Chủ Nhật, 2 tháng 4, 2017

APRIL 03, 2017 : MONDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 251

In Babylon there lived a man named Joakim,
who married a very beautiful and God-fearing woman, Susanna,
the daughter of Hilkiah;
her pious parents had trained their daughter
according to the law of Moses.
Joakim was very rich;
he had a garden near his house,
and the Jews had recourse to him often
because he was the most respected of them all.

That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges,
of whom the Lord said, "Wickedness has come out of Babylon:
from the elders who were to govern the people as judges."
These men, to whom all brought their cases,
frequented the house of Joakim.
When the people left at noon,
Susanna used to enter her husband's garden for a walk.
When the old men saw her enter every day for her walk,
they began to lust for her.
They suppressed their consciences;
they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven,
and did not keep in mind just judgments.

One day, while they were waiting for the right moment,
she entered the garden as usual, with two maids only.
She decided to bathe, for the weather was warm.
Nobody else was there except the two elders,
who had hidden themselves and were watching her.
"Bring me oil and soap," she said to the maids,
"and shut the garden doors while I bathe."

As soon as the maids had left,
the two old men got up and hurried to her.
"Look," they said, "the garden doors are shut, and no one can see us;
give in to our desire, and lie with us.
If you refuse, we will testify against you
that you dismissed your maids because a young man was here with you."

"I am completely trapped," Susanna groaned.
"If I yield, it will be my death;
if I refuse, I cannot escape your power.
Yet it is better for me to fall into your power without guilt
than to sin before the Lord."
Then Susanna shrieked, and the old men also shouted at her,
as one of them ran to open the garden doors.
When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden,
they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her.
At the accusations by the old men,
the servants felt very much ashamed,
for never had any such thing been said about Susanna.

When the people came to her husband Joakim the next day,
the two wicked elders also came,
fully determined to put Susanna to death.
Before all the people they ordered:
"Send for Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah,
the wife of Joakim."
When she was sent for,
she came with her parents, children and all her relatives.
All her relatives and the onlookers were weeping.

In the midst of the people the two elders rose up
and laid their hands on her head.
Through tears she looked up to heaven,
for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly.
The elders made this accusation:
"As we were walking in the garden alone,
this woman entered with two girls
and shut the doors of the garden, dismissing the girls.
A young man, who was hidden there, came and lay with her.
When we, in a corner of the garden, saw this crime,
we ran toward them.
We saw them lying together,
but the man we could not hold, because he was stronger than we;
he opened the doors and ran off.
Then we seized her and asked who the young man was,
but she refused to tell us.
We testify to this."
The assembly believed them,
since they were elders and judges of the people,
and they condemned her to death.

But Susanna cried aloud:
"O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me. 
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me."

The Lord heard her prayer.
As she was being led to execution,
God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel,
and he cried aloud:
"I will have no part in the death of this woman."
All the people turned and asked him, "What is this you are saying?"
He stood in their midst and continued,
"Are you such fools, O children of Israel! 
To condemn a woman of Israel without examination
and without clear evidence?
Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her."

Then all the people returned in haste.
To Daniel the elders said,
"Come, sit with us and inform us,
since God has given you the prestige of old age."
But he replied,
"Separate these two far from each other that I may examine them."

After they were separated one from the other,
he called one of them and said:
"How you have grown evil with age!
Now have your past sins come to term:
passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent,
and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says,
'The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.'
Now, then, if you were a witness,
tell me under what tree you saw them together."
"Under a mastic tree," he answered.
Daniel replied, "Your fine lie has cost you your head,
for the angel of God shall receive the sentence from him
and split you in two."
Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought.
Daniel said to him,
"Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah, beauty has seduced you,
lust has subverted your conscience.
This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel,
and in their fear they yielded to you;
but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your wickedness.
Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together."
"Under an oak," he said.
Daniel replied, "Your fine lie has cost you also your head,
for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two
so as to make an end of you both."

The whole assembly cried aloud,
blessing God who saves those who hope in him.
They rose up against the two elders,
for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of perjury.
According to the law of Moses,
they inflicted on them
the penalty they had plotted to impose on their neighbor:
they put them to death.
Thus was innocent blood spared that day.

