Thứ Hai, 3 tháng 4, 2017


Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 252

Reading 1NM 21:4-9
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent 
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. 

Responsorial PsalmPS 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
R. (2) O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
O LORD, hear my prayer,
and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me; 
in the day when I call, answer me speedily.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
"The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die."
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.

Verse Before The Gospel
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.

GospelJN 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come."
So the Jews said,
"He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, 'Where I am going you cannot come'?"
He said to them, "You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins."
So they said to him, "Who are you?"
Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world."
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
"When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me. 
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him."
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

Meditation: "When you have lifted up the Son of man"
Do you know the healing power of the cross of Jesus Christ? When the people of Israel were afflicted with serpents in the wilderness because of their sin, God instructed Moses: "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live" (Numbers 21:8). The visible sign of the "fiery bronze serpent" being lifted up in the sight of the people reminded them of two important facts - sin leads to death and repentance leads to God's mercy and healing. The lifting up of the bronze serpent on a wooden pole points to Jesus Christ being lifted up on the wooden cross at Calvary where he took our sins upon himself to make atonement to the Father on our behalf. The cross of Christ broke the curse of sin and death and won pardon, healing, and everlasting life for all who believe in Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
Either for him or against him
While many believed in Jesus and his message, many others, including the religious leaders, opposed him. Some openly mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief. It's impossible to be indifferent to Jesus' word and his judgments. We are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground and no neutral parties.
When Jesus spoke about "going away" he was referring to his return in glory to his Father in heaven. Jesus warned his opponents that if they continued to disobey God's word and to reject him as Lord and Savior, they would shut themselves off from God and  die in their sins. Jesus' words echoed the prophetic warning given to Ezekiel that people would die in their sins if they did not turn to God and ask for his mercy and pardon (see Ezekiel 3:18 and 18:18). In every age God warns his people to heed his word before the time is too late to seek his mercy and forgiveness. God gives us time to turn to him and to receive his mercy and pardon, but that time is right now.
To sin literally means to miss the mark or to be off target. The essence of sin is that it diverts us from God and from our true purpose in life - to know the source of all truth and beauty which is God himself and to be united with God in everlasting joy. When Adam and Eve yielded to their sin of disobedience, they literally tried to hide themselves from God's presence (Genesis 3:8-10). That is what sin does - it separates us from the One who is not only "all-seeing" and "ever present" to us, but who is also "all loving" and "merciful" and eager to receive us with open arms of mercy, healing, and forgiveness. When God calls you to turn your gaze and attention towards him, do you try to hide yourself from his presence with other distractions and excuses that keep you from seeking him and listening to his voice?
The proof of God's love for us
Jesus went on to explain to people that if they could not recognize his voice when they heard his word, they would have the opportunity to recognize him when he is "lifted up" on the cross. Jesus pointed to the atoning sacrifice of his life on the cross as the true source of healing and victory over sin and reconciliation with God. The sacrifice of Jesus' life on the cross is the ultimate proof of God's love for us.
God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
To fail to recognize who Jesus is and where he came from is to remain in darkness - the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. But if we look to Jesus and listen to his word of life and truth, then we will find the way to lasting peace and joy with God. The Lord Jesus invites each one of us to accept him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Our time here in this present world is very limited and short, but how we live it today has consequences not only for the present moment but for our eternal destiny as well. Which direction is your life headed in right now?
"Lord Jesus, you came to set us free from sin, doubt, fear, and ignorance. Your word brings life, truth, and healing to mind, heart, soul, and body. Let your healing love free me from the blindness of sin and disbelief and from the destructive force of evil and wrongdoing. May I always find peace, joy, and strength in knowing your merciful love, truth, and goddness."
A Daily Quote for LentAided by Christ's grace, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"God the Father said: 'I sent you One who would seek you out, walk with you, and forgive you. So he had feet to walk with and hands to forgive with. Thus, when he ascended after his resurrection, he showed hands, side, and feet: hands with which he gave pardon to sinners; and side from which flowed the ransom of the redeemed.'" (excerpt from Sermon 16A,10) 

Lenten Weekday

(Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102)

KEY VERSE: "When you lift up the Son of Man, you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own" (v.28).
TO KNOW: Jesus uttered a warning against those who persisted in their unbelief, refusing to accept him as God's Anointed One. Only those who believed in him could go with him to the Father; those who opposed him would die in their sins. The unbelievers sarcastically asked Jesus if he intended to kill himself. The irony was that Jesus would freely lay down his life on the cross. He compared his being "lifted up" on the cross to the bronze serpent that Moses elevated in the desert to heal those who had been bitten by poisonous snakes (Nm 21:4-9). The cross is a paradoxical symbol of life and death, sin and grace, suffering and healing. Jesus used the powerful “I AM” (egō eimi), the divine name, stating that he and the Father were one.
TO LOVE: Gaze upon a crucifix and contemplate its meaning for your life.
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, by the power of your cross you have redeemed the world.

