Wednesday, July 22, 2015

JULY 24 SAINT SHARBEL MAKHLUE, PRIEST


"St. Sharbel Makhlue"
Artist and Date not cited.
JULY 24
 
SAINT SHARBEL MAKHLUE, PRIEST

Biographical Information About St. Sharbel Makhlue [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Sharbel Makhlue

Readings and Commentary: [2]
Sirach 3:17-25
 
My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.
The greater you are,
the more you must humble yourself in all things,
and you will find grace before God.
For great is the power of God;
by the humble he is glorified.
What is too sublime for you, seek not,
into things beyond your strength search not.
What is committed to you, attend to;
for it is not necessary for you to see with your eyes
those things which are hidden.
With what is too much for you meddle not,
when shown things beyond human understanding.
Their own opinion has misled many,
and false reasoning unbalanced their judgment.
Where the pupil of the eye is missing, there is no light,
and where there is no knowledge, there is no wisdom.
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Commentary on Sir 3:17-26

Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, the author of this book provides a list of “Wisdom Sayings”. The haughty attitude of unworthy children gives the author a vehicle to extol the virtue of humility. He points these exhortations specifically at Hellenistic philosophers (“What is too sublime for you, seek not…”) who attempt to bring God to the level of mankind, reproaching them for trying to apply human logic to things of faith.
 
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REPONSORIAL PSALM

R. (1) The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the Lord.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5

Psalm 15 is a Jewish form of examination of conscience. In this selection the poem asks first about lying, then committing violence against his neighbor, and finally about usury, making money by lending to the poor instead of helping without charge as Mosaic Law demands.

This selection records the response of the Temple representative when asked what virtues are appropriate in the eyes of God.  The response lauds the person who follows the “Law”, specifically the Hebrew laws that warn against slander or false accusations. In the second strophe it honors the person who does no violence against another. And finally, in the last strophe, we are told that the person who does not charge interest on a loan (usury) is also uplifted.

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Peter said to Jesus,
"We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life."
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Commentary on Mt 19:27-29

St. Matthew’s Gospel continues the focus on valuing the spiritual life above the material pursuits of earthly existence. The disciples were dismayed at the aestheticism required by the discipline and sacrifice required by Christ. In response to Peter’s expression of this concern, Jesus, in an eschatological discourse, provides a vision of the heavenly kingdom in which those who have faithfully followed the Lord will receive an inestimable reward.

CCC: Mt 19:23-29 2053; Mt 19:23-24 226; Mt 19:26 276, 308, 1058; Mt 19:28 765
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Reflection:

On this feast of St. Sharbel Makhlue, sacred scripture focuses us on one of the more difficult principles of living a life in Christ, humility and self-denial.  In the first reading from Sirach, the virtue of humility before the Lord is emphasized.  We must constantly ask ourselves: how can we be prideful when all we accomplish that is good comes from our Heavenly Father?  It is he who gave us life and the gifts we use in our daily lives.  When we successfully accomplish a positive result, it is for God’s greater glory, not our own, for it is by his will and effort it was done.

The Gospel from St. Matthew provides the corresponding Christian virtue of self-denial.  Jesus is speaking to his disciples (and to us).  They have complained that they have given up the pursuit of physical wealth and comfort to follow him.  They have sacrificed position and family so they could learn at his feet.  In all of us who serve God, there are times when those feelings of self-pity creep in.  “If I had put all my energy into climbing the ladder of success instead of volunteering some much of my time to the Church or to some charitable cause, I could have been more successful in the eyes of my secular peers.” 

This is the same argument we see (and Jesus saw) in the disciples. And what does the Lord say in response?  “…And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life."

We are called once more to focus on our spiritual wealth, wealth that cannot be destroyed, rather than our physical comfort and monetary success.

It is the rare individual who can take these principles and apply them to their lives to the degree that St. Sharbel Makhlue did.  His contemplative and acetic life-style provided him with wisdom to accomplish the Lord’s will, and he brought many to more perfect faith.  We pray today for his intercession.  May he ask the Lord to banish pride from our hearts and remind us that all we do is for the greater glory of our Heavenly Father.
 
