Sunday, August 16, 2009

AUGUST 16 SAINT STEPHEN OF HUNGARY

“St. Stephen of Hungary
Embraced by St. Mary”
by Ippolito Scarsella, ~1580
AUGUST 16

SAINT STEPHEN OF HUNGARY

Biographical Information about St. Stephen of Hungary [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Stephen of Hungary

Readings and Commentary:
[2]

FIRST READING
Deuteronomy 6:3-9

Moses said to the people:
"Hear, Israel, and be careful to observe these commandments,
that you may grow and prosper the more,
in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers,
to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.
Drill them into your children.
Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.
Bind them at your wrist as a sign
and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.
Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates."
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Commentary on
Dt 6:3-9

The tale of Moses leading the children of Israel (Jacob) presents an important event. Moses begins in this passage giving the tribes the Shema Yisrael, arguably the most important of all Jewish prayers. It embodies the whole of Mosaic Law and is quoted by Christ as “the greatest and the first commandment,” summarizing the whole law of God.

His injunction to “Take to heart these words” gives rise to a number of Hebrew traditions including the use of phylacteries (“…as a pendant on your forehead”).

CCC: Dt 6:4-5 201, 459, 2093; Dt 6:4 228, 2083; Dt 6:5 368, 2055, 2133
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 112:1bc-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9

R. (1) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.
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Commentary on
Ps 112:1bc-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 has nothing to fear those from his community or others since the Lord is his protector. A repeating theme is the praise of those who are generous to the poor and poor in spirit.

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GOSPEL

Long Form
Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man who was going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the one who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him,
`Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
`Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him,
`Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
`Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.'
His master said to him in reply, 'You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth!"'
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Commentary on
Mt 25:14-30

The Parable of the Talents comes to us as part of Jesus’ dialog about being prepared and vigilant. It combines two different but connected logions or morals/teaching points. The first is to use the gifts God has given for the benefit of God, who is represented by the “Master” in the parable. The second is vigilance. This parable, directed at the disciples, exhorts his servants to use the gifts God has given them to the fullest, for the benefit of others (as well as God). It is an exclamation point to Jesus earlier statement: those to whom much is given, even more will be expected” (see also Luke 12:48).

CCC: Mt 25:14-30 546, 1936; Mt 25:21 1029, 1720, 2683; Mt 25:23 1029, 1720
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OR

Short Form
Matthew 25:14-23

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"A man who was going on a journey called in his servants
and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one--
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master's money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, 'Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.'
His master said to him,
`Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy.'
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
`Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.'
His master said to him,
`Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master's joy!"'
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Commentary on Mt 25:14-23

This shorter form of the Gospel focuses narrowly on the need for the faithful to use the gifts God has given them to the fullest for the benefit of others (as well as God). It is an exclamation point to Jesus earlier statement “those to whom much is given, even more will be expected.”

CCC: Mt 25:14-30 546, 1936; Mt 25:21 1029, 1720, 2683; Mt 25:23 1029, 1720
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Reflection:

In modern politics, regardless of the nation, we see well meaning individuals succumb to temptation; temptation to graft, temptation to sex, temptation to all kinds of abuses of power.  If we look back to the era of St. Stephen of Hungary whose feast we celebrate, we can see that in the 10th century even greater abuses were common.  With many countries subject to the absolute power invested in the monarchy, many rulers of that day fell to all manner of temptations which make current day excesses of political figures pale in comparison (that of course does not excuse anyone from violating the public trust).  It does, however, point to the heroic virtue of St. Stephen.  His fidelity to Christian values is an example of what is possible when one surrenders one’s will to Christ for the Glory of God.

The Gospel proclaimed on this feast sets out the need for all Christians to behave as if Jesus were constantly looking over their shoulder (which indeed he is).  We are called to act in such a ways as to be ready, at a moments notice, to stand before the judgment seat of the Most High.

It is only by living daily faith that this is possible.  It is only by dedicating all we do to the Glory of God that we can avoid falling into the temptation we pray daily to be kept from.

Today we ask for the prayers of St. Stephen of Hungary.  We ask that, through his prayers, our will might be conformed, as his was, to the will of Christ.  We pray that by being so conformed, all our actions will be pleasing to God and provide and example for others to follow.


Pax

[1] The picture is “St. Stephen of Hungary Embraced by St. Mary” by Ippolito Scarsella, ~1580
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible. This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

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