Thứ Bảy, 28 tháng 2, 2015

MARCH 01, 2015 : SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT year B

Second Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 26

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
Then God said:
“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, 
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust 
on a height that I will point out to you.”

When they came to the place of which God had told him, 
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven, 
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God, 
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about, 
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram 
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: 
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD, 
that because you acted as you did 
in not withholding from me your beloved son, 
I will bless you abundantly 
and make your descendants as countless 
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; 
your descendants shall take possession 
of the gates of their enemies, 
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command.”
Responsorial PsalmPS 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
R. (116:9) I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
Reading 2ROM 8:31B-34
Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son 
but handed him over for us all, 
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us, who will condemn?
Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised— 
who also is at the right hand of God, 
who indeed intercedes for us.

Verse Before The GospelCF. MT 17:5
From the shining cloud the Father's voice is heard:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.

GospelMK 9:2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John 
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them, 
and his clothes became dazzling white, 
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, 
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents: 
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; 
from the cloud came a voice, 
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves, 
questioning what rising from the dead meant.


Scripture Study – Mar. 1, 2015
March 1, 2015 Second Sunday of Lent

This Sunday as we begin the second week of Lent, the readings call us to walk by faith and follow the ways of the Spirit rather than the ways of the flesh. We are called to see the glory hidden in the humanity of Jesus as did Peter, James and John on the mountain of transfiguration. We are called to recognize the presence of God in His promises even when, like Abraham, we cannot see how they can be fulfilled by doing what God asks of us. In many ways the readings deal with pressing on in the face of uncertainty and doubt. The desire to walk in the spirit is exactly what this year’s Lenten readings call us to do.

