Thứ Bảy, 31 tháng 10, 2015

Pope Francis: Combating human trafficking is moral imperative

Pope Francis: Combating human trafficking is moral imperative

(VIS) Pope Francis has sent a message to the Santa Marta Group, an initiative launched by the Holy Father in the battle against human trafficking, involving the security forces of various countries, episcopates, social organisations and representatives of various religious confessions. The group is currently gathered at the San Lorenzo del Escorial in Spain, a meeting inaugurated this Friday by Queen Sofia and attended by cardinals, bishops, social activists and around fifty heads of police from around the world.
In the short time of its existence, writes Francis, this worthy group has made significant achievements and is called upon to play a decisive role in the eradication of human trafficking and modern slavery. He recalls that during the last year there have been important institutional changes that have without doubt supported its activity, starting with the meeting of mayors in Vatican City on 21 July, in which key figures signed a declaration expressing their commitment to eliminating the new forms of slavery that constitute a crime against humanity.
He also mentions the recent approval of the Agenda 2030, with the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include the adoption of immediate and effective means for eradicating forced labour, putting an end to modern forms of slavery and human trafficking and ensuring the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers, with a view to putting an end to all forms of child labour by 2025.
The Pope also refers to his address to the United Nations in New York on 25 September, in which he affirmed that the world demands of government leaders “a will which is effective, practical and constant, concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences. … Such is the magnitude of these situations and their toll in innocent lives, that we must avoid every temptation to fall into a declarationist nominalism which would assuage our consciences”. “Today the 193 states of the United Nations have a new moral imperative to combat human trafficking, a true crime against humanity. Collaboration between bishops and the civil authorities, each in accordance with his own mission and character and with the aim of discovering best practice for the fulfilment of this delicate task, is a decisive step to ensuring that the will of governments reaches the victims in a direct, immediate, constant, effective and concrete way”.
“For my part, I pray that God Almighty grant you the grace of carrying forward the delicate, humanitarian and Christian mission of healing the open and painful wounds of humanity, which are also Christ's wounds. I assure you of all my support and my prayer, and the support and prayer of the faithful of the Catholic Church. With God's help, and your collaboration, the indispensable service of the Santa Marta Group will be able to free the victims of new forms of slavery, rehabilitate them, along with the imprisoned and the marginalised, unmasking the traffickers and those who create this market, and provide effective assistance to cities and nations; a service for the common good and the promotion of human dignity, able to bring out the best in every person and every citizen”.


Đức Thánh Cha tiếp 7 ngàn người Công Giáo chủ xí nghiệp

Đức Thánh Cha tiếp 7 ngàn người Công Giáo chủ xí nghiệp

VATICAN. ĐTC Phanxicô khuyến khích các tín hữu Công Giáo chủ nhân xí nghiệp và doanh nhân trở thành các thừa sai giáo dân trong môi trường hoạt động của mình.
 Ngài đưa ra lời kêu gọi trên đây trong buổi tiếp kiến sáng ngày 31-10-2015, dành cho 7 ngàn người thuộc Liên hiệp Kitô các chủ xí nghiệp và doanh nhân. Tổ chức này được thành lập với mục đích thăng tiến công ích. Trong ý hướng này Hiệp hội đề cao tầm quan trọng của việc huấn luyện theo tinh thần Kitô và đào sâu Giáo huấn xã hội của Hội Thánh.
 Lên tiếng trong buổi tiếp kiến, ĐTC nói: ”Trong tư cách là một hiệp hội thuộc Giáo Hội, được các GM nhìn nhận, anh chị em được kêu gọi sống lòng trung thành với các giáo huấn Tin Mừng và đạo lý xã hội Công Giáo trong gia đình, nơi làm việc và trong xã hội. Chứng tá này rất quan trọng. Vì thế tôi khuyến khích anh chị em sống ơn gọi làm chủ xí nghiệp trong tinh thần thừa sai giáo dân”.
 ĐTC cũng kêu gọi ”các chủ xí nghiệp Công Giáo nỗ lực kiến tạo những quan hệ huynh đệ giữa những người điều khiển và các công nhân, tạo điều kiện cho tinh thần đồng trách nhiệm và sự cộng tác để mưu ích chung. Điều có giá trị quyết định là đặc biệt quan tâm đến chất lượng đời sống lao động của những nhân viên thuco quyền, họ là nguồn tài nguyên quí giá nhất của một xí nghiệp, đặc biệt là thăng tiến sự hòa hợp giữa công việc và gia đình. Tôi nghĩ đến các nữ nhân công: thách đố ở đây là bảo vệ đồng thời quyền có một công việc hoàn toàn được công nhận và chức phận làm mẹ và sự hiện diện của họ trong gia đình.. Quá nhiều khi phụ nữ bị sa thải vì mang thai, trong khi lẽ ra phải giữ ho lại"".
 ĐTC nói thêm rằng: ”Ơn gọi trở thành những thừa sai về chiều kích xã hội của Tin Mừng trong một thế giới khó khăn và phức tạp của công việc, kinh tế và xí nghiệp, cũng bao gồm sự cởi mở và gần gũi theo tinh thần Tin Mừng với những tình cảnh nghèo đói và mong manh. Cả trong lãnh vực này, vấn đề là có một thái độ, một lối sống để tiến hành những chương trình thăng tiến và trợ giúp, gia tăng những công việc cụ thể để chia sẻ và liên đới mà anh chị em đang hỗ trợ ở nhiều nơi tại Italia. Đây sẽ là cách thức anh chị em thi hành ơn sủng của Năm Thánh Lòng Thương Xót”.
 ĐTC cũng nhận xét rằng ”Nếu chỉ giúp đỡ, làm một chút điều từ thiện mà thôi thì vẫn chưa đủ. Điều cần thiết là hướng hoạt động kinh tế theo chiều hướng Tin Mừng, nghĩa là phục vụ con người và công ích. Trong viễn tượng này, anh chị em được kêu gọi cộng tác để làm tăng trưởng tinh thần xí nghiệp phụ đới, để đương đầu với các thách đố về luân lý đạo đức và thị trường, trước tiên là thách đố kiến tạo công ăn việc làm” (SD 31-10-2015)
 G. Trần Đức Anh OP


