CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 21, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and yook off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We enter now into the Three Days, the Triduum, the axis point in the liturgical calendar, the fulcrum on which swivels the 40 days of Lent on one side and the 50 days of Easter celebration on the other. Today is Holy Thursday. Some churches call Holy Thursday “Maundy Thursday.” “Maundy” is an English form of the Latin word mandatum, a word that means, “commandment.” This suggestion of a commandment comes from a verse in John’s gospel that follows immediately after the text we have read in today’s gospel, the passage at John 13:34 that says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” So some churches have called this day, Maundy Thursday, because of Jesus’ commandment that we are to love, and the unique ritual action of this liturgy that we celebrate at this evening’s Mass, the washing of feet, similarly bears the name, the Mandatum.

John’s gospel is unique among the four gospels in its omission of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, but this omission does not mean that the Last Supper is devoid of any sacramental import in John’s mind. Some liturgical scholars believe that footwashing likely had its origins as a rite of initiation in the community of the Gospel of John before the gospel was written. For that community, the foot washing was probably an initiation rite much like baptism is and has been for Christians for a very long time now. For the community of the Gospel of John, the foot washing may have been more like baptism as we know it than as the reminder of service that we typically see in it. One of the ways that historians who study Christian worship can tell that something was happening in a church is a law against doing that very thing. (Why should we bother to write a law unless there are people doing the very thing we wish them not to do?) Church laws against initiation by washing feet occur as late as the fourth or fifth centuries of Christianity.

If indeed the community of John’s Gospel had at one time brought people into its embrace by foot washing rather than through baptism, this rite we celebrate tonight at the beginning of the Triduum hearkens back to an ancient initiatory practice. With the rite of baptism that the Church celebrates at the Easter vigil to initiate new members into the community, the whole liturgical thrust of the Three Days is our renewal as baptized members of the Body of Christ. Then as we enter into the mysteries of the Triduum, let us be renewed in our baptismal commitment and rededicate ourselves to a life of proclamation of the gospel, service to the poor, and love for one another.

Holy Thursday: In the Christian calendar, Holy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, the day on which the Last Supper is said to have occurred. Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates the institution by the Lord of the Eucharist. The Last Supper was also Christ’s farewell to his assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny him before the sun rose again.

On Holy Thursday morning there is a special Mass in Cathedral Churches, celebrated by the bishop and as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ’s institution of the priesthood at the Last Supper. At this “Chrism Mass” the bishop also blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism, Confirmation, and Anointing of the sick or dying.

The evening Holy Thursday Liturgy, marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred “Triduum” (“three days”) of Holy Week, which culminates in the Easter Vigil, and concludes at Vespers on the evening of Easter day. The Mass begins in the evening, because Passover began at sundown; it commemorates our Lord’s institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. It also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, washing, commemorating Jesus’ washing the feet of his apostles, as well as in the priest’s stripping and washing of the altar. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.

Spiritual reading: We are not called by God to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love. (Jean Vanier)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 20, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospels make clear to us that Jesus had many enemies, but it was not these who openly opposed him who betrayed him: it was one of the people who was closest to Jesus, one who walked with him on long dusty roads, saw him work his miracles, heard him proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God to the poor, and witnessed his compassion toward the sick. Today’s gospel reading tells us that when Jesus told his disciples that one among them was about to betray him, each one doubted himself and herself; each one asked Jesus, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” In other words, in a secret place in their hearts, all of them understood their own capacities to turn on the Lord. Judas, who of course knew what he was going to do, also chimes in, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” And though he asks the same question that the others asked, his question rings with the falseness of concealment of conscious intentions. We too who are baptized into the Lord have walked with Jesus, seen the miracles he works in broken lives, heard the good news, and understood his compassion, and yet each of us is well aware of his or her own capacity to betray Jesus. Let us pray, as Jesus taught us, that we not be put to the test.

Saint of the day: In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as “Spy Wednesday,” indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6. The story as Matthew tells it is redolent with references to a passage in the prophet Zechariah (11:11-13).

