Thứ Ba, 4 tháng 4, 2017

APRIL 05, 2017 : WEDNESDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 253

King Nebuchadnezzar said:
"Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
"There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up."

King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
"Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?"
"Assuredly, O king," they answered.
"But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God." 
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God."

Responsorial PsalmDN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim;
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!

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 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
"If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone. 
How can you say, 'You will become free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains. 
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you. 
I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father."

They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." 
Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham. 
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!"
So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. 
We have one Father, God." 
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me."


Meditation: "The truth will make you free"
Do you know the joy, peace, and freedom which God offers to those who trust in him and obey his word? God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring us God's kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Jesus came to rescue us from our sinful pride and slavery to sin. He came to rescue us from Satan's snares and the clutches of hell, and to free us from the world's temptation to empty glory and lust for greed and power. Only Jesus can truly set us free and reconcile us with God - every other way falls short of God's plan to save and deliver us from death, corruption, and sin.
Why did the religious authorities reject Jesus's offer of freedom, forgiveness, and new life in the kingdom of God? Despite Jesus' numerous signs and miracles, the Jewish authorities could not accept his claim to speak and act in the name of his heavenly Father. They were blinded by their misguided ideas of how the Messiah would restore Israel and rule the earth. And Jesus revealed to them how Satan had led them into temptation - both to reject him as the Messiah and to thwart his claim by killing him.
Jesus met their opposition and hostility with courage and determination to do his Father's will. He willingly embraced the cross in order to destroy the works of Satan and to save both Jews and Gentiles through his atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. Jesus shows us the way to the kingdom of God - through faith and obedience to God's word and will for our lives. To be a follower and disciple of the Lord Jesus requires faith and obedience - they are two sides of the same coin. The word disciple literally means one who learns from the Master and who listens to the voice of the Teacher. And the word for obedience literally means to listen under and be subordinate to the one who has rightful authority to teach and command what is just and true.
The free gift of faith
How can we grow in faith and discipleship - by faithfully following the Lord and obeying his word. Faith is a free supernatural gift of God. It is more than just a belief in the truths of God. It is first and foremost a personal relationship of trust and obedience to the Lord and his word. The Lord is worthy of our complete trust and wholehearted devotion because he is utterly reliable, just and true, and he is faithful to his word. That is why we can entrust our lives to him and submit to him without reservation.
God does not leave us in the dark or remain distant and silent. He reveals himself to all who earnestly seek him and hunger for his truth. God, in fact, first seeks us out and draws us to himself. We could not find him if he did not first seek to reveal himself to us. That is why we need to respond to God's gracious gift of invitation with an open and receptive heart that wants to listen, learn, and receive what God wishes to give us. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, "I believe, in order to understand - and I understand, the better to believe" (Sermon 43:7,9).
The test of faith
In the Old Testament Book of Daniel we see a remarkable example of faith being put to the test in the midst of trial and adversity. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three young companions of Daniel, were commanded by the king of Persia to bow down and submit to the pagan idols of his nation, they unhesitatingly said, "We will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up" 
(Daniel 3:18). They knew God's command, "Do not worship false idols"(Exodus 20:3-6; Deuteronomy 12:29-31). They decided it was far better to obey God and entrust their lives to him rather than give in to the threats of others. God gave them courage to take a bold stand for their faith. They willingly accepted the King's punishment as they were bound and thrown into a burning fiery furnace.
Daniel tells us how God was very present to these three young men as they proclaimed their faith in him. God showed his presence to the three men and walked with them in the fiery furnace. As a remarkable sign of God's power to the pagan rulers of Persia, God kept the three men from harm and delivered them from death (Daniel 3:25,28). Do you trust in God to give you his help and strength when your faith is put to the test?
True and false sources of identity
The scribes and Pharisees, who were the religious authorities of the Jews, questioned Jesus' authority to speak and act in God's name. They questioned Jesus' claim to forgive sins and to set people free from slavery to sin. They understood that only God had power to forgive sins and to release people from their burden of guilt and shame. They refused to accept that Jesus' authority was given to him by his Father in heaven. Jesus tells them that they think evil of him and desire to kill him because they are under the influence and power of the "father of lies" who is opposed to the one true Father and Creator who made us in his image and likeness 
(Genesis 1:26-27).
Jesus explains that he is speaking of two different senses of "fatherhood". The first is a physical identity through natural fatherhood. And the second and more significant identity is a self-chosen one that is the result of being led and formed in a moral way of thinking and living one's life that has been shaped through the example, words, and influence of someone we are consciously or unconsciously following and imitating.
We do not grow or learn in a vacuum. We are shaped for better or for worse by those we choose to imitate and follow. Sin leads us away from God's truth and the help he gives us to follow him. Slavery to sin is ultimately rooted in the father of lies (John 8:44), whom Scripture calls the devil (Luke 4:1) and Satan (Luke 10:18), the ruler of this present world who is opposed to God (John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
True freedom comes from God
The freedom which Jesus offers his followers is freedom from the power of sin, Satan, and the worldly influence of those who oppose God and his ways. We are powerless to set ourselves free from bondage to Satan, sin, and death 
(Romans 3:23; 5:6). That is why the Lord Jesus took our sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5-6; Colossians 2:14). His death on the cross has won victory and pardon for us, and peace with God. Through Jesus' sacrifice we are not only forgiven and reconciled with God - we become the adopted sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14-16). We can call God our Father because the Lord Jesus has reconciled us and redeemed us from slavery to sin and Satan.
A redeemed slave is not entirely free until all of his chains and weights have been broken and destroyed. The Lord Jesus alone has the power to release us from every chain and burden that would keep us in bondage to sinful habits and hurtful desires. Are there any chains - any sinful patterns, harmful attitudes, and addictive behavior - that you need to be released from? Allow the Lord Jesus to unbind you and bring you healing, pardon, and freedom to walk in his way of love and truth. The Lord Jesus sets us free from slavery to our own selfishness and sinful desires in order to set us free for a joy-filled life of love and service for his kingdom. Paul the Apostle reminds us that Christ has won freedom for each one of us - not to serve ourselves or do as we please - but rather to please the Lord and to serve our neighbors in love for their sake (Galatians 5:1,13). Do you accept and believe Christ's word of truth, love, and freedom for your life?
"Lord Jesus, write your words of love and truth upon my heart and make me a diligent student and a worthy disciple of your word."
A Daily Quote for LentThe upright of heart, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"Do you know who the upright of heart are? They are those who wish what God wishes. Therefore, do not try to twist God's will to you own but correct your will to that of God. The will of God is a rule of conduct. By it you have the means of being converted and of correcting your evil ways." (excerpt from Commentary on Psalm 93,18) 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, JOHN 8:31-42
Lenten Weekday

(Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Psalm: Daniel 3)

KEY VERSE: "So if the son frees you, then you will truly be free" (v.36).
TO KNOW: Throughout history, Israel had been enslaved by one foreign nation after another. In the time of Jesus they were subject to the Roman Empire. Jesus said that if people really lived by his words, they would be free from the oppression of sin. Thinking that Jesus meant political freedom, his enemies boasted that they had never been subjected to anyone. As sons of Abraham, they thought that no liberator was needed. Jesus told them that ancestral heritage did not make one a child of Abraham. True believers were those who followed Abraham's example of faith and trust in God. Unbelievers were those enslaved to sin. Jesus said that if people really knew God as their Father, they would be set free and believe that God had sent him. Since God is the source of all truth, then the closer we listen to God's word, the more we grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God's truth, which liberates us from doubts, illusions, and fears.
TO LOVE: Does slavery to sin hold me in bondage?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, free me from anything that enslaves me.

Optional Memorial of Saint Vincent Ferrer, priest

Vincent Ferrer was born in 1357 and became a Dominican Friar at age 18 against his family's wishes. He became a priest and missionary, and a great preacher who converted thousands in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Vincent was invited to preach in Muslim Granada. He was the counselor to Pope Benedict XIII and adviser to the King of Aragon. Vincent traveled through Spain, France, Switzerland and Italy to end the Great Schism. He had the gift of tongues and was a miracle worker. Vincent is a Doctor of theology and is the patron saint of builders because of his fame for "building up" and strengthening the Church through his preaching, missionary work, his teachings, and as confessor. “If you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart. Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire.” – Vincent Ferrer​

Wednesday 5 April

Wed 5th. Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Jn 8:31-42.

