Thứ Tư, 11 tháng 1, 2017


Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 308

Reading 1HEB 3:7-14
The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
"Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, 'They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.'
As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter into my rest.'"
Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today,"
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

Responsorial PsalmPS 95:6-7C, 8-9, 10-11
R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
"Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works." 
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
I said: "This people's heart goes astray,
they do not know my ways."
Therefore I swore in my anger:
"They shall never enter my rest."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

AlleluiaMT 4:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 1:40-45
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
"If you wish, you can make me clean."
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him, 
"I do will it. Be made clean."
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Meditation: The Lord Jesus can make me clean
Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith? No one who sought Jesus out was refused his help. Even the untouchables and the outcasts of Jewish society found help in him. Unlike the people of Jesus' time who fled at the sight of a leper, Jesus touched the leper who approached him and he made him whole and clean. Why was this so remarkable? Lepers were outcasts of society. They were driven from their homes and communities and left to fend for themselves. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away. They were not only shunned but regarded as "already dead" even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.
This leper did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man's misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean - not only physically but spiritually as well.
How do you approach those who are difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some defect? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving towards others.
Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersWhy did Jesus touch the leper, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"And why did [Jesus] touch him, since the law forbade the touching of a leper? He touched him to show that 'all things are clean to the clean' (Titus 1:15). Because the filth that is in one person does not adhere to others, nor does external uncleanness defile the clean of heart. So he touches him in his untouchability, that he might instruct us in humility; that he might teach us that we should despise no one, or abhor them, or regard them as pitiable, because of some wound of their body or some blemish for which they might be called to render an account... So, stretching forth his hand to touch, the leprosy immediately departs. The hand of the Lord is found to have touched not a leper, but a body made clean! Let us consider here, beloved, if there be anyone here that has the taint of leprosy in his soul, or the contamination of guilt in his heart? If he has, instantly adoring God, let him say: 'Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.'" (excerpt from FRAGMENTS ON MATTHEW 2.2–3)


(Hebrews 3:7-14; Psalm 95)

KEY VERSE: "Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter" (v 45).
TO KNOW: In Jesus' day, a person afflicted with leprosy was an outcast, forced to live apart from the community. One such leper humbly begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus was filled with compassion as it was always his will that his people be made whole. Even though contact with a leper would render a person ritually unclean, Jesus did not hesitate to touch the man and heal him. Jesus then sent the man to the priest who had the authority to pronounce him cured and ready to return to society (Lv 14:1-32). Jesus admonished the man not to speak of the healing lest it be misinterpreted as mere wonder-working ("the Messianic Secret" is characteristic of Mark's gospel). But the man could not contain his joy and began to publicize his healing to everyone he met. Because so many people kept coming to Jesus, it was impossible for him to enter a town. Now it was Jesus who was forced to live in the deserted places on the town’s outskirts.
TO LOVE: Do I show compassion to those who are afflicted by sickness and disease?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, heal me of all that separates me from God and my community.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Thu 12th. Hebrews 3:7-14. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts—Ps 94(95):6-11. Mark 1:40-45.

'If you want to ... you can cure me.'

My sister-in-law has an illness that is resulting in progressive disability and increasing reliance on my brother, her main carer. We pray for her healing and for them both. Though her mind is clear, her physical disabilities increase. Though there may be no cure, something extraordinary is happening.
As a couple, they are closer than ever. They make the most of every opportunity for enjoyment together: car trips, concerts and plays at the nearest city, a meal in a local pub, visits to family. Always kind and generous, my brother is a most sensitive and devoted carer, though aware of the need to maintain his own physical and mental health.
Jesus, I have come to realise that there are many kinds of cures. Transformation of the heart can be one of the most important.