First Reading: Genesis 22: 1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
1 Some time after these events, God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, “Abraham!” “Ready!” he replied. 2 Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.” [3 Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust, set out for the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar. 5 Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over yonder. We will worship and then come back to you.” 6 Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. 7 As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. “Father!” he said. “Yes, son,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the holocaust?” 8 “Son,” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.” Then the two continued going forward.]
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. [Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar.] 10 Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the LORD’S messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 12 “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger. “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” 13 As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son. [14 Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh; hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”]
15 Again the LORD’S messenger called to Abraham from heaven 16 and said: “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, 17 I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, 18 and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing–all this because you obeyed my command.”
NOTES on First Reading:
* 22:1 “After these things” is a phrase that is used as a conventional introduction to a new section. The term, “God tested” is used only here in Genesis and only here in the Pentateuch with an individual as the object. Everywhere else God tests the People of Israel ( Ex 15:25; 16:4; Deut 8:2, 16; 13:4; 33:8). The usual context of testing is Israel in the wilderness being tested so that its orientation toward or away from God becomes manifest. The test proved the firmness of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, for God had promised Abraham that through Isaac all the nations of the earth would find blessing. See Genesis 18:10,18; 21:12.
The phrase, “here I am,” is a statement of complete availability (Isa 6:8).
* 22:2 Beloved son is a better translation than only son in this case. The name, Moriah, only occurs one other time (2 Chron 3:1) in the Bible where it is identified as the mountain of Jerusalem where Solomon builds the temple. Thus Abraham is the first to worship on the Temple mount. The name is a play on the Hebrew word “to see.” God will see to the offering. Abraham obeys immediately and in silence. The reader must infer his feelings since Abraham says nothing.
* 22:4 This is probably the halfway point in a seven day journey to the mountain and back.
* 22:5 Abraham left his household and now he leaves his two servants and goes alone with Issac to face God.
* 22:6 Much later, Christians would see a parallel between Jesus carrying the cross and Issac carrying the wood for the sacrifice on his shoulder.
* 22:7 Abraham’s response to his son’s question has been interpreted not so much as a ruse but rather as a sign of his leaving everything in the hands of God.
* 22:11 The angel of Yahweh had called from heaven and opened the eyes of Hagar to see the well (21:17-19). This same angel now stops Abraham from inflicting death and mediates God’s word and action.
* 22:12 God’s judgment in the voice of the angel acknowledges Abraham’s total obedience and that Abraham truly fears God, for he has not withheld his beloved son. Abraham has learned to give up control over his life to God so that he may receive it and everything in it as grace.
* 22:13 A sacrificial ram is provided by God. This story operates on two levels. The older context of the story is one presenting the prohibition of infant sacrifice. This had always been rejected by the religion and the God of Israel even though it was very common in the neighboring countries. The first -born of both man and beast belonged to God but while the animals were sacrificed the first-born children must be redeemed with an animal sacrifice. In spite of this prohibition there were times in Israel’s history when child sacrifice was practiced by some in Israel as the polemic against it (2 Kings 16:3; Mica 6:7) shows.
The second context of the story and perhaps its chief point is one presenting it in the context of the promises of God to Abraham. Yahweh “will see to” everything.
* 22:14-18 These verses point to the fact that God will take care of everything and that all we need to do is obey. It was Abraham’s unreserved trust in Yahweh that is being rewarded in this listing of the blessing God will give him and his descendants. This is the seventh time that the promises to Abraham are given in Genesis.
* 22:14 Yahweh-yireh is a Hebrew expression meaning “the Lord will see.” The reference is to the words in Genesis 22:8, “God himself will see to it.”
Second Reading: Romans 8: 31b-34
(Brothers and Sisters:) 31 [What then shall we say to this?] If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
33 Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. 34 Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 8:31 The beginning words in parentheses are added by the Lectionary to help the reader understand that this is an exhortation to the congregation. The portion in square brackets is left out of the reading.
* 8:31-39 This section is a rhetorical passage about the love of God made manifest in God’s own Son being delivered up to death for their salvation. It deals with how the all-conquering power of God’s love has overcome every obstacle to salvation of believers and every threat to separate them from God. Through Jesus, Christians can overcome all their afflictions and trials.
Paul uses the terminology of the law court as in the debates of Job or Chapter 3 of Zechariah. God’s plan of salvation has made it clear to Christians that God is on their side.
* 8:32 This is probably a reference to Gen 22:16 where Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, the child of the covenant. God has already pronounced His decision in our favor and there is no reason to expect that He will change His mind.
* 8:32-35 This is a series of rhetorical questions but the punctuation is disputed by some scholars. The Revised Standard Version (RSV) has a different punctuation.
* 8:34 Paul turns our attention to the resurrection. Jesus, having been raised and exalted, still continues to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father. In Heb 7:255; 9:24 this intercession is linked to Christ’s continuing priesthood but the notion of priesthood is not present in the Pauline books. See 1 John 2:1.
Gospel Reading: Mark 9:2-10
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. 7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
NOTES on Gospel Reading:
* 9:2-8 This incident is also told in Matt 17:1-9 and Luke 9:28-36. Only Luke 9:28 tells us that Jesus went up the mountain to pray. The others give no reason for going up the mountain. Mark and Matthew 17:1 place the transfiguration of Jesus six days after the first prediction of his passion and death and his instruction to the disciples on the doctrine of the cross. The six days may be intended to echo the time of Israel’s waiting for God to speak to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exod 24:16). Luke 9:28 has “about eight days.” In a sense the transfiguration counterbalances the prediction of the passion by affording some of the disciples some insight into the divine glory that Jesus possessed. It is this same glory that will overcome his death and that of his disciples (2 Cor 3:18; 2 Peter 1:16-19). The voice from heaven (Mark 9:7) prepares the disciples to understand that in the divine plan Jesus must die before his messianic glory is made manifest. Although this story has been explained by some as a resurrection appearance retrojected into the time of Jesus’ ministry, that does not seem probable since the account lacks many of the usual elements of the resurrection- appearance narratives. The story also draws upon motifs from the Old Testament and noncanonical Jewish apocalyptic literature that express the presence of the heavenly and the divine with brilliant light, white garments, and the overshadowing cloud. These same three disciples are also taken apart from the others by Jesus in Gethsemane (14:33). The mountain has been identified with Tabor or Hermon, but it is considered likely by many scholars that no specific mountain was intended by the evangelist. Its meaning is taken by them to be theological rather than geographical, possibly recalling the revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-18) and to Elijah at the same place (1 Kings 19:8-18 where Horeb is equivalent to Sinai in another thread of the tradition). Without denying the symbolic validity of the various elements of the story, I tend to favor a real mountain and a real event.
* 9:4 Jesus is joined by two preeminent Old Testament God seers who also met God on a mountain (Exod 33:18ff and 1 Kgs 19:8-11). Elijah, representing the prophets, and Moses, representing the law, together represent the entire Old Testament. Both Matthew and Luke mention Moses and Elijah but Mark is the only one that has the usual order of Law and prophets reversed. They now appear with Jesus as witnesses to the fulfillment of the law and the prophets taking place in the person of Jesus as he appears in glory. Moses had longed to see God’s glory (Ex 33:18) and now sees it in Jesus.
* 9:5 Peter’s statement is a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:39-43) during which time this event is thought to have occurred. There was also a popular belief among the people that the Messiah would come at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
* 9:7 Even the disciples enter into the mystery of His glorification as a cloud came, casting a shadow over them. In the Old Testament the cloud covered the meeting tent, indicating the Lord’s presence in the midst of his people (Exodus 40:34-35) and came to rest upon the temple in Jerusalem at its dedication (1 Kings 8:10). The cloud was a frequent symbol of God’s presence (Exod 19:9; 16:10; Ps 92:2). Here, the Father declares who Jesus is by calling Him His Son. The words of God may be an allusion to Dt 18:18 and the following verses. The early Christians identified Jesus as the prophet promised in Dt 18:18.
* 9: 9-13 They were not to speak about the incident until they understood what it was really about. The confusion of the disciples stems from the fact that at the transfiguration of Jesus they had seen Elijah but according to the rabbinical interpretation of Malachi 4:5 or 3:23 (depending upon version), Elijah was to come first. Jesus responds by telling them that Elijah had come, in the person of John the Baptizer, to prepare for the day of the Lord. Jesus also must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt (Mark 9:12) like the Baptizer (Mark 9:13). See Mark 6:17-29.