‘If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free.’ John 8:31-32
When Jesus asks me to make his word my home, he is asking me to follow his teachings so closely that my way of living follows his way of living. Just as a snail carries its shell and shelter upon its back, so also a Christian carries the word of Jesus wherever she goes. Being with Jesus is the same as being safe and warm at home, but the security he offers me is not in walls and beds, but in truth and freedom. This depth of Jesus’ truth is discovered in action rather than in recitation. In doing the truth I move from the world of darkness to the world of light. Jesus means freedom.

ST. VINCENT FERRER

Roman Catholics celebrate the missionary efforts of St. Vincent Ferrer on April 5. The Dominican preacher brought thousands of Europeans into the Catholic Church during a period of political and spiritual crisis in Western Europe.
Vincent Ferrer was born in Valencia, Spain, during 1357. His parents raised him to care deeply about his religious duties, without neglecting his education or concern for the poor. One of his siblings, Boniface, later joined the Carthusian order and became its superior general. Vincent, however, would become a Dominican, and preach the Gospel throughout Europe. He joined at age 18 in 1374.
As a member of the Dominican Order of Preachers, Vincent committed much of the Bible to memory while also studying the Church Fathers and philosophy. By age 28, he was renowned for his preaching, and also known to have a gift of prophecy. Five years later, a representative of Pope Clement VII chose Vincent to accompany him to France, where he preached extensively.
While Vincent sought to live out his order's commitment to the preaching of the Gospel, he could not escape becoming involved in the political intrigues of the day. Two rival claimants to the papacy emerged during the late 1300s, one in Rome and another in the French city of Avignon. Each claimed the allegiance of roughly half of Western Europe.
Caught between the rival claimants, Vincent attempted to persuade the Avignon Pope Benedict XIII to negotiate an end to the schism. Benedict, who was regarded as Pope in both Spain and France, sought to honor Vincent by consecrating him as a bishop. But the Dominican friar had no interest in advancing within the Church, and regarded many bishops of his time as negligent leaders distracted by luxury.
“I blush and tremble,” he wrote in a letter, “when I consider the terrible judgment impending on ecclesiastical superiors who live at their ease in rich palaces, while so many souls redeemed by the blood of Christ are perishing. I pray without ceasing, to the Lord of the harvest, that he send good workmen into his harvest.”
Vincent not only prayed, but acted, committing himself to missionary work and resolving to preach in every town between Avignon and his hometown in Spain. In a commanding style, he denounced greed, blasphemy, sexual immorality, and popular disregard for the truths of faith. His sermons often drew crowds of thousands and prompted dramatic conversions.
Popular acclaim, however, did not distract him from a life of asceticism and poverty. He abstained completely from meat, slept on a straw mat, consumed only bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays, and accepted no donations for himself beyond what he needed to survive. He traveled with five other Dominican friars at all times, and the men would spend hours hearing confessions.
For two decades, Vincent and his group of friars undertook preaching missions in Spain, Italy, and France. When he traveled outside these regions, into Germany and other parts of the Mediterranean, those who did not know the languages in which he preached would testify that they had understood every word he said, in the same manner as the apostles experienced at Pentecost.
Although he did not heal the temporary divisions within the Church, Vincent succeeded in strengthening large numbers of Europeans in their Catholic faith. He wrote little, although some of his works have survived, and exist in modern English translations.
St. Vincent Ferrer died on April 5, 1419 at age 62, in the city of Vannes in the French region of Brittany. He was canonized in 1455, and has more recently become the namesake of a traditional Catholic community approved by the Holy See, the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer.

LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 8,31-42
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Lent Time

1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God,
you call us to be free people.
Help us to give you always
a response of freedom.
Set free by Christ’s
liberating word and death,
may we never again
shackle ourselves with self-made chains,
of selfish sin and false attachments.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 8,31-42
To the Jews who believed in him Jesus said: If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free. They answered, 'We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone; what do you mean, "You will be set free?" '
Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it for ever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free. I know that you are descended from Abraham; but you want to kill me because my word finds no place in you. What I speak of is what I have seen at my Father's side, and you too put into action the lessons you have learnt from your father. They repeated, 'Our father is Abraham.'
Jesus said to them: If you are Abraham's children, do as Abraham did. As it is, you want to kill me, a man who has told you the truth as I have learnt it from God; that is not what Abraham did.
You are doing your father's work. They replied, 'We were not born illegitimate, the only father we have is God.'
Jesus answered: If God were your father, you would love me, since I have my origin in God and have come from him; I did not come of my own accord, but he sent me.
3) REFLECTION
• The reflection on chapter 8 of the Gospel of John continues today. In the form of concentric circles, John deepens the mystery of God which envelopes the person of Jesus. It seems like a repetition, because he always goes back to speak of the same point. In reality, it is the same point, but every time at a more profound level. Today’s Gospel treats the theme of the relationship of Jesus with Abraham, the Father of the People of God. John tries to help the communities to understand how Jesus places himself within the whole history of the People of God. He helps them to perceive the difference that existed between Jesus and the Jews, and also the Jews and the others, all of us are sons and daughters of Abraham.
• John 8, 31-32: The liberty which comes from fidelity to the word of Jesus. Jesus affirms to the Jews: “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples; 32 you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free”. To be a disciple of Jesus is the same as opening oneself to God. The words of Jesus are in reality words of God. They communicate the truth, because they make things known as they are in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of the Pharisees. Later, during the Last Supper, Jesus will teach the same thing to the disciples.
• John 8, 33.38: What is it to be a son or a daughter of Abraham? The reaction of the Jews is immediate: “We are descended from Abraham and we have never been the slaves of anyone: what do you mean: You will be set free?” Jesus repeats and confirms making a distinction between son and slave and says: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave. The slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free”. Jesus is the son and remains in the house of the Father. The slave does not live in the house of the Father. To live outside the house, outside of God means to live in sin. If they would accept the word of Jesus they could become sons and attain liberty. They would no longer be slaves. And Jesus continues: “I know that you are descended from Abraham; but you want to kill me, because my word finds no place in you”. The distinction is immediately very clear: “What I speak of is what I have seen at my Father’s side, and you too put into action the lessons you have learnt from your father”. Jesus denies to them the right to say that they are sons of Abraham, because their works affirm the contrary.
• John 8, 39-41ª: A son of Abraham fulfils the works of Abraham. They insist in affirming: “Our father is Abraham!” as if they wanted to present to Jesus a document of their identity. Jesus repeats: “If you are sons of Abraham do the works of Abraham! 40 Now, instead you are seeking to kill me, because I have told you the truth heard from God; Abraham has not done this. 41 You do the works of your father”. Between the lines, he suggests that their father is Satan (Jn 8, 44). He suggests that they are sons of prostitution.
• John 8, 41b-42: If God was your Father, certainly, you would love me, because I have my origin in God and I come from Him; I did not come of my own accord, but he sent me”. Jesus repeats the same truth using diverse words: “Whoever comes from God listens to the words of God”. The origin of this affirmation is from Jeremiah who says: “Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people. There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbour or brother, saying: ‘Learn to know Yahweh!’ No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind” (Jr 31, 33-34). But they will not open themselves to this new experience of God, and because of this they will not recognize Jesus as the one sent by the Father.
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Liberty which submits itself totally to the Father. Does something of this type exist in you? Do you know persons who are like that?
• Which is the deepest experience in me which leads me to recognize Jesus as the one sent by God?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
May you be blessed, Lord, God of our ancestors,
be praised and extolled for ever.
Blessed be your glorious and holy name,
praised and extolled for ever.
Blessed on the throne of your kingdom,
exalted above all, glorified for ever. (Dn 3,52.54)