Thứ Ba, 17 tháng 1, 2017

JANUARY 17, 2017 : MEMORIAL OF SAINT ANTHONY, ABBOT

Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot
Lectionary: 312

Reading 1HEB 6:10-20
Brothers and sisters:
God is not unjust so as to overlook your work
and the love you have demonstrated for his name
by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.
We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness
for the fulfillment of hope until the end,
so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who,
through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

When God made the promise to Abraham,
since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you.
And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.
Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves;
for them an oath serves as a guarantee
and puts an end to all argument.
So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise
an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose,
he intervened with an oath,
so that by two immutable things,
in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged
to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul,
sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil,
where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner,
becoming high priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial PsalmPS 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 AND 10C
R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has sent deliverance to his people;
he has ratified his covenant forever;
holy and awesome is his name.
His praise endures forever.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaEPH 1:17-18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 2:23-28
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
"Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?"
He said to them,
"Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?"
Then he said to them,
"The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."


Meditation: "The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath"
What does the commandment "keep holy the Sabbath" require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The "Sabbath rest" was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God's goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus' disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom.
When David and his men were fleeing for their lives, they sought food from Ahimelech the priest (1 Samuel 21:1-6). The only bread he had was the holy bread offered in the Temple. None but the priests were allowed to eat it. In their hunger, David and his men ate of this bread. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God. It was intended for good and not for evil. Withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need was not part of God’s intention that we rest from unnecessary labor. Do you honor the Lord in the way you treat your neighbor and celebrate the Lord's Day?
"Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord's Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe Lord of the Sabbath, by John Chrysostom, 547-407 A.D.

    "Doubtless he speaks of himself when he mentions the 'Lord of the sabbath' (Mark 2:28, Matthew 12:8, Luke 6:5).  Mark relates a complementary saying about our common human nature, that “the sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the sabbath (Mark 2:27). Why then should someone who gathered sticks on the sabbath be censured? The law that was established earlier could not be scorned without jeopardizing the law to be given later.
    "The sabbath did confer many benefits, great blessings in the earlier dispensation. It made people more gentle toward those close to them. It guided them toward being more sympathetic. It located them temporally within God's creation and providence, as Ezekiel knew (Ezekiel 20:19-20). The sabbath trained Israel by degrees to abstain from evil and disposed them to listen to the things of the Spirit.
    "They would have stretched the law out of shape if, when he was giving the law of the sabbath, Jesus had said, 'You can work on the sabbath, but just do good works, do nothing evil.' This would have brought out the worst in them. So he restrained them from doing any works at all on the sabbath. And even this stricter prohibition did not keep them in line. But he himself, in the very act of giving the law of the sabbath, gave them a veiled sign of things to come. For by saying, 'You must do no work, except what shall be done for your life' (Exodus 12:16), he indicated that the intent of the law was to have them refrain from evil works only, not all works. Even in the temple, much went on during the sabbath, and with great diligence and double toil. Thus even by this very shadowy saying Jesus was secretly opening the truth to them. Did Christ then attempt to repeal a law so beneficial as the sabbath law? Far from it. Rather, he greatly magnified the sabbath. For with Christ came the time for everyone to be trained by a higher requirement." (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 39.3)

TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, MARK 2:23-28
(Hebrews 6:10-20; Psalm 111)

KEY VERSE: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (v 27).
TO KNOW: As Jesus and his disciples were walking through the corn fields on the Sabbath day, his hungry disciples began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat them. On any ordinary day the disciples were doing what was permitted (Deut 23:25). As long as they did not put a sickle into the field they were free to pluck the corn. But this activity was done on the Sabbath, which was hedged around with hundreds of rules and regulations. The religious leaders classified a number of activities as work that was forbidden on the Sabbath. Among those labors that occurred during the "seasons of plowing and harvesting" (Ex 34:21) were reaping, threshing, winnowing, and the preparation of a meal from raw ingredients. When Jesus met with opposition from the Pharisees, he cited the precedence of David who fed his hungry men with the bread of offering, which had been reserved for the priests (1 Sm 21:4-7). Jesus said that the Sabbath was a gift from God, and that charity should prevail over rules and rituals. As "Lord of the Sabbath" (v 28), Jesus correctly interpreted the Law to the benefit of all people.
TO LOVE: Have I allowed legalism to be a substitute for love of the Lord and his people?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to keep the Sabbath by prayer and good works.

