Thứ Năm, 29 tháng 6, 2017

JUNE 30, 2017 : FRIDAY OF THE TWELFTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 375

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him
and said: "I am God the Almighty.
Walk in my presence and be blameless."

God also said to Abraham:
"On your part, you and your descendants after you
must keep my covenant throughout the ages.
This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you
that you must keep:
every male among you shall be circumcised."

God further said to Abraham:
"As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai;
her name shall be Sarah.
I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her.
Him also will I bless; he shall give rise to nations,
and rulers of peoples shall issue from him."
Abraham prostrated himself and laughed as he said to himself,
"Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?
Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?"
Then Abraham said to God,
"Let but Ishmael live on by your favor!"
God replied: "Nevertheless, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son,
and you shall call him Isaac.
I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact,
to be his God and the God of his descendants after him.
As for Ishmael, I am heeding you: I hereby bless him.
I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly.
He shall become the father of twelve chieftains,
and I will make of him a great nation.
But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac,
whom Sarah shall bear to you by this time next year."
When he had finished speaking with him, God departed from Abraham.

Responsorial PsalmPS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
R. (4) See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

AlleluiaMT 8:17
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 8:1-4
When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said,
"Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean."
He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,
"I will do it. Be made clean."
His leprosy was cleansed immediately.
Then Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one,
but go show yourself to the priest,
and offer the gift that Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them."


Meditation: "Lord, you can make me clean"
What might hold us back from approaching the Lord Jesus with expectant faith and confidence that he can change us and make us holy - perhaps fear, pride, and the risk of losing one's reputation or friends? Jesus did something which was both remarkable and unthinkable at the same time. He approached the unapproachables - he touched the untouchables. Lepers were outcasts of society. Their physical condition was terrible as they slowly lost the use of their limbs and withered away with open sores over their entire bodies. They were not only shunned but regarded as “already dead” even by their relatives. The Jewish law forbade anyone from touching or approaching a leper, lest ritual defilement occur.
Approaching the Lord Jesus with expectant faith
The leper who came to Jesus did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection. Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness. He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words. He touched the man and made him clean - not only physically but spiritually as well.
Some twelve centuries later, a man named Francis (1181-1226 AD) met a leper on the road as he journeyed towards Assisi. A contemporary of Francis wrote, "Though the leper caused him no small disgust and horror, he nonetheless, got off the horse and prepared to kiss the leper. But when the leper put out his hand as though to receive something, he received money along with a kiss" (from the Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano). Francis did what seemed humanly impossible because he was filled with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit inflames our hearts with the fire of Christ's love that we may reach out to others with compassionate care and kindness, especially to those who have been rejected, mistreated, and left utterly alone. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ for others?
“May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey, so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven. Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love, as you died for love of our love."  (Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi,1181-1226 AD)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe authority to heal and make clean belongs to Christ, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)
"With great fervor before Jesus' knees, the leper pleaded with him (Mark 1:40) with sincere faith. He discerned who Jesus was. He did not state conditionally, 'If you request it of God' or 'If you pray for me.' Rather, he said simply, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' He did not pray, 'Lord, cleanse me.' Rather, he leaves everything to the Lord and makes his own recovery depend entirely on him. Thus he testified that all authority belongs to him. One might ask, 'What if the leper had been mistaken in this assumption?' If he had been mistaken, wouldn't it have been fitting for the Lord to reprove him and set him straight? But did he do this? No. Quite to the contrary, Jesus established and confirmed exactly what he had said." (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 25.1)

FRIDAY, JUNE 30, MATTHEW 8:1-4
Weekday

(Genesis 17:1, 9-10,15-22; Psalm 128)

KEY VERSE: "He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, `I will do it. Be made clean'" (v 3).
TO KNOW: Some Scripture scholars regard chapters 5-7 of Matthew's gospel as portraying Jesus as the "Messiah of the Word," whereas chapters 8-9 Jesus is represented as the "Messiah of the Deed." When Jesus finished his Sermon on the Mount, he came down from the mountain and put his words into action. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus performed ten miracles that correspond to the ten plagues of the Exodus that vanquished Israel's enemy (Ex 7-11). These miracles signify Jesus' assault on Satan and his establishment of God's reign. The first miracle was the healing of the leper. In Jesus' day, leprosy was seen as synonymous with sin. The diseased person was an outcast and was separated from the healthy community. Jesus came to heal and restore the people to full membership in God's family.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, heal me of my defects and make me into your likeness and image.
TO SERVE: How can my healing touch restore those who feel despised and outcast?
​​
Optional Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

On the day following the remembrance of Saints Peter and Paul, who suffered martyrdom in Rome at the command of the Emperor Nero, the Church celebrates other early Christian martyrs. The Emperor Nero held these Christians responsible for the great fire that took place in Rome, and they were put to death in various locations around the city, including the Coliseum and its environs. This celebration also commemorates some of the earliest Popes, successors of Saint Peter, all of whom were martyred. The names of the first three are in the Roman Canon of the Mass: Linus (67-76), Anacletus or Cletus (76-88) and Clement (88-97). Historical details of the lives of these early Bishops of Rome are uncertain.


Friday 30 June 2017
(First Martyrs of the Church of Rome). Day of p
enance.
Genesis 17:1, 9-10, 15-22. Psalms 127(128):1-5. Matthew 8:1-4.