Optional Memorial of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor of the Church

Isidore became Archbishop of Seville c.601, succeeding his brother to the position. Teacher, founder and reformer, Isidore required seminaries in every diocese, and wrote a rule for religious orders. Isidore introduced the works of Aristotle to Spain, and completed the Mozarabic liturgy which is still in use in Toledo. He presided at the Second Council of Seville, and the Fourth Council of Toledo. The Archbishop of Seville was considered the most learned man of his century. He was the first Christian writer to compile a summary of Catholic theology in his most important work, the Etymologiae, similar to a dictionary. Isidore is known at the Patron Saint of the Internet, computers technicians, and computer users. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1722. “All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned. Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man's attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God.—Saint Isidore

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Tue 4th. Nm 21:4-9; Jn 8:21-30.
‘I am not of this world.’ John 8:23
Jesus risks everything in his exchange with the Pharisees in the Temple. When he says he is ‘not of this world’, he is not rejecting planet earth, or creation, or our physical bodies. We know this because of Jesus’ earlier conversation with Nicodemus, where he says ‘God so loves the world’ (John 3:16). The world that Jesus does not belong to is the world of darkness, the world of death, the world of sin, the world that rejects the love and light and life of God. The world he does belong to is the world that God created out of love. This is the Kingdom of God. Lord Jesus, help me make my home in your world, a home of love, service, compassion, hope and prayer.


On April 4, the Catholic Church honors Saint Isidore of Seville, a bishop and scholar who helped the Church preserve its own traditions, and the heritage of western civilization, in the early middle ages.
In 653, less than two decades after his death, a council of bishops in Spain acclaimed St. Isidore as “an illustrious teacher of our time and the glory of the Catholic Church.” He is regarded as being among the last of the early Church Fathers, who combined Christian faith and classical education.
Isidore was born in Cartagena, Spain, in approximately 560. Three of his siblings – his brothers Leander and Fulgentius, who became bishops, and his sister Florentina, a nun – were later canonized as saints along with him.
As the Archbishop of Seville, Leander was an important influence on his younger brother, helping Isidore develop a commitment to study, prayer, and intense work for the good of the Church. Isidore, in turn, joined his brother's mission to convert the generally heretical Visigoths who had invaded Spain.
When St. Leander died around the year 600, his brother succeeded him as Seville's archbishop. Isidore inherited his brother's responsibility for Church affairs in an intense period of change, as the institutions of the Western Roman Empire gave way to the culture of the barbarian tribes.
For the good of the Church and civilization, Isidore was determined to preserve the wisdom and knowledge of the past, maintaining the fruitful synthesis of classical Roman culture and Christian faith. He was also intent on preventing false teachings from shattering the unity of the Church in Spain.
Responsible above all for the good of the Church, Isidore also sought the common good by encouraging study and development in areas such as law, medicine, foreign languages, and philosophy. He compiled the “Etymologiae,” the first encyclopedia written from a Catholic perspective.
Under Isidore's leadership, a series of local councils solidified the orthodoxy of the Spanish Church against errors about Christ and the Trinity. Systematic and extensive education of the clergy was stressed as a necessary means of guarding the faithful against false doctrine.
Prolific in his writings and and diligent in governing the Church, Isidore did not neglect the service of those in need.
“Indeed, just as we must love God in contemplation, so we must love our neighbor with action,” he declared. “It is therefore impossible to live without the presence of both the one and the other form of life, nor can we live without experiencing both the one and the other.”
In the last months of his life, the Isidore offered a moving testament to these words, intensifying his charitable outreach to the poor. Crowds of people in need flocked to his residence from far and wide, as the bishop offered his final works of mercy on earth.
St. Isidore of Seville died on April 4 of the year 636. Later named a Doctor of the Church, he was more recently proposed as a patron saint of Internet users, because of his determination to use the world's accumulated knowledge for the service of God's glory.

