Monday, June 4, 2018

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
 
Catechism Links [1]
CCC 410-412: The Protoevangelium
CCC 374-379: Man in paradise
CCC 385-409: The fall
CCC 517, 550: Christ as exorcist
“The Fall of Man” by Carlo Cignani, c. 1700
Readings for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [2]
 
 
Readings and Commentary: [4]
 
Reading 1: Genesis 3:9-15
 
The LORD God then called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”
 
Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Gn 3:9-15
 
Adam and Eve are confronted by God after having eaten from the Tree of Wisdom the fruit of which was forbidden to them. Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent. Thus, the identity of the serpent is now synonymous with the Devil. This passage, because of that linkage, can now be classified as the first prediction of the Messianic struggle with evil and ultimate victory.
 
Contained here is the scriptural evidence of Original Sin. The story is also called “The Fall,” as God’s human creation (personified in Adam and Eve) falls from grace and is condemned to suffer the struggle to regain the blessed state throughout history. Mankind has disobeyed God and defied his will; in doing so sin and death enter the world.
 
CCC: Gn 3:9-10 399; Gn 3:9 410, 2568; Gn 3:11-13 400; Gn 3:11 2515; Gn 3:12 1607; Gn 3:13 1736, 2568; Gn 3:14-19 2427; Gn 3:15 70, 410, 489
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8
 
R. (7bc) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
 
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Psalm 130 is a song of lament. The psalmist cries out to God to hear the voice of the one who calls, and to forgive the sins they have committed. The third verse, which is also the refrain, sums up the lament saying that if there is no forgiveness all will fall because all have sinned.
 
CCC: Ps 130:3 370
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore we speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more
people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Therefore, we are not discouraged;
rather, although our outer self is wasting away,
our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction
is producing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen;
for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent,
should be destroyed,
we have a building from God,
a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
 
St. Paul quotes the Greek version of Psalm 116:10. The Hebrew reads “I believed, even when I said.” It is a hymn of thanksgiving in which David recalls his faith in Yahweh during times of distress and remembers how he was rescued. Paul and the other disciples share this faith that God will deliver them from mortal dangers-even death itself-and expect to thank him in return.
 
In either Greek or Hebrew, faith is the cause of belief. “…knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence.” The Apostle encourages the faith community to disregard the trials to which the body is subjected, keeping always before them the certain knowledge of the resurrection. Taking this understanding to its logical next level, in 5:1, the Apostle reflects upon the body, the human form we wear on earth. He differentiates it from the glorified body to be received in the resurrection “…a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.
 
CCC: 2 Cor 4:14 989; 2 Cor 5:1 1420
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gospel: Mark 3:20-35
 
Jesus came home with his disciples.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him,
for they said, "He is out of his mind."
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said,
"He is possessed by Beelzebul,"
and "By the prince of demons he drives out demons."
 
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
"How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself,
that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself
and is divided, he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
 
Then he can plunder the house.
Amen, I say to you,
all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be
forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin."
For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
His mother and his brothers arrived.
Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mark 3:20-35
 
(3:20-21) Jesus returns to his home and is greeted with disbelief by some his own relatives. They likely believe, because of his excessive focus on his mission and the claims made about his actions, that he has become delusional.
 
This passage provides a sense of the challenges Jesus faces in his mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God. His fame had clearly spread as a consequence of his teaching, his natural charisma, and his miraculous healing power. The disbelief of even his relatives is a barrier to be overcome.
 
(3:22-30) The conflict between Jesus and the Scribes reveals itself completely. They are now openly calling him “prince of the demons”. The Lord summons them and demonstrates with parables the foolishness of their claim. He first asks the ironic question that could be paraphrased “If I, who destroy unclean spirits, am from the originator of those spirits, were in league with him, he has destroyed himself.” He continues an analogy about the strong man protecting his house. In this case he, Jesus would represent the defender of the house (of Israel) and those attacking him, attempting to tie him up.
 