The assembly condemned Susanna to death.

But Susanna cried aloud:
"O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me.
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me."

The Lord heard her prayer.
As she was being led to execution,
God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel,
and he cried aloud:
"I will have no part in the death of this woman."
All the people turned and asked him,
"What is this you are saying?"
He stood in their midst and continued,
"Are you such fools, O children of Israel!
To condemn a woman of Israel without examination
and without clear evidence?
Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her."

Then all the people returned in haste.
To Daniel the elders said,
"Come, sit with us and inform us,
since God has given you the prestige of old age."
But he replied,
"Separate these two far from each other that I may examine them."

After they were separated one from the other,
he called one of them and said:
"How you have grown evil with age!
Now have your past sins come to term:
passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent,
and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says,
'The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.' 
Now, then, if you were a witness,
tell me under what tree you saw them together."
"Under a mastic tree," he answered.
Daniel replied, "Your fine lie has cost you your head,
for the angel of God shall receive the sentence from him
and split you in two."
Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. 
Daniel said to him, "Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,
beauty has seduced you, lust has subverted your conscience.
This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel,
and in their fear they yielded to you;
but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your wickedness.
Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together."
"Under an oak," he said.
Daniel replied, "Your fine lie has cost you also your head,"
for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two
so as to make an end of you both."

The whole assembly cried aloud,
blessing God who saves those who hope in him.
They rose up against the two elders,
for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of perjury.
According to the law of Moses,
they inflicted on them
the penalty they had plotted to impose on their neighbor:
they put them to death.
Thus was innocent blood spared that day.

Responsorial PsalmPS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
R. (4ab) Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.

Verse Before The GospelEZ 33:11
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord,
but rather in his conversion, that he may live.

GospelJN 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, 
and all the people started coming to him, 
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman 
who had been caught in adultery 
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
"Teacher, this woman was caught 
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?"
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
"Let the one among you who is without sin 
be the first to throw a stone at her."
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
"Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?"
She replied, "No one, sir."
Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more."


Meditation: "Go, and do not sin again"
When accusations are brought against you, how do you respond and where do you turn for help? The Book of Daniel tells the story of Susanna, a godly woman who loved God and his word. She was unjustly accused of adultery by two elder judges who had tried to seduce her. Since adultery was a serious offense punishable by stoning to death, the law of Moses required at least two witnesses, rather than one, to convict a person. Susanna knew she had no hope of clearing her good reputation and escaping death apart from God's merciful intervention. Daniel tells us that she looked up to heaven and cried out to the Lord for his help (Daniel 13:35). The two elders who wanted to sin with her had done just the opposite - they hid themselves from God's sight and they kept their secret sin hidden from the people as well. They brought false charges against her in revenge for her refusal to sin with them. God in his mercy heard the plea of Susanna and he punished the two elders for giving false witness.
Unjust accusations against Jesus
The Gospel accounts frequently describe how Jesus had to face unjust accusations made by the Pharisees, the ruling elders of Israel. They were upset with Jesus' teaching and they wanted to discredit him in any way they could. They wanted to not only silence him, but to get rid of him because of his claim to speak with God's authority. When a moral dilemma or difficult legal question arose, it was typical for the Jews to take the matter to a rabbi for a decision. The scribes and the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. John writes that they wanted to "test" Jesus on the issue of retribution so " they might have some charge to bring against him" (John 8:6).
Jewish law treated adultery as a serious crime since it violated God's ordinance and wreaked havoc on the stability of marriage and family life. It was one of the three gravest sins punishable by death. If Jesus said the woman must be pardoned, he would be accused of breaking the law of Moses. If  he said the woman must be stoned, he would lose his reputation for being the merciful friend of sinners.
Jesus then does something quite unexpected - he begins to write in the sand. The word for "writing" which is used here in the Gospel text has a literal meaning "to write down a record against someone" (for another example see Job 13:26). Perhaps Jesus was writing down a list of the sins of the accusers standing before him. Jesus now turns the challenge towards his accusers. In effect he says: Go ahead and stone her! But let the man who is without sin be the first to cast a stone. The Lord leaves the matter to their own consciences.
Pardon, restoration, and new life
When the adulterous woman is left alone with Jesus, he both expresses mercy and he strongly exhorts her to not sin again. The scribes wished to condemn, Jesus wished to forgive and to restore the sinner to health. His challenge involved a choice - either to go back to her former way of sin and death or to reach out to God's offer of forgiveness, restoration, and new life in his kingdom of peace and righteousness. Jesus gave her pardon and a new start on life. God's grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is - unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God's mercy and forgiveness. Do you know the joy of repentance and a clean conscience?
"God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, that you are on our side against all that stunts life, and that our resentment against you was groundless. So we come to you, asking you to forgive our past ignorance, and wanting to know more and more of you and your forgiving love, through Jesus Christ our Lord."  (Prayer of Saint Augustine)
A Daily Quote for LentAided by Christ's grace, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"No one of us does anything good unless aided by Christ's grace. What we do badly comes from ourselves; what we do well, we do with the help of God. Therefore, let us give thanks to God who made it possible. And when we do well, let us not insult anyone who does not act in the same way.  Let us not extol ourselves above such a person." (excerpt from Commentary on Psalm 93,15) 

