Thứ Ba, 31 tháng 1, 2017

FEBRUARY 01, 2017 : WEDNESDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 325

Brothers and sisters:
In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.
Endure your trials as "discipline";
God treats you as his sons.
For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Strive for peace with everyone,
and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God,
that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble,
through which many may become defiled.

Responsorial PsalmPS 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18A
R. (see 17) The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him,
For he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust.
R. The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.
But the kindness of the LORD is from eternity
to eternity toward those who fear him,
And his justice toward children's children
among those who keep his covenant.
R. The Lord's kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.

AlleluiaJN 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 6:1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished. 
They said, "Where did this man get all this? 
What kind of wisdom has been given him? 
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? 
And are not his sisters here with us?" 
And they took offense at him. 
Jesus said to them,
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house." 
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Meditation: Jesus marveled because of their unbelief
Are you critical towards others, especially those who may be close to you? The most severe critics are often people very familiar to us, a member of our family, a relative, or neighbor or co-worker we rub shoulders with on a regular basis. Jesus faced a severe testing when he returned to his home town, not simply as the carpenter's son, but now as a rabbi with disciples. It would have been customary for Jesus to go to the synagogue each week during the Sabbath, and when his turn came, to read from the scriptures during the Sabbath service. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns. What sign would he do in his hometown?
Jesus startled his familiar audience with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazareth took offense at Jesus and refused to listen to what he had to say. They despised his preaching because he was a mere workman, a carpenter, and a layman who had no formal training by a scholar or teacher. They also despised him because of his undistinguished family background. How familiarity can breed contempt. Jesus could do no mighty works in their midst because they were closed-minded and unbelieving towards him. If people have come together to hate and to refuse to understand, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others. How do you treat those who seem disagreeable to you?
 The word "gospel" literally means "good news". Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to the afflicted who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free - not only from their physical, mental, and spiritual infirmities - but also from the worst affliction of all - the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one's life. God's power alone can save us from hopelessness, dejection, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is "good news" for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel?
"Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings grace, truth, freedom, and abundant life. Set my heart on fire with your love and truth."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersDistinguishing God's power and our faith, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"And perhaps, as in the case of metallic substances there exists in some a natural attraction toward some other thing, as in the magnet for iron, and in naphtha for fire, so there is an attraction in such faith toward the divine power according to what Jesus said: 'If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, 'Move to another place,' and it shall be moved' (Matthew 17:20). Matthew and Mark wished to present the all-surpassing value of that divine power as a power that works even in those who do not believe. But they did not deny that grace works even more powerfully among those who have faith. So it seems to me that they accurately said not that the Lord did not do any mighty works because of their unbelief, but that he did not do many there (Mark 6:5). Mark does not flatly say that he could do no mighty work there at all, and stop at that point, but added, 'except that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them' (Mark 6:5). Thus the power in him overcame even their unbelief." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 10.19)

FEBRUARY -- BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Carter G. Woodson, (1875-1950) noted Black scholar and historian and son of former slaves, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915, which was later renamed the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He initiated Black History Week, February 12, 1926. For many years the 2nd week of February (chosen so as to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln) was celebrated by Black people in the United States. In 1976, as part of the nation's Bicentennial, it was expanded and became established as Black History Month, and is now celebrated all over North America.



WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, MARK 6:1-6
Weekday

(Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15; Psalm 103)

KEY VERSE: "He was amazed at their lack of faith" (v 4).
TO KNOW: Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth where his teachings were met with astonishment by his neighbors. They asked many questions. Where did Jesus get this wisdom and amazing power? Wasn't he a mere carpenter? (Greek, tekton, a "craftsman"). Was Jesus not the son of Mary? (Jews were identified by the mother since one's paternity could not always be verified). Didn't his brothers and sisters (close relatives) live in their community? Jesus was distressed that his neighbors had taken offense in him. He sadly declared, "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house" (v 4, see Dt 18:15). Like the prophets of old, Jesus was not accepted by the very people to whom he had been sent. Because the people showed so little faith, he was only able to cure a few of the sick. Jesus went on to teach in other villages, but there were few "mighty deeds" done in his own hometown.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, help me to be open to your voice in my neighbors and family.
TO SERVE: When have I failed to listen to someone in my parish community?