Memorial of Saint Anthony, abbot

At age 35 Anthony moved to the desert where he lived alone for 20 years in an abandoned fort. He based his life on the Gospel, miraculously healing people and acting as spiritual counselor of others. Word spread, and so many disciples arrived that Anthony founded other monasteries. He briefly left his seclusion in 311, going to Alexandria to fight the Arian heresy, and to comfort the victims of the Emperor Maximinus' persecution. His sister too, had withdrawn from the world and directed a community of nuns. Anthony retired to the desert again, living in a cave on Mount Colzim. Anthony is the Father of Western Monasticism. His example led many to take up the monastic life, and to follow his way. His biography was written by his friend Saint Athanasius. 

Father, you called Saint Anthony to renounce the world and serve you in the solitude of the desert. By his prayers and example, may we learn to deny ourselves and love you above all things. 

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Tue 17th. St Anthony. Hebrews 6:10-20. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever—Ps 110(111):1-2, 4-5, 9, 10. Mark 2:23-28.
God in action and rest.
Today's Gospel concerns the sabbath, our weekly standing invitation to rest gently, preparing our spirit for the week to come. The sabbath is a time set aside to remember the God who is with us in our everyday concerns. Each and every sabbath is a day set aside to help and nourish all humanity. If we can bring life to someone on the sabbath, then it is good for us to do so. If we can rest in God's peace, that is good too. We need a balance in attending to the God who loves when we are in action and when we rest.
You are our ever faithful God. You call us, walk with us, and give us your very self in the Eucharist. Help us to know that we are never alone, that we may live each day in ways which glorify your Name.

ST. ANTHONY OF EGYPT

On his Jan. 17 feast day, both Eastern and Western Catholics celebrate the life and legacy of St. Anthony of Egypt, the founder of Christian monasticism whose radical approach to discipleship permanently impacted the Church.
In Egypt's Coptic Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which have a special devotion to the native saint, his feast day is celebrated on Jan. 30.
Anthony was born around 251, to wealthy parents who owned land in the present-day Faiyum region near Cairo. During this time, the Catholic Church was rapidly spreading its influence throughout the vast expanses of the Roman empire, while the empire remained officially pagan and did not legally recognize the new religion.
In the course of his remarkable and extraordinarily long life, Anthony would live to see the Emperor Constantine's establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire. Anthony himself, however, would establish something more lasting – by becoming the spiritual father of the monastic communities that have existed throughout the subsequent history of the Church.
Around the year 270, two great burdens came upon Anthony simultaneously: the deaths of both his parents, and his inheritance of their possessions and property. These simultaneous occurrences prompted Anthony to reevaluate his entire life in light of the principles of the Gospel– which proposed both the redemptive possibilities of his personal loss, and the spiritual danger of his financial gains.

Attending church one day, he heard –as if for the first time– Jesus' exhortation to another rich young man in the Biblical narrative: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Anthony told his disciples in later years, that it was as though Christ has spoken those words to him directly.
He duly followed the advice of selling everything he owned and donating the proceeds, setting aside a portion to provide for his sister. Although organized monasticism did not yet exist, it was not unknown for Christians to abstain from marriage, divest themselves of possessions to some extent, and live a life focused on prayer and fasting. Anthony's sister would eventually join a group of consecrated virgins.

Anthony himself, however, sought a more comprehensive vision of Christian asceticism. He found it among the hermits of the Egyptian desert, individuals who chose to withdraw physically and culturally from the surrounding society in order to devote themselves more fully to God. But these individuals' radical way of life had not yet become an organized movement.
After studying with one of these hermits, Anthony made his own sustained attempt to live alone in a secluded desert location, depending on the charity of a few patrons who would provide him with enough food to survive. This first period as a hermit lasted between 13 and 15 years.
Like many saints both before and after him, Anthony became engaged in a type of spiritual combat, against unseen forces seeking to remove him from the way of perfection he had chosen. These conflicts took their toll on Anthony in many respects. When he was around 33 years old, a group of his patrons found him in serious condition, and took him back to a local church to recover.

This setback did not dissuade Anthony from his goal of seeking God intensely, and he soon redoubled his efforts by moving to a mountain on the east bank of the Nile river. There, he lived in an abandoned fort, once again subsisting on the charity of those who implored his prayers on their behalf. He attracted not only these benefactors, but a group of inquirers seeking to follow after his example.

In the first years of the fourth century, when he was about 54, Anthony emerged from his solitude to provide guidance to the growing community of hermits that had become established in his vicinity. Although Anthony had not sought to form such a community, his decision to become its spiritual father – or “Abbot”– marked the beginning of monasticism as it is known today.

