Thứ Sáu, 7 tháng 4, 2017

APRIL 08, 2017 : SATURDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 256

Reading 1EZ 37:21-28
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come,
and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.
I will make them one nation upon the land,
in the mountains of Israel,
and there shall be one prince for them all. 
Never again shall they be two nations,
and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

No longer shall they defile themselves with their idols,
their abominations, and all their transgressions. 
I will deliver them from all their sins of apostasy,
and cleanse them so that they may be my people
and I may be their God.
My servant David shall be prince over them,
and there shall be one shepherd for them all;
they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.
They shall live on the land that I gave to my servant Jacob,
the land where their fathers lived;
they shall live on it forever,
they, and their children, and their children's children,
with my servant David their prince forever.
I will make with them a covenant of peace;
it shall be an everlasting covenant with them,
and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.
My dwelling shall be with them;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD,
who make Israel holy,
when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.

Responsorial PsalmJER 31:10, 11-12ABCD, 13
R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD's blessings:
The grain, the wine, and the oil,
the sheep and the oxen.
R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R. The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.

Verse Before The GospelEZ 18:31
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done. 
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
"What are we going to do? 
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation."
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
"You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish."
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews,
but he left for the region near the desert,
to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near,
and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves.
They looked for Jesus and said to one another
as they were in the temple area, "What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?"


Meditation: They took counsel how to put him to death
Do you allow fear or opposition to hold you back from doing God's will? Jesus set his face like flint toward Jerusalem, knowing full well what awaited him there (Luke 9:51; Isaiah 50:7). It was Jewish belief that when the high priest asked for God's counsel for the nation, God spoke through him. What dramatic irony that Caiaphas prophesied that Jesus must die for the nation. The prophet Ezekiel announced that God would establish one people, one land, one prince, and one sanctuary forever. 
Luke adds to Caiphas's prophecy that Jesus would gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. Jesus came to lay down his life for the many, but not in a foolish reckless manner so as to throw it away before his work was done. He retired until the time had come when nothing would stop his coming to Jerusalem to fulfill his Father's mission.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) wrote:
"The passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the hope of glory and a lesson in patience... He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself? Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory."
The way to glory and victory for us is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Christ in his way of victory?
"Lord Jesus, may we your disciples be ever ready to lay down our lives in conformity to your will, to willingly suffer and die for you, that we may also share in your victory and glory."
A Daily Quote for LentThe crucifixion is always lived, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"The crucifixion is something that must continue throughout our life, not for forty days only, although Moses, Elijah, and Christ fasted forty days. We are meant to learn from them not to cling to this present world or imitate what it says, but to nail our unregenerate selves to the cross." (excerpt from Sermon 205,1) 

SATURDAY, APRIL 8, JOHN 11:45-56
Lenten Weekday

(Ezekiel 37:21-28; Psalm: Jeremiah 31)

KEY VERSE: "It is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish" (v.50).
TO KNOW: When Jesus raised Lazarus to from the dead (Jn 11:44), many came to believe in him. Others informed the Sanhedrin ("Great Assembly") about Jesus' deed. This religious council was composed of the elders, the priests (mostly Sadducees) and the Scribes (mostly Pharisees). They feared that if Jesus was allowed to continue his teachings, the people would acclaim him to be the Messiah. If that happened, the wrath of the Roman Empire would be brought down upon them; therefore, a plot was contrived to kill Jesus. Without realizing the importance of his words, Caiaphas, the high priest at the time (18-36 CE), said that it would be better for one man to die in order to preserve the entire nation. It is ironic that the gift of life offered to Lazarus would lead to Jesus' own death.
TO LOVE: Do I give myself for the sake of others?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to trust my life to God's plan.

Saturday 8 April 2017

‘“Here is this man working all these signs” they said… “If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him.”’ John 11:48.
See the signs. Let go of your doubts. Believe in Jesus. Simple? To believe in a person requires the deepest faith because it requires self-giving. I can believe in someone’s teachings and then change my mind, and there are no hard feelings. On the other hand, if I believe in a person and then change my mind I am letting them down as well as letting myself down, and usually with hard feelings. My faith is first and foremost in Jesus. I see his goodness over and over again, and I see the many signs of his authority. I will not hold myself back, even if the road ahead is beyond my imagining. Lord Jesus, I am shy, I dare not touch your feet. I whisper your name. I follow your star.