Cuốn sách phỏng vấn Đức Thánh Cha xuất bản tại 13 nước

Cuốn sách phỏng vấn Đức Thánh Cha xuất bản tại 13 nước

VATICAN. Cuốn sách phỏng vấn ĐTC với tựa đề ”Tên Thiên Chúa là Lòng Thương Xót” (Il nome di Dio è Misericordia. Một cuộc nói chuyện với Andrea Tornielli) sẽ được xuất bản đồng thời ngày 12 tháng giêng 2016 tại 13 quốc gia.
 Cuộc phỏng vấn do ký giả Andrea Tornielli, đăng ký tại Phòng báo chí Tòa Thánh, thực hiện và do nhà xuất bản Piemme ấn hành tại Italia. Ngoài nước ngày, còn có các nước như: Mỹ (Penguin Random House), Anh (MacMillan), Pháp (Robert Laffont), Đức (Bertelsmann- Koesel), Tây Ban Nha (Planeta), Bồ đào nha (Planeta), Hòa Lan (House of the Books), Na Uy, Ba Lan, Rumani, Croát, Slovak, Slovenia, Lituani.
 Trong cuộc phỏng vấn, ĐTC ngỏ lời với mỗi người nam nữ trên trái đất, qua cuộc một đối thoại đơn sơ, thân tình, về lòng thương xót, một đề tài chủ yếu trong giáo huấn và chứng tá của ngài, qua kinh nghiệm bản thân như linh mục và mục tử.
 ĐTC cũng trình bày những lý do tại sao ngài tuyên bố Năm Thánh ngoại thường mà ngài rất mong muốn, ngài nói với tất cả mọi người, trong và ngoài Giáo Hội, đang tìm kiếm một ý nghĩa cho cuộc sống, một con đường hòa bình và hòa giải, một sự chữa lành các vết thương thể lý và tinh thần. Một cách nào đó, cuốn sách phỏng vấn này là tổng hợp giáo huấn và triều đại Giáo Hoàng của ngài (SD 30-10-2015)
 G. Trần Đức Anh OP


