Thứ Ba, 13 tháng 12, 2016

DECEMBER 14, 2016 : MEMORIAL OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, PRIEST AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 189

I am the LORD, there is no other;
I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make well-being and create woe;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
let justice also spring up!
I, the LORD, have created this.

For thus says the LORD,
The creator of the heavens,
who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
who established it,
Not creating it to be a waste,
but designing it be lived in:
I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Who announced this from the beginning
and foretold it from of old?
Was it not I, the LORD,
besides whom there is no other God?
There is no just and saving God but me.

Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
By myself I swear,
uttering my just decree
and my unalterable word:
To me every knee shall bend;
by me every tongue shall swear,
Saying, “Only in the LORD
are just deeds and power.
Before him in shame shall come
all who vent their anger against him.
In the LORD shall be the vindication and the glory
of all the descendants of Israel.”
R. (Isaiah 45:8) Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.
Alleluia SEE IS 40:9-10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Raise your voice and tell the Good News:
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with power.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

At that time,
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask,
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 
When the men came to the Lord, they said,
“John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask,
‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”
At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits;
he also granted sight to many who were blind. 
And Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”


Meditation: "The blind see, the lame walk, the poor receive good news"
How can we know that Jesus is who he claims to be, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and Savior of the world? Is our faith a blind leap we must take without certainty or proof? John the Baptist sent his disciples to question Jesus about his claim to be God's anointed Messiah. Did John have doubts about Jesus and his claim to divinity? Not likely, since John had earlier revealed Jesus' mission at the River Jordan when he exclaimed, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). 
John saw from a distance what Jesus would accomplish through his atoning sacrifice on the cross - our redemption from bondage to sin, condemnation, and death, and our adoption as sons and daughters of God and citizens of the kingdom of heaven. John very likely sent his disciples to Jesus because he wanted them to hear and see firsthand for themselves the signs and proof that the Messiah had indeed come in the person of Jesus who was sent by the Father in heaven and anointed by the Spirit at the River Jordan.
The Messiah performs the signs of God's kingdom power
The miracles which Jesus performed and the message he proclaimed about the coming of God's kingdom in his person was a direct fulfillment of what the prophets had foretold many centuries before (see Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:1). Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom and new life for all who were oppressed by afflictions, infirmities, sin and guilt, and demonic spirits (see Isaiah 61:1-2). 
Jesus came in the power of God's kingdom to release those bound up by sin, fear, and hopelessness. His miracles and exorcisms are direct signs of God's power and presence and they confirm that the Father has sent his only begotten Son to be our Messiah (which means the Anointed One) and Savior. 
Through Jesus' atoning death on the cross and through the power of his resurrection we receive the first-fruits of God's kingdom - the forgiveness of our sins, adoption as sons and daughters of God, new life in the Holy Spirit, and the promise that we will be raised to everlasting life with God in his kingdom. The Gospel is "good news" for all who receive it and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know and witness to others the joy and good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
"Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires.Set my heart aflame with the fire of your love and with the power of the Holy Spirit that I may boldly witness the joy of the Gospel and serve your kingdom wherever you place me."
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Miracles testify that Jesus is the Messiah, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)

"'In that same hour he healed many of sicknesses and of scourges, and of evil spirits; and gave sight to many that were blind.' He made them spectators and eyewitnesses of his greatness and gathered into them a great admiration of his power and ability. They then bring forward the question and beg in John's name to be informed whether he is 'he who comes.' Here see, I ask, the beautiful art of the Savior's management. He does not simply say, 'I am.' If he had spoken this, it would have been true. He leads them to the proof given by the works themselves. In order that having accepted faith in him on good grounds and being furnished with knowledge from what had been done, they may return to him who sent them. 'Go'” he says, 'tell John the things that you have seen and heard.' 'For you have heard indeed,' he says, 'that I have raised the dead by the all-powerful word and by the touch of the hand. While you stood by, you have also seen that those things that were spoken of old time by the holy prophets are accomplished: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dumb hear, the dead rise, and the poor are preached to. The blessed prophets had announced all these things before, as about in due time to be accomplish by my hands. I bring to pass those things that were prophesied long before, and you are yourselves spectators of them. Return and tell those things that you have seen with your own eyes accomplished by my might and ability, and which at various times the blessed prophets foretold.'" 
(excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 37)

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, LUKE 7:18b-23
(Isaiah 45:6b-8, 18, 21b-25; Psalm 85)

KEY VERSE: "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard" (v 22).
TO KNOW: John the Baptist came in the tradition of the prophet Elijah proclaiming a message of repentance. John declared that "one mightier" than he would come with judgment casting the wicked into unquenchable fire (Lk 3:16-17). Contrary to John's expectations, Jesus came with a message of healing and compassion. When Jesus did not fulfill John's idea of the Messiah, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was God's anointed one or should they look for another. Jesus restated the announcement that he made at the beginning of his ministry. His purpose in coming was to bring the blessings foretold by Isaiah: the lowly, suffering and broken-hearted would be comforted and healed (Lk 4:18, Is 61:1-3). Those who recognized Jesus' identity in spite of their misconceptions were blest.
TO LOVE: Are people able to see Christ in me?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, thank you for bringing me hope when I am afflicted.