Pax
 
[1] The picture used is "St. Sharbel Makhlue", Artist and Date not cited.
[2] 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 re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

JULY 20 SAINT APOLLINARIS, BISHOP AND MARTYR

 
"St. Apollinaris"
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
JULY 20

601A SAINT APOLLINARIS, BISHOP AND MARTYR

Additional Information about St. Apollinaris [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Apollinaris

Readings and Commentary: [2]

FIRST READING
Ezekiel 34:11-16

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I will lead them out from among the peoples
and gather them from the foreign lands;
I will bring them back to their own country
and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel
in the land's ravines and all its inhabited places.
In good pastures will I pasture them,
and on the mountain heights of Israel
shall be their grazing ground.
There they shall lie down on good grazing ground,
and in rich pastures shall they be pastured
on the mountains of Israel.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.
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Commentary on Ez 34:11-16
 
The prophet presents the allegory of God, the shepherd. In this oracle, the vision is God the Father, like a shepherd, will gather the people of Israel from the foreign lands to which they have been driven, and bring them back to “the mountains of Israel.
 
"This beautiful oracle resounds in our Lord's parable of the Good Shepherd who takes care of his sheep (cf. John 10:1-21), in what he says about the Father's joy on finding the lost sheep (cf. Matthew 18: 12-14; Luke 15:4-7), and in things he has to say about the Last Judgment as reported by St Matthew (Matthew 25:31-46)."[4]
 
CCC: Ez 34:11-31 754
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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Commentary on Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
 
Psalm 23 is one of the most familiar songs in the entire psalter. “God's loving care for the psalmist is portrayed under the figures of a shepherd for the flock (Psalm 23:1-4) and a host's generosity toward a guest (Psalm 23:5-6). The imagery of both sections is drawn from traditions of the exodus (Isaiah 40:1149:10Jeremiah 31:10).” [3] While the theme of Shepherd is mentioned in the first strophe, the psalm really speaks to the peace given to those who follow the Lord and place their trust in Him, even into the “dark valley”.
 
The reference in the third strophe above “You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes” “occurs in an exodus context in Psalm 78:19. As my enemies watch: my enemies see that I am God's friend and guest. Oil: a perfumed ointment made from olive oil, used especially at banquets (Psalm 104:15Matthew 26:7Luke 7:3746John 12:2).”[4]
 
CCC: Ps 23:5 1293
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GOSPEL
John 10:11-18

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”
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Commentary on Jn 10:11-18
 
We come to the climax of Jesus' debates with the Jewish leadership. This discourse intensifies our consideration of the topic of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Here the Lord differentiates his love for humanity against those who do not take ownership of their charge. "'He did what he said he would do,' St. Gregory comments; 'He gave his life for his sheep, and he gave his body and blood in the Sacrament to nourish with His flesh the sheep He had redeemed' (In Evangelia Homilae, 14, ad loc.)."[5]
 
The Lord is in the temple precincts at this point. He came there at a time when many Jews from all over the region would be there, the Feast of Hanukkah. Here he contrasts himself (the Good Shepherd) with false shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:1-16), presumably the Pharisees who fail to recognize him as the Messiah.

Using the analogy of the sheep-fold, he reminds the listener that all manner of people may enter a sheep-fold. Those “false shepherds” scatter the sheep and they fall to utter ruin. But only the rightful owner will be recognized by the sheep and find safety (salvation). The analogy concludes with the universal statement of unity “…there will be one flock, one shepherd."

The final verses speak directly of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the salvation of all: “I lay down my life in order to take it up again.” Special emphasis is placed on Jesus’ ability to lay his life down and take it up through the power he has been given by the Father. We note a contrast here between God’s active role in the resurrection (see Acts 2:24; Acts 4:10.; Romans 1:4; 4:24.) with Jesus' stated power to take up his own life. But even here, credit is given to the Father (“This command I have received from my Father.")
 
CCC: Jn 10:11-15 754; Jn 10:11 553, 754; Jn 10:16 60; Jn 10:17-18 614, 649; Jn 10:17 606; Jn 10:18 609
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Reflection:

St. Apollinaris was one of the early Christian Martyrs.  It is said he was appointed as a Bishop of Ravenna by St. Peter and his preaching and evangelization were tremendous gifts to the early Church.  These same gifts, however, earned him the enmity of the pagans who captured and tortured him on several occasions.  In spite of the beatings, torture, and imprisonment, he persevered in his evangelical work.  He was a true shepherd of the flock, leading the people by his word and example in the face of constant hardships.

In St. John's Gospel he speaks to us about listening to those shepherds who speak with his voice.  We are called to faithfulness and to follow the law of Christ and his Church.  As Apollinaris shows us, and as the Lord himself demonstrated, shepherding the flock is a difficult role.  Like Jesus, St. Apollinaris was also martyred while shepherding his flock.