Lectio Divina: 
 Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Lent Time

Our saving, merciful God,
wandering in our deserts
of injustice and lack of love,we cry out with fear
or are stunned into silence,
some into doubt or despair.
Give us enough trusting faith
to look up to him
who took our evil and doubts upon himself,
suffered for them on a cross, and rose from them,
Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Lord.
Jesus said to them: I am going away; you will look for me and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come. So the Jews said to one another, 'Is he going to kill himself, that he says, "Where I am going, you cannot come?" '
Jesus went on: You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I have told you already: You will die in your sins. Yes, if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
So they said to him, 'Who are you?' Jesus answered: What I have told you from the outset. About you I have much to say and much to judge; but the one who sent me is true, and what I declare to the world I have learnt from him. They did not recognise that he was talking to them about the Father.
So Jesus said: When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of my own accord. What I say is what the Father has taught me; he who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him. As he was saying this, many came to believe in him.
• Last week, the Liturgy led us to meditate on chapter five of the Gospel of John. This week it confronts us with chapter 8 of the same Gospel. Like chapter 5, chapter 8 also contains profound reflections on the mystery of God which surrounds the person of Jesus. Apparently, it is a question of dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees (Jn 8, 13). The Pharisees want to know who Jesus is. They criticize him because he gives testimony of himself without any proof or witness to legitimize himself before the people (Jn 8, 13). Jesus responds by saying that he does not speak in his own name, but always for the Father and in the name of the Father (Jn 8, 14-19).
• In reality, the dialogues are also an expression of how the faith was transmitted in the catechesis in the communities of the beloved disciple toward the end of the first century. They show the prayerful reading of the word of Jesus that the Christians did, considering it Word of God. The method of question and answer helped to find the response to the problems which toward the end of the first century, the Jews raised to the Christians. It was a concrete way to help the community to deepen its faith in Jesus and in his message.
• John 8, 21-22: Where I am going, you cannot come. Here John presents a new theme or another aspect which surrounds the person of Jesus. Jesus speaks about his departure and says that where he is going the Pharisees cannot follow him. “I am going away; you will look for me and you will die in your sin“. They will look for Jesus, but will not find him, because they do not know him and will look for him with mistaken criteria. They live in sin and will die in sin. To live in sin is to live far away from God. They imagine God in a certain way, but God is different from what they imagine. This is why they are not capable to recognize the presence of God in Jesus. The Pharisees do not understand what Jesus wants to say and they take everything just literally: “Is he going to kill himself?”
• John 8, 23-24: You are from here below; I am from above. The Pharisees consider everything according to the criteria of this world. “You are from this world; I am not from this world!” The framework of reference which guides Jesus in everything which he says and does is the world above, that is, God, Father, and the mission which he has received from the Father. The framework of reference of the Pharisees is the world below, without openness, closed up in its own criteria. This is why they live in sin. To live in sin is not to have the gaze of Jesus on their life. The look of Jesus is totally open toward God up to the point that God himself is in him in all his fullness (cf. Col 1, 19). We say: “Jesus is God”. John invites us to say: “God is Jesus!”. This is why Jesus says: “If you do not believe that I AM HE, you will die in your sins”. I AM is the affirmation with which God presents himself to Moses at the moment of liberating his people from the oppression of Egypt (Ex 3, 13-14). This is the maximum expression of the absolute certainty of the fact that God is in our midst in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the definitive proof of the fact that God is with us. Emmanuel.
• John 8, 25-26: Who are you? The mystery of God in Jesus does not fit in the criteria with which the Pharisees look toward Jesus. Once again they ask: “who are you?” They did not understand because they do not understand Jesus’ language. Jesus was very careful to speak to them according to all that he experienced and lived in union with the Father and for the knowledge and awareness of his mission. Jesus does not promote himself. He only says and expresses what he hears from the Father. He is the pure revelation because he is pure and total obedience.
• John 8, 27-30: When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I AM HE. The Pharisees did not understand that Jesus, in everything he says and does, is the expression of the Father. They will understand it only after the Son of man will be lifted up. “Then you will know that I AM HE”. The word lifted up has a double sense, to be lifted up on the Cross and to be lifted up to the right hand of the Father. The Good News of the death and resurrection reveals who Jesus is, and they will know that Jesus is the presence of God in our midst. The foundation of this certainty of our faith is twofold: on the one side, the certainty that the Father is always with Jesus and he never remains alone and, on the other side, the radical and total obedience of Jesus to the Father, which becomes total openness and total transparency of the Father for us.
• The one who closes up in his own criteria and thinks that he already knows everything, will never be capable to understand others. This is the way the Pharisees were before Jesus. And I, how do I behave before others?
• Jesus is radical obedience to the Father and because of this he is total revelation of the Father. And which is the image of God which I show, which comes from me?
Yahweh, hear my prayer,
let my cry for help reach you.
Do not turn away your face from me
when I am in trouble;
bend down and listen to me, when I call,
be quick to answer me! (Ps 102,1-2)