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church

John of the Cross was born at Fontivernos, Old Castle,
 Spain. He was a Carmelite friar and was ordained a priest at age 25. John was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of his time and the movement he helped initiate, along with Saint Teresa of Avila, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced, or barefoot, reform of the Carmelites. His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was imprisoned, only escaping after nine months. Eventually, John's reforms revitalized the Order. John of the Cross was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature. He was canonized as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 24 August 1926. He is also known as Doctor of Mystical Theology. 




Wednesday 14 December 2016

Wed 14th. St John of the Cross. Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-26. Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Saviour—Ps 84(85):9-14. Luke 7:19-23.
'Tell John what you have seen.'
Jesus does not immediately answer the question posed by John's messengers. He first goes about curing the sick, the blind and the lame. It is only then that he graces them with a response, 'tell John what you have seen and heard.'
The message is clear. His works are a witness to his identity. In a cynical age, Jesus offers sound advice: Actions are much more reliable than words in convincing others of your intentions.
By our faith in Christ, we too have become His witnesses. Imperfect as we are, we members of the mystical body of Christ are constantly called to walk with the most vulnerable, to bring the Gospel to life through the example of our lives.

ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS

Dec. 14 is the liturgical memorial of Saint John of the Cross, a 16th century Carmelite priest best known for reforming his order together with Saint Teresa of Avila, and for writing the classic spiritual treatise “The Dark Night of the Soul.”

Honored as a Doctor of the Church since 1926, he is sometimes called the “Mystical Doctor,” as a tribute to the depth of his teaching on the soul's union with God.

The youngest child of parents in the silk-weaving trade, John de Yepes was born during 1542 in Fontiveros near the Spanish city of Avila. His father Gonzalo died at a relatively young age, and his mother Catalina struggled to provide for the family. John found academic success from his early years, but failed in his effort to learn a trade as an apprentice. Instead he spent several years working in a hospital for the poor, and continuing his studies at a Jesuit college in the town of Medina del Campo.

After discerning a calling to monastic life, John entered the Carmlite Order in 1563. He had been practicing severe physical asceticism even before joining the Carmelites, and got permission to live according to their original rule of life – which stressed solitude, silence, poverty, work, and contemplative prayer. John received ordination as a priest in 1567 after studying in Salamanca, but considered transferring to the more austere Carthusian order rather than remaining with the Carmelites.

Before he could take such a step, however, he met the Carmelite nun later canonized as Saint Teresa of Avila. Born in 1515, Teresa had joined the order in 1535, regarding consecrated religious life as the most secure road to salvation. Since that time she had made remarkable spiritual progress, and during the 1560s she began a movement to return the Carmelites to the strict observance of their original way of life. She convinced John not to leave the order, but to work for its reform.

Changing his religious name from “John of St. Matthias” to “John of the Cross,” the priest began this work in November of 1568, accompanied by two other men of the order with whom he shared a small and austere house. For a time, John was in charge of the new recruits to the “Discalced Carmelites” – the name adopted by the reformed group, since they wore sandals rather than ordinary shoes as sign of poverty. He also spent five years as the confessor at a monastery in Avila led by St. Teresa.

Their reforming movement grew quickly, but also met with severe opposition that jeopardized its future during the 1570s. Early in December of 1577, during a dispute over John's assignment within the order, opponents of the strict observance seized and imprisoned him in a tiny cell. His ordeal lasted nine months and included regular public floggings along with other harsh punishments. Yet it was during this very period that he composed the poetry that would serve as the basis for his spiritual writings.

John managed to escape from prison in August of 1578, after which he resumed the work of founding and directing Discalced Carmelite communities. Over the course of a decade he set out his spiritual teachings in works such as “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,” “The Spiritual Canticle” and “The Living Flame of Love” as well as “The Dark Night of the Soul.” But intrigue within the order eventually cost him his leadership position, and his last years were marked by illness along with further mistreatment.

St. John of the Cross died in the early hours of Dec. 14, 1591, nine years after St. Teresa of Avila's death in October 1582. Suspicion, mistreatment, and humiliation had characterized much of his time in religious life, but these trials are understood as having brought him closer to God by breaking his dependence on the things of this world. Accordingly, his writings stress the need to love God above all things – being held back by nothing, and likewise holding nothing back.

Only near the end of his life had St. John's monastic superior recognized his wisdom and holiness. Though his reputation had suffered unjustly for years, this situation reversed soon after his death. He was beatified in 1675, canonized in 1726, and named a Doctor of the Church in the 20th century by Pope Pius XI. In a letter marking the 400th anniversary of St. John's death, Pope John Paul II – who had written a doctoral thesis on the saint's writings – recommended the study of the Spanish mystic, whom he called a “master in the faith and witness to the living God.”