MONDAY, APRIL 3, JOHN 8:1-11
Lenten Weekday

(Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Psalm 23)

KEY VERSE: "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" (v.7).
TO KNOW: One day, when Jesus was teaching in the temple, the religious leaders brought a woman to him whom they accused of adultery. Hoping to catch Jesus in a contradiction of the law, they asked his opinion whether or not she should be put to death as commanded by the Mosaic law (Lv.20:10). Jesus was in a dilemma as Roman law prohibited Jews from administering capital punishment. Yet if he pardoned her it might appear that he had no regard for the Law of Moses. Silently, Jesus stooped down and wrote in the sand. Although it is not known what he wrote, it may have been the sins of each accuser (See Ex 31:18, "the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger"). When they demanded an answer, Jesus told them that the one without sin should cast the first stone. One by one the woman's accusers departed and Jesus was left alone with her. He had not come to judge her, but to save her (Jn 8:15).
TO LOVE: Am I quick to judge the faults of others?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to recognize my own sins.

Monday 3rd April 2017

MON 3RD. Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Jn 8:1-11

‘“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir” she replied. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus “go away, and do not sin any more.”’ John 8:11
‘Disruption’ is a popular term in the latest change-management handbooks. The theory runs like this: instead of following the usual gambits and jargon, do something entirely different, make people uncomfortable, get them to think differently. Jesus disrupts the Temple elite in the same way. They want to have this poor woman stoned, and they also want to test whether Jesus will hold to the Law of Moses. But Jesus disrupts the whole scene. He doesn’t play their game. He plays God’s game, where justice and mercy dance together. He gives the scribes and Pharisees a taste of God’s justice, and he gives the woman her dignity and freedom back. He chides the elite. He does not condemn the woman. He knows we all do wrong. He shows God’s forgiving and saving love. Lord I am not worthy to be near you, but let me follow.

ST. IRENE

St. Irene was the widow of a Roman military officer who was killed for his faith in 288.  According to legend, she attended to the wounded St. Sebastian after he shot full of arrows as depicted in the painting by artist Vicente López y Portaña.


LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 8,1-11
Lectio Divina: 
 Monday, April 3, 2017
Lent Time

