Thứ Ba, 6 tháng 6, 2017


Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 355

Grief-stricken in spirit, I, Tobit, groaned and wept aloud.
Then with sobs I began to pray:

"You are righteous, O Lord,
and all your deeds are just;
All your ways are mercy and truth;
you are the judge of the world.
And now, O Lord, may you be mindful of me,
and look with favor upon me.
Punish me not for my sins,
nor for my inadvertent offenses,
nor for those of my ancestors. 

"We sinned against you,
and disobeyed your commandments.
So you handed us over to plundering, exile, and death,
till you made us the talk and reproach of all the nations
among whom you had dispersed us.

"Yes, your judgments are many and true
in dealing with me as my sins
and those of my ancestors deserve.
For we have not kept your commandments,
nor have we trodden the paths of truth before you.

"So now, deal with me as you please,
and command my life breath to be taken from me,
that I may go from the face of the earth into dust.
It is better for me to die than to live,
because I have heard insulting calumnies,
and I am overwhelmed with grief.

"Lord, command me to be delivered from such anguish;
let me go to the everlasting abode;
Lord, refuse me not.
For it is better for me to die
than to endure so much misery in life,
and to hear these insults!"

On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media,
it so happened that Raguel's daughter Sarah
also had to listen to abuse,
from one of her father's maids.
For she had been married to seven husbands,
but the wicked demon Asmodeus killed them off
before they could have intercourse with her,
as it is prescribed for wives.
So the maid said to her:
"You are the one who strangles your husbands!
Look at you!
You have already been married seven times,
but you have had no joy with any one of your husbands.
Why do you beat us? Is it on account of your seven husbands,
Because they are dead?
May we never see a son or daughter of yours!"

The girl was deeply saddened that day,
and she went into an upper chamber of her house, 
where she planned to hang herself.

But she reconsidered, saying to herself:
"No! People would level this insult against my father:
'You had only one beloved daughter,
but she hanged herself because of ill fortune!'
And thus would I cause my father in his old age
to go down to the nether world laden with sorrow.
It is far better for me not to hang myself,
but to beg the Lord to have me die,
so that I need no longer live to hear such insults."

At that time, then, she spread out her hands,
and facing the window, poured out her prayer:

"Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God,
and blessed is your holy and honorable name.
Blessed are you in all your works for ever!"

At that very time, 
the prayer of these two suppliants
was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God.
So Raphael was sent to heal them both:
to remove the cataracts from Tobit's eyes,
so that he might again see God's sunlight;
and to marry Raguel's daughter Sarah to Tobit's son Tobiah,
and then drive the wicked demon Asmodeus from her.

R. (1) To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
In you I trust; let me not be put to shame,
let not my enemies exult over me.
No one who waits for you shall be put to shame;
those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way. 
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

AlleluiaJN 11:25A, 26
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection,
came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying,
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies, leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers.
The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants.
So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants,
and the third likewise.
And the seven left no descendants.
Last of all the woman also died.
At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be?
For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them, "Are you not misled
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?
When they rise from the dead,
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but they are like the angels in heaven.
As for the dead being raised,
have you not read in the Book of Moses,
in the passage about the bush, how God told him,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, 
and the God of Jacob?
He is not God of the dead but of the living.
You are greatly misled."

