Thứ Ba, 4 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 05, 2017 : WEDNESDAY OF THE THIRTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 379

Reading 1GN 21:5, 8-20A
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Isaac grew, and on the day of the child's weaning
Abraham held a great feast.

Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian
had borne to Abraham
playing with her son Isaac;
so she demanded of Abraham:
"Drive out that slave and her son! 
No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance
with my son Isaac!"
Abraham was greatly distressed,
especially on account of his son Ishmael.
But God said to Abraham: "Do not be distressed about the boy
or about your slave woman.
Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you;
for it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name.
As for the son of the slave woman,
I will make a great nation of him also,
since he too is your offspring."

Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water
and gave them to Hagar.
Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away.
As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba,
the water in the skin was used up.
So she put the child down under a shrub,
and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away;
for she said to herself, "Let me not watch to see the child die." 
As she sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry.
God heard the boy's cry,
and God's messenger called to Hagar from heaven:
"What is the matter, Hagar?
Don't be afraid; God has heard the boy's cry in this plight of his.
Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand;
for I will make of him a great nation."
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.
She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up.

Responsorial PsalmPS 34:7-8, 10-11, 12-13
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Come, children, hear me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Which of you desires life,
and takes delight in prosperous days?
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.

AlleluiaJAS 1:18
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 8:28-34
When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?"
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
"If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine."
And he said to them, "Go then!"
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.


Meditation: Jesus frees those who are bound up
 Do you ever feel driven by forces beyond your strength? Two men who were possessed and driven mad by the force of many evil spirits found refuge in the one person who could set them free. Both Mark and Luke in their Gospel accounts of this incident describe this demonic force as a legion (Mark 5:9 and Luke 8:30). A legion is no small force but an army 6,000 strong! For the people of Palestine who were often hemmed in by occupied forces, a legion - whether human or supernatural - struck terror! Legions at their wildest committed unmentionable atrocities. Our age has also witnessed untold crimes and mass destruction at the hands of possessed rulers and their armies.
No force can withstand Christ's power and authority
What is more remarkable - the destructive force of these driven and possessed men, or their bended knee at Jesus' feet imploring mercy and release (Luke 8:28)? God's word  reminds us that no destructive force can keep anyone from the peace and safety which God offers to those who seek his help. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. ..Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation (Psalm 91:7,9).
Jesus took pity on these men who were overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. The destructive force of these demons is evident for all who can see as they flee and destroy a herd of swine. After Jesus freed the demoniacs the whole city came out to meet him. No one had demonstrated such power and authority against the forces of Satan as Jesus did. They feared Jesus as a result and begged him to leave them. Why would they not want Jesus to stay? Perhaps the price for such liberation from the power of evil and sin was more than they wanted to pay.
Jesus will free us from anything that binds us
The Lord Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from his love and saving power?
"Lord Jesus, unbind me that I may love you wholly and walk in the freedom of your way of love and holiness. May there be nothing which keeps me from the joy of living in your presence."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersChrist is triumphant over the forces of demons, by Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD)
"[Jesus] said to them, 'Go!' The foul-smelling animals are delivered up, not at the will of the demons but to show how savage the demons can become against humans. They ardently seek to destroy and dispossess all that is, acts, moves and lives. They seek the death of people. The ancient enmity of deep-rooted wrath and malice is in store for the human race. Demons do not give up easily unless they are forcibly overcome. They are doing the harm they are ordered to do. Therefore the foul-smelling animals are delivered up that it may be made clear to the demons that they have permission to enter the swine but not to enter humans. It is by our vices that we empower them to do harm. Similarly, by our power of faith we tread on the necks of demons. They become subject to us under Christ who is triumphant." (excerpt from SERMONS 16.8)
[Peter Chrysologus (400-450 AD) was a renowned preacher and bishop of Ravena in the 5th century] 


WEDNESDAY, JULY 5, MATTHEW 8:28-34
Weekday

(Genesis 21:5, 8-20a; Psalm 34)

KEY VERSE: "They cried out, `What have you to do with us, Son of God?'" (v 29).
TO KNOW: After Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee (v 23-27) he and his disciples arrived on the shore in the region of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1 and Luke 8:26 locate this in the country of the Gerasenes). In this rugged, pagan territory, Jesus was confronted by two demoniacs (one in Mark and Luke's gospels). The demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God who had come to establish God's reign and destroy the powers of evil, and they tried to block his journey to proclaim the gospel. Jesus sent these vile spirits into a herd of swine (considered "unclean" by the Jews). The animals rushed headlong over a cliff and were drowned in the sea (a symbol of destructive forces; Gn 1:1-2). However, the people were more fearful of Jesus' power than the presence of evil, and they beseeched him to leave them.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, free me from any evil that corrupts my life.
TO SERVE: Am I an instrument of liberation or oppression of others? ​





Optional Memorial of Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest

Anthony studied medicine at Padua, receiving his doctorate at age 22. Working among the poor, he felt called to the religious life. He bequeathed his inheritance to his mother, worked as a catechist, and was ordained at age 26. In Milan he established the Society of Clerics of Saint Paul (Barnabites, men religious), and the Angelics of Saint Paul (noncloistered nuns). These groups helped reform the morals of the faithful, persuaded laymen to work together with the apostolate, and encouraged frequent reception of Communion. While on a peace mission, Anthony became ill and died at his mother's house. Tradition says that in his last moments he had a vision of Saint Paul.