ST. JULIE BILLIART

St. Julie Billiart, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, came to her religious vocation late in life, at the age of 51. She was born in 1751, the fifth of seven children. As a child, she developed a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist. At 16, she began to teach to help support her family.
However, due to a murder attempt on her father, she was plunged into very poor health for 30 years, 22 of which she was completely paralyzed. During this time she was very patient, and offered all of her sufferings to God.
During the French Revolution, Julie opened her home as a hiding place for loyal priests, forcing her to flee from danger several times. She also received a vision of the Crucified Christ, surrounded by a large group of women dressed in habits. An inner voice told her that she would begin a religious institute for the Christian education of young girls.
Julie and a rich young woman began the teaching order in 1803. In 1804, Julie was miraculously cured and could walk again. She died peacefully in 1816 at age 64. Pope Paul VI canonized her in 1969.

LECTIO DIVINA: JOHN 11,45-56
Lectio Divina: 
 Saturday, April 8, 2017
Lent Time


1) Opening prayer
Lord God, creator and Father of all,
your sons and daughters
are still scattered and divided:Christians and non-Christians,
various Churches and sects
claiming exclusive rights on your Son,
and each of them full of factions.
Make us dream again the dream
which you alone can make possible:
that we can all be one
if we believe and follow him
who died to unite all that is scattered,
Jesus Christ, our Lord for ever.

2) Gospel reading – John 11,45-56
Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done.
Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting. 'Here is this man working all these signs,' they said, 'and what action are we taking? If we let him go on in this way everybody will believe in him, and the Romans will come and suppress the Holy Place and our nation.'
One of them, Caiaphas, the high priest that year, said, 'You do not seem to have grasped the situation at all; you fail to see that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish.' He did not speak in his own person, but as high priest of that year he was prophesying that Jesus was to die for the nation and not for the nation only, but also to gather together into one the scattered children of God.
From that day onwards they were determined to kill him. So Jesus no longer went about openly among the Jews, but left the district for a town called Ephraim, in the country bordering on the desert, and stayed there with his disciples. The Jewish Passover was drawing near, and many of the country people who had gone up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves were looking out for Jesus, saying to one another as they stood about in the Temple, 'What do you think? Will he come to the festival or not?'