Sự tha thứ của Thiên Chúa không giống với việc tha bổng của tòa án

Sự tha thứ của Thiên Chúa không giống với việc tha bổng của tòa án

“Linh mục tốt lành là người biết cảm thương và dấn thân vào đời sống của đoàn chiên. Thiên Chúa tha thứ cho chúng ta giống như người cha tha thứ cho con cái mình, chứ không phải như một vị thẩm phán nơi tòa án.” Đây là hai chủ đề chính trong nội dung bài giảng của Đức Thánh Cha Phanxicô khi ngài cử hành thánh lễ sáng thứ sáu ngày 30-10 tại nhà nguyện thánh Marta. Hôm nay, ngài giảng lễ bằng tiếng Tây Ban Nha.
Đức Thánh Cha nói: “Thiên Chúa có lòng xót thương. Ngài xót thương mỗi người chúng ta và toàn thể nhân loại. Thiên Chúa đã sai Con Một của Ngài đến với con người để chữa lành những thương tích, để phục hồi và đổi mới bộ mặt nhân trần.
Điều thú vị là tất cả chúng ta đều biết dụ ngôn người con hoang đàng. Dụ ngôn ấy thuật lại rằng khi người cha – hình ảnh biểu trưng của Thiên Chúa giầu lòng xót thương và tha thứ – nhìn thấy từ đằng xa đứa con thứ đang quay trở về; ông đã tỏ lòng xót thương. Lòng thương xót của Thiên Chúa không phải là sự thương hại. Sự thương hại chẳng có gì đáng nói cả. Bởi vì chúng ta có thể thấy tội nghiệp hay thương hại một con vật sắp chết, tỉ dụ như một con chó. Nhưng lòng thương xót của Thiên Chúa lại hoàn toàn khác với sự thương hại ấy. Thiên Chúa thương xót một người là Ngài sẵn sàng can dự vào những vấn nạn mà người ấy đang gặp phải và đồng cảm với người ấy trong mọi trạng huống của cuộc đời. Nói khác đi, Thiên Chúa xót thương con người bằng tấm lòng của một người cha. Chính vì thế, Thiên Chúa mới sai Con Một của Ngài đến với nhân loại.”
Tiếp tục bài giảng, Đức Thánh Cha nói: “Đức Giêsu chữa lành bệnh tật cho dân chúng nhưng Ngài không đơn thuần là một thầy thuốc chữa bệnh. Hơn thế, việc chữa lành chính là một dấu chỉ về lòng thương xót của Thiên Chúa, để cứu chuộc con người, ‘để tìm lại con chiên bị lạc mà đem về đồng cỏ xanh tươi và trả lại đồng tiền bị đánh mất cho bà góa nghèo.’ Thiên Chúa có lòng xót thương. Thiên Chúa yêu thương chúng ta như người cha yêu thương con cái mình. Và khi Thiên Chúa tha thứ, Thiên Chúa cũng tha thứ giống như một người cha chứ không như một quan tòa chỉ đọc bản án tuyên bố: ‘Được tha bổng vì thiếu chứng cứ.’ Như vậy, sự tha thứ của Thiên Chúa xuất phát từ sâu thẳm bên trong con tim của Ngài. Thiên Chúa tha thứ cho một người chỉ vì Ngài yêu thương người ấy mà thôi.”
Đức Thánh Cha nói thêm: “Đức Giêsu được sai đến để mang Tin Mừng, để giải thoát những ai đang bị áp bức và để đi vào cõi lòng của mỗi người chúng ta, nhằm giải phóng chúng ta khỏi gông cùm của tội lỗi và sự dữ.
Điều mà một mục tử tốt lành thường làm là biết chạnh lòng thương và dấn thân vào đời sống của đoàn chiên, vì ngài là một linh mục giống như Đức Giêsu Linh Mục. Đã bao nhiêu lần (và có lẽ chúng ta nên đi xưng tội vì điều này), chúng ta phê bình, chỉ trích những linh mục, khi các vị ấy chẳng bao giờ quan tâm đến những chuyện đang xảy ra với con chiên trong xứ đạo hay với anh em mình trong cùng nhà dòng. Các vị ấy chẳng hề để ý đến ai. Vâng, đó thật sự không phải là những linh mục tốt. Một linh mục tốt lành là người biết cảm thông, biết dấn thân và dám mạo hiểm để đi vào cuộc đời của người khác.”
Đức Thánh Cha kết thúc bài giảng bằng việc cám ơn và chúc mừng Đức Hồng Y Javier Lozano Barragán, cũng đang hiện diện trong thánh lễ, nhân dịp kỷ niệm 60 năm linh mục của ngài. Đức Thánh Cha hồi tưởng lại với niềm biết ơn sâu xa về sự dấn thân của Đức Hồng Y trong lãnh vực y tế. Với tư cách là Bộ Trưởng Y Tế, Đức Hồng Y Barragán đã dấn thân phục vụ Giáo Hội ngang qua việc chăm sóc những người đau yếu, bệnh tật. Sau hết, Đức Thánh Cha mời gọi mọi người cùng dâng lời tạ ơn Thiên Chúa vì 60 năm linh mục hồng phúc và vì lòng thương xót của Thiên Chúa vẫn tuôn đổ tràn trề trên nhân loại ngày hôm nay (SD 30-10-2015).
Vũ Đức Anh Phương