On Jan. 12, Roman Catholics remember Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, who not only founded a religious congregation, but was also instrumental in establishing the Canadian city of Montreal.
Marguerite Bourgeoys was born on Good Friday of 1620, during a period of both colonial expansion and religious strife for Europe. She was the sixth of twelve children born into the middle-class household of Abraham Bourgeoys, a merchant, and Guillemette Gamier, in the northeastern province of Champagne in France.
By her own account, Marguerite had been “very light-hearted and well-liked by the other girls” while growing up. Her turn toward God's calling began in 1640, not long after her mother's death. On Oct. 7 of that year, during a procession honoring Our Lady of the Rosary, Marguerite had a mystical experience involving a statue of the Virgin Mary at Notre-Dame Abbey.
“We passed again in front of the portal of Notre-Dame, where there was a stone image above the door,” Marguerite later recounted. “When I looked up and saw it I thought it was very beautiful, and at the same time I found myself so touched and so changed that I no longer knew myself, and on my return to the house everybody noticed the change.”
In later life, Marguerite would live out a profound imitation of the Virgin Mary – who was, as she noted, “not cloistered,” but “everywhere preserved an internal solitude” and “never refused to be where charity or necessity required help.” During the 17th century, it was unusual for consecrated women to have an active apostolate outside the cloister as Marguerite would go on to do.
From 1640 to 1652, she belonged to the non-cloistered “external” branch of the Congregation of Notre-Dame at Troyes, consisting of women trained as teachers in association with the order. She also sought admission to several religious orders, including the Carmelites, but was rejected. Being turned down, the teacher from Troyes was free to volunteer for a 1653 voyage to the Canadian colony of Quebec.
Life in the colony was physically very difficult. When Marguerite arrived, she found that children were not likely to survive to an age suitable for attending school. Nevertheless, she began to work with the nurse in charge of Montreal’s hospital, and eventually established her first school in a stable in 1658.
She traveled back to France that year, and returned to Montreal with three more teachers and an assistant. Because of their association with the original French Congregation of Notre-Dame, these women were called the the “Daughters of the Congregation.”
They would eventually become a religious order in their own right: the Congregation of Notre-Dame de Montreal, whose sisters sacrificed comfort and security to teach religion and other subjects to the children of the territory then known as “New France.” They would live in poverty and travel wherever they were needed, offering education and performing the works of mercy.
The founding of the order involved two further trips to France in 1670 and 1680. During the first, Marguerite's project received approval under civil law from King Louis XIV. The church hierarchy, however, showed reluctance toward a women's order with no cloistered nuns. Their rule of life would not receive final approval until 1698, though the Bishop of Quebec had authorized their work in 1676.
Meanwhile, Marguerite and her companions persisted in their mission of teaching and charity. This work proved so integral to life in Quebec, that Marguerite became known as the “Mother of the Colony.”
Though the teaching sisters often lived in huts and suffered other hardships, the order grew. They did not dedicate themselves solely to teaching children, but also set up schools where they taught new immigrants how to survive in their surroundings. As the order expanded, Marguerite passed leadership on to one of the sisters.
During the last two years of her life, the foundress – known by then as Sister Marguerite of the Blessed Sacrament – retired to pray in solitude. On the last day of 1699, after a young member of the community became sick, Sister Marguerite prayed to God to suffer in her place. The young woman recovered, while the aged foundress suffered for twelve days and died Jan. 12, 1700.
Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized St. Marguerite Bourgeoys in 1982, as the first woman saint of the Catholic Church in Canada.

Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, January 12, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
Father of love, hear our prayers.
Help us to know your will
and to do it with courage and faith.
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 1,40-45
A man suffering from a virulent skin-disease came to him and pleaded on his knees saying, 'If you are willing, you can cleanse me.'
Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said to him, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' And at once the skin-disease left him and he was cleansed. And at once Jesus sternly sent him away and said to him, 'Mind you tell no one anything, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your cleansing prescribed by Moses as evidence to them.'
The man went away, but then started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but stayed outside in deserted places. Even so, people from all around kept coming to him.