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was at a gathering in Bethany. Here he was anointed by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of nard. Judas, we are told, was indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Judas’s betrayal, of course, when it comes, comes in the form of a kiss. After Jesus and several disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray after the Last Supper, Judas identified his master to the guards who accompanied him with a kiss on the Lord’s cheek.

Spiritual reading: The glory of the Cross led those who were blind through ignorance into light, loosed all who were held fast by sin, and ransomed the whole world of mankind. (Cyril of Jerusalem)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 19, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The reading from the gospel today speaks about two betrayals, Judas’s and Peter’s, and by inference, it speaks of a third betrayal, our own. Jesus predicts that one of the 12 will betray him to the authorities, and the Beloved Disciple asks Jesus who will turn on him. Jesus answers, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it,” and he offers to Judas a sign of friendship, a small portion of food. In the moment that Jesus tells Judas to do quickly what he plans to do, Judas makes his fateful choice and leaves the Lord and his friends.

The evangelist in the gospel often contrasts light and dark, and he poignantly observes at the departure of Judas that, “It was night”: darkness has settled in and about the Lord and his companions. And yet in this moment, Jesus still can say that the time has come for Jesus to be glorified. This is the very theme that I have tried to relate over and again the last several weeks, that God reveals Godself in the darkest moments. Even in the moment of betrayal, even at night, even when all is apparently lost, God is there, doing what God does, transforming the moment and making it something entirely new.

There is a second betrayal that the gospel addresses. This betrayal is Peter’s, Peter who brashly suggests he is prepared to die with Jesus when Jesus knows that Peter is not at all prepared to make such a sacrifice. Because this story appears in each of the gospels, Peter certainly in later years must have spoken of the incident over and over again: it obviously made a deep impression that Jesus knew Peter would betray him a certain number of times before a certain specific event. Peter doubtless told the story to make clear the importance of conversion and repentance and the Lord’s openness to receive back to himself those who betray him.

And so it with us as we move to the conclusion of our Lenten journey: we too repent over and over again of the same sins, hoping never to do again those things that over and over have injured our connection to God, and Jesus, over and over again, receives us back. Even when night descends on us, when the gloom of self-accusation and guilt is thick about us, let us dare to know, even with perfect confidence, that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and ask the Lord that he will help us as we stumble along our way. Let us hope and believe that God stands by us to glorify us even in our betrayal.

Saint of the day: Luchesio and his wife Buonadonna wanted to follow St. Francis as a married couple. Thus they set in motion the Secular Franciscan Order.

Luchesio and Buonadonna lived in Poggibonzi where he was a greedy merchant. Meeting Francis—probably in 1213—changed his life. He began to perform many works of charity.

At first Buonadonna was not as enthusiastic about giving so much away as Luchesio was. One day after complaining that he was giving everything to strangers, Buonadonna answered the door only to find someone else needing help. Luchesio asked her to give the poor man some bread. She frowned but went to the pantry anyway. There she discovered more bread than had been there the last time she looked. She soon became as zealous for a poor and simple life as Luchesio was. They sold the business, farmed enough land to provide for their needs and distributed the rest to the poor.

In the 13th century some couples, by mutual consent and with the Church’s permission, separated so that the husband could join a monastery (or a group such as Francis began) and his wife could go to a cloister. Conrad of Piacenza and his wife did just that. This choice existed for childless couples or for those whose children had already grown up. Luchesio and Buonadonna wanted another alternative, a way of sharing in religious life, but outside the cloister.

To meet this desire, Francis set up the Secular Franciscan Order. Francis wrote a simple Rule for the Third Order (Secular Franciscans) at first; Pope Honorius III approved a more formally worded Rule in 1221.

The charity of Luchesio drew the poor to him, and, like many other saints, he and Buonadonna seemed never to lack the resources to help these people.

One day Luchesio was carrying a crippled man he had found on the road. A frivolous young man came up and asked, “What poor devil is that you are carrying there on your back?” “I am carrying my Lord Jesus Christ,” responded Luchesio. The young man immediately begged Luchesio’s pardon.

Luchesio and Buonadonna both died on April 28, 1260. He was beatified in 1273. Local tradition referred to Buonadonna as “blessed” though the title was not given officially.