NOVEMBER 01, 2015 : SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

Solemnity of All Saints
Lectionary: 667

Reading 1RV 7:2-4, 9-14
I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”
Responsorial PsalmPS 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6
R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Reading 21 JN 3:1-3
Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

AlleluiaMT 11:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 5:1-12A
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”


Scripture Study, Nov. 1, 2015
November 1, 2015 Feast of All Saints

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints, as it does every year on November 1. As Christians we believe that life is not ended at the moment of death but merely changed. We believe that our relationship with Christ, the Lord, and the Father Who sent Him to us continues even after death. The point to this celebration of All Saints is two fold: Firstly, since relatively few names of the many who have been faithful to their calling to holiness throughout the ages are known to us, this is an opportunity to honor all of them. Secondly, it reminds us of every Christians calling to holiness which includes each of us and it is an opportunity to consider what it really means to be committed to Christ. The question raised in my mind by the day itself is, How faithful am I in my own walk with Christ and His disciples through my own life? In the Gospel reading, Jesus provides us with a pattern that a faithful life would follow.

First Reading: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
2Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
3“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
4I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites:
5twelve thousand were marked from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand from the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand from the tribe of Gad,
6twelve thousand from the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand from the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand from the tribe of Manasseh,
7twelve thousand from the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand from the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand from the tribe of Issachar,
8twelve thousand from the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand from the tribe of Joseph, and twelve thousand were marked from the tribe of Benjamin.
9After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
10They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”
11All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God,
12and exclaimed:
“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
14 I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Notes on First Reading:
* 7:2 In the vision, the elect receive the seal of the living God as protection against the coming cataclysm. See Rev 14:1; Ezekiel 9:4-6; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30. The main source of this image is Ezekiel 9.
This verse expresses the ancient belief that God regulated the events of nature through the agency of angels. Thus nature itself can be a means of punishment.
The angel came from the east literally, “rising of the sun” which was considered the source of light and the place of paradise (Genesis 2:8).
The seal was used to mark belongings as well as documents. Whatever was marked by the impression of one
s signet ring belonged to that person and was under his protection.
* 7:4 The numbers are all symbolic. Twelve was the number of fullness, all twelve tribes. 1000 was symbolic of a large multitude or very many.
* 7:9 The words in parentheses were added to identify the antecedent of the personal pronoun. White robes, white garments and palm branches were all common symbols of joy and victory.
* 7:14 The elder takes on the role usually filled by an “interpreting angel” which is common in apocalyptic texts.
The robes represent the inner or spiritual condition of the person. The transformation from soiled (sinful) to clean or white (holy) is related to the death of Christ understood as a sacrifice (blood). The allusion is to repentance, conversion, and baptism all taken together as the transformation of the believer. The great tribulation or ordeal is the intense persecution by the Romans or the crisis at the end-time which also involves persecution. The reference to it implies that the transformation must include perseverance which might result in martyrdom.
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3
1 See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 3:1-3 Jesus Himself is the greatest sign of Gods love because He is the Son of God given for us that has made Christians true children of God. Although this relationship is already a reality, it will not be fully manifest until the life to come. True knowledge of God will ultimately be gained but Christians prepare themselves now by virtuous lives in imitation of the Son.
There are three consequences of this affirmation:
1. Christians do not belong to the world which failed to receive Jesus (John 15:18-19; 17:14-16).
2. Christians will lead lives of holiness like Christ (John 17:17-19).
3. Christians are confident of an even greater salvation in the future (John 17:24).
* 3:2 What (Who) will be revealed is most probably Christ, Himself. There was a common theme in Hellenistic religious literature “that like would know like.” The human who knows God is Divinized. For the Johannine tradition this was mediated through Jesus. Jesus possessed the Divine name and equality with God (John 17:11-12). He has shared that name with His followers (John 17:6, 26). They in turn have shared Jesus fate at the hands of the world (John 15:21) and will witness His glory (John 17:24). see also 1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 3:18.
Gospel Reading: Mt 5:1-12a
1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
6Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.
12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
NOTES on the Gospel Reading:
* 5:1 This verse begins the first of the five discourses that are a central part of the structure of Matthews Gospel. The Lucan parallel is in that gospels “Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6:20-49), although some of the sayings in Matthews “Sermon on the Mount” have their parallels in other parts of Luke. It seems that the careful topical arrangement of the sermon may stem from a previous structured discourse of Jesus that acted as one of Matthews sources rather than being his own invention.
Unlike Luke
s sermon, verse 7:28 indicates that this is addressed not only to the disciples but to the crowds.
Oriental teachers of the time taught from a sitting position. Matthew presents the mountain as a mountain of revelation as is common in the Bible.
* 5:2 This is a solemn introduction. While the Sermon on the Mount is Matthews construction, the material itself was probably derived from Jesus own teaching.
* 5:3-12 The linguistic form, “Blessed are (is),” occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the Wisdom literature and in the psalms. Although probably modified by Matthew, the first, second, fourth, and ninth beatitudes have Lucan parallels (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:4; Luke 6:21,22; Matthew 5:6; Luke 6:21a; Matthew 5:11-12; Luke 5:22-23). The others are believed by most scholars to have been added by the evangelist and are likely to be his own composition. A few manuscripts, Western and Alexandrian, and many versions and patristic quotations give the second and third beatitudes in inverted order.In the Old Testament, the poor (anawim) are those who are without material possessions and whose confidence is in God (see Isaiah 61:1; Zeph 2:3) The NAB translates the word as lowly and humble, respectively, in those texts.
It is likely that Matthew added “in spirit” in order either to limit the term only the devout poor or to extend the beatitude to all, regardless of social rank, who recognized their complete dependence on God. The same phrase, poor in spirit, is found in the Qumran literature.
* 5:4 The Old Testament source for this saying comes from Isaiah 61:2 which reads: “(The Lord has sent me) . . . to comfort all who mourn.” The language used here is called a “theological passive” equivalent to the active “God will comfort them”. This is also the case in Matthew 5:6,7.
* 5:5 The text from Psalm 37:11,”. . . the meek shall possess the land” has been adapted. In the psalm “the land” means the land of Israel but here it means the kingdom.
* 5:8 Psalm 24:4 says that only one “whose heart is clean” can take part in the temple worship. Psalm 42:2 describes being with God in the temple as “beholding His face,” but here the promise to the clean of heart is that they will see God not in the temple but in the coming kingdom.
* 5:10 For Matthew righteousness usually means doing Gods will.
* 5:12 Matthew is placing the disciples in the line and tradition of the persecuted prophets of Israel.