LECTIO DIVINA: LUKE 7: 18B-23
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, December 14, 2016

1) OPENING PRAYER
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that the coming solemnity of your Son
may bestow healing upon us in this present life
and bring us the rewards of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
2) GOSPEL READING - LUKE 7,18B-23
At that time,
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask,
   “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
When the men came to the Lord, they said,
   “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask,
   ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”
At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits;
   he also granted sight to many who were blind.
And Jesus said to them in reply,
   “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
   the blind regain their sight,
   the lame walk,
   lepers are cleansed,
   the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
   the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
3) LECTIO
This text is found both in Matthew and Luke and inserted in the latter between the account of the miracle of the restoration to life of the widow's son at Naim (which is proper to Luke) and the discourse of Jesus with John the Baptist. In this context we can speak of this passage as having the function of moving us from the image of Jesus who heals, even death itself, " width="1" height="1">to the invitation to conversion, recalled by Jesus himself in three successive passages: focusing on John the Baptist, the judgment on his generation and the acceptance of the gesture of the sinful woman in the house of the Pharisee. This text can be understood in a further context: within the entire event of the Baptist and in the prophetic experience of Israel that waits, and that has the experience of listening for the God who comes to them.
The disciples of John have a basic role here, they are open the passage and close it; they are the means of communication between their master, held in Herod's prison (see Lk 3:19-20), and Jesus. They inform the Baptist and two of them are sent on his behalf to return with the direct question to the master of Nazareth: twice Luke puts the question, which is of great importance. And the question is about waiting. John knows that someone must come. The problem is whether it is Jesus or must they wait for another. The fact that John sends the question expressly to Jesus means that he already trusts in him. Perhaps he is mistaken because of the lack of understanding of fulfillment in the biblical image of "the Day of the Lord", which is fundamental to all his preaching (see Lk 3:7-ff).
It is as if the passage makes a great leap here: the question is left in suspension and instantaneously, the complete healing works of Jesus "for all" are set out, concluding with the the gift of sight to the blind. And after the works comes the response. "Go back", Jesus says to the disciples of John: it is a mission, in the light of what has already transpired - by whatever means - to what has already been announced. (see Lk 3:8). Now the Good News is complete and happening, since the works that he does are those announced by the prophets (like a "lectio", on various passages of Isaiah; but this time it is the sight to the blind that is mentioned first). This is an unmistakable message for a man like John, to whom the Word of God has come (see Lk 3:2). Finally, there is a blessing which might seem strange for it is expressed negatively: blessed are those who do not find in Jesus a stumbling block, an obstacle in the way faith. How can we understand this? Certainly it is a blessing further than the message of the Baptist, and is addressed to the listener to the Word.
4) MEDITATIO
The context of this text is already indicated to us the relationship between grace and responsibility, between the initiative of God and what is responded to in us. God calls and loves first, but wants a free and responsible assent: such a response is possible because God loves us first.
The fact that the disciples come into play at this point shows that John is not just interested in the present moment, but also the "spiritual decendency" of the movements for whom John is an exponent. Already at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry two disciples of the Baptist become his disciples (see Jn 1:37), and even Paul some years afterwards encounters individuals who have received the baptism of John (see Acts 19:1-7).
At the heart of this passage is the theme of fulfilled waiting, according to the God's plan, announced and not simply compiled by the prophets of Israel. Even the Word of God does not diminish and lessen the seriousness of the God who loves and offers in his Son mercy and nearness - a possibility to receive with faith just as the healing of the blind suggests. And it is faith that leads to blessedness. That which is proclaimed by Jesus at the end of the passage is understood only if one considers the weight of the responsibility on the part of the observer, where it risks giving scandal; it is then necessary to reflect, casting aside human pretensions and prejudices, in order to freely open oneself with simplicity to what God in Jesus is doing. It is the logic of the Reign of God, that it exceeds the heroism of John (Lk 2:28).
WE MUST ASK OURSELVES:
* Do we live the Word as the dynamic of conversion?
* Do we read the signs of the living presence of God even in our own times?
* Do we actively trust in the Gospel, as true disciples?
5) ORATIO
Give us, Lord, eyes to see and ears to hear.
Give us, Lord, the courage always to seek the truth and to desire your revelation in prayer.
Give us, Lord, wisdom to walk with others, with those who have understood your ways and who seek to find your presence.
6) CONTEMPLATIO
This passage of the Gospel invites us to recognize the style of Jesus: patient, welcoming, enlightening.
 Listening to the Word requires an overall vision of what has been revealed, without being too strict about it: for in each situation Jesus brings enlightenment.
 It invites us moreover to know how to read the action of God in the world; that is, to be open to the "signs of the times".