Meditation: "This is My Son, the Beloved - Listen to Him!"
What can blind us or keep us from recognizing God's glory in our lives? Sin and unbelief for sure! Faith enables us to see what is hidden or unseen to the naked eye. Through the eyes of faith Abraham recognized God and God's call on his life. He saw from afar not only what God intended for him, but for his descendants as well - an everlasting covenant of friendship and peace with the living God. Abraham is the father of faith because he put his hope in the promises of God. Faith makes us taste in advance the light of God's glory when we shall see him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).
The Lord Jesus reveals his glory in fulfilling his Father's will
Are you prepared to see God's glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3). 
When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (see Exodus 34:29). Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles - Peter, James, and John. 
What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem - his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his son because he obeyed. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God's presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8). 
The Lord wants to share his glory with each of us
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory - he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father's glory: follow me - obey my words - take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the blessings of my Father's kingdom - your name will be written in heaven.
 Jesus succeeded in his mission because he went to Calvary so that Paradise would be restored to us once again. He embraced the cross to obtain the crown of glory that awaits each one of us, if we will follow in his footsteps.
Origen (185-254 AD), an early church bible scholar and writer, shows us how the transfiguration can change our lives: 
"When he is transfigured, his face also shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, and are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the sons of day, and walk honestly as in the day. Being manifest, he will shine unto them not simply as the sun, but as demonstrated to be the sun of righteousness."
Stay awake spiritually - Don't miss God's glory and action 
Luke's Gospel account tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually?  There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ.  Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God. 
Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence?
"Lord Jesus, keep me always alert and awake to you, to your word, your action, and your daily presence in my life. Let me see your glory."


Seeking the Face of God
March 1, 2015. Second Sunday of Lent
Mark 9:2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you revealed to Peter, James and John a glimpse of your future glory in order to strengthen them for the cross. I know that you also wish to strengthen me with your presence so that I may carry my cross well and one day see you face-to-face. I entrust myself to you now through this prayer, seeking to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.
Petition: Lord, show me your face.
1. Man’s Desire for God: Jesus spends much time in union with his Father through prayer. In the Gospel today he climbs the mountain to pray, as is his custom. It is an attitude that reflects man’s desire to be in contact and in union with the divine. There must have been something truly awesome in how Our Lord prayed, for his apostles ask him to teach them. They want the same intimacy they see that Jesus has with the Father. Can I truly say that I ardently long for a greater intimacy with Christ? Do I believe confidently that anyone who seeks God with a sincere heart will find him? How pleasing it is to God the Father when we, his children, turn to him in earnest, filial prayer.
2. Climbing the Mountain of Prayer: The image of the “holy mountain” is found throughout the Scriptures from Abraham to Moses, and it is often present in Jesus’ public ministry. A mountain is a physical place, but it also represents for us our seeking God’s face in prayer. Our prayer is the ascent of this “holy mountain” to an encounter with our Father. Are we prepared to make this ascent, knowing this involves setbacks and dryness along the way? The Catholic Catechism describes prayer as a battle: “Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray…” (CCC 2725).  Am I ready to make the effort of climbing ever upwards through prayer? Do I live as I pray, and am I satisfied with that kind of praying and living?
3. The Tools for Climbing: Every good mountain climber has the tools he needs to make the ascent. We, too, have the tools we need. First, we have the Gospels themselves, which give us a clear picture of Jesus. “He who has seen me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). Let us meditate frequently on them and ask Our Lord to reveal himself to us through them. Second, we have the sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist. In the former, we encounter God’s merciful love lavished upon us, restoring us to our filial relationship with him. In the latter, we receive Love himself, Jesus Christ, who has remained in the sacrament so that we could be united with him. Is my prayer well-grounded in a fervent sacramental life?  
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I thank you for remaining with us in the Eucharist. It is here especially that I can go to seek your face, to know you more intimately and to grow in my love for you. Increase my love for you; may I return love for love.
Resolution: Today I will take at least five minutes of my time to seek Our Lord in prayer, asking his grace for my needs and the needs of all my loved ones.

