Thứ Ba, 27 tháng 6, 2017

JUN8, 2017 : MEMORIAL OF SAINT IRENAEUS, BISHOP AND MARTYR

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
Lectionary: 373

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

"Fear not, Abram!
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great."

But Abram said,
"O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be,
if I keep on being childless
and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?"
Abram continued,
"See, you have given me no offspring,
and so one of my servants will be my heir."
Then the word of the LORD came to him:
"No, that one shall not be your heir;
your own issue shall be your heir."
He took him outside and said:
"Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so," he added, "shall your descendants be."
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
"I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession."
"O Lord GOD," he asked,
"how am I to know that I shall possess it?"
He answered him,
"Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: "To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates."

Responsorial PsalmPS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail. 
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaJN 15:4A, 5B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 7:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them."


Meditation: You will know them by their fruits"
What do grapes, thorns, figs, and thistles have to teach us about the kingdom of God? The imagery used by Jesus would have been very familiar to his audience. A certain thorn bush had berries which resembled grapes. And a certain thistle had a flower, which at least from a distance, resembled the fig. Isn't it the same today? What we "hear" might have a resemblance of the truth, but, in fact, when you inspect it closely, it's actually false. False prophets or teachers abound today as much as they did in biblical times.
A sound mind accepts what is truly good and right and rejects what is false and wrong
What's the test of a true or false teacher? Jesus connects soundness with good fruit. Something is sound when it is free from defect, decay, or disease and is healthy. Good fruit is the result of sound living - living according to moral truth and upright character. The prophet Isaiah warned against the dangers of falsehood: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness (Isaiah 5:20). The fruits of falsehood produce an easy religion which takes the iron out of religion, the cross out of Christianity, and any teaching which eliminates the hard sayings of Jesus, and which push the judgments of God into the background and makes us think lightly of sin.
How do we avoid falsehood in our personal lives? By being true - true to God, his word, and his grace. And that takes character! Those who are true to God know that their strength lies not in themselves but in God who supplies what we need. The fruit of a disciple is marked by faith, hope and love, justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance. Do you seek to cultivate good fruit in your life and reject whatever produces bad fruit?
"Lord Jesus, may I bear good fruit for your sake and reject whatever will produce evil fruit. Help me grow in faith, hope, love, sound judgment, justice, courage, and self control."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersBeware of false prophets, by John Chrysostom, 547-407 A.D.
"Jesus reminded them of what happened to their ancestors who were attracted to false prophets. The same dangers are now faced as those that occurred in earlier days. He reminded them of the experience of their ancestors so that they would not despair at the multitude of troubles that would mount up on this way that is narrow and constricted. He reminded them that it is necessary to walk in a way that goes contrary to the common opinion. One must guard oneself not only against pigs and dogs but those other, more elusive creatures: the wolves. They were going to face inward anxieties as well as outward difficulties, but they are not to despair. 'Therefore do not be thrown into confusion,' Jesus says in effect, 'for nothing will happen that is new or strange. Remember that the ancient adversary is forever introducing deception as if true.'" (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 23.6)

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28, MATTHEW 7:15-20
(Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 105)

KEY VERSE: "By their fruits you will know them" (v 16).
TO KNOW: Jesus warned the Christian community to be on guard against false teachers who he compared to ravenous wolves disguised as innocent sheep. Their teachings might appear to be harmless, but the results were as destructive as rot in a sound tree. The way that true Christians could be distinguished from false was by looking at the fruit they produced. Did they promote a spirit of conflict and discord or of unity and faith? Paul listed the fruits of the Spirit as being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Christians who were obedient to Christ and his gospel produced good fruit like that of a healthy tree.
TO LOVE:  Lord Jesus, give me discernment in judging the true from the false.
TO SERVE: What fruit of the Spirit do my labors produce?

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons was a disciple of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. It was the spread of Gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making among the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He produced a treatise in five books in which he set forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of the Holy Scripture. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated to Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing a death-blow to Gnosticism. Irenaeus is considered the first great Western ecclesiastical writer. He emphasized the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and of Christ's simultaneous human and divine nature. Born c.130 at Asia Minor, Irenaeus was martyred in 202. His tomb and relics were destroyed.

