Thứ Hai, 5 tháng 6, 2017


Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 354

Reading 1TB 2:9-14
On the night of Pentecost, after I had buried the dead,
I, Tobit, went into my courtyard 
to sleep next to the courtyard wall. 
My face was uncovered because of the heat. 
I did not know there were birds perched on the wall above me, 
till their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing cataracts. 
I went to see some doctors for a cure
but the more they anointed my eyes with various salves, 
the worse the cataracts became, 
until I could see no more. 
For four years I was deprived of eyesight, and 
all my kinsmen were grieved at my condition. 
Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, 
until he left for Elymais.

At that time, my wife Anna worked for hire 
at weaving cloth, the kind of work women do. 
When she sent back the goods to their owners, they would pay her. 
Late in winter on the seventh of Dystrus, 
she finished the cloth and sent it back to the owners. 
They paid her the full salary
and also gave her a young goat for the table. 
On entering my house the goat began to bleat. 

I called to my wife and said: "Where did this goat come from? 
Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners; 
we have no right to eat stolen food!"
She said to me, "It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages."
Yet I would not believe her, 
and told her to give it back to its owners.
I became very angry with her over this. 
So she retorted: "Where are your charitable deeds now?
Where are your virtuous acts? 
See! Your true character is finally showing itself!"

Responsorial PsalmPS 112:1-2, 7-8, 9
R. (see 7c) The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes. 
R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to his call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent
to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech.
They came and said to him,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone's opinion.
You do not regard a person's status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?
Should we pay or should we not pay?"
Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them,
"Why are you testing me?
Bring me a denarius to look at."
They brought one to him and he said to them,
"Whose image and inscription is this?"
They replied to him, "Caesar's."
So Jesus said to them,
"Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
They were utterly amazed at him.

Meditation: "Give to God what belongs to God"
What do we owe God and what's our obligation towards others? Paul the Apostle tells us that we must give each what is their due (Romans 13:6-8). The Jewish authorities sought to trap Jesus in a religious-state dispute over the issue of taxes. The Jews resented their foreign rulers and despised paying taxes to Caesar. They posed a dilemma to test Jesus to see if he would make a statement they could use against him. If Jesus answered that it was lawful to pay taxes to a pagan ruler, then he would lose credibility with the Jewish populace who would regard him as a coward and a friend of Caesar. If he said it was not lawful, then the Pharisees would have grounds to report him to the Roman authorities as a political trouble-maker and have him arrested. 
Jesus avoided their trap by confronting them with the image of a coin. Coinage in the ancient world had significant political power. Rulers issued coins with their own image and inscription on them. In a certain sense the coin was regarded as the personal property of the ruler. Where the coin was valid the ruler held political sway over the people. Since the Jews used the Roman currency, Jesus explained that what belonged to Caesar must be given to Caesar.
We belong to God and not to ourselves
This story has another deeper meaning as well. We, too, have been stamped with God's image since we are created in his own likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). We rightfully belong, not to ourselves, but to God who created us and redeemed us in the precious blood of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Paul the Apostle says that we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). Do you acknowledge that your life belongs to God and not to yourself? And do you give to God what rightfully belongs to Him?
"Lord, because you have made me, I owe you the whole of my love; because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself; because you have promised so much, I owe you all my being.  Moreover, I owe you as much more love than myself as you are greater than I, for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself. I pray you, Lord, make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge; let me know by love what I know by understanding. I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you. Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of love. I am wholly yours by creation; make me all yours, too, in love." (prayer of Anselm, 1033-1109)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersPut off the earthly image and put on the heavenly one, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
"Some people think that the Savior spoke on a single level when he said, 'Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar' - that is, 'pay the tax that you owe.' Who among us disagrees about paying taxes to Caesar? The passage therefore has a mystical and secret meaning. There are two images in humanity. One he received from God when he was made, in the beginning, as Scripture says in the book of Genesis, 'according to the image and likeness of God' (Genesis 1:27). The other image is of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:49). Man received this second image later. He was expelled from Paradise because of disobedience and sin after the 'prince of this world' (John 12:31) had tempted him with his enticements. Just as the coin, or denarius, has an image of the emperor of this world, so he who does the works of 'the ruler of the darkness' (Ephesians 6:12) bears the image of him whose works he does. Jesus commanded that that image should be handed over and thrown away from our face. He wills us to take on that image, according to which we were made from the beginning, according to God's likeness. It then happens that we give 'to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what is God's.' Jesus said, 'Show me a coin.' For 'coin,' Matthew wrote 'denarius' ( Matthew 22:19). When Jesus had taken it, he said, 'Whose inscription does it have?' They answered and said, 'Caesar's.' And he said to them in turn, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.'" (excerpt from HOMILY ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 39.4-6)