Optional Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, religious

Elizabeth (Isabella in Portugal) was the great-niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, for whom she was named. Married at age twelve to King Denis (Diniz of Portugal), Elizabeth became Queen of Portugal. Mother of two, Elizabeth suffered through years of abuse at the hands of her unfaithful husband. She prayed for his conversion, and worked with the poor and sick. The king appears to have reformed late in life, whether from Elizabeth's faith or his imminent death is unknown. After the king's death in 1325, she distributed her property to the poor, became a Franciscan tertiary, and retired to a monastery of Poor Clares she founded at Coimbra. She was canonized in 1625; her body is incorrupt.


Wednesday 5 July 2017

St Anthony Zaccaria.
Genesis 21:5, 8-20. Psalm 33(34):7-8, 10-13. Matthew 8:28-34.
The Lord hears the cry of the poor — Psalm 33(34):7-8, 10-13.
‘Save us, Lord, we are going down!’
When I am in a panic, I forget my God and cling to fear. Afterwards, I feel quite foolish, and resolve that next time things will be different. Then ‘next time’ comes, and it all happens again.
Lord, had I been in the boat with you and the disciples, I would have done what they did. Faith is alright for fine weather, but when the boat starts to rock, what guarantees do I have? Somehow, I know that it is at exactly these times that faith and trust are worth their names—but I need your help to live out that belief.
Help me to keep my hands open in asking and not clenched in fear. May pain, misfortune or danger bring you and me closer as true friends.


ST. ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA

On July 5, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria. A renowned preacher and promoter of Eucharistic adoration, he founded the order of priests now known as the Barnabites.

In 2001, the future Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, wrote the preface for a book on St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, praising the saint as “one of the great figures of Catholic reform in the 1500s,” who was involved “in the renewal of Christian life in an era of profound crisis.”

The Italian saint, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “deserves to be rediscovered” as “an authentic man of God and of the Church, a man burning with zeal, a demanding forger of consciences, a true leader able to convert and lead others to good.”

Anthony Mary Zaccaria was born into an Italian family of nobility in Cremona during 1502. His father Lazzaro died shortly after Anthony's birth, and his mother Antonietta – though only 18 years old – chose not to marry again, preferring to devote herself to charitable works and her son's education.

Antonietta's son took after her in devotion to God and generosity toward the poor. He studied Latin and Greek with tutors in his youth, and was afterward sent to Pavia to study philosophy. He went on to study medicine at the University of Padua, earning his degree at age 22 and returning to Cremona.

Despite his noble background and secular profession, the young doctor had no intention of either marrying or accumulating wealth. While caring for the physical conditions of his patients, he also encouraged them to find spiritual healing through repentance and the sacraments.

Anthony also taught catechism to children, and went on to participate in the religious formation of young adults. He eventually decided to withdraw from the practice of medicine, and with the encouragement of his spiritual director he began to study for the priesthood.

Ordained a priest at age 26, Anthony is said to have experienced a miraculous occurrence during his first Mass, being surrounded by a supernatural light and a multitude of angels during the consecration of the Eucharist. Contemporary witnesses marveled at the event, and testified to it after his death.

Church life in Cremona had suffered decline in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The new priest encountered widespread ignorance and religious indifference among laypersons, while many of the clergy were either weak or corrupt.

In these dire circumstances, Anthony Mary Zaccaria devoted his life to proclaiming the truths of the Gospel both clearly and charitably. Within two years, his eloquent preaching and tireless pastoral care is said to have changed the moral character of the city dramatically.

In 1530, Anthony moved to Milan, where a similar spirit of corruption and religious neglect prevailed. There, he decided to form a priestly society, the Clerics Regular of St. Paul.

Inspired by the apostle's life and writings, the order was founded on a vision of humility, asceticism, poverty, and preaching. After the founder's death, they were entrusted with a prominent church named for St. Barnabas, and became commonly known as the “Barnabites.”

The priest also founded a women's religious order, the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul; and an organization, the Laity of St. Paul, geared toward the sanctification of those outside the priesthood and religious life. He pioneered the “40 Hours” devotion, involving continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

In 1539, Anthony became seriously ill and returned to his mother's house in Cremona. The founder of the Clerics Regular of St. Paul died on July 5, during the liturgical octave of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, at the age of only 36.

Nearly three decades after his death, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria's body was found to be incorrupt. He was beatified by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1849, and declared a saint by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.


LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 8,28-34
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
Father,
you call your children
to walk in the light of Christ.
Free us from darkness
and keep us in the radiance of your truth.
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 8,28-34
When Jesus reached the territory of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs -- they were so dangerously violent that nobody could use that path. Suddenly they shouted, 'What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?'
Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.'
And he said to them, 'Go then,' and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The herdsmen ran off and made for the city, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Suddenly the whole city set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave their neighbourhood.
3) Reflection
• Today’s Gospel stresses the power of Jesus over the devil. In our text, the devil or the power of evil is associated to three things: 1) To the cemetery, the place of the dead. To death which kills life!  2) To the pig, that was considered an impure animal.  The impurity which separates from God! 3) With the sea, which was considered like the symbol of chaos before creation?  The chaos which destroys nature.  The Gospel of Mark, from which Matthew takes his information, associates the power of evil to a fourth element which is the word Legion, (Mc 5, 9), the name of the army of the Roman Empire.  The Empire oppressed and exploited the people.  Thus, it is understood that the victory of Jesus over the Devil had an enormous importance for the life of the communities of the years 70’s, the time when Matthew wrote his Gospel. The communities lived oppressed and marginalized, because of the official ideology of the Roman Empire and of the Pharisees which was renewed. The same significance and the same importance continue to be valid today.
• Matthew 8, 28: The force of evil oppresses, ill-treats and alienates persons. This first verse describes the situation of the people before the coming of Jesus.  In describing the behaviour of the two possessed persons, the Evangelist associates the force of evil to the cemetery and to death.  It is a mortal power, without a goal, without direction, without control and a destructing power, which causes everyone to fear.  It deprives the persons from their conscience, from self control and autonomy.
• Matthew 8, 29: Before the simple presence of Jesus the force of evil breaks up and disintegrates. Here is described the first contact between Jesus and the two possessed men.  We see that there is total disproportion. The power, that at first seemed to be so strong, melts and disintegrates before Jesus.  They shouted: “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time?” they become aware that they are loosing their power.
• Matthew 8, 30-32: The power of evil is impure and has no autonomy, nor consistency.  The Devil does not have power over his movements.  It only obtains the power to enter into the pigs with the permission of Jesus! Once they enter into the pigs, the whole herd charged down the cliff into the sea and perished in the water. According to the opinion of the people, the pig was a symbol of impurity which prevented the human being to relate with God and of feeling accepted by him.  The sea was the symbol of the existing chaos before creation and which according to the belief of that time, continued to threatened life.  This episode of the pigs which threw themselves into the sea is strange and difficult to understand. But the message is very clear: before Jesus, the power of evil has no autonomy, no consistency.  Anyone who believes in Jesus has already conquered the power of evil and should not fear!
• Matthew 8, 33-34: The reaction of the people of that place. The herdsmen of the pigs went to the city and told the story to the people, and they all set out to go and meet Jesus. Mark says that they saw the “possessed” man sitting down, dressed and with perfect judgment” (Mk 5, 15). But they remained without the pigs.  This is why they asked Jesus to leave from their neighbourhood. For them the pigs were more important than the person who recovered his senses.
• The expulsion of the demons.  At the time of Jesus, the words Devil or Satan were used to indicate the power of evil which drew persons away from the right path. For example, when Peter tried to deviate Jesus, he was Satan for Jesus (Mk 8, 33).  Other times, those same words were used to indicate the political power of the Roman Empire which oppressed and exploited people.  For example, in the Apocalypse, the Roman Empire is identified with “Devil or Satan” (Ap 12, 9).  While other times, people used the same words to indicate the evils and the illnesses.  It was spoken about devil, dumb spirit, deaf spirit, impure or unclean spirit, etc.  There was great fear! In the time of Matthew, in the second half of the first century, the fear of demons increased.  Some religions, from the East diffused worship toward the spirits.  They taught that some of our mistaken gestures could irritate the spirits, and these, in order to revenge, could prevent us from having access to God and deprived us from divine benefits.  For this reason, through rites and writings, intense prayer and complicated ceremonies, people sought to calm down these spirits or demons, in such a way that they would not cause harm to life.  These religions, instead of liberating people, nourished fear and anguish. Now, one of the objectives of the Good News of Jesus was to help people to liberate themselves from this fear.  The coming of the Kingdom of God meant the coming of a stronger power.  Jesus is “the strongest man” who can conquer Satan, the power of evil, snatching away from its hands, humanity imprisoned by fear (cf. Mk 3, 27).  For this reason the Gospels insist very much on the victory of Jesus over the power of evil, over the devil, over Satan, over sin and over death.  It was in order to encourage the communities to overcome this fear of the devil!  And today, who can say: “I am completely free?” Nobody!  Then, if I am not totally free, there is some part in me which is possessed by other powers.  How can these forces be cast away?  The message of today’s Gospel continues to be valid for us.      
4) Personal questions
• What oppresses and ill-treats people today? Why is it that today in certain places so much is spoken about casting out the devil?  Is it good to insist so much on the devil? What do you think?
• Who can say that he/she is completely free or liberated? Nobody! And then, we are all somewhat possessed by other forces which occupy some space within us. What can we do to expel this power from within us and from society?  
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all,
his tenderness embraces all his creatures. (Ps 145,8-9)