Thứ Hai, 26 tháng 6, 2017

JUNE 27, 2017 : TUESDAY OF THE TWELFTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 372
Readi
ng 1GN 13:2, 5-18
Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.

Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents,
so that the land could not support them if they stayed together;
their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
There were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock
and those of Lot's.
(At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites
were occupying the land.)

So Abram said to Lot:
"Let there be no strife between you and me,
or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen.
Is not the whole land at your disposal?
Please separate from me.
If you prefer the left, I will go to the right;
if you prefer the right, I will go to the left."
Lot looked about and saw how well watered
the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar,
like the LORD's own garden, or like Egypt.
(This was before the LORD had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain
and set out eastward.
Thus they separated from each other;
Abram stayed in the land of Canaan,
while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain,
pitching his tents near Sodom.
Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked
in the sins they committed against the LORD.

After Lot had left, the LORD said to Abram:
"Look about you, and from where you are,
gaze to the north and south, east and west;
all the land that you see I will give to you
and your descendants forever.
I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth;
if anyone could count the dust of the earth,
your descendants too might be counted.
Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth,
for to you I will give it."
Abram moved his tents and went on to settle
near the terebinth of Mamre, which is at Hebron.
There he built an altar to the LORD.

Responsorial PsalmPS 15:2-3A, 3BC-4AB, 5
R. (1b) He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed. 
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

AlleluiaJN 8:12
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

"Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few."


Meditation: "Do not throw your pearls before swine"
What can pearls and narrow gates teach us about God's truth and holiness? In the ancient world pearls were of very great value and were even considered priceless. They were worn as prized jewels to make a person appear more beautiful and magnificent to behold. Holiness, likewise, is a very precious jewel that radiates the beauty of God's truth, goodness, and glory. God offers us the precious gift of his holiness so that we may radiate the splendor of his truth and goodness in the way we think, speak, act, and treat others. We can reject or ignore this great gift, or worse yet, we can drag it through the mud of sinful behavior or throw it away completely.
Pearls before dogs and swine 
Why does Jesus contrast holiness and pearls with dogs and swine (Matthew 7:6)? Some things don't seem to mix or go together, like fire and water, heat and ice, sweat and perfume, pure air and poisonous vapors, freshly cleaned clothes and filthy waste. The Talmud, a rabbinic commentary on the Jewish Scriptures, uses a proverbial saying for something which appears incongruous or out of place: an ear-ring in a swine's snout. Jesus' expression about "pearls before swine" and "not giving dogs what is holy" is very similar in thought (Matthew 7:6). Jewish law regarded swine as unclean. Wild dogs were also treated as unfit for close human contact, very likely because they were dirty, unkept, lice-infested, and prone to attack or cause trouble.
What is the point of avoiding what is considered unclean? Jesus’ concern here is not with exclusivity or the shunning of others (excluding people from our love, care, and concern for them). His concern is with keeping spiritual and moral purity - the purity of the faith and way of life which has been entrusted to us by an all-holy, all-loving, and all-wise God. The early church referenced this expression with the Eucharist or the Lord's Table. In the liturgy of the early church, a proclamation was given shortly before communion: Holy things to the holy. The Didache, a first century church manual stated: Let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist except those baptised into the name of the Lord; for, as regards this, the Lord has said, 'Do not give what is holy to dogs.' The Lord Jesus invites us to feast at his banquet table, but we must approach worthily.