We call on St. Apollinaris to intercede for us and all those who shepherd the people of God in these difficult times.  May they, like Apollinaris and the martyrs that followed him, pray for us that we might be strong in the face of adversity.

Pax 

[1] The Picture is a mosaic of "St. Apollinaris", Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] 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 re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[3] See NAB footnote on Psalm 23
[4] ibid
[5] The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, pp.625

Monday, July 13, 2015

JULY 14 SAINT KATERI TEKAKWITHA, VIRGIN

“Saint Kateri Tekakwitha”
Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
JULY 14

SAINT KATERI TEKAKWITHA, VIRGIN
MEMORIAL

Additional information about St. Kateri Tekakwitha [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Readings and Commentary: [2]
FIRST READING
Hosea 2:16bc, 17cd, 21-22

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
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Commentary on Hos 2:16bc, 17cd, 21-22
 
The Prophet Hosea, voicing God’s hope for the people of Israel as husband might speak to a wife who was unfaithful. He tells them that if they will but be faithful, God’s love and mercy is eternal, that God is always faithful. In Hebrew tradition this would include the gifts for the bride (cf Genesis 24:53)

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

R. (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.

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. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.

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.

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.
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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).

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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."
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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 9:15, Matthew 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 to refer 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 25:1-13 672, 796; Mt 25:1 672; Mt 25:6 1618; Mt 25:13 672
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Reflection:
 
St. Kateri was only 24 when she passed from this life to the next.  Her short life was filled with numerous trials; first she was disfigured and weakened by a smallpox epidemic that killed her parents.  Later she was marginalized by her own people because of her Christian faith.  She took a vow of chastity and joined a native Christian community where she gave care to the sick and elderly.  Her life of service was a preparation for the heavenly banquet to which she would all too soon be called.
 
In the parable of the Ten Virgins proclaimed at her feast, we are reminded that St. Kateri was in a constant state of preparedness in the eyes of the Lord.  Her faith and service are examples of heroic virtue which give us all inspiration.
 
As we pray for her intercession, we ask that God never find us unprepared.  We do not know when the Lord will call us home and when we arrive we pray our souls will be like lamps that light the way for others to follow.
 
St. Kateri’s last words were “Jesus, I love you.”  May our love for the Lord keep us constantly focused on his will for us and may our efforts deserve the reward St. Kateri now enjoys.
 
Pax
[1] The picture is “Saint Kateri Tekakwitha” Artist and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] 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 re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

CHRISTOPHER MAGALLANES, PRIEST, AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

"Cristobal Magallanes Jara"
Photographer and date are UNKNOWN
MAY 21

CHRISTOPHER MAGALLANES, PRIEST, AND COMPANIONS, MARTYRS
 
From the Common of Martyrs in the Easter Season or



Readings and Commentary: [2]

FIRST READING         
Revelation 7:9-17

I, John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb."

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

"Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen."

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

"For this reason they stand before God's throne
and worship him day and night in his temple.
The One who sits on the throne will shelter them.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne
will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
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Commentary on Rv 7:9-17

St. John’s vision of the heavenly kingdom unfolds in this passage with an image of those who have gone from this life to the next and now stand before the throne of God. They praise God without ceasing, giving thanks for salvation which comes from the Lamb of God, the Christ. The palm branches recall the Saviors triumphant entry into Jerusalem, here signifying his lordship over the New Jerusalem – God’s Heavenly Kingdom.

“…these wearing white robes” is a reference to martyrs who have given their lives for Christ during the great persecutions of Christians. These, St. John recounts, have received what is known as the “Baptism of Blood”. The Lord “…lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

CCC: Rv 7:9 775, 1138; Rv 7:10-12 2642
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R. I will bless the Lord at all times.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear and be glad.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
 
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. I will bless the Lord at all times.
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Commentary on Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

Psalm 34 is a song of thanksgiving and a favorite for celebrating the heroic virtue of the saints. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Psalm 34:5, 7), can teach the "poor," those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone. This psalm, in the words of one being unjustly persecuted, echoes hope for deliverance and freedom. The promise of salvation for those who follow the Lord gives hope to the poor and down trodden.
 
