. Looking about and seeing no one, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out again, and now two Hebrews were fighting! So he asked the culprit, “Why are you striking your fellow Hebrew?” But the culprit replied, “Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses became afraid and thought, “The affair must certainly be known.”
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Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 69:3, 14, 30-31, 33-34

R. (see 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. I am sunk in the abysmal swamp where there is no foothold; I have reached the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. But I pray to you, O LORD, for the time of your favor, O God! In your great kindness answer me with your constant help. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. But I am afflicted and in pain; let your saving help, O God, protect me; I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. “See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! For the LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Gospel Mt 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum:
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Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.
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For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
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Christ’s inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon’s envy had taken away.

—  St. Leo the Great, Sermo 73

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If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

Today July 16th is the optional Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. May there thrive a contemplation of her, the Blessed Virgin and Mother, who from the beginning knew how to open herself to obeying God’s Word and to obeying his will.  The most genuine devotion to the Blessed Mother is expressed by the humble sign of the scapular.

In 1254, St. Simon Stock was elected Superior-General of the Carmelite Order in London. As a young man he took a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he joined the hermits on Mount Carmel. He then returned to Europe and founded Carmelite communities in University towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna. St. Simon helped to change the Carmelites from a hermit order to one of mendicant friars.

Like the other mendicant orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans, the Carmelites were under attack as being too radical. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Simon on July 16, 1251. As he gave him a brown scapular she said “Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.”

A scapular consists of two pieces of cloth, one worn on the chest, and the other on the back, which were connected by straps or strings passing over the shoulders. Over the years the Church has encouraged all Catholics to wear a scapular that is usually worn under one’s clothing. Pope John Paul II revealed that he wore one. There is an investiture ceremony that should be done by a priest.

One of the conditions of Our Lady for the fulfillment of the promises associated the scapular (the Sabbatine privilege) is to observe chastity according to one’s state of life. That will be different for a married person than someone who is single.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is an antidote for the culture of death today. On Mount Carmel Elijah called the people of Israel to abandon the worship of false gods and the associated sexual immorality and human sacrifice associated with it. 

In many ways the United States and Europe are like Israel in the times of Elijah. Compared to former times we live in an age of peace and prosperity, but many abandoned the worship of the true God and follow false gods of materialism, pleasure, absolute personal autonomy.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel calls us to stop straddling the issue of who is the real God. We cannot have one foot in the culture of death that tolerates the killing of unborn children by abortion and other attacks on life, chastity and the family and be a true Christian.

Please join me in praying the following to Our Lady of Mount Carmel for an end to the culture of death in the United States and throughout the world:

O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. Oh, Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein that you are my Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity; there are none that can withstand your power. O show me herein that you are my Mother. Our Lady, Queen and beauty of Carmel, pray for me and obtain my requests. Sweet Mother, I place this cause into your hands.

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http://poppade.blogspot.com/2013/07/july-15-2013-
homily-july-16-2013.html

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Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston (Photo: CNS)

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston (Photo: CNS)

Related:

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley and President Barack Obama shook hands at the end of Thursday’s interfaith service.

April 18, 2013: Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and President Barack Obama at the end of Thursday’s interfaith service honoring the dead and wounded of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. Photo: CJ GUNTHER/EPA. Cardinal O’Malley spoke about the culture of life.

Related:

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, July 14, 2013: “Return to the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul” and “Go and do likewise”

July 14, 2013

Art: The Good Samaritan By Jose Tapiro Baro (1836-1913)

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 105

Reading 1 Dt 30:10-14

Moses said to the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.
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“For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36, 37

R. (cf. 33) Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. I pray to you, O LORD, for the time of your favor, O God! In your great kindness answer me with your constant help. Answer me, O LORD, for bounteous is your kindness: in your great mercy turn toward me. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. I am afflicted and in pain; let your saving help, O God, protect me. I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. “See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! For the LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live. For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. The descendants of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall inhabit it. R. Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

Or Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R.(9a) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye. R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just. R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life. They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb. R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Reading 2 Col 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Gospel Lk 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
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But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
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Homily
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My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Today Jesus asks us to be neighbors to all people by treating others with mercy.  This is an effective mercy that not only feels compassion toward those who are suffering but which acts to help others.  It does not matter if the others are enemies or friends, we are called to treat them with mercy and to help them in all of their needs.
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The first reading today, from the Book of Deuteronomy, tells us that the Lord has already put these kinds of commands in our hearts.  Why are we so hard-hearted?  Why is it that we do not want to help others and would even willingly let some people suffer rather than act to help them?
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Some of our response comes from cultural conditioning, some of our response comes from the choices we have already made in our lives and some of it comes from the evil one.
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Perhaps we might even find at times that we are open to helping most others.  The challenge from the Lord Jesus is to help all others when they are suffering or in need.  We need to hear that challenge and that invitation very strongly in our lives:  love your neighbor.  Who is my neighbor?  The one that I treat with mercy.
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Can my heart change?  God is always willing to work miracles for us, but we must ask for our hearts to change.  We must keep on asking until our hearts do change.  We cannot justify ourselves by saying that we prayed to God and God did not answer!  Rather, we must keep praying until God answers us.
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The Letter to the Colossians reminds us that in Jesus all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.  Only in Jesus will we be able to love all others and to give our lives completely for the love of others.  This is not a simple humanitarian task, but the whole meaning of our life.
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So we come back to the question of the scholar of the law:  Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
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Do I want eternal life?  Do I even believe in eternal life?  If I believe in eternal life and want to live that life, then I must love all others.  Today is the time to love and to fight against my lack of love.  Lord, help us love.
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From The Abbot, The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico
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Moses seems to be telling us: “EVEN YOU can get this!  EVERYONE can easily understand God’s Word.”
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In our modern times, Moses might say, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand God’s charge to us.”
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Who is valued? The one with compassion.
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God’s orders to us are “already in your hearts,” Moses says.
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So next time I hear someone troubled that he or she cannot POSSIBLY decide what the Will of God is: maybe we should go back to the Old Testament! For thousands of years, people, — many of them very uneducated people — have been able to easily discern the will of God.
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What makes us “moderns” more unable to understand than the followers of Moses? Actually, we today have much more to help us with out spiritual lives and discernment: we have the sacred meal, the bead of life; we have the Mass and all our liturgy and best of all: we have Jesus Christ to guide us — the followers of Moses only had the promise of Jesus.
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So we have all the tools we need: ordained ministers to guide us, The Word delivered to us from Jesus and  his followers, and we have the redemption — our redemption — not empty promises.
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The Word is a gift of divine wisdom and through our prayer lives we can get the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
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Our chances are “way better” that those followers of Moses: and they “got it.” So can we…..
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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