TUESDAY, JUNE 6, MARK 12:13-17

(Tobit 2:9-14; Psalm 112)

KEY VERSE: "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God" (v 17).
TO KNOW: Some Pharisees and Herodians tried to entrap Jesus regarding his position on the Law. They flattered Jesus, insincerely saying that he was a "truthful teacher" of the ways of God. They asked Jesus whether or not paying taxes to the Roman Emperor violated the Mosaic Law. The Herodians, who were supporters of Herod Antipas, were loyal to Rome, and saw no conflict in observing the Roman law. The Pharisees and Herodians intended to force Jesus into taking an anti-Roman position so that the government would do away with him. Since they were using the emperor's coins and participating in his economic system, they had already taken upon themselves the duty of paying taxes to the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar (14-37 AD). Jesus recognized their hypocrisy (play-acting), and ended the controversy by saying that they should pay "Caesar" his due. But he reminded them that they had even a greater obligation to God.
TO LOVE:   Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom to discern the truth.
TO SERVE:   Do I compromise my beliefs when I am challenged?

Optional Memorial of Saint Norbert, bishop

Norbert of Xanten, a town near the Holland-German border, did not begin his career as a reformer. Quite the opposite, for he took holy orders as a career move, a practice that was eroding the credibility and effectiveness of the Church. A narrow escape from death led to a conversion experience. After three years of self-scrutiny and prayer, he concluded that he should commit himself to Jesus and the ideals of the Gospel. A changed man, he returned to the parish community, determined to live as a principled priest and anxious to engage in active ministry. He founded the order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, France, also called the Norbertines, starting a reform movement that swept through European monastic houses. The Norbertines vowed to seek Christ by means of community living, poverty, obedience and celibacy. Norbert held before them the ideal of the first Christians after Pentecost whose community life was characterized by the power of the Spirit and a desire to be of service to others.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

(St Norbert).
Tobit 2:9-14. Psalms 111(112):1-2, 7-9. Mark 12:13-17.
The hearts of the just are secure, trusting in the Lord — Psalms 111(112):1-2, 7-9.
‘Render to God the things that are God’s.’
There was a man who loved his sport and was singularly blessed with all-round skills. He loved the history of the game and was an outstanding sportsman for his country. He earned the adulation of the crowd and very complimentary media coverage. Team-mates saluted him with words like steady, reliable and patient. He shied away from any spotlight.
One day in the middle of his prime, he announced his retirement with the words: ‘I have a family and they deserve my undivided care and attention. I want to grow with them.’
The crowd was stunned, but the opposing team gave him a guard of honour to mark their admiration.
He was happy because he knew that his family were first in his heart.
Let us pray with thanks for the fine example of such a discerning action.


On June 6 the Catholic Church honors Saint Norbert of Xanten – who started out as a frivolous and worldly cleric, but was changed by God’s grace into a powerful preacher and an important reformer of the Church during the early 12th century.
He is the founder of the Norbertine order.

Born around the year 1080 in the German town of Xanten, Norbert belonged to a high-ranking family with ties to the imperial court. As a young man he showed a high degree of intelligence and sophistication – which marked him out as a contender for offices within the Church, the state, or both. None of this, however, was any guarantee of a holy life. On the contrary, Norbert's gifts and advantages would prove to be a source of temptation even after he joined the ranks of the clergy.

Norbert was ordained as a subdeacon, and enrolled with a group of clerics in his town, before moving on to an appointment with the powerful Archbishop of Cologne. He went on to serve the German Emperor Henry V, in a position which involved the distribution of aid to the poor. In all of this, however, Norbert displayed no particular piety or personal seriousness, living a rather pleasurable and luxurious life.

