Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on March 21, 2014

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. 466e98029ce75ae39b14a8caa92b5523_w600Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.

Reflection on the gospel reading: We typically think of the sacrifice of Jesus in terms of what happened to his body: that he was tortured; his flesh, torn; his hands, feet, and side, pierced. But there was also another element to his sacrifice which was entirely psychological. When people rejected Jesus in the way which led to his death, they were attacking who he was and his purpose in life. In addition to the physical wounds he endured, he also must have experienced emotional wounds. The people who rejected him sought to starve him of the love and belonging which he, in his humanity, was created to receive. Moreover, when we are in a stressful situation, like being tried and punished, our need to belong is even greater, so the need for belonging must have been particularly acute for Jesus when he was on the cross and the pain of his rejection, all the more severe. Jesus in this gospel passage hints at the resurrection when he talks about the rejected stone becoming the corner stone. If we are to understand the sacrifice Jesus made, and the transformation which became possible as a result of it, we need to open our imaginations to the certainty that if Jesus’ broken body was raised and made something entirely new and fresh, so was his broken psyche. Insofar as Jesus is the pattern of our lives and his resurrection, the pattern of our resurrection, the promise of Christian life is not just glorious bodies when the end of days comes but also glorious psyches. When God promises to make all things new again, God promises it will include everything, even those thoughts about the past which make us wince.

Saint of the day: Carmelina Tarantino was born in Italy in February 1937. She was the eighth of 11 siblings, most of whom emigrated to Canada. By all accounts, Carmelina’s life was one of suffering–-wounds that wouldn’t heal, pain that required regular morphine. Carmelina TarantinoShe was unwell even as a girl, growing up in a farming family near Pompeii. In 1962 her brother Tony Tarantino went back home because Carmelina was suffering from painful ailments that no one could diagnose. She came to Toronto at age 27 on the urging of her seven brothers and sisters living here, arriving in Toronto on July 4, 1964, searching for answers to an unexplained illness that baffled doctors in her homeland. Canadian doctors suspected a rare form of cancer but it was never confirmed. Sr. Carmelina suffered through painful treatments, including the amputation of her leg and a masectomy. Through it all, she maintained a devout life of prayer. She could not sit up, and her dressings needed to be changed sister_carmelinaseveral times a day. Believing that radiation and chemotherapy were no longer helpful, doctors sent her to Riverdale hospital for her last few months. Yet she lived.

Never leaving her hospital bed, she became a nun in 1977, though she remained in her hospital bed at Riverdale Hospital for 24 years. If she was cut off from the world, the world was not cut off from her. Word slowly spread of the gravely ill woman who helped those who visited her. Despite her continuing pain, she seemed joyful. She had a bed sheet that had to be elevated because of the pain, but instead of people taking care of her, she took care of people. The lineup of visitors extended well outside her door, both to visit and seek spiritual direction. Thousands of people, mostly of Italian heritage, came to visit Sr. Carmelina while others sought counseling over the phone. She impacted the lives of thousands before her death at the age of 55 on March 21, 1992. The diocesan investigation into Sr. Carmelina’s virtues as a first step in her cause for beatification opened on March 21, 2009.

Spiritual reading: At the deepest levels of our hearts we are all aching, for each other and for the same eternally loving One who calls us. It would be well, I think, if we could acknowledge this more often to one another. (Gerald May)


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