Wednesday 1 February 2017

Wed 1st. Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15. The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him—Ps 102(103):1-2, 13-14, 17-18. Mark 6:1-6.
Readings

Change brings rejection.
In today’s gospel Jesus experiences rejection at the hands of his own people. Often when a person grows in faith those who know them notice a difference and can reject the change. While we like to hold on to what is familiar and safe, our faith compels us to go out from our comfort zones and risk rejection from those who know us.

ST. BRIGID OF IRELAND

On Feb. 1 Catholics in Ireland and elsewhere will honor Saint Brigid of Kildare, a monastic foundress who is – together with Saint Patrick and Saint Columcille – one of the country’s three patron saints.

St. Brigid directly influenced several other future saints of Ireland, and her many religious communities helped to secure the country's conversion from paganism to the Catholic faith.

She is traditionally associated with the Cross of St. Brigid, a form of the cross made from reeds or straw that is placed in homes for blessing and protection. Some Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also celebrate her feast, on the same date as the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Brigid has been profiled many times by both ancient and modern writers, but it is notoriously hard to establish the historical details of her life, and the various accounts make many conflicting claims. According to one of the more credible biographies of Brigid – Hugh de Blacam's essay in “The Saints of Ireland,” on which the following account is based – most historians place her birth around the year 450, near the end of Saint Patrick's evangelistic mission.

Brigid was born out of wedlock, the daughter of a pagan cheiftain named Dubthach and a Christian slave woman named Broicsech. The cheiftain sold the child's pregnant mother to a new master, but contracted for Brigid to be returned to him eventually. According to de Blacam, the child was probably baptized as an infant and raised as a Catholic by her mother. Thus, she was well-formed in the faith before leaving Broicsech's slave-quarters, at around age 10, to live with Dubthach and his wife.

Within the new circumstances of the cheiftain's household, Brigid's faith found expression in feats of charity. From the abundance of her father's food and possessions, she gave generously to the poor. Dubthach became enraged, threatening to sell Brigid – who was not recognized as a full family member, but worked as a household servant – to the King of Leinster. But the Christian king understood Brigid's acts of charity and convinced Dubthach to grant his daughter her freedom.

Released from servitude, Brigid was expected to marry. But she had other plans, which involved serving God in consecrated life. She even disfigured her own face, marring her beauty in order to dissuade suitors. Understanding he could not change her mind, Dubthach granted Brigid permission to pursue her plan, and material means by which to do so. Thus did a pagan nobleman, through this gift to his illegitimate daughter, play an unintentional but immense part in God's plan for Ireland.

While consecrated religious life was part of the Irish Church before Brigid's time, it had not yet developed the systematic character seen in other parts of the Christian world by the fifth century. Among women, vows of celibacy were often lived out in an impromptu manner, in the circumstances of everyday life or with the aid of particular benefactors. Brigid, with an initial group of seven companions, is credited with organizing communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland.

Bishop Mel of Ardagh – St. Patrick's nephew, and later “St. Mel” – accepted Brigid's profession as a nun. According to tradition, the disfigurement she had inflicted on her face disappeared that day, and her beauty returned. St. Mel went on to serve as a mentor to the group during their time at Ardagh.

Around the time of his death in 488, Brigid's community got an offer to resettle. Their destination is known today as Kildare (“Church of the Oak”), after the main monastery she founded there.

Brigid's life as a nun was rooted in prayer, but it also involved substantial manual labor: clothmaking, dairy farming, and raising sheep. In Ireland, as in many other regions of the Christian world, this communal combination of work and prayer attracted vast numbers of people during the sixth century. Kildare, however, was unique as the only known Irish “double monastery”: it included a separately-housed men's community, led by the bishop Saint Conleth.

From this main monastery, Brigid's movement branched out to encompass a large portion of Ireland. It is not clear just how large, but it is evident that Brigid traveled widely throughout the island, founding new houses and building up a uniquely Irish form of monasticism. When she was not traveling, many pilgrims – including prominent clergy, and some future saints – made their way to Kildare, seeking the advice of the abbess.

Under Brigid's leadership, Kildare played a major role in the successful Christianization of Ireland. The abbess' influence was felt in the subsequent era of the Irish Church, a time when the country became known for its many monasteries and their intellectual achievements.

St. Brigid of Kildare died around 525. She is said to have received the last sacraments from a priest, Saint Ninnidh, whose vocation she had encouraged. Veneration of Brigid grew in the centuries after her death, and spread outside of Ireland through the work of the country's monastic missionaries.

