Thứ Sáu, 31 tháng 3, 2017

APRIL 01, 2017 : SATURDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK OF LENT

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 249

Reading 1JER 11:18-20
I knew their plot because the LORD informed me;
at that time you, O LORD, showed me their doings.

Yet I, like a trusting lamb led to slaughter,
had not realized that they were hatching plots against me:
"Let us destroy the tree in its vigor;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will be spoken no more."

But, you, O LORD of hosts, O just Judge,
searcher of mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause!

Responsorial PsalmPS 7:2-3, 9BC-10, 11-12
R. (2a) O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.
O LORD, my God, in you I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and rescue me,
Lest I become like the lion's prey,
to be torn to pieces, with no one to rescue me.
R. O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.
Do me justice, O LORD, because I am just,
and because of the innocence that is mine.
Let the malice of the wicked come to an end,
but sustain the just,
O searcher of heart and soul, O just God.
R. O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.
A shield before me is God,
who saves the upright of heart;
A just judge is God,
a God who punishes day by day.
R. O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.

Verse Before The GospelSEE LK 8:15
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.

GospelJN 7:40-53
Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said,
"This is truly the Prophet."
Others said, "This is the Christ."
But others said, "The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?
Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David's family
and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"
So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him,
but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees,
who asked them, "Why did you not bring him?"
The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this man."
So the Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived?
Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?
But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed."
Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, 
"Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him
and finds out what he is doing?"
They answered and said to him,
"You are not from Galilee also, are you?
Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee."

Then each went to his own house.


Meditation: Reaction to Jesus' words
When resistance and opposition to God's word rears its head how do you respond? With fear and doubt? Or with faith and courage? The prophet Jeremiah was opposed by his own people because the words he spoke in God's name did not sit right with them. They plotted to silence him and to "cut him off from the land of the living" (Jeremiah 11:19).  Jeremiah responded with meekness and prophetic insight "like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter" (Jeremiah 11:18).
Are you willing to take a stand for the Lord Jesus?
No one can be indifferent for long when confronted with Jesus and his claim to be the Messiah and Savior of the world. Jesus' message and the miraculous signs he performed caused division for many in Israel. Some believed he was a prophet, some the Messiah, and some believed he was neither. The reaction of the armed officers was bewildered amazement. They went to arrest him and returned empty-handed because they never heard anyone speak as he did. The reaction of the chief priests and Pharisees was contempt. The reaction of Nicodemus was timid. His heart told him to defend Jesus, but his head told him not to take the risk.
Who is Jesus for you? And are you ready to give him your full allegiance? There will often come a time when we have to take a stand for the Lord Jesus and for the truth of the Gospel - the good news of God's kingdom and the free gift of salvation which Jesus came to bring us. To stand for Jesus and his kingdom may provoke mockery and opposition. It may even entail suffering and hardship - such as the loss of job, reputation, or life.The Lord Jesus richly rewards those who suffer for his name's sake. 
Costly grace versus cheap grace
There are fundamentally only two choices that determine the course of our lives and the final destiny that awaits us: the choice to live for God's kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness or the pursuit of the world's kingdom which stands in opposition to God's authority and commandments. We can choose to obey God's word and believe in his promise of blessing or we can choose to follow the voice of those who promise success and happiness apart from God's truth and laws. The costly grace and freedom - which the Lord Jesus offers to those who embrace the cross for his sake - leads to joy and blessing in this life as well as the promise of eternal happiness with God. Cheap grace - which tries to bypass the cross for the sake of being my own master and the ruler of my own destiny - leads to emptiness and endless futility. Who do you choose to be the master and ruler of your life and destiny?
"Lord Jesus, your Gospel brings joy and freedom. May I be loyal to you always, even though it produce a cross on earth, that I may share in your crown of victory for all eternity".
A Daily Quote for LentNot be walking but by loving, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"We approach God not by walking but by loving. The purer our love for him toward whom we are striving, the more present to us will he be. To him, therefore, who is everywhere present and everywhere whole, we must proceed not by our feet but by our moral virtues - judged not by the object of our knowledge but by the object of our love." (excerpt from Letter 155,13) 