Meditation: "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven"
What is the good life which God intends for us? And how is it related with the ultimate end or purpose of life? Is it not our desire and longing for true happiness, which is none other than the complete good, the sum of all goods, leaving nothing more to be desired? Jesus addresses this question in his sermon on the mount. The heart of Jesus' message is that we can live a very happy life. The call to holiness, to be saints who joyfully pursue God's will for their lives, can be found in these eight beatitudes. Jesus' beatitudes sum up our calling or vocation - to live a life of the beatitudes. The word beatitudeliterally means "happiness" or "blessedness".
God gives us everything that leads to true happiness
What is the significance of Jesus' beatitudes, and why are they so central to his teaching? The beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness that God has placed in every heart. They teach us the final end to which God calls us, namely the coming of God's kingdom (Matthew 4:17), the vision of God (Matthew 5:8; 1 John 2;1), entering into the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:21-23) and into his rest (Hebrews 4:7-11).  Jesus' beatitudes also confront us with decisive choices concerning the life we pursue here on earth and the use we make of the goods he puts at our disposal. 
Jesus' tells us that God alone can satisfy the deepest need and longing of our heart. Teresa of Avila's (1515-1582) prayer book contained a bookmark on which she wrote: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things pass - God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing -God alone suffices.
Is God enough for you? God offers us the greatest good possible - abundant life in Jesus Christ (John 10:10) and the promise of unending joy and happiness with God forever. Do you seek the highest good, the total good, which is above all else?
The beatitudes are a sign of contradiction to the world's way of happiness
The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world's understanding of happiness and joy. How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God's word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression. 
God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world. Thomas Aquinas said: "No one can live without joy. That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures." Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?
"Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting peace and happiness. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will."

SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, MATTHEW 5:1-12A

(Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24; 1 John 3:1-3)

KEY VERSE: "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven" (v 12).
TO KNOW: In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus revealed the character he required of his followers. The "Beatitudes" that Jesus exalted was the attitude of trust and humility represented by the poor, the suffering and persecuted. At the time of Jesus, affliction was thought to be punishment for sin, and good health and material prosperity were seen as rewards for one's righteousness. Jesus reversed human expectations of those who were thought to be fortunate – the rich, powerful and complacent people. He announced that true happiness was not found in wealth and power. Jesus promised eternal reward for all who humbly sought God's will despite hardships. But the "blessedness" that the disciples received was not some future glory; it is the blessedness that exists in the here and now. Jesus exemplified every Beatitude. He was poor (Mt 8:20) and gentle and meek (11:29). He grieved over sin and hungered and thirsted for God's justice (12:18). He was merciful (12:16-21) and single-hearted in his desire to do God's will (26:39). Jesus suffered persecution and died to bring about God's kingdom (27:50). He gave us the ideal that every Christian should constantly pursue in order to be holy people, worthy of God's reign.
TO LOVE: Which of the Beatitudes do I most need to put into practice today? 
TO SERVE: Saints of God, help me to imitate your righteous and holy lives.

MINUTE MEDITATIONS 
Christian Hope
No matter how horrible our sufferings here on earth may be, Jesus has promised us the fulfillment of all desire, if only we persevere in our friendship with Him. This is true Christian hope; this is a reason for hope that nothing can change or take away.
— from Answers 

November 1
Solemnity of All Saints

The earliest certain observance of a feast in honor of all the saints is an early fourth-century commemoration of "all the martyrs." In the early seventh century, after successive waves of invaders plundered the catacombs, Pope Boniface IV gathered up some 28 wagonloads of bones and reinterred them beneath the Pantheon, a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. The pope rededicated the shrine as a Christian church. According to Venerable Bede, the pope intended "that the memory of all the saints might in the future be honored in the place which had formerly been dedicated to the worship not of gods but of demons" (On the Calculation of Time).
But the rededication of the Pantheon, like the earlier commemoration of all the martyrs, occurred in May. Many Eastern Churches still honor all the saints in the spring, either during the Easter season or immediately after Pentecost.
How the Western Church came to celebrate this feast, now recognized as a solemnity, in November is a puzzle to historians. The Anglo-Saxon theologian Alcuin observed the feast on November 1 in 800, as did his friend Arno, Bishop of Salzburg. Rome finally adopted that date in the ninth century.


Comment:

This feast first honored martyrs. Later, when Christians were free to worship according to their consciences, the Church acknowledged other paths to sanctity. In the early centuries the only criterion was popular acclaim, even when the bishop's approval became the final step in placing a commemoration on the calendar. The first papal canonization occurred in 993; the lengthy process now required to prove extraordinary sanctity took form in the last 500 years. Today's feast honors the obscure as well as the famous—the saints each of us have known.
Quote:

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.... [One of the elders] said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9,14).