Spiritual reading: Look, look on Jesus, poor and crucified, look on this Holy One, who for your love has died, and remember as you contemplate the sacred mysteries, this Jesus whom you gaze upon, loves you most tenderly. (Claire of Assisi)

Calling and Service

Posted in Uncategorized by Rev. Larry Hansen, BCC, CT on April 18, 2011

A thought for Holy Week. . .

Calling and Service

We initiate service.

Service is when we are doing something for somebody.

The feeling that we have to do something easily causes resentment.

When it is a service chosen by us, we may feel out of control all day.

God initiates calling.

 When God calls us to do something, there is a certain sense of peace

about doing it, even if it takes all day, or whatever time it takes.

When we know we are called, the results are all in God’s hands

and we don’t care what happens.

There is no anxiety, no ‘should’s.’

We trust that everything will be okay.

 Rev. Thomas Keating, ocso

 
Fr. Larry Hansen
Cana House
Portland, Oregon

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 18, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel reading for Monday of Holy Week sees Martha, Mary, and Lazarus throw a party in the Lord’s honor. Just as Lazarus’s resurrection has foreshadowed Jesus’ own resurrection, now at this party comes Lazarus’s sister Mary’s turn to presage an event in Jesus’ life, that is, the death of the Lord.

In today’s passage, Judas critiques Mary’s action as callousness toward the poor, but Jesus sees in Mary’s act something different than Judas sees. Where Judas sees selfishness, Jesus sees love: prescient of his coming death as a criminal, Jesus recognizes that as one who is to be executed infamously, his body will not receive an anointing. Jesus sees in Mary’s anointing something Mary almost certainly does not see, the preparation of the Lord’s body for death.

We might recall also that it is in John’s gospel that Jesus washes his disciples’ feet to model for them a lesson of service. We can wonder whether Jesus modeled his example to his disciples cognizant of Mary’s example to him just several days earlier. And in any event, Jesus here and at the Last Supper makes clear that in our service to one another we die with him on the cross and join our love to his in the pascal mystery we have begun to commemorate.

Saint of the day: Pedro de San Jose Betancur was born on May 16, 1619 in the Canary Islands as a poor shepherd. He devoted his time with the flocks to prayer. At age 31, he journeyed to Guatemala City in hopes of a job away from the sheep. Befriended by the Jesuits and Franciscans of the area, he enrolled in the Jesuit College of San Borgia in hopes of becoming a priest. However, with little background education he was unable to master the material and withdrew. He then took private vows, and became a Franciscan tertiary, taking the name Peter of Saint Joseph.

Three years later he opened Our Lady of Bethlehem, a hospital for the convalescent poor. Soon after there was a shelter for the homeless, schools for the poor, and an oratory. Not to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro walked through their part of town, ringing a bell, begging support for the poor, and inviting the wealthy to repent. Other men were drawn to Pedro’s work, and they formed the foundation of the Bethlehemite Congregation or Hospitalers Bethlehemite.

Pedro built chapels and shrines in the poor sections of the city, and promoted the ministry of intercessory prayer among those who had nothing except their time. He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night’s lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. Legend says that petitioners need only tap gently on Peter’s stone tomb in order to have their prayers fulfilled. Stone tablets scratched with thank-you notes are often left on the tomb afterward. He died April 25, 1667 at Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Spiritual reading: Under the cross I have understood the destiny of God’s people; I believe that those who understand that all this is the cross of Christ ought to take it up themselves in the name of all the others. (Edith Stein)

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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 17, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 21:1-11

When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Say to daughter Zion,

“Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: With the arrival of Palm Sunday, we enter holy week with an observation about how the world works and what Jesus does. In the normal course of the world, a successful leader on election night enjoys the adulation of the crowd and the intoxicating energy of hope and fresh purpose. Compare that image with the tired, prematurely aged, and battered politician who walks away with a few remaining shreds of dignity into retirement.

Today’s scene in the gospel story echoes this, but in reverse. Jesus enters Jerusalem borne on a wave of mass enthusiasm. The crowds throw down palms before him and sing his praises. They expect great things of the latest messianic figure. Perhaps deep down they don’t expect he will be different from previous ones but they need winners to compensate for their own sense of disappointment as we love the winners of The X Factor or long to brush up against a celebrity.