LECTIO DIVINA: MARK 6,1-6
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, February 1, 2017

1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
help us to love you with all our hearts
and to love all men as you love them.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel reading - Mark 6,1-6
Jesus went to his home town, and his disciples accompanied him.
With the coming of the Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, 'Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?' And they would not accept him.
And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house'; and he could work no miracle there, except that he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He made a tour round the villages, teaching.

3) Reflection
• The Gospel today speaks of the visit of Jesus to Nazareth and describes the mental obstinacy of the people of Nazareth, who do not want to accept him. (Mk 6, 1-6). Tomorrow the Gospel describes the openness of Jesus toward the people of Galilee, shown through the sending out of his disciples on mission (Mk 6, 7-13).
• Mark 6, 1-2ª: Jesus returns to Nazareth. At that time Jesus went to his home town, and his disciples accompanied him. “With the coming of the Sabbath, he began teaching in the Synagogue”. It is always good to return to one’s own home town and to find the friends. After a long absence, Jesus also returns and, as usual, on Saturday, he goes to the Synagogue to participate in the meeting of the community. Jesus was not the coordinator of the community, but even if he was not he takes the floor and begins to teach. This is a sign that persons could participate and express their own opinion.
• Mark 6, 2b-3: Reaction of the people of Nazareth before Jesus. The people of Capernaum had accepted the teaching of Jesus (Mk 1, 22), but the people of Nazareth did not like the words of Jesus and were scandalized. For what reason? Jesus, the boy whom they had known since he was born, how is it that now he is so different? They do not accept God’s mystery present in Jesus, a human being, and common as they are, known by all! They think that to be able to speak of God, he should be different from them! As we can see, not everything went well for Jesus. The persons who should have been the first ones to accept the Good News were precisely those who had the greatest difficulty to accept it. The conflict was not only with foreigners, but also, and especially with his own relatives and with the people of Nazareth. They refused to believe in Jesus, because they could not understand the mystery of God embracing the person of Jesus. “From where do all these things come to him? And what wisdom is this which has been given to him? And these miracles which are worked by him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph and Jude and Simon? His sisters too, are they not here with us?” And they would not accept him, they do not believe in Jesus!
• The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers of Jesus” causes much polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Basing themselves on this text and in others, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary had no other sons. What should we think about all this? In the first place, the two positions, that of Catholics and that of the Protestants, both have arguments taken from the Bible and from the tradition of their respective Churches. Therefore, it is not convenient to discuss this question with arguments drawn only from reason. This is a question of profound convictions, which have something to do with the faith and with the sentiments both of Catholics and of Protestants. An argument taken only from reason cannot succeed to change the conviction of the heart! On the other hand, it irritates and draws away! Even when I do not agree with an opinion of another, I should always respect it! And we, both Catholics and Protestants, instead of discussing on texts, we should unite to struggle in defence of life, created by God, a life which has been so disfigured by poverty and injustice, by the lack of faith. We should remember other phrases of Jesus: “I have come in order that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10, 10). “That all may be one, so that the world may believe that you, Father, has sent me” (Jn 17, 21). “Who is not against us, is for us” (Mk 10, 39.40).
• Mark 6, 4-6. Reaction of Jesus before the attitude of the people of Nazareth. Jesus knows very well that “nobody is a prophet in his own country”. And he says: “A prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house”. In fact, where there is no acceptance or faith, people can do nothing. The preconception prevents this. Even if Jesus wanted to do something, he cannot, and he is amazed at their lack of faith. For this reason, before the closed door of his community “he began to make a tour round the villages, teaching”. The experience of this rejection led Jesus to change his practice. He goes to the other villages and, as we shall see in tomorrow’s Gospel, he gets the disciples involved in the mission instructing them as to how they have to continue the mission.

4) Personal questions
• Jesus had problems with his relatives and with his community. From the time when you began to live the Gospel better, has something changed in your relationship with your family, with your relatives?
• Jesus cannot work many miracles in Nazareth because faith is lacking. And today, does he find faith in us, in me?

5) Concluding prayer
How blessed are those whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin blotted out.
How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt,
whose spirit harbours no deceit. (Ps 32,1-2)
How blessed are those whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin blotted out.
How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt,
whose spirit harbours no deceit. (Ps 32,1-2)