Tuesday, August 13, 2019

SEPTEMBER 9 SAINT PETER CLAVER, PRIEST AND RELIGIOUS, MEMORIAL


USCCB has started publishing suggestions for saints newly added to the calendar in the U.S. but which have not had formal "Proper" readings approved.
The readings below are suggested by USCCB.  Others may also be taken from the Common of Pastors (#719-724), or the Common of Holy Men and Women: For Those Who Work for the Underprivileged (#737-742).

“St. Peter Claver”; artist and date are unknown
Readings and Commentary:[3]
FIRST READING
Thus says the LORD:
This is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Is 58:6-11
This passage is from what is known as Deutero-Isaiah. It was written in the latter part of the Babylonian exile (700 B.C.). Isaiah laments and chastises the people for missing the point of their fasts of atonement. They perform the rituals and follow the law but then violate the spirit of God’s Law by being uncaring and cruel to each other.
The prophet explains what that spirit is and how it is to impact their actions and closes with the reward for following the spirit of God’s Law – “Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you. Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’” [4] He goes on to describe the salvific effect of these actions of charity and compassion as being as a light in darkness, as rain in parched land. He concludes with what can be seen as a baptismal reference (well-spring of holiness) that brings eternal life.
CCC: Is 58:6-7 2447
---------------------------------------------------------------------
RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. (40:5a) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or: R. (2a) Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or: R. (92:13-14) The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or: R. Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or: R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
or: R. Blessed are they who delight in the law of the Lord.
or: R. The just will flourish like the palm tree in the garden of the Lord.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
Psalm 1 serves as a preface to the whole book of psalms. The psalmist here exalts those who follow the Lord’s commands, and reflects upon the blessings they will receive. As in Romans 6:19ff, this selection emphasizes the contrast between the salvation of the just and the punishment of the wicked.
This wisdom psalm begins by extolling the virtue of those who follow the law. The focus is to look to God for guidance, and not to trust only in the counsel of men. Those who reject the law will be blown away like “chaff,” an image used in the Gospel as well (Matthew 3:12).
This portion of the psalm is later echoed in Isaiah 48:17-19, like an overlapped formula of covenant.  Blessed is the man who “delights in the law day and night,” but “the way of the wicked vanishes.” It also takes up the theme of following right paths and staying true to the teachings of God: “Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
GOSPEL
Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 25:31-40
Jesus, in this reading, is telling his disciples what he will judge at the end times, the eschaton. The reading provides a vision of what will be asked of those seeking admittance to the kingdom of God and how judgment will be passed. This image is used as a teaching tool, to focus those who wish to follow Jesus on loving those who are in need of help: the hungry, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the imprisoned.
CCC: Mt 25:31-46 544, 1033, 1373, 2447, 2831; Mt 25:31-36 2443; Mt 25:31 331, 671, 679, 1038; Mt 25:32 1038; Mt 25:36 1503; Mt 25:40 678, 1397, 1825, 1932, 2449
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.' Matthew 25:34b-36
These words were surely heard by St. Peter Claver as he entered the heavenly kingdom.  Indeed, his years of service to the Negro slave population brought into Cartagena (he is said to have converted and baptized around 300,000 in his years as apostle to the slaves there) earned him that scripture passage as his defining spirituality.  In today’s terms, he would be equivalent to Martin Luther King Jr. in his influence on the slave population that poured into the New World through that infamous port during the 1500’s and 1600’s.  What strength his faith gave him!  He was not, by nature, a bold or extroverted person.  However, his call to extreme charity to those poor souls, sold into slavery by their own leaders in Africa and then again by amoral traders in the Caribbean was to earn him also the enmity of the general society in which he served as missionary.
The Lord said that it was the duty of all of his followers to express charity in this way, looking after those imprisoned by their conditions in society as well as those incarcerated by law.  All we need do is look at the seven corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, give shelter to travelers, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. These things were written on the heart of St. Peter Claver and those missionaries like him who sacrificed lives of comfort to serve those without comfort.
The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed it to the Hebrews, and Jesus confirmed his words as being correctly iterated by God the Father.  We are called to charity.  Today, on St. Peter Claver’s feast day, we ask for his intercession.  May God our Father, through his only begotten son, Jesus, Christ, give us the strength and will to serve the needy as his Son did, and as St. Peter Claver did.
Pax


