Thứ Ba, 25 tháng 7, 2017


Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 397

Reading 1EX 16:1-5, 9-15
The children of Israel set out from Elim, 
and came into the desert of Sin,
which is between Elim and Sinai,
on the fifteenth day of the second month
after their departure from the land of Egypt.
Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel
grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The children of Israel said to them,
"Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!"

Then the LORD said to Moses,
"I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.
On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in,
let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

Then Moses said to Aaron, "Tell the whole congregation 
of the children of Israel:
Present yourselves before the LORD,
for he has heard your grumbling."
When Aaron announced this to the whole assembly of the children of Israel,
they turned toward the desert, and lo,
the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!
The LORD spoke to Moses and said,
"I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel.
Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God."

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.
In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert
were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.
On seeing it, the children of Israel asked one another, "What is this?"
for they did not know what it was.
But Moses told them,
"This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat."

R. (24b) The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
They tempted God in their hearts
by demanding the food they craved.
Yes, they spoke against God, saying,
"Can God spread a table in the desert?"
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Yet he commanded the skies above
and the doors of heaven he opened;
He rained manna upon them for food
and gave them heavenly bread. 
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Man ate the bread of angels,
food he sent them in abundance.
He stirred up the east wind in the heavens,
and by his power brought on the south wind.
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
And he rained meat upon them like dust,
and, like the sand of the sea, winged fowl,
Which fell in the midst of their camp
round about their tents. 
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower;
All who come to him will live for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 13:1-9
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying:
"A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.
But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Meditation: "Since they had no root they withered away"
Are you hungry for God's word? Matthew tells us that Jesus taught many things to those who came to listen and learn. Jesus' teaching method was a very simple one. He used parables - short stories and images taken from everyday life to convey hidden truths about the kingdom of God. Like a skillful artist, Jesus painted evocative pictures with short and simple words. A good image can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday images of life and nature to point to another order of reality - hidden, yet visible to those who had "eyes to see" and "ears to hear". Jesus communicated with pictures and stories, vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than an abstract presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered (Matthew 13:44).
Sowing seeds that take root and grow
What does the parable about seeds and roots say to us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The Scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3).
The shut mind and prejudiced hearer
Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God's word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn't want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else.
Too busy and preoccupied to listen
Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is for ever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God's word. He or she may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but their work. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God's word?
"Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersShallow and rootless minds, by Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)
"Let us look, as from a broader perspective, at what it means to be on the road. In a way, every road is hardened and foolish on account of the fact that it lies beneath everyone's feet. No kind of seed finds there enough depth of soil for a covering. Instead, it lies on the surface and is ready to be snatched up by the birds that come by. Therefore those who have in themselves a mind hardened and, as it were, packed tight do not receive the divine seed but become a well-trodden way for the unclean spirits. These are what is here meant by 'the birds of the heaven.' But 'heaven' we understand to mean this air, in which the spirits of wickedness move about, by whom, again, the good seed is snatched up and destroyed. Then what are those upon the rock? They are those people who do not take much care of the faith they have in themselves. They have not set their minds to understand the touchstone of the mystery [of communion with Christ]. The reverence these people have toward God is shallow and rootless. It is in times of ease and fair weather that they practice Christianity, when it involves none of the painful trials of winter. They will not preserve their faith in this way, if in times of tumultuous persecution their soul is not prepared for the struggle." (Excerpt from FRAGMENT 168)

(Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15; Psalm 78)

KEY VERSE: "But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold" (v 8).
TO KNOW: Chapter 13 of Matthew's gospel is Jesus' third sermon, consisting almost entirely of parables (Hebrew, mashal). Jesus' parables were primarily stories that invited the hearer to search for the meaning of Christian truths he was teaching and put them into action. In the parable of the sower, Jesus referred to the planting methods employed in Palestine of his day. Since the seed was sown on rocky and unproductive soil, a great deal of the farmer's efforts were wasted and the crop was only moderately successful. Jesus compared this to his task of proclaiming God's word. Although it was arduous work, Jesus' followers were privileged to have heard his words. They were the "rich soil" that would produce abundant fruit. He encouraged them to persevere in their task no matter how many accepted their message or rewarded them for their labor.
TO LOVE: Do I persist in proclaiming the gospel when I am discouraged?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, open my ears to your revealed truth.​

