Thứ Tư, 19 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 20, 2017 : THURSDAY OF THE FIFTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 392

Reading 1EX 3:13-20         
Moses, hearing the voice of the LORD from the burning bush, said to him,
"When I go to the children of Israel and say to them,
'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,'
if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?"
God replied, "I am who am."
Then he added, "This is what you shall tell the children of Israel:
I AM sent me to you."

God spoke further to Moses, "Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.

"This is my name forever;
this my title for all generations.

"Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and tell them: 
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
has appeared to me and said:
I am concerned about you
and about the way you are being treated in Egypt;
so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt
into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, 
Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites,
a land flowing with milk and honey.

"Thus they will heed your message. 
Then you and the elders of Israel
shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him:
"The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent us word.
Permit us, then, to go a three-days' journey in the desert,
that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God.

"Yet I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go
unless he is forced.
I will stretch out my hand, therefore,
and smite Egypt by doing all kinds of wondrous deeds there.
After that he will send you away."

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered. 
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generationsB
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac. 
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He greatly increased his people
and made them stronger than their foes,
Whose hearts he changed, so that they hated his people,
and dealt deceitfully with his servants.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He sent Moses his servant;
Aaron, whom he had chosen.
They wrought his signs among them,
and wonders in the land of Ham.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

AlleluiaMT 11:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus said:
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."


Meditation: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me"
What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the Gospel? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, and the yoke of God. Jesus says his yoke is "easy". The Greek word for "easy" can also mean "well-fitting". Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with his life, our will with his will, and our heart with his heart. To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and obedience.
Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says his "burden is light". There's a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. "That's a heavy load you are carrying there," exclaimed the man. "He ain't heavy; he's my brother!" responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it's given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus' presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?
Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
Jesus offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. The yoke of Christ's kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sinful habits and hurtful desires. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a weight of glory and victory with him. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of love, grace, and freedom from the power of sin. Do you trust in God's love and submit to his will and plan for your life?
"Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersGrace bear us, by an anonymous early author from the Greek church
"'My yoke is easy and my burden light.' ... The prophet says this about the burden of sinners: 'Because my iniquities lie on top of my head, so they have also placed a heavy burden on me' (Psalm 38:4)' ...'Place my yoke upon you, and learn from me that I am gentle and humble of heart.' Oh, what a very pleasing weight that strengthens even more those who carry it! For the weight of earthly masters gradually destroys the strength of their servants, but the weight of Christ rather helps the one who bears it, because we do not bear grace; grace bears us. It is not for us to help grace, but rather grace has been given to aid us.' (excerpt from INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY, the Greek fathers).

THURSDAY, JULY 20, MATTHEW 11:28-30
Weekday

(Exodus 3:13-20; Psalm 105)

KEY VERSE: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (v 28).
TO KNOW: The prophet Jeremiah told the people that they would find "rest for their souls" if they would follow the straight path to God (Jer 6:16). However, the religious leaders had laid a crushing weight on the people by complicating God's law with numerous legal obligations. They made no effort to lighten the load of those burdened by these regulations, and they often neglected the true purpose of the law -- justice and mercy. Jesus invited all who were weary of trying to fulfill the law to come to him. Obedience to his word would be light in comparison to the religious leader's legalistic requirements. Jesus was the embodiment of God's law of compassion and love, and he made the way to God accessible. By taking on the light yoke of obedience to his word, Jesus' followers would find rest from all that oppressed them (Is 25:4-5).
TO LOVE: How can I help someone carry their burdens?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to find rest in you when life becomes complicated.
Optional Memorial of Saint Apollinaris, bishop and martyr

Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was one of the most illustrious bishops of the second century. He was renowned for his powers to heal in the name of Christ. Saint Jerome, Eusebius, and Theodoret furnish us with the few facts known of him. Apollinaris addressed an "Apology" (a defense) of the Christian religion to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was to protect his flock against persecution that Apollinaris reminded the Emperor of the favor he had received from God through the prayers of the Christians. Apollinaris and his followers were exiled from Ravenna by the emperor Vespasian. On his way out of the city, Apollinaris was arrested, tortured and martyred, run through with a sword. The date of the death is not known, but it probably occurred about the year 175. Saint Apollinaris' relics are at Ravenna, Italy. 

Thursday 20 July 2017

St Apollinaris.
Exodus 3:13-20. Psalm 104(105):1, 5, 8-9, 24-27. Matthew 11:28-30.
The Lord remembers his covenant forever — Psalm 104(105):1, 5, 8-9, 24-27.
‘Come to me … learn from me.’
This is one of the great invitations of the gospels.
This reading is often used for the sacrament of the sick and is a reminder of the gentleness of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus isn’t trying to make our life harder with rules and restrictions: Jesus always invites us to follow him in freedom of heart.
Whatever we face in life, whatever the burdens and labours, may we hear Jesus’ words today as the voice of understanding and compassion. In our struggles, may we discover a lightness of being and a deep sense of being accompanied, indeed carried, by Christ.