He concludes this passage with an important theological understanding. The Son of God came into the world so that sins might be forgiven (“…all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.”) He then defines the Holy Spirit and Himself as one in the same (essence) by saying that whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit (as the scribes had just done in calling Jesus an emissary of Satan) would be guilty of an everlasting sin (- their sin would never be forgiven).
 
(3:31-35) This passage, while affirming our own adoption as brothers and sisters in Christ, does cause some confusion among those who take scripture at face value without understanding the culture of the time. The first part of this reading from St. Mark’s Gospel is somewhat controversial in that many of the Protestant and Evangelical apologists take the term “and his brothers” to mean his familial or biological brothers. The Church teaches that Mary bore only one child – Jesus. responding to this scripture, Catholic scripture scholars teach that “…in Semitic usage, the terms "brother," "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf Genesis 14:16Genesis 29:15Leviticus 10:4.”
 
Because of this, when Mary comes looking for Jesus in this selection, she is, as would be expected, joined by members of the extended family. Jesus extends the family even further though his adoption of those who, as those “seated in the circle” who listen to his word and believe; telling those gathered that “…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
 
CCC: Mk 3:22 548, 574; Mk 3:27 539; Mk 3:29 1864; Mk 3:31-35 500
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:
 
The Lord came, was sent, became incarnate so that we might have life, even in the face of rejection and persecution.  If one were looking for a sound-bite that incapsulated the scripture message for this solemn feast, that would be it. 
 
Genesis tell us the reason it was so necessary.  The serpent (a analogy for the fallen angel, Satan) has, according to her, tricked Eve.  She and her husband, Adam, have, as a consequence, been driven from paradise.  Their act of disobedience exposes the trap of “free will” and insures the downfall of all of their ancestors.  The gates of heaven are sealed shut, and for countless generations an eternal life with the Father is denied.  The enmity placed between the serpent and Eve’s children is analogous to all pain and strife that follows them into the world.  
 
The great lament of the Hebrew people is captured by St. Paul as he speaks to the persecuted community at Corinth of their (and our) rescue from hopelessness in Jesus, who came so those long-locked gates of heaven could be once more thrown open by his perfect sacrifice.
 
In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has come home.  It might have been expected that his homecoming would be a joyous one.  He was recognized as a miracle worker and teacher – outside of hometown.  The people he grew up with, even though they must have seen his entire family as pious and holy people, had heard the outlandish stories about him and clearly thought he was mentally ill.  They were reading to lock him up or worse.
 
What a perfect example of how we can expect to be treated if we demonstrate our wholehearted conversion within our secular environment.  St. Paul’s message should resonate with us, but reading about how Jesus own extended family was upset at his activity, we find the reality of living our faith with vigor in a society that does not share our values requires perhaps more courage than we can demonstrate.
 
That is the paradox of our faith wrapped up in a package.  We are called to be apart from the world, but to live in the world.  When we are safe within our faith community and (hopefully) our domestic church – our home- it is easy.  We can pray, making the sign of the Cross without getting glares.  We can speak of Jesus’ openly without fear of being labeled as a hate-group.  But once we leave our homes or church, it becomes challenging.  The values central to our faith (which a few years ago were also shared by society as a whole) are now considered elitist, old-fashioned, and even counter-cultural.  Acting on these principles can even get us sued or thrown in jail.
 
Oh, the Gospel was clearly a harbinger of things to come.  And our Lord has asked us to stay strong and follow him.  That is the real test of our faith.  Can we persevere in the face of bigotry and hatred?  Can we stay true to the Gospel we have been given?  Our prayer today is that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and our brothers and sisters in faith, we can share St. Paul’s encouragement: “…we are not discouraged;
rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
 
Pax


[1] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014.
[2] The picture is ““The Fall of Man” by Carlo Cignani, c. 1700
[4] 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, June 2, 2018

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Catechism Links [*]
CCC 345-349, 582, 2168-2173: The Lord’s Day
CCC 1005-1014, 1470, 1681-1683: Dying and living in Christ


“Disciples Eating Grain” by Andrew Bida, 1874
Readings for the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time [1]

(Note: in the history of this Apostolate (est. 2006) this celebration has always been superseded in the United States.)


