Thứ Hai, 24 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 25, 2017 : FEAST OF SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE

Feast of Saint James, Apostle
Lectionary: 605

Reading 12 COR 4:7-15
Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke,
we too believe and therefore speak, 
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing. 
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves. 
R. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.

AlleluiaSEE JN 15:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
"What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
He replied,
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Meditation: "Not to be served but to serve"
Who doesn't want to be first, and to be esteemed and honored by others? We seem to have an unquenchable thirst for recognition and fame, power and authority to rule our own lives as we please as well as the lives of others. Should we be surprised to see the disciples of Jesus thirsting for power, position, and authority? James and John, the sons of Zebedee, urged their mother to strike a deal with Jesus, their Master and Messiah. They wanted the distinction of being first and most important in position, next to Jesus, of course!
Jesus turns authority and power upside down
When Jesus called the twelve apostles to be his inner circle of disciples who would teach and exercise spiritual authority on his behalf, he did the unthinkable! Jesus taught contrary to the world's understanding of power, authority, and position, by reversing the order of master and servant, lord and subject, first and last! Jesus wedded authority with love, position with sacrifice, and service with humility. Authority without love is over-bearing and slavish. Position without respect and concern for the subordinate is demeaning and rude. And service without generosity and sacrifice is cheap and unkind.
Those who wish to serve with the Lord Jesus and to exercise authority in God's kingdom must be prepared to sacrifice - not just some of their time, money, and resources - but their whole lives and all that they possess! Jesus used stark language to explain what kind of sacrifice he had in mind. His disciples must drink his cup if they expect to reign with him in his kingdom. The cup he had in mind was a bitter one involving crucifixion. What kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for us? For some disciples such a cup entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom. But for many, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations.
Christ's way of love and service
A disciple of Jesus must be ready to lay down his or her life - each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required - and even to the point of shedding one's blood if necessary for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. What makes such sacrifice a joy rather than a burden? It is love - the kind of "love which God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). An early church father summed up Jesus' teaching with the expression: "to serve is to reign with Christ."  We share in God's reign by laying down our lives in humble service and love for one another, just as Jesus did for our sake. Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as  Jesus has taught and modeled for us?
"Lord Jesus, make me a servant of love for your kingdom, that I may seek to serve rather than be served. Inflame my heart with love that I may give generously and serve joyfully for your sake."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersNot to be served but to serve, by John Chrysostom (344-407 AD)
    "[Jesus] says, 'The Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.' It is as if he were saying, 'I willed not even to stop at death but even in death gave my life as a ransom. For whom? For enemies. For you. If you are abused, my life is given for you. It is for you. Me for you.' So you need not be too picky if you suffer the loss of your honor. No matter how much it is lowered, you will not be descending as far as your Lord descended. And yet the deep descent of one has become the ascent of all. His glory shines forth from these very depths. For before he was made man, he was known among the angels only. But after he was made man and was crucified, so far from lessening that glory, he acquired further glory besides, even that from his personal knowledge of the world."
    "So fear not then, as though your honor were put down. Rather, be ready to abase yourself. For in this way your glory is exalted even more, and in this way it becomes greater. This is the door of the kingdom. Let us not then go the opposite way. Let us not war against ourselves. For if we desire to appear great, we shall not be great but even the most dishonored of all. Do you see how everywhere Jesus encourages them by turning things upside down? He gives them what they desire but in ways they did not expect.  
(excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 65.4.25)

FEAST OF SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE
TUESDAY, JULY 25, MATTHEW 20:20-28

(2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalm 126)

KEY VERSE: "Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant" (v. 26).
TO KNOW: For the third time in Matthew's gospel, Jesus taught his disciples about his coming passion and death; yet they still did not comprehend the reality of his words. A woman approached Jesus with the request that her sons, James and John, receive special honor in his kingdom. Her misconception was that Jesus' reign was an earthly rule with temporal authority. The other disciples were indignant over this (did they wish that they had thought of it first?). Jesus reminded them that the way to the kingdom was not the path to glory. Being a disciple meant humble submission to the will of God. Jesus did not come to be served, but to offer his life as a ransom for those who were held captive to sin. James would share Jesus' suffering, the first apostle martyred.
TO LOVE: Do I hand on the faith that I have received, just as the apostles did in their time?
TO SERVE: St. James, pray for me that I might courageously serve Christ as you did.

FEAST OF SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE

Jesus nicknamed James and his younger brother John, the sons of Zebedee, Boanerges, meaning "sons of thunder" (Mk 3:17). They were natives of Galilee and fishermen when Jesus called them to follow him. James, John and Peter belonged to what seems to have been an inner circle of three. They were privileged witnesses when Jesus cured Peter's mother-in-law; at the raising of Jairus' daughter; at the Transfiguration; and at Jesus' agony in the garden. James was "killed with the sword," probably beheaded by the order of King Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-2). Most modern scholars hold that James was not the author of the epistle by that name. Among the reasons cited is that that the author of the epistle does not identify himself as an Apostle. Another reason is the elegant Greek literary style used, which is unlikely that of a Galilean peasant.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

St James.
2 Corinthians 4:7-15. Psalm 125(126). Matthew 20:20-28.
Those who sow in tears, shall reap with shouts of joy — Psalm 125(126).
‘The one who raised Jesus will raise us in our turn.’
Paul describes how the person who has hopes is different from one who has no hope. The person who hopes may become sad but does not cross over into despair. Although we stare at the depths, we do not fall in. Why?
Paul describes the effect of hope, which in difficult circumstances manifests as possibility, as the sense of what will be, or could become, even when we see no signs of change.
And Christ’s defeat of death is the sign of how the boundaries for humankind have shifted. Hope, possibility and redemption are the concrete signs of Christ’s resurrection.