Anthony himself would live out this monastic calling for another four decades, providing spiritual and practical advice to disciples who would ensure the movement's continued existence. According to Anthony's biographer, St. Athanasius, the Emperor Constantine himself eventually wrote to the Abbot, seeking advice on the administration of an empire that was now officially Christian.
“Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man,” Anthony told the other monks. “But rather: wonder that God wrote the Law for men, and has spoken to us through his own Son.”
Anthony wrote back to Constantine, advising him “not to think much of the present, but rather to remember the judgment that is coming, and to know that Christ alone was the true and Eternal King.”

St. Anthony may have been up to 105 years old when he died, sometime between 350 and 356. In keeping with his instructions, two of his disciples buried his body secretly in an unmarked grave.

LECTIO DIVINA: MARK 2,23-28
Lectio Divina: 
 Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
Father of heaven and earth,
hear our prayers,
and show us the way to your peace in the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 2,23-28
It happened that on Sabbath day he was taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to make a path by plucking ears of corn.
And the Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing something on the Sabbath day that is forbidden?' And he replied, 'Have you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry - how he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of the offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?'
And he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of man is master even of the Sabbath.'
3) Reflection
• The Law exists for the good of persons. One day on the Sabbath, the disciples passed by a cornfield and they opened a path by plucking ears of corn. In Matthew 12, 1 it is said that they were hungry. Quoting the Bible, the Pharisees criticized the attitude of the disciples. It would be a transgression of the law of the Sabbath (cf. Ex 20, 8-11). Jesus responded quoting the Bible also to indicate that the arguments of the others have no meaning, no reason for being. He recalls that David himself did something which was prohibited, because he took the sacred bread of the temple and gave it to the soldiers to eat because they were hungry (I Sam 21, 2-7). And Jesus ends with two important phrases (a) the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath, (b)) The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath!
• The Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath. For more than five-hundred years, since the time of the Babylonian captivity to the time of Jesus, the Jews had observed the law of the Sabbath. This secular observance became for them a strong sign of identity. The Sabbath was rigorously observed. At the time of the Maccabees, toward the end of the second century before Christ, this observance had reached a critical point. Attacked by the Greeks on Sabbath, the rebellious Maccabees preferred to allow themselves to be killed rather than to transgress the law of the Sabbath using arms to defend their own life. For this, one thousand persons died (I Mac 2, 32-38). Reflecting on the massacre the Maccabee leaders concluded that they should resist and defend their own life, even on the Sabbath (I Mac 2, 39-41) Jesus used the same attitude: to consider the law of the Sabbath in a relative way in favour of the human life, because the law exists for the good of human life, and not vice-versa!
• The Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath! The new experience of God as Father/Mother makes Jesus, the Son of Man, to have the key to discover the intention of God who is at the origin of the Law of the Old Testament. For this reason, the Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath. Living with the people of Galilee during thirty years and feeling in his own person the oppression and the exclusion to which so many brothers and sisters were condemned in the name of the Law of God, Jesus perceives that this could not be the significance of that law. If God is Father, then he accepts all as sons and daughters. If God is Father, then we should be brothers and sisters to others. And this is what Jesus lived and preached, from the beginning to the end. The Law of the Sabbath must be at the service of life and of fraternity. If was precisely because of his fidelity to this message that Jesus was condemned to death. He disturbed the system, he was uncomfortable for them, and the system defended itself, using force against Jesus, because he wanted the Law itself to be at the service of life and not vice-versa.
• Jesus and the Bible. The Pharisees criticized Jesus in the name of the Bible. Jesus responds and criticizes the Pharisees using the Bible. He knew the Bible by heart. At that time, there were no printed Bibles as we have today! In every community there was only one Bible, hand written which remained in the Synagogue. If Jesus knew the Bible so well, it means that during 30 years of his life in Nazareth, he participated intensely in the life of the community, where the Scripture was read every Saturday. We still lack very much in order to have the same familiarity with the Bible and the same participation in the community!
4) Personal questions
• Saturday is for the human being and not vice-versa. Which are the points in my life which I have to change?
• Even without having the Bible at home, Jesus knew it by heart. And I?
5) Concluding prayer
I give thanks to Yahweh with all my heart,
in the meeting-place of honest people, in the assembly.
Great are the deeds of Yahweh,
to be pondered by all who delight in them. (Ps 111,1-2)