Readings and Commentary: [3]

First Reading:

Thus says the LORD:
"Take care to keep holy the sabbath day
as the LORD, your God, commanded you.
Six days you may labor and do all your work;
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then, whether by you, or your son or
daughter,
or your male or female slave,
or your ox or ass or any of your beasts,
or the alien who lives with you.
Your male and female slave should rest as you do.
For remember that you too were once a slave in Egypt,
and the LORD, your God, brought you from there
with his strong hand and outstretched arm.
That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you
to observe the sabbath day."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Dt 5:12-15

This passage establishes the sabbath day as a day dedicated to God and to rest. It differs from Exodus 31:16-17 which focuses on God’s completion of creation. In this case it is clear that while the day is to be set aside for God, it is to be reserved as a day of rest, a commemoration of the bondage and slavery experienced in Egypt.

CCC: Dt 5:12-15 2167; Dt 5:12 2189; Dt 5:15 2057, 2170
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 81:3-4, 5-6, 6-8, 10-11

R. (2a) Sing with joy to God our help.

Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our solemn feast.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

For it is a statute in Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob,
who made it a decree for Joseph
when he came forth from the land of Egypt.
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

An unfamiliar speech I hear:
"I relieved his shoulder of the burden;
his hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you."
R. Sing with joy to God our help.

"There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt."
R. Sing with joy to God our help.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Ps 81:3-4, 5-6, 6-8, 10-11

Psalm 81 is a prophetic liturgy generally associated with the Feast of Tabernacles. Here David rejoices in God’s mercy, freeing his people from constant toil, giving them rest from their labors through the Mosaic Covenant. It reinforces that covenant reminding the people they have One True God who is their salvation.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Second Reading:
2 Corinthians 4:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.
But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on 
2 Cor 4:6-11

St. Paul begins this selection paraphrasing 
Genesis 1:3. The Apostle views conversion of the faithful as a new beginning, a light shining in the darkness. “The transformation we experience in Chris thus parallels the transformation effected by the word of God when he first dispelled the darkness with light at the dawn of history. This was already hinted at by Isaiah, who developed the theme of light’s victory over darkness as a sign of salvation (Isaiah 9:249:660:1-3). Paul experienced this first hand when the blinding light of Christ knocked him to the ground on the Damascus road (Acts 9:326;13) (CCC 2583)” [4]

The Apostle continues explaining the paradoxical nature of ministry in Christ. Our immortal souls, transformed in Christ contained within perishable bodies. The earthly body (earthen vessels) may be destroyed but the glorified body is imperishable.

CCC: 2 Cor 4:6 
298, 2583; 2 Cor 4:7 1420
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gospel:
Mark 2:23-3:6

A Longer Form

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of
grain.

At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them, "Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering
that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,

"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
Again he entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched him closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to them,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.

Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out
and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him
to put him to death.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mk 2:23-3:6

[2:23-28] In this passage from St. Mark’s Gospel the Lord has another conflict with the Pharisees over laws they have implemented. In this case the laws are about doing no work on the Sabbath. The disciples of Jesus were hungry and as a result gathered and ate grain on the Sabbath. Strictly speaking this was labor (Leviticus 24:9) and that is what the Pharisees were objecting to.

Jesus responded by reminding them (the Pharisees) about a story form the first book of Samuel (1 Samuel 21:2-7) in which restrictions not included in Mosaic Law but established by men were relaxed at need. The example can be seen as a link between Jesus’ own genealogy (coming from the line of David) and the mission as Savior, the Anointed One, the Messiah. It also teaches a more pragmatic lesson about the Sabbath being created for man and not as the rules of Pharisaic law had restricted it.

[3:1-6] The man with the withered hand is used to trap Jesus into doing something that by Pharisaic Law was considered “labor”. Jesus tries to show them the flaw in their logic with a question; “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they will not respond because the answer is obvious. With his opponents reduced to silence, the cures the man (see also John 5:17-18). Their attempt foiled, they run to the minions of King Herod to continue their plotting.