See how the Lord blesses those who fear him — Psalms 127(128):1-5.
‘If you want to, you can make me clean.’
The experiences of Abraham and the leper are quite similar. There is an emptiness in both lives that God, and only God, is able to touch. The Divine One fills this emptiness not just by removing a handicap or limitation—in these cases disease or infertility—but by self-giving in an intimate relationship. The covenant with Abraham is not just a legal contract: it comes out of sensitivity to deep human longing.
God’s response to Abraham—and to us—is the same response as Jesus’ to the leper: ‘Of course I want to. Be cured!’
As our intimacy with the Lord becomes increasingly the centre of our lives, we sense the many moments in which God is responding to our personal needs with those words: ‘Of course I want to!’


THE FIRST HOLY MARTYRS OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH

These “proto-martyrs” of Rome were the first Christians persecuted en masse by the Emperor Nero in the year 64, before the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.
Nero was widely believed to have caused the fire that burned down much of Rome in the same year.  He blamed the fire on the Christians and put them to death, many by crucifixion, being feeding to the wild animals in his circus, or by being tied to posts and lit up as human torches.
Today, the site of Nero's Circus, also the location of St. Peter's martyrdom, is marked by the Piazza dei Protomartiri Romani (Square of the Roman Protomartyrs) in the Vatican next to St. Peter's basilica.
These martyrs were called the “Disciples of the Apostles” and their firmness in the face of their gruesome deaths were a powerful testimony that led to many conversions in the early Roman Church.

LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 8,1-4
Lectio Divina: 
 Friday, June 30, 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 8,1-4
After Jesus had come down from the mountain large crowds followed him. Suddenly a man with a virulent skin-disease came up and bowed low in front of him, saying, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can cleanse me.' Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him saying, 'I am willing. Be cleansed.' And his skin-disease was cleansed at once. Then Jesus said to him, 'Mind you tell no one, but go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering prescribed by Moses, as evidence to them.'

3) Reflection
•In chapters 5 to 7 we have heard the words of the New Law proclaimed on the Mountain by Jesus. Now, in chapters 8 and 9, Matthew indicates how Jesus put into practice that which he had just taught. In today’s Gospel (Mt 8, 1-4) and of tomorrow (Mt 8, 5-17), we see closely the following episodes which reveal how Jesus practiced the Law: the cure of a leper (Mt 8, 1-4), the cure of the servant of the Roman soldier (Mt 8, 5-13), the cure of Peter’s mother-in law (Mt 8, 14-15) and the cure of numerous sick people (Mt 8, 14-17).
• Matthew 8, 1-2: The leper asks: “Lord, if you are willing you can cleanse me”. A leper comes close to Jesus. He was one who was excluded. Anybody who would touch him would remain unclean! This is why the lepers had to remain far away (Lv 13, 45-46). But that leper had great courage. He transgresses the norms of religion in order to be able to enter into contact with Jesus. Getting close to him he says: If you are willing you can cleanse me! That is: “It is not necessary for you to touch me! It suffices that the Lord wants it and he will be cured”. This phrase reveals two things: 1) the sickness of leprosy which made people unclean; 2) the sickness of solitude to which the person was condemned, separated from society and from religion. It reveals also the great faith of the man in the power of Jesus.
• Matthew 8, 3: Jesus touches him and says: I am willing. Be cleansed. Filled with compassion, Jesus cures two sicknesses. In the first place, in order to cure solitude, loneliness, before saying any word, he touches the leper. It is as if he would say: “For me, you are not excluded. I am not afraid to become unclean by touching you! And I accept you as a brother!” Then he cures the leper saying: I am willing! Be cleansed! The leper, in order to be able to enter in contact with Jesus, had transgressed the norms of the Law. Thus Jesus, in order to help that excluded person and reveal the new face of God, transgresses the norms of his religion and touches the leper.
• Matthew 8, 4: Jesus orders the man to go and show himself to the priest. At that time, a leper in order to be reintegrated into the community needed a certificate of healing confirmed by the priest. It is the same thing today. The sick person gets out of the hospital only if he has a certificate signed by the doctor of the department. Jesus obliges the person to look for that document, in order to be able to live normally. He obliges the authority to recognize that the man had been cured. Jesus not only heals but wants the healed person to be able to live with others. He reintegrates the person in the fraternal life of the community. The Gospel of Mark adds that the man did not present himself to the priest. Instead, “He went away and started freely proclaiming and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into the town, but stayed outside in deserted places (Mk 1, 45). Why could Jesus no longer enter openly into the town? Because he had touched the leper and had become unclean before the religious authority who embodied the law of that time. And now, because of this, Jesus was unclean and had to be away far from everybody. He could no longer enter into the city. But Mark shows that people cared very little for these official norms, because people came to Jesus from all pats! This was totally overthrowing things! The message which Mark gives us is the following: In order to take the Good News of God to the people, we should not be afraid to transgress the religious norms which are contrary to God’s project and which prevent a fraternal spirit and love. Even if this causes some difficulty to the people, as it did to Jesus.
• In Jesus everything is revelation of what he has within himself! He does not only announce the Good News of the Kingdom. He is an example, a living witness of the Kingdom, a revelation of God. In Him appears what happens when a human being allows God to reign, allows God to occupy the centre of his life.

4) Personal questions
• In the name of the Law of God, the lepers were excluded and they could not live with others. In our Church are there norms and customs which are not written and, which up until now, marginalize persons and exclude them from living together with others and from communion. Do you know any such persons? Which is your opinion concerning this?
• Jesus had the courage to touch the leper. Would you have this courage?

5) Concluding Prayer
I will bless Yahweh at all times,
his praise continually on my lips.
I will praise Yahweh from my heart;
let the humble hear and rejoice. (Ps 34,1-2)