3) Reflection
• Accepting and curing the leper, Jesus reveals a new face of God. A leper came near Jesus. He was an excluded, an impure person. He should be far away. Anybody who touched him, would also become impure! But that leper had great courage. He transgresses the norms of religion in order to be able to get near Jesus. And he calls out: If you want, you can heal me. You need not touch me! It suffices that you want, and I will be healed!. This phrase reveals two evils: a) the evil of leprosy which made him impure; b) the evil of solitude to which he was condemned by society and by religion . It also reveals the great faith of the man in the power of Jesus. And Jesus profoundly moved, cures both evils. In the first place, in order to cure solitude, he touches the leper. It is as if he said: “For me, you are not an excluded one. I accept you as a brother!” And then he cures the leper saying: I want it! Be cured! The leper, in order to enter into contact with Jesus, had transgressed the norms of the Law. Jesus also, in order to be able to help that excluded person and therefore, reveal a new face of God, transgresses the norms of his religion and touches the leper. At that time, whoever touched a leper became impure according to the religious authority and by the law of that time.
• He integrated anew the excluded person in the fraternal living together. Jesus, not only cures, but also wants the cured person to be able to live with the others. He once again inserts the person in society to live with others. At that time for a leper to be accepted again in the community, it was necessary to get a certificate from the priest that he had been cured. It is like today. A sick person leaves the hospital with a document signed by the doctor of the department where he had been hospitalized. Jesus obliges the person to look for that document, in such a way that he will be able to live normally with others. He obliges the authority to recognize that this man has been cured.
• The leper announces the good that Jesus has done to him and Jesus becomes an excluded person. Jesus forbids the leper to speak about the cure. The Gospel of Mark informs that this prohibition does not serve. The leper, walking away, began to diffuse the fact, to the point that Jesus could no longer enter publicly into a city, but remained outside, in a deserted place (Mk 1, 45). Why? Because Jesus had touched the leper. Because of this, according to the opinion of the religion of that time, now he himself was impure and should live far away from all others. He could no longer enter the city. And Mark says that people did not care about these official norms, in fact, people came to him from everywhere (Mk 1, 45). Total subversion!
• Summarizing. In the year 70, when Mark wrote, as well as today, the time in which we live, it was and continues to be important to have before our eyes models of how to live and how to proclaim the Good News of God and of how to evaluate our mission. In verses 16 to 45 of the first chapter of his Gospel, Mark describes the mission of the community and presents eight criteria in order that the communities of his time could evaluate their mission. The following is the outline:
Text     Activity of Jesus     Objective of the mission
Mark 1,16-20
          Jesus calls his first disciples
                                          To form the community
Mark 1,21-22
          The people were admired at his teaching
                                          To create a critical conscience
Mark 1,23-28
          Jesus expels a devil
                                          To overcome the force of evil
Mark 1,29-31
          He cures Peter’s mother-in-law
                                          To give life back so as to serve
Mark 1,32-34
          He cures the sick and the possessed
                                          To accept the marginalized
Mark 1,35
          Jesus rises early to pray
                                          To remain united with the Father
Mark 1,36-39
          Jesus continues the announcement
                                          Not to stop at the results
Mark 1,40-45
          He cures a leper
                                          To integrate anew the excluded

4) Personal questions
• To proclaim the Good News means to give witness of the concrete experience of Jesus that one has. What does the leper announce? He tells others the good that Jesus has done to him. Only this! And this witness leads others to accept the Good News of God which Jesus brings to us. Which is the witness that you give?
• To take the Good News to the people, it is not necessary to be afraid to transgress the religious norms which are contrary to God’s project and which make communication, dialogue and the living out of love difficult. Even if this causes difficulty for the people, as it caused difficulty for Jesus. Do I have this courage?

5) Concluding prayer
Come, let us bow low and do reverence;
kneel before Yahweh who made us!
For he is our God,
and we the people of his sheepfold,
the flock of his hand. (Ps 95,6-7)