Thứ Hai, 10 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 1, 2017 : MEMORIAL OF SAINT BENEDICT, ABBOT

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Lectionary: 384

Reading 1GN 32:23-33
In the course of the night, Jacob arose, took his two wives,
with the two maidservants and his eleven children,
and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.
After he had taken them across the stream
and had brought over all his possessions,
Jacob was left there alone.
Then some man wrestled with him until the break of dawn.
When the man saw that he could not prevail over him,
he struck Jacob's hip at its socket,
so that the hip socket was wrenched as they wrestled.
The man then said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob said, "I will not let you go until you bless me."
The man asked, "What is your name?"
He answered, "Jacob."
Then the man said,
"You shall no longer be spoken of as Jacob, but as Israel,
because you have contended with divine and human beings
and have prevailed."
Jacob then asked him, "Do tell me your name, please."
He answered, "Why should you want to know my name?"
With that, he bade him farewell.
Jacob named the place Peniel,
"Because I have seen God face to face," he said,
"yet my life has been spared."

At sunrise, as he left Penuel,
Jacob limped along because of his hip.
That is why, to this day, the children of Israel do not eat
the sciatic muscle that is on the hip socket,
inasmuch as Jacob's hip socket was struck at the sciatic muscle.

R. (15a) In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
From you let my judgment come;
your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee from their foes.
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings.
I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence. 
R. In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord.

AlleluiaJN 10:14
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 9:32-38
A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus,
and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke.
The crowds were amazed and said,
"Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
But the Pharisees said,
"He drives out demons by the prince of demons."

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest."


Meditation: "Never seen anything like this"
What help and hope can we give to someone who experiences chronic distress or some incurable disease of mind and body? Spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering often go hand in hand. Jesus was well acquainted with individuals who suffered intolerable affliction - whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. A "dumb demoniac" was brought to Jesus by his friends with the hope that Jesus would set the troubled man free. These neighbors, no doubt, took pity on this man who had a double impediment. He had not only lost his ability to speak, but was also greatly disturbed in mind and spirit. This was no doubt due to the influence of evil spirits who tormented him day and night with thoughts of despair and hopeless abandonment by God.
Jesus brings freedom and healing
Jesus immediately set him free from the demon who tormented him and restored his ability to speak at the same time. This double miracle brought wonder to the crowds who watched in amazement. "Nothing like this had ever been done before in the land of Israel!" Whenever people approached Jesus with expectant faith, he set them free from whatever afflicted them - whether it be a disease of mind and body, a crippling burden of guilt and sin, a tormenting spirit or uncontrollable fear of harm.
How could Jesus' miracles cause both scorn and wonder at the same time from those who professed faith in God? Don't we often encounter the same reaction today, even in ourselves! The crowds looked with awe at the wonderful works which Jesus did, but the religious leaders attributed this same work to the power of the devil. They disbelieved because they refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Their idea of religion was too narrow and closed to accept Jesus as the Anointed One sent by the Father "to set the captives free" (Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:5). They were too set in their own ways to change and they were too proud to submit to Jesus. They held too rigidly to the observances of their ritual laws while neglecting the more important duties of love of God and love of neighbor. The people, as a result, were spiritually adrift and hungry for God. Jesus met their need and gave them new faith and hope in God’s saving help.
The Gospel brings new life and freedom
Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed God’s kingdom is made manifest and new life and freedom is given to those who respond with faith. The Lord grants freedom to all who turn to him with trust. Do you bring your troubles to the Lord with expectant faith that he can set you free? The Lord invites us to pray that the work of  the Gospel may spread throughout the world, so that all may find true joy and freedom in Jesus Christ.
"Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come to all who are oppressed and in darkness. Fill my heart with compassion for all who suffer mentally and physically. Use me to bring the good news of your saving grace and mercy to those around me who need your healing love and forgiveness.”
Daily Quote from the early church fathersFreedom and healing in Christ, by Hilary of Poitiers (315-367 AD)
"In the deaf and dumb and demoniac appear the need of the Gentiles for a complete healing. Beleaguered on all sides by misfortune, they were associated with all types of the body's infirmities. And in this regard a proper order of things is observed. For the devil is first cast out; then the other bodily benefits follow suit. With the folly of all superstitions put to flight by the knowledge of God, sight and hearing and words of healing are introduced. The declaration of the onlookers followed their admiration over what took place: 'Never has the like been seen in Israel.' Indeed, he whom the law could not help was made well by the power of the Word, and the deaf and dumb man spoke the praises of God. Deliverance has been given to the Gentiles. All the towns and all the villages are enlightened by the power and presence of Christ, and the people are freed from every impairment of the timeless malady. (excerpt from ON MATTHEW 9.10)

TUESDAY, JULY 11, MATTHEW 9:32-38
(Genesis 32:23-33; Psalm 17)

KEY VERSE: "Ask for the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest" (v 37).
TO KNOW:  In Matthew's gospel, the healing of a possessed mute is the last miracle in a series of ten (Ch 8-9). The people were in awe at this unprecedented event. Everywhere Jesus went, in the towns, villages and synagogues, the good news of the kingdom was ushered in through Jesus' words and works. While the crowds looked on Jesus with wonder, the religious leaders, who should have welcomed the appearance of God's reign, rejected Jesus' works believing that he was in league with the powers of evil. Their eyes were so blinded by their own ideas of God's power that they could not see the truth that was present in Jesus. The people were without spiritual leadership, and Jesus' heart was moved with compassion. He urged his disciples to pray that others would participate in the harvest of the gathering of souls. Pope Francis invites all Christians everywhere to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ and identifies evangelization as the center of the Church’s concern (Evangelii Gaudium).

TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, help me to be faithful to your call in my life.
TO SERVE: In what ways do I participate in Jesus’ call to evangelize?

Memorial of Saint Benedict, abbot

Benedict was the twin brother of Saint Scholastica. While studying in Rome, Benedict was dismayed by the lack of discipline of his fellow students. He fled to the mountains near Subiaco, living as a hermit in a cave for three years. Benedict's virtues caused a group of monks to prevail upon him to become their spiritual leader. He founded the monastery at Monte Cassino where he wrote the Rule of his order. Benedict continued to attract followers, and eventually established twelve monasteries. It is said that Benedict had the ability to read consciences, was able to prophesy and forestall attacks of the devil. He destroyed pagan statues and altars, and drove demons from groves, which were sacred to pagans. At one point there were over 40,000 monasteries guided by the Benedictine Rule. A summation of the Rule is: "Pray and work" (Latin: Ora et Labora). Though Benedict was not the founder of Christian monasticism, since he lived two and a half to three centuries after its beginnings in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor, he had great influence on monastic life. 


Tuesday 11 July 2017

St Benedict.
Genesis 32:23-33. Psalm 16(17):1-3, 6-8, 15. Matthew 9:32-38.
In my justice, I shall see your face, O Lord — Psalm 16(17):1-3, 6-8, 15.
‘Ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers.’
In a country where we have so much choice, where we are constantly encouraged to choose first and foremost for ourselves, the gospel has become more and more counter-cultural. We are called to stand for God before all else. This is not necessarily a voice that will appeal to the masses and not really one that will bring us applause.
This is nothing new though. Jacob wrestled physically and was strong for God. Jesus healed and proclaimed the Good News in God’s name. We too are called to be labourers for the harvest—to turn to God in all things so that all may know His mercy and love. ‘Guard me as the apple of your eye’, sings the psalmist. May this be our prayer also.

ST. BENEDICT

On July 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the sixth-century abbot who gave Christian monasticism its lasting foundation in Western Europe.
For his historic role as the “Father of Western Monasticism,” St. Benedict was declared a co-patron of Europe (along with Saints Cyril and Methodius). St. Benedict is also the patron saint of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate.
In a 2005 general audience, the Pope said St. Benedict was a “powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots” of Europe. He cited the monk's instruction to “prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” and asked his intercession “to help us keep Christ firmly at the heart of our lives.”
Born to upper-class parents in modern-day Italy during the year 480, Benedict was sent to Rome to study the humanities. However, he soon became disgusted with the loose morals that prevailed among the students. Withdrawing from the city, he lived briefly with a group of monks, then as a hermit.
The young man spent three years in solitude, facing and overcoming severe temptations through prayer and asceticism. Only after doing so, did he have the confidence to emerge as an organizer of monastic communities. His first monasteries were established in the Anio valley outside Subiaco.
Benedict's monasteries in Subiaco became centers of education for children, a tradition which would continue in the order during his lifetime and beyond. His monastic movement, like its forebears in the Christian East, attracted large numbers of people who were looking to live their faith more deeply.
During 529, Benedict left Subiaco for Monte Cassino, 80 miles south of Rome. The move was geographically and spiritually significant, marking a more public emergence of the Western monastic movement. Benedict destroyed a pagan temple atop the mountain, and built two oratories in its place.
It was most likely at Monte Cassino that the abbot drew up a rule of life, the famous “Rule of St. Benedict,” which emphasized prayer, work, simplicity, and hospitality. Though known as a rule for monks, it is addressed to all those who seek “to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.”
Benedict's life was marked by various intrigues and miraculous incidents, which are described in his biography written by Pope St. Gregory the Great. One of the most remarkable was his meeting in 543 with Totila, King of the Goths, in which the abbot rebuked the king's lifestyle and prophesied his death.
St. Scholastica, Benedict's sister, also embraced religious life as a nun. She most likely died shortly before him, around the year 543. In his final years, the abbot himself had a profound mystical experience, which is said to have involved a supernatural vision of God and the whole of creation.
Around age 63, Benedict suffered his final illness. He was carried into the church by his fellow monks, where he received the Eucharist for the last time. Held up by his disciples, he raised his hands in prayer for the last time, before dying in their arms.
Although his influence was primarily felt in Western Europe, St. Benedict is also celebrated by the Eastern Catholic churches, and by Eastern Orthodox Christians, on March 14.


LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 9,32-38
Lectio Divina: 
 Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
Father,
through the obedience of Jesus,
your servant and your Son,
you raised a fallen world.
Free us from sin
and bring us the joy that lasts for ever.
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 9,32-38
A man was brought to Jesus, a dumb demoniac. And when the devil was driven out, the dumb man spoke and the people were amazed and said, 'Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.' But the Pharisees said, 'It is through the prince of devils that he drives out devils.' Jesus made a tour through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and all kinds of illness. And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers to his harvest.'

3) Reflection
• Today’s Gospel presents two facts: (1) the cure of a possessed dumb person (Mt 9, 32-34) and (2) a summary of the activity of Jesus (Mt 9, 35-38).  These two episodes end the narrative part of chapters 8 and 9 of the Gospel of Matthew in which the Evangelist seeks to indicate how Jesus put into practice the teachings given in the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5 and 7).  In chapter 10, the meditation which begins in the Gospel of tomorrow, we see the second great discourse of Jesus: The Discourse of the Mission (Mt 10, 1-42).
• Matthew 9, 32-33a: The cure of a dumb.   In one only verse Matthew describes the arrival of the possessed person before Jesus, the expulsion of the demon and the attitude of Jesus, which in the fourth Gospel there is the attention and affection of Jesus with sick persons.  The illnesses were many, social security non existent. The illnesses were not only deficiencies of the body: deafness, blindness, paralysis, leprosy and so many other sicknesses. In fact, these illnesses were nothing else than a manifestation of a much deeper and vast evil which undermined the health of persons, and that is the total abandonment and the depressing and inhuman state in which they were obliged to live. The activity and the cures of Jesus were directed not only against physical sickness, but also and above all against this greater evil of material and spiritual abandonment, in which people were obliged to live the few years of life. Then, in addition to the economic exploitation which stole half of the family stipend, the official religion of that time, instead of helping people to find strength in God, to resist and have hope, taught that sickness was a punishment from God for sin. This increased in them the sentiment of exclusion and condemnation.  Jesus did all the contrary. The acceptance full of tenderness of Jesus and the cure of the sick form part of the effort to knit together again the human relationship among persons and to re-establish community and fraternal living in the villages of Galilee, his land. Matthew 9, 33b-34: The twofold interpretation of the cure of the dumb man. Before the cure of the possessed dumb man, the reaction of the people is one of admiration and of gratitude: “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!”  The reaction of the Pharisee is one of mistrust and malice: “It is through the prince of devils that he driver out devils!”  They were not able to deny the facts which cause admiration in the people, the only way which the Pharisees find to neutralize the influence of Jesus before the people is to attribute the expulsion to the power of the evil one. Mark presents an extensive argument of Jesus to demonstrate the lack of coherence and the malice of the interpretation given by the Pharisees (Mk 3, 22-27).  Matthew does not present any response of Jesus to the interpretation of the Pharisees, because when malice is evident, truth shines by itself. 
• Matthew 9, 35: Tireless, Jesus goes through the villages. The description of the tireless activity of Jesus is beautiful, in which emerges the double concern to which we referred: the acceptance full of tenderness and the cure of the sick: “Jesus went through all the towns, teaching in their Synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and all kinds of illness”. In the previous chapters, Matthew had already referred several times to this itinerant activity of Jesus in the villages and towns of Galilee (Mt 4, 23-24; 8, 16).
• Matthew 9, 36: The compassion of Jesus. “Seeing the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd”. Those who should be shepherds were not shepherds; they did not take care of the flock. Jesus tries to be the shepherd (Jn 10,11-14). In this, Matthew sees the realization of the Prophecy of the Servant of Yahweh, who took upon himself our sickness, and bore our infirmities” (Mt 8, 17 and Is 53, 4). As it was for Jesus, the great concern of the Servant was “to find a word of comfort for those who were discouraged”. (Is 50, 4).  Jesus shows the same compassion toward the abandoned crowd, on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves: they are like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 15, 32). The Gospel of Matthew has a constant concern in revealing to the converted Jews of the communities of Galilee and of Syria that Jesus is the Messiah announced by the Prophets.  For this reason, frequently, he shows that in Jesus’ activity the prophecies are fulfilled (cf. Mt 1, 23; 2, 5.15.17. 23; 3, 3; 4, 14-16; etc.).
• Matthew 9, 37-38: The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few. Jesus transmits to the disciples the concern and the compassion which are within him: “The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few! Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers to his harvest!”

4) Personal questions
• Compassion for the tired and hungry crowds. In the history of humanity, there have never been so many tired and hungry people as today. Television diffuses the facts, but does not offer any responses. De we, Christians, succeed to have the same compassion of Jesus and to communicate it to others? 
• The goodness of Jesus toward the poor disturbed the Pharisees. They have recourse to malice to neutralize the discomfort caused by Jesus.  Are there many good attitudes in the persons who disturb me? How do I interpret them: with pleasant admiration as the crowds or with malice as the Pharisees?

5) Concluding Prayer
Sing to him, make music for him,
recount all his wonders!
Glory in his holy name,
let the hearts that seek Yahweh rejoice! (Ps 105,2-3)