Saturday, July 4, 2009

JULY 4 SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL

“St. Elizabeth (Isabel)
of Portugal”
by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1640
JULY 4
Note: In the United States, this memorial is perpetually transferred to July 5.

SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL

Biographical Information about St. Elizabeth of Portugal[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
1 John 3:14-18

Beloved:
We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that anyone who is a murderer
does not have eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love
was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means
sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion,
how can the love of God remain in him?
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
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Commentary on
1 Jn 3:14-18

St. John continues his narrative on righteousness and love in this passage. Note he has not really focused on what he considers to be the central teaching of Christ – love one another. In this particular section he begins with the comparison from scripture of Cain and Abel (
Genesis 4:1-16). He brings that analogy to why the world, in his eyes intrinsically evil, hates the Christian community, who are good because they love each other.

CCC: 1 Jn 3:15 1033; 1 Jn 3:17 2447
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9

R. (1) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.


Blessed the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be might upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.


Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.


Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.


An evil report he shall not fear.
His heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast;
he shall not fear till he looks down upon his foes.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.


Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
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Commentary on
Ps 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9

This hymn of praise and thanksgiving from Psalm 112 commends the people faithful to the Law of Moses. The one who is blameless in the eyes of God does not fear those from his community or others since the Lord is his protector.

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GOSPEL
Matthew 25:31-46

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 these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
`Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
`Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

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Commentary on
Mt 25:31-46

Jesus, in this reading, is telling his disciples and us what will be judged at the end times, the Eschaton. The reading gives us a vision of what will be asked 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.

This reading provides yet one more example of how Christ intends the Great Commandment to be lived. Loving God and loving neighbor would be judged by; “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” We note that while the general theme is broadly applied to all people, there is special emphasis placed upon the poor and marginalized. The concluding answer expands upon the Hebrew definition in Leviticus (Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18) as St. Matthew defines "neighbor" in a more inclusive sense.


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; Mt 25:41 1034; Mt 25:45 598, 1825, 2463; Mt 25:46 1038
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OR
Matthew 25:31-40

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."'
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Commentary on Mt 25:31-40

This shorter form of the Gospel softens the message by omitting the response of the King to those who ignore the need to show mercy and compassion as Christ teaches. The essential focus remains unchanged- the requirement of the Christian to show compassion and mercy to those in need.

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
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Reflection:

When we say “I am a Christian” the phrase should imply a host of images for those who hear it. However, at the fundamental level, beyond a statement of belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, it is evidenced by behavior. The principal teaching of Christ is the moral responsibility of his followers to love God and one another. In a classic implementation of this teaching St. Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal was iconic in her example of this lived reality.

In St. Matthew’s Gospel the notion of what it means to love one another is to help those, our brothers and sisters, who are poor, ill, imprisoned, innocent victims of injustice, and those marginalized. Jesus identifies those who accept this broader responsibility for God’s creation as those invited into the Kingdom of God. Moreover, those who reject this fundamental responsibility of his code will be barred from that heavenly home. One cannot profess a love of God and fail to love God in those whom He also resides.

St. Elizabeth did exactly this from a position of influence. She cared for the poor, ill and imprisoned through works of charity unexpected from the Queen of a country. She accepted the envy and cruelty of the Portuguese nobility and followed Christ’s teachings with what is termed heroic fidelity. She twice inserted herself, physically, between armies lead by members of her family and was able to avoid bloodshed on a national level. Her faithful example lead her to end her life in a cloister of Franciscan monastery, her love of God and others a burning symbol of a lived faith.

It is this example we recall today as we ask for her prayers for us as we struggle to live lives of faith. May her example of selfless devotion to God and her love of all God’s creatures help us to live as members of his body, sharing the inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom.

Pax

[1] The picture is “St. Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal” by Francisco de Zurbarán, 1640
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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