Meditation: "You  know neither the scriptures nor the power of God"
How reliable is the belief that all will be raised from the dead? The Sadducees, who were a group of religious leaders from the upper classes in Jesus' time, did not believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead to eternal life. They could not conceive of heaven beyond what they could see with their naked eyes! Aren’t we often like them? We don't recognize spiritual realities because we try to make heaven into an earthly image we can touch and see. The Sadducees came to Jesus with a test question to make the resurrection look ridiculous. The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in the existence of  immortal beings - whether humans, angels, or evil spirits. Their religion was literally grounded in an earthly image of heaven which ended in death.
Jesus offers proof to immortality - life without end
Jesus responds to their argument by dealing with the fact of the resurrection and immortal life. Jesus shows that God is a living God of a living people. The Scriptures give proof of it. In Exodus 3:6, God calls himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God was the friend of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when they lived on the earth. That friendship with God could not cease with death. David in the Psalms also speaks of the reality of immortal life with God. In Psalm 73:23-24 we pray through the words of David: "I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory." 
Through Christ's resurrection we, too, can rise again to eternal life with God
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the eternal truths of God's unending love and the life he desires to share with us for all eternity. Paul the Apostle, quoting from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:4; 65:17) states: “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). The promise of paradise - heavenly bliss and unending life with an all-loving God - is beyond human reckoning. We have only begun to taste the first-fruits! Do you believe the Scriptures and do you know the power of the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and who gives us the assurance of everlasting life as well?
"May the Lord Jesus put his hands on our eyes also, for then we too shall begin to look not at what is seen but at what is not seen. May he open the eyes that are concerned not with the present but with what is yet to come, may he unseal the heart’s vision, that we may gaze on God in the Spirit, through the same Lord, Jesus Christ, whose glory and power will endure throughout the unending succession of ages." (Prayer of Origen, 185-254 AD)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersNo marriage in the resurrection, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"What did the Lord say to the Sadducees? He said, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God. For in the resurrection they marry neither husbands nor wives; for neither do they start dying again, but they will be equal to the angels of God' (Mark 12:24-25; Matthew 22:29-30). The power of God is great. Why do they not marry husbands or wives? They will not start dying again. When one generation departs, another is required to succeed it. There will not be such liability to decay in that place. The Lord passed through the usual stages of growth, from infancy to adult manhood, because he was bearing the substance of flesh that still was mortal. After he had risen again at the age at which he was buried, are we to imagine that he is growing old in heaven? He says, 'They will be equal to the angels of God.' He eliminated the assumption of the Jews and refuted the objection of the Sadducees, because the Jews did indeed believe the dead would rise again, but they had crude, fleshly ideas about the state of humanity after resurrection. He said, 'They will be equal to the angels of God.' ... It has already been stated that we are to rise again. We have heard from the Lord that we rise again to the life of the angels. In his own resurrection, he has shown us in what specific form we are to rise again." (excerpt from SERMON 362.18–19.30)


(Tobit 3:1-14a, 16-17a; Psalm 25

KEY VERSE: "He is not God of the dead but of the living" (v 27).
TO KNOW: The Sadducees were a conservative group within Judaism. Unlike the Pharisees, they did not believe in oral tradition, but alleged that all revelation ended with Moses and the first five books of the Torah. Moreover, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and they challenged Jesus' teaching. They presented him with an absurd situation in which a woman had been married to seven different men who all died. The Sadducees asked whose wife the woman would be in the "supposed" resurrection. Jesus told them that they misunderstood the risen life as merely a continuation of the present life. Jesus reminded them that the God of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was the God of all who are eternally alive.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, thank you for allowing me to share eternity with you.
TO SERVE: Who do I need to console with the belief in the resurrection?

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17. Psalms 24(25):2-9. Mark 12:18-27.
To you, O Lord, I lift my soul — Psalms 24(25):2-9.
Both readings today deal with faith and trust in God, and focus on hope.
For Sarah and Tobit in the first reading, hope is what keeps them going. They do not despair, despite all the hardships. In the gospel, Jesus shows the Sadducees (who did not believe in resurrection) that the afterlife is a continuation of our close relationship with God, that eternity is a gift from a God who loves and cherishes us.
We are blessed in our relationship with God in life and that relationship will only deepen and become stronger after death.
May we make our life a preparation for that deeper and more profound relationship.


Anthony grew up in a poor but pious family in a small farming village near Genoa, Italy. The owner of his family farm paid for Anthony's seminary education because he was such a promising student. He was very young for ordination and required a special dispensation, however he was ordained in 1812 and served as a parish priest, and eventually founded several religious communities, some of them short-lived.
In 1827, he founded the Missionaries of St. Alphonsus, which lasted until 1848. He also founded the Oblates of Saint Alphonsus in 1828, which lasted only 20 years. The Sisters of Our Lady of the Garden, which he founded in 1829, still continue their ministry in education and among the sick in Europe, Asia and the United States.
He was named bishop of Bobbio, Italy in 1837 and actively restored devotions and instructed the faithful. He was a people’s bishop, visiting with his parishes and organizing two synods. He died after nine years as bishop on June 7, 1846 due to a serious fever.
He was canonized in 1951.

Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, June 7, 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 12,18-27
Then some Sadducees -- who deny that there is a resurrection -- came to Jesus and they put this question to him, 'Master, Moses prescribed for us that if a man's brother dies leaving a wife but no child, the man must marry the widow to raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married a wife and then died leaving no children. The second married the widow, and he too died leaving no children; with the third it was the same, and none of the seven left any children. Last of all the woman herself died. Now at the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven?' Jesus said to them, 'Surely the reason why you are wrong is that you understand neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For when they rise from the dead, men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising again, have you never read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is God, not of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken.'

3) Reflection
• In today’s Gospel the confrontation between Jesus and the authority continues. After the priests, the elders and the Scribes (Mk 12, 1-12) and the Pharisees and the Herodians (Mk 12, 13-17), now the Sadducees appear who ask a question about resurrection. A controversial theme, which caused argument and discussion among the Sadducees and the Pharisees (Mk 12,18-27; cf. At 23,6-1).
• In the Christian communities of the years seventy, the time when Mark wrote his Gospel, there were some Christians who, in order not to be persecuted, tried to reconcile the project of Jesus with the project of the Roman Emperor. The others who resisted the Empire were persecuted, accused and questioned by the authority of by the neighbours who felt annoyed, bothered by their witness. The description of the conflicts of Jesus with the authority was a very great help in order that the Christians did not allow themselves to be manipulated by the ideology of the Empire. In reading these episodes of conflict of Jesus with authority, the persecuted Christians were encouraged to continue on this road.
• Mark 12, 18-23. The Sadducees: The Sadducees were the aristocratic elite of land owners and traders. They were conservative. They did not accept faith in the Resurrection. At that time, this faith was beginning to be evaporated by the Pharisees and popular piety. It urged to the resistance of the people against the dominion of the Romans, and of the priests, of the elders and of the Sadducees themselves. For the Sadducees, the Messianic Kingdom was already present in the situation of well-being in which they were living. They followed the so called “Theology of Retribution” which distorted reality. According to this Theology God rewards with richness and well-being those who observe the Law of God, and he punishes with suffering and poverty those who do evil. This makes one understand why the Sadducees did not want changes. They wanted that religion remain as it was, immutable like God himself. This is why they did not accept the faith in the Resurrection and in the help of the angels, who sustained the struggle of those who sought changes and liberation.
• Mark 12,19-23. The question of the Sadducees: They go to Jesus to criticize and to ridicule the faith in the Resurrection, to tell about the fictitious case of the woman who got married seven times and at the end she died without having any children. The so called Law of the levirate obliged the widow who had no children to marry the brother of the deceased husband. The son who would have been born from this new marriage would be considered the son of the deceased husband. And thus he would have descent. But in the case proposed by the Sadducees, the woman, in spite of the fact of having had seven husbands, remained without a husband. They asked Jesus: “In the Resurrection, when they will rise, to whom will the woman belong? Because seven had her as wife!” This was in order to say that to believe in the resurrection led the person to accept what was absurd.
• Mark 12, 24-27: The response of Jesus. Jesus responds harshly: Surely, the reason why you are wrong is that you understand neither the Scriptures nor the power of God“. Jesus explains that the condition of persons after death will be totally different from the present condition. After death there will be no marriage, but all will be as the angels in Heaven. The Sadducees imagined life in Heaven as life on earth. And at the end Jesus concludes: “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living! You are in great error”. The disciples are warned: those who are on the side of these Sadducees will be on the side opposite to God.

4) Personal questions
• Today, which is the sense of this phrase: God is not the God of the dead but of the living”?
• Do I also believe the same thing in the resurrection? What does the following mean for me: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and in life everlasting?

5) Concluding Prayer
Lord, I lift up my eyes to you who are enthroned in heaven.
Just as the eyes of slaves are on their masters' hand,
or the eyes of a slave-girl on the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes are on Yahweh our God,
for him to take pity on us. (Ps 123,1-2)