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT, MARCH 1, MARK 9:2-10
(Genesis 22:1-2,9a, 10-13, 15-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31b-34)

KEY VERSE: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him" (v 7).
TO KNOW: Soon after Jesus' first prediction of his passion and death (Mk 8:31), he took three of his disciples up a mountain to give them a glimpse of his future glory. It was on a mountain that God was revealed to Moses, the liberator and Law-giver, (Ex 19:3) and Elijah, the great prophet (1 Kgs 19:8). The appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of the Transfiguration was a revelation that Jesus was the new liberator and prophet, showing the unity and continuity of God's redeeming work. Peter was awestruck and proposed to set up three tents ("booths," such as those in which the Israelites lived on their journey to the Promised Land). A cloud overshadowed them all, reminiscent of the shekinah glory of God that filled the wilderness tent (Ex 40:35). The voice of God confirmed Jesus’ divine authority (Dt 18:15). His words must be heard and obeyed.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, help me to reveal the coming of your kingdom to everyone I meet.
TO SERVE: Do I listen to Jesus' voice and obey him?

Sunday 1 March 2015

2Nd Sunday of Lent. V.
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18. I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living—Ps 115(116):10, 15-19. Romans 8:31-34. Mark 9:2-10.
The story of Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac is a disturbing one. What kind of god would demand such a sacrifice?
In the ancient Near East, human sacrifice was a common ritual act among some religious cults. The emergence of Jewish monotheism challenged many of these cults. It is possible that today’s first reading represents this theological movement.
In staying the hand of Abraham, God is revealing a way of relating to the divine that does not require blind obedience and human sacrifice. The God of Abraham is different to the gods that have gone before. The God of Abraham bestows on us the freedom to choose the course of our actions based on moral and ethical judgments.

MINUTE MEDITATIONS 
Echoing Christ
When we recognize the wounded Jesus in ourselves, we are quite likely to go out of our hearts and minds to recognize Him in those around us. And, as we tend our own selves, we are moved to tend others as we can, whether through action or prayer. Our lives can truly echo the caring words and provide the caring touch of Christ.
— from Sacred Silence


March 1
St. David of Wales
(d. 589?)

David is the patron saint of Wales and perhaps the most famous of British saints. Ironically, we have little reliable information about him.
It is known that he became a priest, engaged in missionary work and founded many monasteries, including his principal abbey in southwestern Wales. Many stories and legends sprang up about David and his Welsh monks. Their austerity was extreme. They worked in silence without the help of animals to till the soil. Their food was limited to bread, vegetables and water.
In about the year 550, David attended a synod where his eloquence impressed his fellow monks to such a degree that he was elected primate of the region. The episcopal see was moved to Mynyw, where he had his monastery (now called St. David's). He ruled his diocese until he had reached a very old age. His last words to his monks and subjects were: "Be joyful, brothers and sisters. Keep your faith, and do the little things that you have seen and heard with me."
St. David is pictured standing on a mound with a dove on his shoulder. The legend is that once while he was preaching a dove descended to his shoulder and the earth rose to lift him high above the people so that he could be heard. Over 50 churches in South Wales were dedicated to him in pre-Reformation days.