NOTE: There were many groups that were Gnostics, however, generally speaking, Gnosticism taught that salvation is achieved through special knowledge (Greek: gnosis). They believed that the material world was evil, which contradicted scripture that everything God made was good (Gen 1:31). If matter is evil, then Jesus Christ could not be true God and true man, for Christ is in no way evil. Thus many Gnostics denied the Incarnation, claiming that Christ only appeared to be a man, but that his humanity was an illusion. 


Wednesday 28 June 2017

St Irenaeus.
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. Psalms 104(105):1-4, 6-9. Matthew 7:15‑20.
The Lord remembers his covenant for ever — Psalms 104(105):1-4, 6-9.
‘Beware of false prophets!’ says Jesus. ‘You will be able to tell them by their fruits.’
There is a joy, Lord, in not having all answers, but in knowing where the answers lie waiting. You bless us with growth and discovery. The temptation to over-simplify, reduce life and love to a slogan, counters the richness of your parables.
‘How am I to know?’—how do wise observations address Abraham’s experience? Our father in faith meets, as we do, the reality of your eternal self-commitment to us. Wake me up, Lord, so that I may recognise you in your building up of me, your re-creation of me.

ST. IRENAEUS

\ Celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church on June 28, and by Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition on August 23, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons was a second-century bishop and writer in present-day France.

He is best known for defending Christian orthodoxy, especially the reality of Christ’s human incarnation, against the set of heresies known as Gnosticism.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke admiringly of St. Irenaeus in a 2007 general audience, recalling how this early Church Father “refuted the Gnostic dualism and pessimism which debased corporeal realities. He decisively claimed the original holiness of matter, of the body, of the flesh no less than of the spirit.”
“But his work went far beyond the confutation of heresy: in fact, one can say that he emerges as the first great Church theologian who created systematic theology; he himself speaks of the system of theology, that is, of the internal coherence of all faith.”
While some of St. Irenaeus’ most important writings have survived, the details of his life are not as well-preserved. He was born in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, likely in the Aegean coastal city of Smyrna, probably around the year 140. As a young man he heard the preaching of the early bishop (and eventual martyr) Saint Polycarp, who had been personally instructed by the Apostle John.
Irenaeus eventually became a priest, and served in the Church of Lyons (in the region of Gaul) during a difficult period in the late 170s. During this time of state persecution and doctrinal controversy, Irenaeus was sent to Rome to provide Pope St. Eleutherius with a letter about the heretical movement known as Montanism. After returning to Lyons, Irenaeus became the city’s second bishop, following the martyrdom of his predecessor Saint Pothinus.
In the course of his work as a pastor and evangelist, the second Bishop of Lyon came up against various heretical doctrines and movements, many of which sounded a common note in their insistence that the material world was evil and not part of God’s original plan. The proponents of these ideas often claimed to be more deeply “enlightened” or “spiritual” than ordinary Christians, on account of their supposed secret knowledge (or “gnosis”).
Irenaeus recognized this movement, in all its forms, as a direct attack on the Catholic faith. The Gnostics’ disdain for the physical world was irreconcilable with the Biblical doctrine of creation, which stated that God had made all things according to his good purpose. Gnostics, by contrast, saw the material world as the work of an evil power, crediting God only with the creation of a higher and purely spiritual realm.
In keeping with its false view of creation, Gnosticism also distorted the concept of redemption. The Church knew Christ as the savior of the world: redeeming believers’ bodies and souls, and investing creation with a sacramental holiness. Gnostics, meanwhile, saw Jesus merely as saving souls from the physical world in which they were trapped. Gnostic “redemption” was not liberation from sin, but a supposed promise of release from the material world.
Irenaeus refuted the Gnostic errors in his lengthy book “Against Heresies,” which is still studied today for its historical value and theological insights. A shorter work, the “Proof of the Apostolic Preaching,” contains Irenaeus’ presentation of the Gospel message, with a focus on Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Several of his other works are now lost, though a collection of fragments from them has been compiled and translated.
St. Irenaeus’ earthly life ended around 202 – possibly through martyrdom, though this is not definitively known.


LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 7,15-20
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Ordinary Time
1) OPENING PRAYER

Father,
guide and protector of your people,
grant us an unfailing respect for your name,
and keep us always in your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) GOSPEL READING - MATTHEW 7,15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: 'Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.
You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire. I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.'
3) REFLECTION
• We are reaching the final recommendations of the Sermon on the Mountain. Comparing the Gospel of Matthew with that of Mark one perceives a great difference in the way in which they present the teaching of Jesus. Matthew insists more on the content of the teaching and organizes it into five great Discourses, of which the first one is the Sermon of the Mountain (Mt 5 to 7). Mark, over fifteen times, says that Jesus taught, but he rarely says what he taught. In spite of this difference, both agree on a point: Jesus taught very much. To teach was what Jesus did the most (Mk 2, 13; 4, 1-2; 6, 34). He used to do it always (Mk 10, 1). Matthew is interested in the content. But does he want to say that Mark does not do it? Depends on what we want to say when we speak about content! To teach is not only a question of communicating a truth in such a way that people learn it by heart. The content is not limited to words, but it is also composed by gestures and consists in the way in which Jesus used to relate himself with personsThe content has never been separated from the person who communicates it. The person, in fact, is the origin of the content. The good content without goodness is like milk spilt on the ground. It does not convince and conversion does not take place.
• The final recommendations and the result of the Sermon on the Mountain in the conscience of the people are the points of the Gospel of today (Mt 7, 15-20) and of tomorrow (Mt 7, 21-29). (The sequence of the Gospel of the days of the week is not always the same as that of the Gospels).
Matthew 7, 13-14: Choose the sure way
Matthew 7, 15-20: The prophet is known by the fruits
Matthew 7, 21-23: Not only speak, but act.
Matthew 7, 24-27: Construct the house on rock.
Matthew 7, 28-29: The new conscience of the people.
• Matthew 7, 15-16ª: Beware of false prophets. In the time of Jesus, there were prophets of all types, persons who announced apocalyptic messages to involve people in different movements of that time: Essen, Pharisee, Zelots, and others (cf. Ac 5, 36-37). When Matthew writes there were also prophets who announced messages diverse from the one proclaimed by the community. The Letters of Paul mention these movements and tendencies (cf. 1 Co 12,3; Gal 1,7-9; 2,11-14;6,12). It must not have been easy for the community to make the discernment of spirits. From here results the importance of the words of Jesus on false prophets. The warning of Jesus is very strong: “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves”. The same image is used when Jesus sends the disciples on mission: “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves” (Mt 10, 16 e Lc 10, 3). The opposition between the ravenous wolf and the meek sheep is irreconcilable, unless the wolf is converted and looses its aggressiveness as the Prophet Isaiah suggests (Is 11, 6; 65, 25). What is important here in our text is the gift of discernment. It is not easy to discern the spirits. Sometimes it happens that personal interests or of a group lead the person to proclaim false those prophets who announce the truth and disturb. That happened with Jesus. He was eliminated and put to death, considered a false prophet by the religious authority of that time. Ever so often, the same thing has happened and continues to happen in our Church.
• Matthew 7, 16b-20: The comparison of the tree and of its fruits. To help to discern the spirits, Jesus uses the comparison of the fruit: “You will be able to tell them by their fruits”. A similar criterion had been suggested by the Book of Deuteronomy (Dt 18, 21-22). And Jesus adds: “Can you pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way a sound tree produces good fruit, but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. In the Gospel of John, Jesus completes the comparison: “Every branch in me that bears no fruit, he cuts away. Every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes to make it bear even more. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, unless it remains part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. Those branches will be cut off and thrown into the fire to be burnt” (Jn 15, 2.4.6)
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• False prophets! Do you know any case in which a good and honest person who proclaimed a truth which disturbed was condemned as a false prophet?
• In judging from the fruits of the tree of your personal life, how do you define yourself: as false or as true?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Yahweh, look at my suffering and rescue me,
for I do not forget your Law.
Plead my cause and defend me;
as you promised, give me life. (Ps 119,153-154)