ST. JAMES

James, the brother of John the Evangelist, was the first Apostle to be martyred. He was beheaded by order of Herod of Agrippa. The Gospels tell us that the two brothers left their father, Zebedee, and followed Jesus as soon as He called out to them.
James was one of the three Apostles who were particularly close to the Lord. He was there with the Lord and his brother, John, and Peter at the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
He is known as James "the Greater" to distinguish him from the other Apostle by the same name. The title has little to do with his function or the people's regard for him. Rather, it was a term indicating that he was the elder of the two.
He is the patron saint of Spain and of pilgrims. In northwestern Spain, he is venerated at Santiago de Compostela, a mediaeval pilgrimage site that is still very popular today.


LECTIO DIVINA: SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE
Lectio Divina: 
 Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
Lord,
be merciful to your people.
Fill us with your gifts
and make us always eager to serve you
in faith, hope and love.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 20,20-28
Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, 'What is it you want?' She said to him, 'Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.'
Jesus answered, 'You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?' They replied, 'We can.' He said to them, 'Very well; you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.'
When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt. Among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

3) Reflection
• Jesus and the Disciples are on the way toward Jerusalem (Mt 20,17). Jesus knows that he will be killed (Mt 20,8). The Prophet Isaiah had already announced it (Is 50,4-6; 53,1-10). His death will not be the fruit of a blind destiny or of a pre-established plan, but it will be the consequence of the commitment freely taken of being faithful to the mission which he received from the Father together with the poor of the earth. Jesus had already said that the disciple has to follow the Master and carry his cross behind him (Mt 16,21.24). But the disciples did not understand well what was happening (Mt 16,22-23; 17,23). Suffering and the cross did not correspond to the idea that they had of the Messiah.
• Matthew 20,20-21: The petition of the mother of the sons of Zebedee. The Disciples only not understand but they continue to think about their personal ambitions. The mother of the sons of Zebedee, the spokesperson of her sons John and James, gets close to Jesus to ask for a favour: “Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your Kingdom.”
They had not understood the proposal of Jesus. They were concerned only about their own interests. This shows clearly the tensions in the communities, both at the time of Jesus and of Matthew, as also we see it in our own communities.
• Matthew 20,22-23: The response of Jesus. Jesus reacts firmly. He responds to the sons and not to the mother: “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink? It is a question of the chalice of suffering. Jesus wants to know if they, instead of the place of honour, accept to give their own life up to death. Both answer: “We can!” This was a sincere response and Jesus confirms it: “You shall drink my cup”. At the same time, it seems to be a hasty response, because a few days later, they abandon Jesus and leave him alone at the hour of suffering (Mt 26,51). They do not have a strong critical conscience, and they are not even aware of their own personal reality. And Jesus completes the phrase saying: “But it is not mine to grant that you sit at my right hand and my left, these seats belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father”. What Jesus can offer is the chalice of the suffering of the cross.
• Matthew 20,24-27: “Among you this is not to happen”. “When the other ten heard this, they were indignant with the two brothers”. The request made by the mother in the name of the sons, causes a heated discussion in the group. Jesus calls the disciples and speaks to them about the exercise of power: “The rulers of nations, you know, dominate over them and the great exercise their power over them. Among you this is not to happen: anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave”. At that time, those who held power had no interest for the people. They acted according to their own interests (cf. Mc 14,3-12). The Roman Empire controlled the world submitting it with the force of arms and, in this way, through taxes, customs, etc., succeeded to concentrate the riches through repression and the abuse of power. Jesus had another response. He teaches against privileges and against rivalry. He overthrows the system and insists on the attitude of service which is the remedy against personal ambition. The community has to prepare an alternative. When the Roman Empire disintegrates, victim of its own internal contradictions, the communities should be prepared to offer to the people an alternative model of social living together.
• Matthew 20,28: The summary of the life of Jesus. Jesus defines his life and his mission: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. In this definition of self given by Jesus are implied three titles which define him and which were for the first Christians the beginning of Christology: Son of Man, Servant of Yahweh and older brother (close relative or Joel). Jesus is the Messiah, Servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 42,1-9; 49,1-6; 50,4-9; 52,13-53,12). He learnt from his mother who said: “Behold the servant of the Lord!” (Lk 1,38). This was a totally new proposal for the society of that time.

4) Personal questions
• James and John ask for favours. Jesus promises suffering. And I, what do I seek in my relationship with God and what do I ask for in prayer? How do I accept the suffering that comes to my life and which is the contrary of what we ask in prayer?
• Jesus says: “May it not be like that among you!” Do our way of living in the Church and in the community agree with this advise of Jesus?

5) Concluding Prayer
Then the nations kept saying,
'What great deeds Yahweh has done for them!'
Yes, Yahweh did great deeds for us,
and we were overjoyed. (Ps 126,2-3)