The difference in this version of the story, as in the Passion and personal downfall that soon follows, is that the protagonist does not believe the myth he has been turned into. He understands himself and what is happening. At the center of the turmoil a cool silence and presence of mind presides. In the coming days we have to distinguish clearly between the stark individuality of the central character and the mythical elements of the story. There is no easy resolution to this paradox. Lean to one extreme or the other and you miss the meaning. Jesus becomes merely a minor historical figure turned into a mythic icon that has caught the deeper imagination of humanity for two millennia.

To read the story that we embark on today we must allow it to read us. Our own hopes and despairs, mistakes and successes, will guide us into a story whose meaning penetrates all human experience. It then lifts us to a view of reality that transcends and transforms the one who sees it.

Spiritual reading: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you; righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~ Zechariah 9:9

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 16, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel reading follows immediately upon the raising of Lazarus in Bethany, a short walk from Jerusalem, and it prepares us to enter into the mysteries of Holy Week. News of what Jesus has done is traveling fast, and many believe in him as the result of the signs he works.

Today’s gospel is full of ironic statements where the actors say something at a basic level that is filled with a deeper meaning. Rather than dare to dream that something wonderful is happening here, the Sanhedrin meets to raise the complaint, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” The irony, of course, is that everything that frightened them actually did occur within just a few decades. Caiaphas, the high priest, plots Jesus’ death saying that it is better that one man should die than let the nation perish, but the evangelist is aware that Caiaphas’ banal statement has a much deeper meaning, that Jesus dies for his people and in a still deeper way, Jesus dies for all people everywhere in all time.

Jesus senses the depth of the threat that faces him, so he goes away to a remote place to remain secure until the hour is ready. The picture of the arid land fixed in today’s gospel reading is where our Lord went to await his hour. The scene now is set to enter into Holy Week.

Saint of the day: Born in 1844 in Lourdes, France, Bernadette Soubirous was the oldest of six children in a very poor family headed by Francois and Louise Casterot. She was hired out as a servant from age 12 to 14 and served as a shepherdess. On February 11, 1858, around the time of her first Communion, she received a vision of the Virgin. She received 18 more visions in the next 5 months; in one vision, she was led to a spring of healing waters. She moved into a house with the sisters of Nevers at Lourdes where she lived, worked, and learned to read and write. The sisters cared for the sick and indigent, and Bernadette was both of these, sick and indigent. When Bernadette was age 22, the sisters admitted her into their order. Always sick and often mistreated by her superiors, she died on April 16, 1879 in Nevers, France. A prayer for Mary’s aid was on her lips as she slipped away.

Spiritual reading: Nothing is anything more to me; everything is nothing to me, but Jesus: neither things nor persons, neither ideas nor emotions, neither honor nor sufferings. Jesus is for me honor, delight, heart, and soul. (St. Bernadette of Lourdes)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 15, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s reading, we have a contrast between those who refuse to recognize the power of God that works in Jesus and those who understand that something unprecedented indeed is at work in the man. The ones who are privileged in their social context refuse to look beyond their narrow categories to see the signs that God gives, but the ones who enjoy less privilege, the ones who live beyond the Jordan, do not have rigid categories that attempt to put God in a box. This latter group consults its experiences and says, “Something is true here that was not true elsewhere.” It is these ones who have the freedom to believe in Jesus.

Saint of the day: César de Bus was born in February 1544, at Cavaillon, Comtat Venaissin (now in France). At 18, he joined the king’s army and took part in the war against the Huguenots. After the war, he devoted some time to poetry and painting, but soon made up his mind to join the fleet which was then besieging La Rochelle. Owing to a serious sickness, this design could not be carried out.

Up to this time, de Bus had led a pious and virtuous life, which, however during a sojourn of three years in Paris was changed for one of pleasure and dissipation. From Paris, he went back to Cavaillon. Upon the death of his brother, a canon of Salon, he succeeded in obtaining the vacated benefice, which he sought for the gratification of his worldly ambitions.