3) Reflection
• The Gospel today gives the last part of the long episode of the resurrection of Lazarus in Bethany, in the house of Martha and Mary (Jn 11, 1-56). The resurrection of Lazarus is the seventh sign (miracle) of Jesus in John’s Gospel and is also the high and decisive point of the revelation which he made of God and of himself.
• The small community of Bethany, where Jesus liked to go, mirrors the situation and the life-style of the small community of the Beloved Disciple at the end of the first century in Asia Minor. Bethany means “The House of the poor”. They were poor communities, poor people, Martha means “”Lady” (coordinator): a woman coordinated the community. Lazarus means “God helps”: the community which was poor expected everything from God. Mary means “loved by Yahweh: she was the beloved disciple, image of the community. The episode of the resurrection of Lazarus communicated this certainty: Jesus is the source of life for the community of the poor. Jesus is the source of life for all those who believe in Him.
• John 11, 45-46: The repercussion of the Seventh Sign among the people. After the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11, 1-44), there is the description of the repercussion of this sign among the people. The people were divided; “many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what he did, believed in him”. But some of them went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done.
The latter denounced him. In order to be able to understand this reaction of one part of the population it is necessary to become aware that half of the population of Jerusalem depended completely on the Temple so as to be able to live and to survive. Because of this, it would have been difficult for them to support an unknown prophet from Galilee who criticized the Temple and the authority. This also explains why some even were ready to inform the authority.
• John 11, 47-53: The repercussion of the Seventh Sign among those in authority. The news of the resurrection of Lazarus increased the popularity of Jesus. This is why the religious leaders convoked a council meeting, the Synedrium, the maximum authority, to discern getting rid of him; because “this man works many signs. If we let him go on this way everybody will believe in him and the Romans will come and suppress the Holy Place and our nation”. They were afraid of the Romans. And this because in the past it had been shown many times by the Roman invasions in the year 64 before Christ until the time of Jesus, that the Romans repressed with great violence any attempt of popular rebellion. (Cf. Ac 5, 35-37). In the case of Jesus, the Roman reaction could have lead to the loss of everything, even of the Temple and of the privileged position of the priests. Because of this, Caiaphas, the High Priest, decides: “It is better that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish”. And the Evangelist comments: “He did not speak this in his own person, but as high priest of that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather together into one the scattered children of God”. Thus, beginning at that moment, the chief priests concerned because Jesus’ authority was growing and motivated by the fear of the Romans, decided to kill Jesus.
• John 11, 54-56: The repercussion of the seventh sign in the life of Jesus. The final result is that Jesus had to live as a clandestine. “So Jesus no longer went about openly among the Jews; he left the district and went to a region near the desert, to a city called Ephraim and stayed there with his disciples”. The Jewish Passover was drawing near. At this time of the year, the population of Jerusalem tripled because of the great number of pilgrims. The conversation was all around Jesus: "What do you think, will he come to the festival or not?” In the same way, at the time that the Gospel was written at the end of the first century, the time of the persecution of the Emperor Domitian (from 81 to 96), the Christian communities who lived in the service of others were obliged to live as clandestine.
• A key to understand the seventh sign of the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was sick. His sisters Martha and Mary sent someone to call Jesus: “The one whom you love is sick!” (Jn 11, 3. 5). Jesus responds to the request and explains to the disciples: “This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God’s glory so that through it the Son of God may be glorified” (Jn 11, 4) In John’s Gospel, the glorification of Jesus comes through his death (Jn 12, 23; 17, 1). One of the causes of his condemnation to death was the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11, 50; 12, 10). Many Jews were in the house of Martha and Mary to console them because of the loss of their brother. The Jews, representatives of the Ancient Covenant, only know how to console. They do not give new life.... Jesus is the one who brings new life! Thus, on one side, the threat of death against Jesus! On the other, Jesus who overcomes death! In this context of conflict between life and death the seventh sign of the resurrection of Lazarus takes place. Martha says that she believes in the resurrection. The Pharisees and the majority of the people say that they believe in the Resurrection (Ac 23, 6-10; Mk 12, 18). They believed, but they did not reveal it. It was only faith in the resurrection at the end of time and not in the present resurrection in history, here and now. This ancient faith did not renew life. It is not enough to believe in the resurrection which will come at the end of time, but it is necessary to believe in the Resurrection already present here and now in the person of Jesus and in those who believe in Jesus. On these people, death no longer has any power, because Jesus “is the resurrection and the life”. Even without seeing the concrete sign of the resurrection of Lazarus, Martha confesses her faith: “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God who was to come into the world” (Jn 11, 27).
Jesus orders that the stone be removed. Martha reacts: "Lord, by now he will smell!” This is the fourth day since he died!” (Jn 11, 39). Once again Jesus presents the challenge asking to believe in the resurrection, here and now, as a sign of the glory of God: "Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” (Jn 11, 40). They removed the stone. Before the open tomb and before the unbelief of the persons, Jesus addresses himself to the Father. In his prayer, first of all, he gives thanks: “Father, I thank you for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that you hear me always!” (Jn 11, 41-42). Jesus knows the Father and trusts him. But now he asks for a sign because of the multitude which is around him, so that the people can believe that he, Jesus, has been sent by the Father. Then he cried out in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus came out (Jn 11, 43-44). This is the triumph of life over death, of faith over unbelief. A farmer commented: "It is up to us to remove the stone. And it is up to God to resurrect the community. There are people who do not know how to remove the stone, and because of this their community has no life!”

4) Personal questions
• What does it mean concretely, for me to believe in the resurrection?
• Part of the people accepted Jesus, and part did not. Today part of the people accept the renewal of the Church and part do not. And you?

5) Concluding prayer
For you are my hope, Lord, my trust, Yahweh, since boyhood.
On you I have relied since my birth,
since my mother's womb you have been my portion,
the constant theme of my praise. (Sal 71,5-6)