Comment:

Were we restricted to hard manual labor and a diet of bread, vegetables and water, most of us would find little reason to rejoice. Yet joy is what David urged on his brothers as he lay dying. Perhaps he could say that to them—and to us—because he lived in and nurtured a constant awareness of God’s nearness. For, as someone once said, “Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence.” May his intercession bless us with the same awareness!
Patron Saint of:

Poets
Wales

LECTIO DIVINA: 2ND SUNDAY OF LENT (B)
Lectio: 
 Sunday, March 1, 2015
The transfiguration of Jesus: the cross on the horizon The passion that leads to glory
Mark 9:2-10

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. Reading
a) A key to the reading:
On this second Sunday of Lent, the Church meditates on the Transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of the three disciples who joined him on the mountain. The Transfiguration takes place after the first announcement of the death of Jesus (Lk 9:21-22). This announcement had confused the disciples and especially Peter. When we take a close look at the small details, we see that the text describes the transfiguration in a way that makes us aware of how this unusual experience of Jesus was able to help the disciples overcome the crisis in which they found themselves. As we read, let us try to pay attention to the following: "How did the transfiguration take place and what was the reaction of the disciples towards this experience?"
b) A division of the text to help our reading:
Mark 9:2-4: The Transfiguration of Jesus in the presence of his disciples
Mark 9:5-6: Peter’s reaction to the transfiguration
Mark 9:7-8: The voice from heaven that explains the meaning of the Transfiguration
Mark 9:9-10: Keeping secret what they had seen
c) Text:
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain on their own by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: 3 his clothes became brilliantly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. 4 Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. 5 Then Peter spoke to Jesus, 'Rabbi,' he said, 'it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' 6 He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. 7 And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, 'This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.' 8 Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of man had risen from the dead. 10 They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what 'rising from the dead' could mean.
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) Which part of the text did you like most or that touched you most? Why?
b) How does the transfiguration take place and what is the reaction of the disciples to this experience?
c) Why does the text present Jesus with brilliant clothes while he is speaking with Moses and Elijah? Who are Moses and Elijah for Jesus? Who are they for the disciples?
d) What is the message of the voice from heaven for Jesus? And what is the message for the disciples?
e) How can we transfigure, today, our personal and family life and the life of the community in our area?
5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme
a) The context then and now
The foretelling of the passion sank the disciples into a deep crisis. They lived among the poor, but in their minds they were confused, lost as they were in the propaganda of the government and of the official religion of their time (Mk 8:15). The official religion taught that the Messiah would be glorious and victorious! That is why Peter reacts strongly against the cross (Mk 8:32). Someone condemned to die on the cross could not be the Messiah, rather, according to the Law of God, he had to be considered “cursed by God” (Dt 21:22-23). In these circumstances, the experience of the Transfiguration of Jesus was able to help the disciples overcome the trauma of the Cross. In fact, at the Transfiguration, Jesus appears in glory and speaks with Moses and Elijah of his Passion and Death (Lk 9:31). The journey towards glory, then, is through the cross.
In the 70’s, when Mark is writing his Gospel, the Cross was a great obstacle for the Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. How could it be that one crucified, one who died as one marginalized, was the great Messiah expected for centuries by the people? The cross was an obstacle to believing in Jesus. "The cross is a scandal," they said (1Cor 1:23). The community did not know how to respond to the critical questions put to them by the Jews. One of the great efforts of the early Christians was that of assisting people to see that the cross was neither scandal nor madness, but rather the expression of the power and wisdom of God (1Cor 1:22-31). Mark’s Gospel contributes to that effort. He uses texts from the Old Testament to describe the scene of the Transfiguration. He shed light on the events of the life of Jesus and shows that Jesus fulfils the prophecies and that the Cross is the way that leads to Glory. It was not just the cross of Jesus that was a problem! In the 70’s, the cross of persecution was part of every-day life for Christians. In fact, just a little time before, Nero had launched his persecution and many died. Today too, many people suffer because they are Christians and because they live the Gospel. How do we approach the cross? What does it mean? With these questions in mind we meditate and comment on the text of the transfiguration.
b) A commentary on the text:
Mark 9:2-4: Jesus looks different. 