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Joachim was the husband of Anne, father of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and grandfather of Jesus Christ. There is no mention of them in the New Testament. What we know comes from Catholic legend and the Gospel of James, which is an apocryphal writing form the second century AD. Tradition says that while Joachim was away from home, he and Anne each received a message from an angel that she was pregnant. It is believed that Joachim and Anne gave Mary to the service of the Temple when the girl was three years old. Joaquin and Anne serve as role models for parents and grandparents and deserve to be honored and emulated for their devotion to God and Mary, Mother of Jesus. 

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Ss Joachim & Anne.
Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15. Psalm 77(78):18-19, 23-28. Matthew 13:1-9.
The Lord gave them bread from heaven — Psalm 77(78):18-19, 23-28.
‘Whoever has ears, listen!’
The parable of the sower gives us insight into the spirituality of Jesus. It encourages us to use His spirituality in our daily lives. One aspect of Jesus’ spirituality is that he remains strong in the face of persistent opposition.
This enables him to keep on reaching out lovingly to his disciples and through them to us. What he is looking for is a response to his words that really comes from the heart.
The context of this event by the lake is that Jesus is giving more time to the needs of his disciples but nonetheless still teaching and healing the crowds.
He is in the position of the sower scattering his words widely. In some cases he achieves little return but often he receives the response that he is seeking from the hearts of his hearers.


On July 26 the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the parents of the Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim and Anne. The couple's faith and perseverance brought them through the sorrow of childlessness, to the joy of conceiving and raising the immaculate and sinless woman who would give birth to Christ.
The New Testament contains no specific information about the lives of the Virgin Mary's parents, but other documents outside of the Biblical canon do provide some details. Although these writings are not considered authoritative in the same manner as the Bible, they outline some of the Church's traditional beliefs about Joachim, Anne and their daughter.
The “Protoevangelium of James,” which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary's father Joachim as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Joachim was deeply grieved, along with his wife Anne, by their childlessness. “He called to mind Abraham,” the early Christian writing says, “that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac.”
Joachim and Anne began to devote themselves to rigorous prayer and fasting, in isolation from one another and from society. They regarded their inability to conceive a child as a surpassing misfortune, and a sign of shame among the tribes of Israel.
As it turned out, however, the couple were to be blessed even more abundantly than Abraham and Sarah. An angel revealed this to Anne when he appeared to her and prophesied that all generations would honor their future child: “The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth; and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.”
After Mary's birth, according to the Protoevangelium of James, Anne “made a sanctuary” in the infant girl's room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean” on account of the special holiness of the child. The same writing records that when she was one year old, her father “made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel.”
“And Joachim brought the child to the priests,” the account continues, “and they blessed her, saying: 'O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations' … And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: 'O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be forever.'”
The protoevangelium goes on to describe how Mary's parents, along with the temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life, and enter a chaste marriage with the carpenter Joseph.
St. Joachim and St. Anne have been a part of the Church's liturgical calendar for many centuries. Devotion to their memory is particularly strong in the Eastern Catholic churches, where their intercession is invoked by the priest at the end of each Divine Liturgy. The Eastern churches, however, celebrate Sts. Joachim and Anne on a different date, Sept. 9.

Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, July 26, 2017

1) Opening prayer
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 13,1-9
That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into the boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Listen, a sower went out to sow.
As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Anyone who has ears should listen!’
3) Reflection
• In chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew the third great discourse begins, the Discourse of the Parables. As we already said before, in the commentary on the Gospel of July 9th, Matthew organized his Gospel like a new edition of the Law of God or like a new “Pentateuch” with its five books. For this reason his Gospel is composed of five great discourses or teachings of Jesus, followed by narrative parts, in which he describes how Jesus put into practice what he had taught in the discourses. The following is the outline:
Introduction: birth and preparation of the Messiah (Mt 1 to 4)
a) Sermon on the Mountain: the entrance door to the Kingdom (Mt 5 to 7)
Narrative Mt 8 and 9
b) Discourse of the Mission: how to announce and diffuse the Kingdom (Mt 10)
Narrative Mt 11 and 12
c) Discourse of the Parables: the mystery of the Kingdom present in life (Mt 13)
Narrative Mt 14 to 17
d) Discourse of the Community: the new way of living together in the Kingdom (Mt 18)
Narrative 19 to 23
e) Discourse of the future coming of the Kingdom: the utopia which sustains hope (Mt 24 and 25)
Conclusion: Passion, Death and Resurrection (Mt 26 to 28).
• In today’s Gospel we will meditate on the parable of the seed. Jesus had a way of speaking so popular by means of comparisons and parables. Generally, when he finished telling a parable, he did not explain it, but used to say: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mt 11,15; 13,9.43). Sometimes he would explain the meaning to the Disciples (Mt 13,36). The parables speak of the things of life; seed, lamp, mustard seed, salt, etc. These are things that exist in daily life, for the people of that time as well as today for us. Thus, the experience that we have today of these things becomes for us a means to discover the presence of the mystery of God in our life. To speak in parables means to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom present in life.
• Matthew 13,1-3: Sitting in the boat, Jesus taught the people. As it happened in the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5,1-2), here also Matthew makes a brief introduction to the discourse of the Parables, describing Jesus who teaches in the boat, on the shore, and many people around him who listen. Jesus was not a person who was instructed (Jn 7,15). He had not been to a higher school in Jerusalem. He came from inside the country, from Nazareth. He was unknown, a farmer and craftsman or artisan at the same time. Without asking permission from the religious authority, he began to teach the people. People liked to listen to him. Jesus taught especially by means of parables. We have already heard some of them: fishermen of men (Mt 4,19), the salt (Mt 5,13), the lamp (Mt 5,15), the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field (Mt 6,26.28), the house constructed on the rock (Mt 7,24). And now, in chapter 13, the parables begin to have a particular meaning: they serve to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom of God present in the midst of people and the activity of Jesus.
• Matthew 13,4-8: The parable of the seed taken from the life of the farmer. At that time, it was not easy to live from farming. The land was full of stones. There was little rain, too much sun. Besides, many times, people in order to shorten the way, passed through the fields and destroyed the plants (Mt 12,1). But in spite of all that, every year, the farmer would sow and plant, with trust in the force of the seed, in the generosity of nature. The parable of the sower describes that which we all know and do: the seed thrown by the agriculturer falls on the ground along the road, another part falls among the stones and thistles; still another part falls on good earth, where, according to the quality of the land, will produce thirty, sixty and even up to one hundred. A parable is a comparison. It uses things known by the people and which are visible, to explain that the Kingdom of God is an invisible and unknown thing. The people of Galilee understood about seeds, ground, rain, sun and harvest. And so now Jesus uses exactly these things that were known to people to explain the mystery of the Kingdom.
• Matthew 13,9: He, who has ears to hear, let him listen. The expression “He, who has ears, let him listen” means: “It is this! You have heard. Now try to understand!”The way to be able to understand the parable is to search: “To try to understand!” The parable does not give everything immediately, but pushes one to think and to make one discover starting from the experience which the listeners have of the seed. It opens to creativity and to participation. It is not a doctrine which comes ready to be taught. The parable does not give water in bottles, but the source. The agriculturer who listens to the parable says: “Seed in the round, I know what that means! But Jesus says that it has something to do with the Kingdom of God. What would that be?” And it is easy to imagine the long conversations of the people! The parable leads to listen to nature and to think of life. Once a person asked in a community: “Jesus says that we have to be salt. For what is salt good?” There was discussion and then at the end, ten different purposes that salt can have, were discovered. Then all this was applied to the life of the community and it was discovered that to be salt is difficult and demanding. The parable worked well!
4) Personal questions
• When you were a child how was catechism taught to you? How do you compare some parts of life? Do you remember some important comparison that the catechist told you? How is the catechesis today in your community?
• Sometimes we are the road side, sometimes the rock; other times the thorns or thistles, and other times good earth. What am I? What are we in our community? Which are the fruits which the Word of God is producing in my life, in my family, and in our community: thirty, sixty, one hundred?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh in his holy temple!
Yahweh, his throne is in heaven;
his eyes watch over the world,
his gaze scrutinises the children of Adam. (Ps 11,4)