The law of perfect love seeks the highest good and best interests of one another
Jesus summed up the teaching of the Old Testament law and prophets with the expression, So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them (Matthew 7:12) - and in the same breath he raised the moral law to a new level of fulfillment and perfection. God's law of love requires more than simply avoiding injury or harm to one's neighbor. Perfect love - a love which is unconditional and which reaches out to all - always seeks the good of others for their sake and gives the best we can offer for their welfare. When we love our neighbors and treat them in the same way we wish to be treated by God, then we fulfill the law and the prophets, namely what God requires of us - loving God with all that we have and are and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
How can we love our neighbor selflessly, with kindness, and genuine concern for their welfare? If we empty our hearts of all that is unkind, unloving, and unforgiving, then there will only be room for kindness, goodness, mercy, and charity. Paul the Apostle reminds us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). It is the love of God that fuels our unconditional love for others. Are you ready to let the Holy Spirit transform your life with the purifying fire of God's love?
The narrow gate and way of life
Jesus used a second illustration of a narrow gate which opens the way that leads to a life of security and happiness (Matthew 7:13-14) to reinforce his lesson about choosing the one true way which leads to peace with God rather than separation and destruction. The Book of Psalms begins with an image of a person who has chosen to follow the way of those who are wise and obedient to God's word and who refuse to follow the way of those who think and act contrary to God's law : Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night  (Psalm 1:1-2). When a path diverges, such as a fork in the road, each way leads to a different destination. This is especially true when we encounter life's crossroads where we must make a choice that will affect how we will live our lives. Do the choices you make help you move towards the goal of loving God and obeying his will?
The Lord Jesus gives us freedom to choose which way we will go. Ask him for the wisdom to know which way will lead to life rather than to harm and destruction. See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil... Therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 3:15-20). Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15). Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death(Jeremiah 21:8). If we allow God's love and wisdom to rule our hearts, then we can trust in his guidance and help to follow his path of love, truth, and holiness.
"Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am - a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out towards others." (Prayer attributed to Clement XI of Rome)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersUnreadiness to receive Godly teaching, by Augustine of Hippo, 430-543 A.D.
"Now in this precept we are forbidden to give a holy thing to dogs or to cast pearls before swine. We must diligently seek to determine the gravity of these words: holy, pearls, dogs and swine. A holy thing is whatever it would be impious to profane or tear apart. Even a fruitless attempt to do so makes one already guilty of such impiety, though the holy thing may by its very nature remain inviolable and indestructible. Pearls signify all spiritual things that are worthy of being highly prized. Because these things lie hidden in secret, it is as though they were being drawn up from the deep. Because they are found in the wrappings of allegories, it is as though they were contained within shells that have been opened.(1) It is clear therefore that one and the same thing can be called both a holy thing and a pearl. It can be called a holy thing because it ought not to be destroyed and a pearl because it ought not to be despised. One tries to destroy what one does not wish to leave intact. One despises what is deemed worthless, as if beneath him. Hence, whatever is despised is said to be trampled under foot... Thus we may rightly understand that these words (dogs and swine) are now used to designate respectively those who assail the truth and those who resist it." (excerpt from SERMON ON THE MOUNT 2.20.68–69)
(1) The interpretive task is to crack through the shell of the language to its inner spiritual meaning.