ST. MARGARET OF ANTIOCH

Saint Margaret, whose feast is celebrated on July 20, is a virgin and martyr. She is also called "Marina". Margaret belonged to Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor, where her father was a pagan priest. Her mother died soon after Margaret's birth, so she was nursed by a pious woman who lived about five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father and adopted by her nurse.

One day, while she was engaged in watching the flocks of her mistress, a lustful Roman prefect named Olybrius caught sight of her, and attracted by her great beauty sought to make her his concubine or wife. When neither cajolery nor threats of punishment could succeed in moving her to yield to his desires, he had her brought before him in public trial at Antioch. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, the holy virgin refused to adore the gods of the empire. An attempt was made to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unharmed. She was then bound hand and foot and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but at her prayer her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured. Finally the prefect ordered her to be beheaded.

The Greek Church honors her under the name Marine on July13, and the Latin, as Margaret on July 20. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brusels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant.


LECTIO DIVINA: MATTHEW 11, 28-30
Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, July 20, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
your light of truth
guides us to the way of Christ.
May all who follow him
reject what is contrary to the gospel.
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 11,28-30
Jesus said: 'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.'

3) Reflection
• The Gospel today is composed only by three verses (Mt 11, 28-30) which form part of a brief literary unity, one of the most beautiful ones, in which Jesus thanks the Father for having revealed the wisdom of the Kingdom to the little children and because he has hidden it to the doctors and the wise (Mt 11, 25-30).  In the brief commentary which follows we will include all the literary unity.
• Matthew 11, 25-26: Only the little children accept and understand the Good News of the Kingdom. Jesus recites a prayer: “I thank you Father, Lord of Heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children”. The wise, the doctors of that time, have created a system of laws which they imposed on the people in the name of God (Mt 23, 3-4). They thought that God demanded this observance from the people.  But the law of love, which Jesus has revealed to us, said the contrary.  What is important to be saved, is not what we do for God, but what God, in his great love, does for us! God wants mercy and not sacrifice (Mt 9, 13). The simple and poor people understood this way of speaking of Jesus and rejoiced.  The wise said that Jesus was in error.  They could not succeed to understand his teaching.  “Yes, Father for that is what it pleased you to do! It pleased the Father that the little children understand the message of the Kingdom and that the wise and the learned do not understand it! If they want to understand it they have to become the pupils of the little children!  This way of thinking and of teaching makes people feel uncomfortable and change their community life together.
• Matthew 11, 27: The origin of the new Law: the Son knows the Father. What the Father has to tell us he has given to Jesus, and Jesus reveals it to the little children, so that they may be open to his message. Jesus, the Son, knows the Father.  He knows what the Father wanted to communicate to us, when many centuries ago he gave his Law to Moses. Today also, Jesus is teaching many things to the poor and to the little children and, through them, to all his Church.   
• Matthew 11, 28-30: The invitation of Jesus which is still valid today.  Jesus invites all those who are tired to go to him, and he promises them rest.  In our communities today, we should be the continuation of this invitation which Jesus addresses to people who were tired and oppressed by the weight of the observance asked by the laws of purity.  He says: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart”. Many times, this phrase has been manipulated, to ask people for submission, meekness and passivity. Jesus wants to say the contrary. He asks people not to listen to “the wise and learned”, the professors of religion of that time and to begin to learn from him, from Jesus, a man who came from Galilee, without higher instruction, who says he is “meek and humble of heart”. Jesus does not do like the Scribes who exalt themselves because of their science, but he placed himself at the side of the people who are exploited and humiliated. Jesus, the new Master, knows by experience what takes place in the heart of the people who suffer.  He has lived this well and has known it during the thirty years of his life in Nazareth.
• How Jesus puts into practice what he taught in the Discourse of the Mission. Jesus has a passion: to announce the Good News of the Kingdom. He had a Passion for the Father and for the people of his country who are poor and abandoned.  There where Jesus found people who listened to him, Jesus transmitted the Good News, in any place: In the Synagogues during the celebration of the Word (Mt 4, 23), in the houses of the friends (Mt 13, 36); walking along the way with the disciples (Mt 12, 1-8); along the shore of the sea, sitting in the boat (Mt 13, 3); on the Mountain from where he proclaims the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 1); in the  squares and in the cities, where people would bring the sick to him (Mt 14, 34-36). Also in the Temple of Jerusalem, during the pilgrimage (Mt 26, 55)!  In Jesus everything is revelation of everything which he bore inside himself! He not only announced the Good News of the Kingdom, He himself was and continues to be a living sign of the Kingdom. In him we see clearly what happens when a human being allows God to reign in his life. Today’s Gospel reveals the tenderness with which Jesus welcomes the little children. He wanted them to find rest and peace. And because of this choice of his for the little children and the excluded, he was criticized and persecuted. He suffered very much! The same thing happens today. When a community tries to open itself to be a place of welcome and consolation for the little children and the excluded of today who are the foreigners and the migrants, many persons do not agree and criticize.

4) Personal questions
• Have you experienced some time the rest promised by Jesus?
• How can the words of Jesus help our community to be a place of rest for our life?  

5) Concluding Prayer
In you is the source of life,
by your light we see the light.
Maintain your faithful love to those who acknowledge you,
and your saving justice to the honest of heart. (Ps 36,9-10)