CCC: Mk 2:23-27 581; Mk 2:23-26 544; Mk 2:25-27 582; Mk 2:27-28 2167; Mk 2:27 2173; Mk 2:28 2173; Mk 3:1-6 574; Mk 3:4 2173; Mk 3:5-6 1859; Mk 3:5 591; Mk 3:6 574, 591
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OR B Shorter Form


As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of
grain.

At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them, "Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering
that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,
"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Commentary on Mk 2:23-28

In this passage from St. Mark’s Gospel the Lord has another conflict with the Pharisees over laws they have implemented. In this case the laws are about doing no work on the Sabbath. The disciples of Jesus were hungry and as a result gathered and ate grain on the Sabbath. Strictly speaking this was labor (Leviticus 24:9) and that is what the Pharisees were objecting to.

Jesus responded by reminding them (the Pharisees) about a story form the first book of Samuel (1 Samuel 21:2-7) in which restrictions not included in Mosaic Law but established by men were relaxed at need. The example can be seen as a link between Jesus’ own genealogy (coming from the line of David) and the mission as Savior, the Anointed One, the Messiah. It also teaches a more pragmatic lesson about the Sabbath being created for man and not as the rules of Pharisaic law had restricted it.

CCC: Mk 2:23-27 581; Mk 2:23-26 544; Mk 2:25-27 582; Mk 2:27-28 2167; Mk 2:27 2173; Mk 2:28 2173
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reflection:

Those of us who have been around for a while will remember that on Sundays after you went to Mass, there was not much to do but be with family.  Fifty years ago, in the United States at least, all commercial establishments, restaurants and stores were closed on Sunday in honor of the Sabbath.  Today, it is unusual to see stores closed on Sunday.  It is ironic that even giant chains like Meijers make a point of showing they hold Christian values by closing on Christmas Day, as if that was a badge of some sort.

We cannot, however, point a finger at the greedy capitalists.  Those stores and restaurants would not be open if vast numbers of us did not frequent them on religious holidays.  They stay open for us.  It shows how far we have come from the day where the Sabbath was observed as the Lord’s Day.

Sacred scripture reminds us that it was a command of God that set the seventh day (or the first day as we now count it) as a day dedicated to the Lord’s gift of creation.  We are reminded of this in the first reading from Deuteronomy.  It is to be a great sign of remembrance.  Recalling that all we have, all we are, and all that is was created by our Heavenly Father.  It is his food we eat and air we breathe.  We are asked to give him thanks by more than just lip service.

In the Hebrew tradition, this law was kept scrupulously.  The rules about keeping the sabbath were strict, even burdensome.  Any form of work was prohibited.  This was carried to the ridiculous by the Sadducees who are seen being critical of Jesus’ disciples in the Gospel.  They viewed the simple act of plucking raw grain, eaten on the spot, as work and chastised Jesus for allowing such a flagrant (in their eyes) violation of the laws regarding work on the Sabbath.

We are reminded once more in this Gospel story of why God found it necessary to send his Only Begotten Son. The Lord once more is forced to show those who would follow the Father, what the loving Father wanted for his children.  His first response clearly lays out God’s intent: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” God wants peace for his Children; peace that comes from knowing that their loving creator has given them good things and wishes them to reside in his peace by remembering all that was placed before them.  He does not wish this remembrance to become a burden.

We as parents know that sometimes when you give your children an inch, they try to take a mile.  It is the same with us when we interpret Jesus’ relaxing the sabbath rules for his disciples as meaning we don’t have to keep the sabbath at all.  That is not where scripture leads us.  We as a community of faith have an obligation to remember why the sabbath was set aside and keep it in our homes and families.

This is not an easy thing to do in our day and age.  It may even require some sacrifices (like skipping Soccer (football) games so the family can worship together.  It is a mark of our faith that we follow the Lord and give the Heavenly Father the reverence he deserves.

Pax



[*] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014
[1] The picture used is “Disciples Eating Grain” by Andrew Bida, 1874
[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 re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
[4] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, © 2010, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. p.317