LECTIO DIVINA: ALL SAINTS - MATTHEW 5,1-12A
Lectio: 
 Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Beatitudes
Matthew 5:1-12
1. Listening to the text
a) Opening prayer:
Lord, the meaning of our life is to seek your Word, which came to us in the person of Christ. Make me capable of welcoming what is new in the Gospel of the Beatitudes, so that I may change my life. I would know nothing about you were it not for the light of the words spoken by your Son Jesus, who came to tell us of your marvels. When I am weak, if I go to Him, the Word of God, then I become strong. When I act foolishly, the wisdom of his Gospel restores me to relish God and the kindness of his love. He guides me to the paths of life. When some deformity appears in me, I reflect on his Word and the image of my personality becomes beautiful. When solitude tries to make me dry, my spiritual marriage to him makes my life fruitful. When I discover some sadness or unhappiness in myself, the thought of Him, my only good, opens the way to joy. Therese of the Child Jesus has a saying that sums up the desire for holiness as an intense search for God and a listening to others: «If you are nothing, remember that Jesus is all. You must therefore lose your little nothing into his infinite all and think of nothing else but this uniquely lovable all…» (Letters, 87, to Marie Guérin).
b) Reading the Gospel:
1 Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when he was seated his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
3 How blessed are the poor in spirit:
the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 Blessed are the gentle:
they shall have the earth as inheritance.
5 Blessed are those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness:
they shall have their fill.
7 Blessed are the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers:
they shall be recognised as children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness:
the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 'Blessed are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.
c) A moment of prayerful silence:
It is important to be able to listen in deep silence so that the word of Christ may speak to us and so that the Word made flesh may dwell in us and us in him. It is only in silent hearts that the Word of God can take root and, on this Solemnity of All Saints, become flesh in us.
2. Light shed on the Word (lectio)
a) The context:
Jesus’ words on the Beatitudes that Matthew drew from his sources, were condensed in short and isolated phrases, and the Evangelist has placed them in a broader context, which Biblical scholars call the “sermon on the mount” (chapters 5-7). This sermon is considered like the statutes or Magna Carta that Jesus gave to the community as a normative and binding word that defines a Christian.
The many themes contained in this long sermon are not to be seen as collection of exhortations, but rather as a clear and radical indication of the new attitude of the disciples towards God, oneself and the brothers and sisters. Some expressions used by Jesus may seem exaggerated, but they are used to stress reality and thus are realistic in the context although not so in a literary sense: for instance in vv.29-30: «If your right eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand should be your downfall, cut it off and throw it away, for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have your whole body go to hell». This manner of speaking indicates the effect desired to be created in the reader, who must understand correctly Jesus’ words so as not to distort their meaning.
Our focus, for liturgical reasons, will be on the first part of the “sermon on the mount”, that is the part dealing with the proclamation of the beatitudes (Mt 5:1-12).
b) Some details:
Matthew invites the reader to listen to the beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus with a rich concentration of details. First he indicates the place where Jesus proclaims his sermon: “Jesus went onto the mountain” (5:1). That is why exegetes call this the “sermon on the mount” even though Luke places this sermon on level ground (Lk 6:20-26). The geographic location of the “mountain” could be a veiled reference to an episode in the OT quite like ours: that is, when Moses proclaims the Decalogue on mount Sinai. It is possible that Matthew wishes to present Jesus as the new Moses who proclaims the new law.
Another detail that strikes us is the physical posture of Jesus as he proclaims his words: “when he was seated”. This posture confers upon him a note of authority in the legislative sense. The disciples and the “crowd” gather around him: this detail shows what Jesus had to say was for all to hear. We note that Jesus’ words do not present impossible matters, nor are they addressed to a special group of people, nor do they mean to establish a code of ethics exclusively for his inner circle. Jesus’ demands are concrete, binding and decisively radical.
Someone branded Jesus’ sermon as follows: «For me, this is the most important text in the history of humankind. It is addressed to all, believers and non, and after twenty centuries it is still the only light still shining in the darkness of violence, fear and solitude in which the West finds itself because of its pride and selfishness» (Gilbert Cesbron).
The word “blessed” (in Greek makarioi) in our context does not say “softly” but cries out happiness found throughout the Bible. For instance, in the OT, those called “blessed” are those who live out the precepts of Wisdom (Sir 25,7-10). The prayerful person of the Psalms defines “blessed” as those who “fear”, or more precisely those who love the Lord, expressing this love in the observance of the precepts contained in the word of God (Sal 1,1; 128,1).
Matthew’s originality lies in adding a secondary phrase that specifies each beatitude: for instance, the main assertion “blessed are the poor in spirit” is clarified by an added phrase “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Another difference with the OT is that Jesus’ words proclaim a saving blessedness here and now and without any limitations. For Jesus, all can attain happiness on condition that they remain united to Him.
c) The first three beatitudes:

i) The first cry concerns the poor: “How blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs”. The reader may be shocked: how can the poor be happy? In the Bible, the poor are those who empty themselves of themselves and above all renounce the presumption of building their own present and future alone, and thus leave room for and focus on God’s project and his Word. The poor, always in the biblical sense, is not someone closed in on himself, miserable, negative, but someone who nurtures being open to God and to others. God is all his/her treasure. We could say with St.Teresa of Avila: happy are those who experience that “God alone suffices!”, meaning that they are rich in God.
A great modern spiritual author described poverty as follows: «As long as one does not empty one’s heart, God cannot fill it with himself. As you empty your heart, so does the Lord fill it. Poverty is emptiness, not only in what concerns the future but also the past. Not a regret or memory, not a worry or wish! God is not in the past, God is not in the future: He is in the present! Leave your past to God, leave your future to God. Your poverty is to live the present, the Presence of God who is Eternity» (Divo Barsotti).
This is the first beatitude, not just because it is the first of many, but because it seems to encapsulate all the others in their diversity.
ii) ”Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted”. One can mourn because of a great pain or suffering. This underlines the fact that we are dealing with a serious situation even though the motives or the cause are not mentioned. If we wish to identify today “those who mourn” we could think of all the Christians who hold dear the demands of the kingdom and suffer because of many negative aspects in the Church; rather than focus on holiness, the Church presents divisions and lacerations. They may also be those who suffer because of their sins and inconsistencies and who, in some way, slow down their conversion. To these, only God can bring the news of “consolation””.
iii) ”Blessed are the gentle, they shall have the earth as inheritance”. The third beatitude is about gentleness. This is a quality that is not so popular today. Rather, for many it has a negative connotation and is taken for weakness or the kind of imperturbability that knows how to control calculatingly one’s own emotions. What does the word “gentle” mean in the Bible? The gentle are remembered as those who enjoy great peace (Ps 37:10), are happy, blessed and loved by God. They are also contrasted with evildoers, the ungodly and sinners. Thus the OT gives us a wealth of meanings that do not allow for one single definition.
In the NT the first time we meet the word is in Matthew 11:29: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart”. A second time is in Mt 21:5, when Matthew describes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and cites the prophet Zechariah 2:9: “Behold your servant comes to you gentle”. Truly, Matthew’s Gospel may be described as the Gospel of gentleness.
Paul too says that gentleness is an identifying quality of the Christian. In 2 Corinthians 10:1 he exhorts believers “I urge you by the gentleness and forbearance of Christ”. In Galatians 5:22 gentleness is considered one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the heart of believers and consists in being meek, moderate, slow to punish, kind and patient towards others. Again in Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:12 gentleness is an attitude that is part of the Christian and a sign of the new man in Christ.
Finally, an eloquent witness comes from 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Your adornment should be not an exterior one, consisting of braided hair or gold jewellery or fine clothing, but the interior disposition of the heart, consisting in the imperishable quality of a gentle and peaceful spirit, so precious in the sight of God”.
How does Jesus use the word “gentle”? A truly enlightening definition is the one given by the gentle person of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini “The gentle person, according to the beatitudes, is one who, in spite of the fervour of his/her feelings, remains docile and calm, not possessive, interiorly free, always extremely respectful of the mystery of freedom, imitating God in this respect who does everything with respect for the person, and urges the person to obedience without ever using violence. Gentleness is opposed to all forms of material or moral arrogance, it gains the victory of peace over war, of dialogue over imposition”.
To this wise interpretation we add that of another famous exegete: “The gentleness spoken of in the beatitudes is none other than that aspect of humility that manifests itself in practical affability in one’s dealings with the other. Such gentleness finds its image and its perfect model in the person of Jesus, gentle and humble of heart. Truly, such gentleness seems to us like a form of charity, patient and delicately attentive towards others” (Jacques Dupont).
3. The word enlightens me (to meditate)
a) Am I able to accept those little signs of poverty in my regard? For instance, the poverty of poor health and little indispositions? Do I make exorbitant demands?
b) Am I able to accept some aspect of my poverty and fragility?
c) Do I pray like a poor person, as one who asks with humility the grace of God, his pardon and his mercy?
d) Inspired by Jesus’ message concerning gentleness, do I renounce violence, vengeance and a vengeful spirit?
e) Do I encourage, in families and in my place of work, a spirit of kindness, gentleness and peace?
f) Do I pay back any small malice, insinuations or offensive allusions with evil?
g) Do I look after the weakest who cannot defend themselves? Am I patient with old people? Do I welcome lonely strangers who are often exploited at work?
4. To pray
a) Psalm 23:
The Psalm seems to rotate around the title “The Lord is my shepherd”. The saints are the image of the flock on the way: they are accompanied by the goodness and loyalty of God, until they finally reach the house of the Father (L.Alonso Schökel, I salmi della fiducia, Dehoniana libri, Bologna 2006, 54)
Yahweh is my shepherd,
I lack nothing.
In grassy meadows he lets me lie.
By tranquil streams he leads me
to restore my spirit.
He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits his name.
Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death
I should fear no danger,
for you are at my side.
Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.
You prepare a table for me under the eyes of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup brims over.
Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.
I make my home in the house of Yahweh
for all time to come.
b) Closing prayer:
Lord Jesus, you show us the way of the beatitudes so that we may come to that happiness that is fullness of life and thus holiness. We are all called to holiness, but the only treasure of the saints is God. Your Word, Lord, calls saints all those who in baptism were chosen by your love of a Father, to be conformed to Christ. Grant, Lord, that by your grace we may achieve this conformity to Jesus Christ. We thank you, Lord, for the saints you have placed on our way and who manifest your love. We ask for your pardon if we have tarnished your face in us and denied our calling to be saints.