SATURDAY, APRIL 1, JOHN 7:50-53
Lenten Weekday

(Jeremiah 11:18-20; Psalm 7)

KEY VERSE: "So a division occurred in the crowd because of him" (v.43).
TO KNOW: The Feast of Tabernacles (Hebrew, Sukkot) was a commemoration of the people of God’s journey in the exodus. It was also a festival to thank God for the rain that brought forth the harvest. While Jesus was attending the feast, he proclaimed that he was the source of the "living water" of the Spirit (Jn 7:37-38; 1 Cor.10:4). The people were divided in their opinion of Jesus. It was believed that the Messiah would come from David's city of Bethlehem in Judea (Mi 5:1), whereas, Jesus was from Galilee, the region of the gentiles, which was belittled because of its large pagan population. However, the temple police were impressed by Jesus’ words and did not arrest him. The religious leaders contemptuously retorted that only the unlearned crowd believed in Jesus. Nicodemus, a doctor of the law who had a personal encounter with Jesus (Jn 3:1-21), defended him. The Pharisees sarcastically told Nicodemus to look in the Scriptures and find out the Messiah's origin for himself. Although they searched the scriptures, they did not realize that God's Word gave testimony to Jesus who was the resurrection and the life.
TO LOVE: Do I defend my faith when others demean it?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to know you in a personal way as Nicodemus did.


Ancient cultures, including the Romans, celebrated New Year's Day on April 1, which closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.). In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the New Year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian calendar) to replace the old Julian calendar. The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated January 1. Communication being what it was in those days, many people did not receive the news for several years. Others refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate New Year on April 1. These backward folk, labeled as "fools," were subject to ridicule and made the butt of practical jokes. The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year. - Mark Twain​


Saturday 1 April 2017

SAT 1ST. Jer 11:18-20; Jn 7:40-52

‘Several people who had been listening to Jesus said, “Surely he must be the prophet”, and some said, “He is the Christ”, but others said, “Would the Christ be from Galilee?”’ John 7:40-41
In the book of the prophet Isaiah we read poignant lines describing the suffering servant of God as ‘despised and rejected … a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…. he was despised, and we held him in low esteem’ (Isaiah 53:3). The Gospel readings earlier this week were about how the elite rejected Jesus for being a blasphemer. And now even the ordinary people who listen to him are unsure, and they despise him because he came from Galilee, a place held in low esteem. The key point here is not about how Christians are held in low esteem today, but about how God identifies with the poor, with people of no prestige. What a deep mystery of love this is! Lord Jesus, I love you.

ST. MARY OF EGYPT

April 1 is the feast of a little-known saint whose story demonstrates the power of the Church as the home of forgiveness, redemption and mercy. St. Mary of Egypt was a prostitute for 17 years before she received the Eucharist and chose the life of a hermit.
Born in 344 A.D., Mary of Egypt moved to the city of Alexandria when she was 12 years old and worked as a prostitute. With the intention of continuing her trade, she joined a large group that was making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
On the feast day itself, she joined the crowd as it was headed to the church in order to venerate the relic of the True Cross, again with the intention of luring others into sin. When she got to the door of the church, she was unable to enter. A miraculous force propelled her away from the door each time she approached. After trying to get in three or four times, Mary of Egypt moved to a corner of the churchyard and began to cry tears of remorse.
Then she saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin. She prayed to the Holy Mother for permission to enter the church for the purposes of venerating the relic. She promised the Virgin Mother that if she were allowed to enter the church, she would renounce the world and its ways.
Mary of Egypt entered the church, venerated the relic and returned to the statue outside to pray for guidance. She heard a voice telling her to cross the Jordan River and find rest. She set out and in the evening, she arrived at the Jordan and received communion in a church dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
The next day, she crossed the river and went into the desert, where she lived alone for 47 years. Then, while making his Lenten retreat, a priest named Zosimus found the hermitess. She asked him to return to the banks of the Jordan on Holy Thursday of the following year and to bring her Communion. The priest was true to his word and returned bearing the Eucharist. Mary told him to come back again the next year, but to the place where he had originally met her.
When Zosimus returned in a year’s time, he found Mary’s corpse. On the ground beside it was a written request that she be buried accompanied by a statement that she had died one year ago, in 421 A.D., on the very night she had received Holy Communion.


LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 7,40-53
Lectio Divina: 
 Saturday, April 1, 2017
Lent Time

1) OPENING PRAYER
Almighty God,
when people encountered your Son,
he became a source of division:
he affected their lives
one way or another.May we accept him fully
and empty ourselves to make room for him
in our everyday life, even when it hurts.
Help us, that with him
we may always seek and do your will.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 7, 40-53
Some of the crowd who had been listening Jesus said, 'He is indeed the prophet,' and some said, 'He is the Christ,' but others said, 'Would the Christ come from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from Bethlehem, the village where David was?' So the people could not agree about him.
Some wanted to arrest him, but no one actually laid a hand on him. The guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, 'Why haven't you brought him?' The guards replied, 'No one has ever spoken like this man.' 'So,' the Pharisees answered, 'you, too, have been led astray? Have any of the authorities come to believe in him? Any of the Pharisees? This rabble knows nothing about the Law -- they are damned.'
One of them, Nicodemus -- the same man who had come to Jesus earlier -- said to them, 'But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgement on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what he is doing?' To this they answered, 'Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not arise in Galilee.' They all went home.
3) REFLECTION
• In chapter 7, John confirms that there were diverse opinions and much confusion among the people regarding Jesus. The relatives thought something (Jn 7, 2-5), people thought something different (Jn 7, 12). Some said: “He is a prophet!” (Jn 7, 40). Others said: “He leads the people astray!” (Jn 7, 12). Some praised him: “He is a good man!” (Jn 7, 12). Others criticized him: “He has not been educated, has not studied!” (Jn 7, 15). Many opinions. Each one had his own arguments, taken from the Bible or from Tradition. But nobody remembered the Messiah Servant, announced by Isaiah (Is 42, 1-9; 49, 1-6; 50, 4-9; 52, 13-53, 12; 61, 1-2). Today, also, there is much discussion on religion, and all take their arguments from the Bible. As in the past, the same thing today, it happens many times that little ones are deceived by the discourses of the great ones and, some times, even by the discourses of those who belong to the Church.
• John 7, 40-44: The confusion among the people. The reaction of the people is very diverse. Some say: he is the prophet. Others: he is the Messiah; the Christ. Others claim: He cannot be because the Messiah will come from Bethlehem and he comes from Galilee! These diverse ideas on the Messiah produce division and confrontation. There were some who wanted to take him, to arrest him, but they did not do it. Perhaps because they were afraid of the people (cf. Mt 14, 2).
• John 7, 45-49: The arguments of the authority. Previously, before the reaction of the people who were in favour of Jesus, the Pharisees had sent some guards to arrest him (Jn 7, 32). But the guards returned without Jesus. They had been greatly impressed in hearing people speak so well: “No one has ever spoken like this man!” The Pharisees reacted: “Have you also been led astray?” According to the Pharisees who said: “This rabble knows nothing about the Law” and allows itself to be deceived by Jesus. It is as if they said: “No, we the chief priests know things better and we do not allow ourselves to be led astray!” and they say that the people are “damned”! The religious authority of that time treated people with great contempt.
• John 7, 50-52: The defence of Jesus by Nicodemus. Before this stupid argument, the honesty of Nicodemus revolts and he raises his voice to defend Jesus: “But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgment on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what he is doing?” The reaction of the others is that Nicodemus is mocking them: “Nicodemus are you also from Galilee? Look at the Bible and you will see for yourself that prophets do not arise in Galilee!” They are sure! Holding the book of the past, they defend themselves against the future which arrives and disturbs them. Today, many people continue to do the same thing. They only accept the novelty if it agrees with their own ideas which belong to the past.
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Today, which are the diverse opinions that people have about Jesus? And in your community, are there different opinions which cause confusion? Which? Say them, describe them.
• There are persons who accept only the novelty which agrees with their own ideas and which belongs to the past. And you?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Have mercy on me, O God,
in your faithful love,
in your great tenderness wipe away my offences;
wash me clean from my guilt,
purify me from my sin. (Ps 51,1-2)