CCC: Ps 34:3 716; Ps 34:8 336
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GOSPEL          
John 12:24-26 

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."
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Commentary on John 12:24-26 

St. John’s passage, given here, is foundational to our understanding of the Pascal Mystery. Using the analogy of the grain of wheat, the Lord invites us to his own sacrifice. Out of that wheat comes the Eucharistic Sacrifice and into the death to sin of Baptism, we are invited to share the salvation that comes from following Christ in life and death. 

CCC: Jn 12:24 2731
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Reflection: 

No reflection has been written.  Here is an on-line summary from CNA 

“Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!” 

This was the slogan of the “Cristero” uprising in the 1920’s against the anti-Catholic government of Mexico which had instituted and enforced laws against the Church in an absurd attempt to eradicate the Catholic faith in Mexico, even going so far as to ban all foreign clergy and the celebration of Mass in some regions. 

St. Christopher Magallanes, along with 21 other priests and three lay companions, were martyred between 1915 and 1937, by shooting or hanging, throughout eight Mexican states, for their membership in the Cristero movement. Magallanes erected a seminary in Totatiche and he and his companions secretly preached and ministered to the faithful. 

The last words heard spoken by Magallanes were from his cell, when he shouted, "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico". 

Pope John Paul II beatified the Cristero martyrs in 1992 and canonized them in 2000.
 
Pax


[1] The Picture is “Cristóbal Magallanes Jara” Photographer and date are UNKNOWN
[2] 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 re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

FEBRUARY 8 SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA, VIRGIN


"St. Josephine Bakhita"
Photographer and Date are UNKNOWN
February 8

Saint Josephine Bakhita, Virgin



Readings and Commentary: [2]

Reading 1
1 Corinthians 7:25-35

In regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord,
but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.
So this is what I think best because of the present distress:
that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.
Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation.
Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife.
If you marry, however, you do not sin,
nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries;
but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life,
and I would like to spare you that.

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
is anxious about the things of the world,
how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
not to impose a restraint upon you,
but for the sake of propriety
and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
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Commentary on 1 Cor 7:25-35

St. Paul gives his opinion (“Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord”) as opposed to a definitive requirement. It is his feeling that the Christians are already living in the “end times” and that the Parousia, Christ’s second coming is eminent. The language he uses is quite similar to “the time of distress” mentioned in Zephaniah 1:15 and Luke 21:23. His comments about “virgins” refer to both male and female and scholars question whether St. Paul is aware of what Jesus said in Matthew 19:12 concerning the gift of the marital vocation. The Apostle therefore tells the Corinthians that they should moderate their behavior (not immerse themselves), anticipating the final resurrection.
 
CCC: 1 Cor 7:26 672; 1 Cor 7:31 1619; 1 Cor 7:32 1579, 1618; 1 Cor 7:34-36 922; 1 Cor 7:34-35 506
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Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17

R. (11) Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.

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. Listen to me, daughter; see and bend your ear.

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.

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.
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Commentary on Ps 45:11-12, 14-15, 16-17
 
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).

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GOSPEL         
Luke 9:23-26

Jesus said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his glory
and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
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Commentary on Lk 9:23-26

The Gospel takes up the theme of life and death as Jesus first informed his disciples that he will undergo the “Passion” at the hands of the Jewish hierarchy (v.22) and be raised. He then provides this invitation to life by contrasting, as Moses did in Deuteronomy 30:15-20, the (spiritual) salvation brought about through faith and the (eternal) death that awaits the faithless.

CCC: Lk 9:23 1435
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Reflection:

St. Bakhita (1869-1947) or "Mother Moretta" (our “Black Mother") as she was called by those to whom she ministered, endured much suffering in her life.  First, as a slave in the Sudan in her childhood she suffered physical and moral cruelty by her owners.  Later in her life, after serving the Sisters of Charity for many years in the Canossian convent in Schio, Italy she suffered agonizing health issues; always with a sprit of acceptance for what “the Master” willed.

Here unwavering and innocent faith makes her an example of heroic virtue worthy of her beatified state.  She stand as a shining symbol for those who suffer and are persecuted; a symbol of faith and courage in the face of pain and suffering.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that he will undergo suffering for our sake and reminds us that all who follow him faithfully should expect to suffer as well.  St. Josephine shows us how to take up our cross and follow the lord.

On her feast day we ask for St. Josephine’s intercession.  May we always accept the cross of Jesus, taking it up daily that we might find the path to salvation.

Pax



[1] The picture is “St. Josephine Bakhita” Photographer and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] 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 re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.