His worldly outlook had been called into question in 1110, when he accompanied Emperor Henry V on a trip to Rome. The Pope and emperor were involved in a long-running dispute over the right to right to choose the Church's clergy and control its properties. As their negotiations failed, Norbert was moved by the Pope's argument that the Church must govern itself. At the same time, he saw his master Henry V take the extreme measure of imprisoning the Pope in order to have his way in the matter.

This was not enough, in itself, to prompt a reform of Norbert's own life. That change would come from a brush with death, in approximately 1112: while riding on horseback near Xanten, he was caught in a storm and nearly killed by a lightning bolt. The frightened horse threw Norbert off, and he lay unconscious for some time. Sobered by the experience, he left his imperial post and began a period of prayer and discernment in a monastery. At age 35, he heard God calling him to the priesthood.

Radically converted to the ideals of the Gospel, Norbert was now set against the worldly attitude he had once embodied. This made him unpopular with local clerics, who responded with insults and condemnation. But Norbert was not turning back. He gave all of his wealth to the poor, reducing himself to a barefoot and begging pilgrim who possessed nothing except the means to celebrate Mass.

Pope Callixtus II gave Norbert permission to live as an itinerant preacher, and he was asked to found a religious order so that others might live after his example. He settled in the northern French region of Aisne, along with a small group of disciples who were to live according to the Rule of St. Augustine. On December 25, 1121, they were established as the Canons Regular of Premontre, also known as the Premonstratensians or Norbertines.

Their founder also established a women’s branch of the order, before returning to Germany for a successful preaching tour. He founded a lay branch of the Premonstratensians (the Third Order of St. Norbert), and went on to Belgium, where he preached against a sect that denied the power of the sacraments. His order was invited into many Northern European dioceses, and there was talk of making Norbert a bishop.

Though he avoided an earlier attempt to make him the Bishop of Wurzburg, Norbert was eventually chosen to become the Archbishop of Magdeburg in Germany. The archdiocese was in serious moral and financial trouble, and the new archbishop worked hard to reform it. His efforts were partly successful, but not universally accepted: Norbert was the target of three failed assassination attempts, made by opponents of his reforms.

When a dispute arose over the papal succession in 1130, Norbert traveled to Rome to support the legitimate Pope Innocent II. Afterward he returned to Germany and became a close adviser to its Emperor Lothar. In a sense, his life seems to have come full-circle: the first hints of his conversion had come on a trip to Rome two decades earlier, when he accompanied a previous emperor. This time, however, Norbert was seeking God’s will, not his own advancement.

With his health failing, Norbert was brought back to Magdeburg. He died there on June 6, 1134. Pope Gregory XIII canonized St. Norbert in 1582. As of 2012, the Premonstratensians are present in 25 nations around the world.

Lectio Divina: 
 Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger
and provide for all our needs.
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 - Mark 12,13-17
Next, the priests, the scribes and the elders sent to Jesus some Pharisees and some Herodians to catch him out in what he said. These came and said to him, 'Master, we know that you are an honest man, that you are not afraid of anyone, because human rank means nothing to you, and that you teach the way of God in all honesty. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or not?' Recognising their hypocrisy he said to them, 'Why are you putting me to the test? Hand me a denarius and let me see it.'
They handed him one and he said to them, 'Whose portrait is this? Whose title?' They said to him, 'Caesar's.' Jesus said to them, 'Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and God what belongs to God.' And they were amazed at him.