Shortly after this, however, he returned to a better life, resumed his studies, and in 1582 was ordained to the priesthood. He distinguished himself by his works of charity and his zeal in preaching and catechizing, and conceived the idea of instituting a congregation of priests who should devote themselves to the preaching of Christian Doctrine. In 1592, the “Prêtres séculiers de la doctrine chrétienne”, or “Doctrinaires”, were founded in the town of L’Isle and in the following year came to Avignon. This congregation was approved in December 1597. Besides the Doctrinaires, de Bus founded an order of women called “Filles de la doctrine chrétienne” and later the Ursulines (not the major congregation of that name); it died out in the 17th century.

Five volumes of his “Instructions familières” were published (Paris, 1666). Fr. de Bus died on April 15, 1607 at Avignon.

Spiritual reading: I make myself a leper with the lepers to gain all to Jesus Christ. That is why, in preaching, I say “we lepers;” not, “my brethren.” (Father Damien of Molokai)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 14, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 8:51-59

Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In John’s theology, Jesus is the Word of the Father. The Prologue of John’s gospel calls Jesus “the Word,” and observes that the Word is pressed right up alongside God, and the Word itself is God. This term, “word,” is used twice in today’s passage, and there are clear ties between this passage and the Prologue. In today’s reading, which continues the exploration of Jesus’ identity, Jesus talks about the benefits to those who keep Jesus’ “word,” that is, Jesus’ instruction. Jesus says such persons will never see death. Why will this happen? Because Jesus, this passage tells us, knows the Father and keeps the Father’s word. Expressed in another way, Jesus has received instructions directly from God that Jesus, in turn, transmits to us, and this instruction, because it comes from God, leads to life: Jesus expresses what is on the Father’s mind–he is precisely the Father’s word to us.

Here, as in the Prologue, a very powerful claim is made concerning who Jesus is. Jesus uses the term “I AM” to characterize his identity. As we saw several days ago, the term, “I AM” is how the Jews understood God to describe Godself to Moses, and Jesus uses it here to explain his relationship to Abraham, who “came to be.” The Prologue similarly distinguishes the Word from “all that came to be.” In this passage, “came to be” again appears and once again distinguishes Jesus, the Word, from what is created. This is a powerful passage in John’s explanation of Jesus’ identity, and it leaves little room to understand Jesus as anything but divine.

Saint of the day: Marguerite d’Youville was born on October 15, 1701 in Quebec. She was the daughter of Christophe Dufrost de Lajemmerais, who died in Marguerite’s youth, and Renee de Varennes; niece of Laverendrye, who “discovered” the Rocky Mountains. Educated by the Ursulines, she married in 1722 at age 21 to an adulterous M. de Youville. Marguerite was the mother of three children. One of her children died, but both sons who survived to adulthood became priests. At the age of 29, she became a widow in 1730. To minister to those even poorer than herself, she took over the operation of a failing hospital and made it both a success, and became a beacon to those who were outcast. She founded the Sisters of Charity (the Grey Nuns) in 1737 from those who worked at the hospital; the congregation’s rule received diocesan approval in 1755. She was the director of the General Hospital in Montreal, which was taken over by the Grey Nuns. Today the sisters work throughout Canada, the United States, Africa, and South America. She died December 23, 1771 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: You must be the change you wish to see in the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 13, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

John 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.”

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, Jesus dares us to undertake a journey, and the invitation is the deepest meaning of our Lenten renewal. Jesus says, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I came from God.”

To see Jesus more clearly, to follow him more nearly, to love him more dearly is our given path into the presence of the Lord of Spirits and the Flesh, and since that Lord has fashioned us like garments to fit the pattern of the Lord’s own form, it is in Jesus and only in Jesus that our truth and freedom can be realized.

Saint of the day: Margaret of Castello was born in 1287 in Italy. Born blind, lame, deformed, hunchback, of tiny stature, when she was six years old, her noble parents walled her up beside a chapel; she could not get out, but could attend Mass and receive the Sacraments. After 14 years of imprisonment, her parents took her to a shrine to pray for a cure. When none occurred, they abandoned her. She became a lay Dominican, and spent her life in prayer and charity. When she died on April 13,1320 of natural causes, the townspeople thronged her funeral, and demanded she be buried in a tomb inside the church. The priest protested, but a crippled girl was miraculously cured at the funeral, and he consented.

Spiritual reading: I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. (C. S. Lewis)