[1] The picture is “St. Peter Claver”; artist and date are unknown.
[2] The readings below are suggested by USCCB, others may be taken from Common of Pastors: For Missionaries  (#719-724), or the Common of Holy Men and Women: For Those Who Work for the Underprivileged (#737-742).
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible, with the exception of the psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This republication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[4] Translation from the Jerusalem Bible

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin and Martyr

August 9

The readings below are suggested by USCCB, others may be taken from the Common of Virgins or the Common of Martyrs

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross,
photographer unknown, c. 1938-1939


Thus says the LORD:
I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.
She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.
I will espouse you to me forever;
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD
---------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Hos 2:16bc, 17cd, 21-22

The Prophet Hosea, voicing God’s hope for the people of Israel, speaks as a husband might address a wife. (In later parts of the book Israel is like the wife who was unfaithful.) In this selection, speaking with the voice of God to the Hebrew people, he sounds as if he is wooing his future bride.  He tells them that if they will be faithful, God is always faithful, because God’s love and mercy are eternal. In Hebrew tradition this courtship would include the gifts for the bride (cf. Genesis 24:53).

CCC: Hos 2 218; Hos 2:21-22 2787
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17

Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father’s house.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord, and you must worship him.
R. (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or: R. (Matthew 25:6) The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.

All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters;
her raiment is threaded with spun gold.
In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king;
behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you.
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or: R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.

They are borne in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king.
The place of your fathers your sons shall have;
you shall make them princes through all the land.
R. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.
or: R. The bridegroom is here; let us go out to meet Christ the Lord.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Psalm 45 is a royal psalm originally sung in honor of the king’s marriage to a queen (of foreign extraction). It is likely that it influenced St. Paul’s instructions on virgins and marriage. It emphasizes the beauty of the sacramental relationship (see 1 Corinthians 7:25-35).

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
'Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.'
But the wise ones replied,
'No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.'
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!'
But he said in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour."
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mt 25:1-13

St. Matthew’s Gospel gives us the parable of the Ten Virgins, continuing the Gospel theme of preparedness and vigilance (although strictly speaking this parable is about foresight). In this story the idea of vigilance is expanded to include being prepared. The Jewish wedding customs of the time would have dictated a procession [at night] from the house of the bride to the house of the groom. The whole act is symbolic of the coming of the messianic era, also portrayed as a wedding in Matthew 9:15Matthew 22:1-14 and John 3:29. The wise virgins brought oil for their lamps while the foolish ones did not. The oil is interpreted by some scholars as referring to good works.

The overarching symbolism is the lamp of faith (light of the indwelling Holy Spirit) being kept burning with oil (good works). Hence, without good works (oil), the lamp will not continue to burn (James 2:17) and the virgins, so deprived of light, are excluded from the heavenly kingdom.

CCC: Mt 25:1-13 672796; Mt 25:1 672; Mt 25:6 1618; Mt 25:13 672
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:

St. Teresa Benedicta (Judith Stein) is one of what we could call modern day martyrs.  She was a victim of the Holocaust, killed by Nazis in 1942. She should stand as an example of what we are all called to be as lovers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Truly, Sacred Scripture is predictive – as these words from Hosea demonstrate:

I will espouse you to me forever;
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.

The Lord found her, wooed her, and through the auspices of the Carmelite Order, he took her as his bride.  Her devotion to him should stand as a beacon to all intellectuals who struggle with the faith.  Her brilliant mind and intense study brought her to the feet of our Lord.  Those who seek truth will always find him.  Indeed Jesus is the bridegroom for any who seek truth.

St. Teresa followed her betrothed and was true to him to the end, she was a light in the intense darkness of the Auschwitz horror during one of the most atrocious periods in human memory.  Her unwavering faith in the face of the evil that took so many lives was an inspiration to her fellow 987 prisoners who on August 7th, 1942 were taken from Echt in the Netherlands where she and her sister were sent to avoid the Nazi threat and summarily killed, probably on her feast day, August 9th. A light in the world of faith, extinguished for only a moment.  Faith such as hers remains the hope of many Christians who are persecuted for their faith.

Today we ask for St. Teresa’s intercession with her bridegroom, Our Lord, Jesus.  May he grant us strength and the bravery of St. Teresa when we face our own trials.

Pax


[1] The readings are taken from the New American Bible, with the exception of the psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This republication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[2] The picture used is a passport photo: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, photographer unknown, c. 1938-1939.