3) Reflection
• In today’s Gospel, the confrontation between Jesus and the authority continues. The priests and the Scribes had been criticized and denounced by Jesus in the parable of the vineyard (Mk 12, 1-12). Now, they themselves ask the Pharisees and the Herodians to set up a trap against Jesus to be able to condemn him. They ask questions to Jesus concerning the taxes to be paid to the Romans. This was a controversial theme which divided public opinion. The enemies of Jesus want, at all costs, to accuse him and diminish the influence that he had on the people. Groups, which before were enemies between them, now get together to fight against Jesus. This also happens today. Many times, persons or groups, enemies among themselves, get together to defend their privileges against those who inconvenience them with the announcement of truth and of justice.
• Mark 12,13-14: The question of the Pharisees and the Herodians. The Pharisees and the Herodians were the local leaders in the villages of Galilee. It was a long time since they had decided to kill Jesus (Mk 3, 6). Now, because of the order of the priests and of the elders, they want to know if Jesus is in favour or against the payment of taxes to the Romans, to Caesar. An underhanded or sly question, full of malice! Under the appearance of fidelity to the Law of God, they look for reasons in order to be able to accuse him. If Jesus says “You should pay!”, they could accuse him of being a friend of the Romans. If he would say: “No, you do not have to pay!”, they could accuse him to the authority of the Romans that he was subversive. This seemed to be a dead alley!
• Mark 12, 15-17: Jesus’ answer. Jesus perceives their hypocrisy. In his response he does not lose time in useless discussion, and goes straight to the centre of the question. Instead of responding and of discussing the affair of the tribute to Caesar, he asks to be shown a coin and he asks: “Whose portrait and inscription is this?” They answered: “Caesar’s!” The answer of Jesus: “Then pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”. In practice, they already recognized the authority of Caesar. They were already giving to Caesar what belonged to Caesar, because they used his currency, his money to buy and to sell and even to pay the taxes of the Temple! That which interested Jesus was that they “gave to God what belongs to God!, that is, that they restituite the people to God, from their deviation, because with their teaching they blocked the entrance into the Kingdom (Mk 23,13). Others explained this phrase of Jesus in another way: “Give to God what belongs to God!”, that is, practice justice and honesty as the Law of God demands, because your hypocrisy denies to God what is due to him. The disciples have to be aware!
• Taxes, tributes, taxes and denarii. “In Jesus’ time, the people of Palestine paid many taxes, tributes and the tenth part of their income, both to the Romans as well as to the Temple. The Roman Empire had invades Palestine in the year 63 A.D. and they imposed many taxes and tributes. According to the estimates made, half or even more of the family salaries were used to pay the tributes, taxes and the tenth part of their income. The taxes which the Romans demanded were of two types: direct and indirect.
a) The Direct tax was on property and on persons. The tax on property (tributum soli): the fiscal officers of the government verified how large the property was, the production and the number of slaves and they fixed the amount to be paid. Periodically, there was a verification through the census. The tax on persons (tributum capitis): was for the poor class who owned no land. This included both men and women, between 12 and 65 years of age. It was a tax on the force of work; 20% of the income of every person was used to pay taxes.
b) The Indirect tax was placed on transactions of different typesa Crown of gold: Originally, it was a question of a gift to the Emperor, but then it became an obligatory tax. This was paid on special occasions, for example: the feast and the visits of the Emperor. The tax on salt: The salt was the monopoly of the Emperor. It was necessary to pay the tribute on the salt for commercial use. For example, the salt used by fishermen to dry up the fish and to sell it. From this comes the word “salary”. A tax on buying and selling: for every commercial use 1% was paid. This money was paid to the fiscal officers during the holidays. When a slave was bought they demanded 4%. In every registered commercial contract, they demanded 2%. The tax for exercising a profession: There was need for everyone to have a license for everything. For example, a cobbler in the city of Palmira paid one denarius a month. A denarius was equivalent to the salary of one day. And even the prostitutes had to pay. A tax for the use of public utilities: Emperor Vespasiano introduced the tax in order to be able to use the public toilets in Rome. He would say: “Money does not stink!”
c) Other taxes and obligations: toll or customs; forced work; Special expenses for the army (to give hospitality to the soldiers; to pay for the food of the troops); Taxes for the Temple and the worship.

4) Personal questions
• Do you know some case of groups or of persons who were enemies between themselves, but who were then united to follow an honest person who bothered or inconvenienced and denounced them? Has this happened some times with you?
• What is the sense of this phrase today: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”?

5) Concluding Prayer
Each morning fill us with your faithful love,
we shall sing and be happy all our days;
Show your servants the deeds you do,
let their children enjoy your splendour! (Ps 90:14,16)