1) OPENING PRAYER
Just and merciful God,
you take pity even on sinners
and you continue with them
a dialogue of grace and hope.Help us too never to condemn,
never to give up on people,
but to be patient, understanding and forgiving,
together with you and Jesus your Son
who lives with you and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 8, 1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in the middle they said to Jesus, 'Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and in the Law Moses has ordered us to stone women of this kind. What have you got to say?'
They asked him this as a test, looking for an accusation to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he straightened up and said, 'Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.' Then he bent down and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until the last one had gone and Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained in the middle. Jesus again straightened up and said, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir,' she replied. 'Neither do I condemn you,' said Jesus. 'Go away, and from this moment sin no more.'
3) REFLECTION
• In today’s Gospel, we will meditate on the encounter of Jesus with the woman whom was going to be stoned. Because of his preaching and his way of acting Jesus disturbs and troubles the religious authority. Because of this, they tried, by all possible means, to accuse him and to get rid of him. Thus, they bring before him a woman, caught committing adultery. Under the appearance of fidelity to the Law, they use the woman in order to have an argument against Jesus. Today also, under the appearance of fidelity to the Laws of the Church, many persons are marginalized. Divorcés/divorcées, prostitutes, sick with AIDS, single mothers, homosexuals, etc. Let us see how Jesus reacts:
• John 8, 1-2: Jesus and the people. After the discussion on the origin of the Messiah, described at the end of chapter 7 (Jn 7, 37-52), “They all went home” (Jn 7, 53). Jesus did not have a house in Jerusalem. This is the reason why he went to the Mount of Olives. There was a garden there, where he usually spent the night in prayer (Jn 18, 1). The following day, before dawn, before the rising of the sun, Jesus was again in the Temple. People came very close to him to be able to listen to him. They sat on the ground, around Jesus and he taught them. What did Jesus teach? It must have been very beautiful because people went there before sun rise in order to listen to him!
• John 8, 3-6ª: The Scribes prepare the ambush. Unexpectedly, the Scribes and Pharisees arrive, with a woman caught committing adultery. They make her stand in the middle. According to the law, the woman would have to be stoned (Lv 20, 20; Dt 22, 22.24). They ask: “What is your opinion, what do you got to say?” It was a trap. If Jesus would have said: “Apply the Law”, they would have said: “He is not as good as he seems, because he has said to kill the poor woman!” If he had said: “Do not kill her”, they would have said: “He is not as good as he seems, because he does not even observe the law!” Under appearances of fidelity to God, they manipulate the law using the person of the woman in order to be able to accuse Jesus.
• John 8, 6b-8: Reaction of Jesus: he writes on the ground. It seemed to be a dead alley without an outing. But Jesus is not frightened, nor does he get nervous. Rather, all the contrary. Calmly, as dominating the situation, he bends down and begins to write on the ground with his finger. His enemies are those who get nervous. They insist and they want Jesus to give his opinion. Then Jesus rises and says: “Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her!” Then bending down again he continued to write on the ground. Jesus does not discuss the law. But he changes the objective of the judgment. Instead of allowing them to place the law above the woman to condemn her, he asks them to examine themselves in the light of what the law demands from them. The symbolical action of writing on the ground clarifies everything. The word of the Law of God has its own consistency. A word written on the ground has no consistency. The rain and the wind carry it away. The forgiveness of God takes away sin identified and denounced by the law.
• John 8, 9-11: Jesus and the woman. The gesture and response of Jesus make his enemies go away, they are conquered. The Pharisees and the Scribes go away full of shame, one after the other, beginning with the eldest. The contrary of what they expected takes place. The person condemned by the law was not the woman, but rather they who believed to be faithful to the law. At the end, Jesus remains alone with the woman who stood in the middle. Jesus straightened up and said: “Woman, where are they who condemned you? Has no one condemned you?!” She replied: “No one, Sir!” And Jesus: “Neither do I condemn you! Go away, and from this moment sin no more!”
• Jesus does not allow anyone to use the Law of God to condemn the brother or the sister when the person who condemns is himself/herself a sinner. This episode, better than any other teaching, reveals that Jesus is the light which makes truth shine. He opens up what exists in the secret of persons, in the intimate depth of each one of us. In the light of his word, those who seemed to be the defenders of the law reveal themselves being full of sin and they themselves recognize it, and they leave, beginning by the eldest. And the woman considered to be guilty and deserving of death, remains standing up before God, absolved, redeemed and with her dignity recovered (cf. Jn 3, 19-21).
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Try to put yourself in the woman’s place: Which were her feelings at that moment?
• Which are the steps which our community can and should take to accept those excluded?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
In grassy meadows he lets me lie.
By tranquil streams he leads me
to restore my spirit.
He guides me in paths of saving justice
as befits his name. (Ps 51,1-3)