TUESDAY, JUNE 27, MATTHEW 7:6, 12-14
Weekday

(Genesis 13:2, 5-18; Psalm 15)

KEY VERSE: "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you" (v 12).
TO KNOW: In his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew combined various sayings of Jesus that were related to righteous Christian living. Jesus summed up the entire Law in a simple maxim that since the 18th Century has been called the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have others do to unto you." He said that discernment was required when preaching to those who were opposed to the gospel. The adage prohibiting throwing sacred things to "dogs" or "swine" (v 6) was a term of contempt for Gentiles, and might have been intended for impenitent Christians who persisted in disobeying the teachings of Christ. Though his teachings were difficult, this narrow pathway was the way to eternal life. Those who chose the wide, easy road were in danger of following it to damnation.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, help me to treat others the same way I want to be treated by them.
TO SERVE:  How does my life measure up to the Golden Rule?

Optional Memorial of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, bishop and doctor of the Church

Cyril was the Patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt from 412 to 444. Cyril was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late 4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word Theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. Cyril also suppressed the Novatians, who were the fundamentalists of their day. They held high moral standards, but did not offer the forgiveness and restoration of sinners. Among his writings were treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. Cyril is a Greek Father of the Church, and was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882.

NOTE: Because of the Nestorian controversy, the church created a formula to describe Christ's person at the Council of Chalcedon in 433, which declared: "We all with one voice confess our Lord Jesus Christ one and the same Son, at once complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, of one substance with us as regards his manhood, like us in all things, apart from sin."​​



Tuesday 27 June 2017

St Cyril of Alexandria.
Genesis 13:2, 5-18. Psalms 14(15):2-5. Matthew 7:6, 12-14.
The just will live in the presence of the Lord — Psalms 14(15):2-5.
‘O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?’
The readings today outline for us what might be considered a good life in the eyes of God. Psalm 15 gives us a comprehensive summary of what this entails. On closer scrutiny, it would seem that these rules mirror what is required of good citizens in a prosperous and harmonious society: a decent human life underpinned by common sense.
We read of honesty and truthfulness; a guard put upon our tongues; respect for friends and neighbours; probity in financial dealings. As the gospel recommends, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’
Jesus came to teach us how to be good human beings, decent members of our society, ready to take our place in the kingdom of God on earth.


ST. CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA

On June 27, Roman Catholics honor St. Cyril of Alexandria. An Egyptian bishop and theologian, he is best known for his role in the Council of Ephesus, where the Church confirmed that Christ is both God and man in one person. The Eastern churches celebrate St. Cyril of Alexandria on June 9.

Cyril was most likely born in Alexandria, the metropolis of ancient Egypt, between 370 and 380. From his writings, it appears he received a solid literary and theological education. Along with his uncle, Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria, he played a role in an early fifth-century dispute between the Egyptian and Greek churches. There is evidence he may have been a monk before becoming a bishop.

When Theophilus died in 412, Cyril was chosen to succeed him at the head of the Egyptian Church. He continued his uncle's policy of insisting on Alexandria's preeminence within the Church over Constantinople, despite the political prominence of the imperial capital. The two Eastern churches eventually re-established communion in approximately 418.

Ten years later, however, a theological dispute caused a new break between Alexandria and Constantinople. Cyril's reputation as a theologian, and later Doctor of the Church, arose from his defense of Catholic orthodoxy during this time.

In 428, a monk named Nestorius became the new Patriarch of Constantinople. It became clear that Nestorius was not willing to use the term “Mother of God” (“Theotokos”) to describe the Virgin Mary. Instead, he insisted on the term “Mother of Christ” (“Christotokos”).

During the fourth century, the Greek Church had already held two ecumenical councils to confirm Christ's eternal preexistence as God prior to his incarnation as a man. From this perennial belief, it followed logically that Mary was the mother of God. Veneration of Mary as “Theotokos” confirmed the doctrine of the incarnation, and Christ's status as equal to the God the Father.

Nestorius insisted that he, too, held these doctrines. But to Cyril, and many others, his refusal to acknowledge Mary as the Mother of God seemed to reveal a heretical view of Christ which would split him into two united but distinct persons: one fully human and born of Mary, the other fully divine and not subject to birth or death.

Cyril responded to this heretical tendency first through a series of letters to Nestorius (which are still in existence and studied today), then through an appeal to the Pope, and finally through the summoning of an ecumenical council in 431. Cyril presided over this council, stating that he was “filling the place of the most holy and blessed Archbishop of the Roman Church,” Pope Celestine, who had authorized it.

The council was a tumultuous affair. Patriarch John of Antioch, a friend of Nestorius, came to the city and convened a rival council which sought to condemn and depose Cyril. Tension between the advocates of Cyril and Nestorius erupted into physical violence at times, and both parties sought to convince the emperor in Constantinople to back their position.

During the council, which ran from June 22 to July 31 of the year 431, Cyril brilliantly defended the orthodox belief in Christ as a single eternally divine person who also became incarnate as a man. The council condemned Nestorius, who was deposed as patriarch and later suffered exile. Cyril, however, reconciled with John and many of the other Antiochian theologians who once supported Nestorius.

St. Cyril of Alexandria died on June 27, 444, having been a bishop for nearly 32 years. Long celebrated as a saint, particularly in the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1883.


LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 7,6.12-14
Lectio Divina: 
 Tuesday, June 27, 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 7,6.12-14
Jesus said to his disciples: 'Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.
'So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the Law and the Prophets.
'Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

3) Reflection
• Discernment and prudence in offering things of value. In the relationships with others Jesus, above all, warns about certain dangerous attitudes. The first one of these is not to judge (7, 1-5): it is a true and proper prohibition, “do not judge”, it is an action that influences every evaluation of contempt or of condemnation of others. The last judgment is the exclusive competence of God; our figures of measure and our criteria are relative; they are conditioned by our subjectivity. Any condemnation of others becomes a condemnation of oneself, in so far as it places us under the judgment of God and we exclude ourselves from pardon. If your eye is pure, that is to say, is free from every judgment of the brothers you can relate with them in a true way before God. And now we consider the words of Jesus offered to us by the liturgical text: “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces” (7, 6). At first sight this “saying” of Jesus sounds strange to the sensibility of today’s reader. It may represent a true enigma. But it is a way of saying, of a Semitic language which has to be interpreted. At the time of Jesus just as in ancient culture dogs were not greatly appreciated, because they were considered somewhat savage and stray (U. Luz). But let us now consider the positive and didactic-wisdom aspect of the words of Jesus: Do not profane holy things; in last instance it is an invitation to use prudence and discernment. In the Old Testament the holy things are the meat for the sacrifice (Lv 22, 14; Ex 29, 33 ff; Nb 18, 8-19). The approach of the prohibition of throwing the pearls to the pigs is incomprehensible. For the Hebrews the pigs are impure animals, the quintessence of repugnance. On the contrary, the pearls are the most precious things that can exist. The warning of Jesus refers to those who feed the stray dogs with consecrated meat destined to the sacrifice. Such a behaviour is evil and usually imprudent because usually those dogs were not fed and therefore, because of their insatiable hunger, they could turn back and attack their “benefactors”.
The pearls at the metaphoric level could indicate the teachings of the wise or the interpretations of the “Torah”. In Matthew’s Gospel the pearl is the image of the Kingdom of God (Mt 13, 45ff). The interpretation which the evangelist gives mentioning this warning of Jesus is above all theological. Surely, this is the interpretation which seems to be more in harmony with the text and with the ecclesial reading of the words of Jesus: a warning to the Christian missionaries not to preach the Gospel just to anybody. (Gnilka, Luz).
• To follow a path. In the final part of the discourse (7, 13-27), then Matthew includes, among the others, a conclusive admonition of Jesus who invites to make a decisive choice in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven: the narrow door (7, 13-14). The word of Jesus is not only something to be understood and to interpret but, above all, it should become life. Now, to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven it is necessary to follow a path and to enter into the fullness of life through a “door”. The theme of the “path, the way” is very dear to the Old Testament (Dt 11,26-28; 30,15-20; Jr 21, 8; Ps 1, 6; Ps 118, 29-30; Ps 138, 4; Ws 5, 6-7 etc.). The road represented by two doors leads to different goals. A significance that is coherent with the admonishments of Jesus would be that, to the wide door is joined the wide path which leads to perdition or damnation, that is to say, to walk on a wide road is always something pleasant, but this is not said in our text. Rather it seems that Matthew agrees with the Jewish conception of the “road”; on the trail of Dt 30, 19 and Jr 21, 8 there are two roads that are in counter-position, that of death and that of life. To know how to choose among the diverse ways of life is decisive for entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who chooses the narrow road that of life should know that it is full of afflictions; narrow means tried by suffering for the sake of faith.

4) Personal questions
• What impact does the word of Jesus have in your heart? Do you listen to it in order to live under the gaze of the Father and in order to be transformed personally and in the relationships with the brothers and sisters?
• The word of Jesus, or rather, Jesus Himself is the door who makes us enter into the filial and fraternal life. Do you allow yourself to be guided and attracted by the narrow and demanding path of the Gospel? Or rather do you follow the wide and easy road that consists in doing what pleases or that leads you to satisfy all your desires, neglecting the needs of others?

5) Concluding Prayer
We reflect on your faithful love, God,
in your temple!
Both your name and your praise, God,
are over the whole wide world.
Your right hand is full of saving justice. (Ps 48,9-10)