Jesus goes up a high mountain. Luke adds that he goes there to pray (Lk 9:28). There, on the summit of the mountain, Jesus appears in glory in the presence of Peter, James and John. Together with him appear Moses and Elijah. The high mountain recalls Mount Sinai, where in times past, God had made known his will to the people by presenting the law to Moses. The white clothes of Jesus recall Moses shrouded in light as he speaks to God on the Mountain and as he receives the law from God (cf. Ex 34:29-35). Elijah and Moses, the two great authorities of the Old Testament, speak with Jesus. Moses represents the Law and Elijah the prophets. Luke says that they talked about the Death of Jesus in Jerusalem (Lk 9:31). Thus it was clear that the Old Testament, both the Law and the Prophets, taught that the way to glory is through the cross (Cf Is 53).
Mark 9:5-6: Peter likes what is happening but does not understand.
Peter likes what is going on and wants this pleasing moment on the Mountain to last. He suggests building three tents. Mark says that Peter was afraid and did not know what he was saying, and Luke adds that the disciples were sleepy (Lk 9:32). For them, as it is for us, it is difficult to understand the Cross!
The description of the transfiguration begins with an affirmation:“Six days later”. What six days are these? Some scholars explain this phrase thus: Peter wants to build three tents, because it was the sixth day of the feast of tents. This was a very popular feast of six days that celebrated the gift of the Law of God and the forty years spent in the desert. To recall these forty years, the people had to spend six days in temporary tents. That is why it was called the Feast of the Tents. If they could not celebrate the whole six days, they had to celebrate at least the sixth day. The affirmation "six days later" would then be an allusion to the feast of the tents. That is why Peter recalls the duty of building tents. And spontaneously, he offers himself to build the tents. Thus Jesus, Moses and Elijah would have been able to go on talking.
Mark 9:7: The voice from heaven shed light on the events. 
As soon as Jesus is shrouded in glory, a voice from heaven says: "This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!" The expression "Beloved Son" recalls the figure of the Servant Messiah, proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 42:1). The expression "Listen to him" recalls the prophecy that promised the coming of the new Moses (cf. Dt 18:15). In Jesus, the prophecies of the Old Testament are being fulfilled. The disciples could not doubt this. The Christians of the 70’s could not doubt this. Jesus is truly theglorious Messiah, but the way to glory is through the cross, the second proclamation made in the prophecy of the Servant (Is 53:3-9). The glory of the Transfiguration is proof of this. Moses and Elijah confirm this. The Father is the guarantor of this. Jesus accepts this.
Mark 9:8: Only Jesus and no one else! 
Mark says that after the vision, the disciples see only Jesus and no one else. The emphasis on the affirmation that they see only Jesus suggests that from now on Jesus is the only revelation of God for us! For us Christians, Jesus, and only Jesus, is the key to understanding the complete meaning of the Old Testament.
Mark 9: 9-10: Knowing how to keep silent.
Jesus asks his disciples not to say anything to anyone until he would have risen from the dead, but the disciples do not understand him. Indeed, anyone who does not link suffering to the resurrection, does not understand the meaning of the Cross. Jesus is stronger than death.
Mark 9:11-13: The return of the prophet Elijah. 
The prophet Malachi had proclaimed that Elijah was to return to prepare the way of the Messiah (Ml 3:23-24). This same proclamation is also found in the book of Ecclesiastes (Ec 48:10). Then, how could Jesus be the Messiah if Elijah had not returned yet? That is why the disciples asked: “Why do the Scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (9:11). Jesus’ reply is clear: “I tell you that Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him” (9: 13). Jesus was referring to John the Baptist who was murdered by Herod (Mt 17:13).
c) Further information:
i) The Transfiguration: the change that takes place in the practice of Jesus
In the middle of conflicts with the Pharisees and Herodians (Mk 8:11-21), Jesus leaves Galilee and goes to the region of Caesarea Philippi (Mk 8:27), where he begins to prepare his disciples. On the way, he puts a question to them: "Who do people say I am?" (Mk 8:27) After listening to their reply that they considered him the Messiah, Jesus begins to speak of his passion and death (Mk 8:31). Peter reacts: "Heaven preserve you, Lord!" (Mt 16:22). Jesus replies: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because you are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do!" (Mk 8:33) This was a moment of crisis for the disciples, who still held on to the thought of a glorious Messiah (Mk 8:32-33; 9:32), not understanding Jesus’ reply and trying to divert it in another direction. It was close to the feast of the Tents, (cf Lk 9:33), when the popular messianic expectation was much stronger than usual. Jesus goes up the mountain to pray (Lk 9:28). He overcomes temptation by prayer. The revelation of the Kingdom was different from that which the people imagined. The victory of the Servant would take place through the death sentence (Is 50:4-9; 53:1-12). The cross appears on the horizon, not just as a possibility, but as a certainty. From this moment on a change takes place in Jesus’ practice. Here are some important signs of this change:
Few miracles. At first there are many miracles. Now, beginning with Mk 8:27; Mt 16:13 and Lk 9:18, miracles are almost an exception in Jesus’ activities.
Proclaiming the Passion. Earlier there was talk of the passion as a remote possibility (Mk 3:6). Now there is constant talk of it (Mk 8:31; 9:9.31; 10:33.38).
Taking up the Cross. Earlier, Jesus proclaimed the imminent coming of the Kingdom. Now he insists on watchfulness, the demands on those who follow him and the necessity to take up one’s cross (Mt 16:24-26; 19:27-30; 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mk 8:34; 10:28-31; Lk 9:23-26.57-62; 12:8-9.35-48; 14:25-33; 17:33; 18:28-30).
He teaches the disciples. Earlier he taught the people. Now he is more concerned with the formation of his disciples. He asks them to choose again (Jn 6:67) and begins to prepare them for the future mission. He goes out of the city so as to stay with them and busy himself with their formation (Mk 8:27; 9:28. 30-35; 10:10.23.28-32; 11:11).
Different parables. Earlier, the parables revealed the mystery of the Kingdom present in the activities of Jesus. Now the parables tend towards the future judgement, at the end of time: the murderous vine growers (Mt 21:33-46); the merciless servant (Mt 18:23-35), the workers of the eleventh hour (Mt 20:1-16), the two sons (Mt 21:28-32), the wedding banquet (Mt 22:1-14), the ten talents (Mt 25:14-30).
Jesus accepts the will of the Father that is revealed in the new situation and decides to go to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51). He takes this decision with such determination as to frighten his disciples, who cannot understand what is going on (Mk 10:32; Lk 18:31-34). In the society of that time, the proclamation of the Kingdom as Jesus proclaimed it, could not be tolerated. So either he had to change or he had to die! Jesus did not change his proclamation. He continued to be faithful to the Father and to the poor. That is why he was sentenced to death!
ii) The transfiguration and the return of the prophet Elijah
In Mark’s Gospel, the scene of the transfiguration is linked to the question of the return of the prophet Elijah (Mk 9:9-13). In those days, people expected the return of the prophet Elijah and were not aware that Elijah had already returned in the person of John the Baptist (Mk 9:13). The same thing happens today. Many people live in expectation of the return of Jesus and even write on the walls of cities: Jesus will return! They are not aware that Jesus is already present in our lives. Every now and then, like an unexpected flash of lightning, this presence of Jesus breaks out and shines, transforming our lives. A question that each one us should ask is: Has my faith in Jesus offered me a moment of transfiguration and intense joy? How have such moments of joy given me strength in moments of difficulties?
6. The prayer of a Psalm: Psalm 27 (26)
The Lord is my light
Yahweh is my light and my salvation,
whom should I fear?
Yahweh is the fortress of my life,
whom should I dread?
When the wicked advance against me to eat me up,
they, my opponents, my enemies,
are the ones who stumble and fall.

Though an army pitch camp against me,
my heart will not fear,
though war break out against me,
my trust will never be shaken.

One thing I ask of Yahweh,
one thing I seek:
to dwell in Yahweh's house all the days of my life,
to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh,
to seek out his temple.

For he hides me away under his roof on the day of evil,
he folds me in the recesses of his tent,
sets me high on a rock.
Now my head is held high above the enemies who surround me;
in his tent I will offer sacrifices of acclaim. I will sing,
I will make music for Yahweh.

Yahweh, hear my voice as I cry,
pity me, answer me!
Of you my heart has said,
'Seek his face!'
Your face, Yahweh, I seek;
do not turn away from me.
Do not thrust aside your servant in anger,
without you I am helpless.
Never leave me, never forsake me,
God, my Saviour.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
Yahweh will gather me up.

Yahweh, teach me your way,
lead me on the path of integrity because of my enemies;
do not abandon me to the will of my foes
- false witnesses have risen against me,
and are breathing out violence.

This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh,
in the land of the living.
Put your hope in Yahweh,
be strong,
let your heart be bold,
put your hope in Yahweh.
7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.