Thứ Ba, 8 tháng 8, 2017


Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 409

The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]
"Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.
You shall send one man from each ancestral tribe,
all of them princes."

After reconnoitering the land for forty days they returned,
met Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation of the children of Israel
in the desert of Paran at Kadesh,
made a report to them all,
and showed the fruit of the country
to the whole congregation.
They told Moses: "We went into the land to which you sent us.
It does indeed flow with milk and honey, and here is its fruit.
However, the people who are living in the land are fierce,
and the towns are fortified and very strong.
Besides, we saw descendants of the Anakim there.
Amalekites live in the region of the Negeb;
Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the highlands,
and Canaanites along the seacoast and the banks of the Jordan."

Caleb, however, to quiet the people toward Moses, said,
"We ought to go up and seize the land, for we can certainly do so."
But the men who had gone up with him said,
"We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us."
So they spread discouraging reports among the children of Israel
about the land they had scouted, saying,
"The land that we explored is a country that consumes its inhabitants.
And all the people we saw there are huge, veritable giants
(the Anakim were a race of giants);
we felt like mere grasshoppers, and so we must have seemed to them."

At this, the whole community broke out with loud cries,
and even in the night the people wailed.

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
"How long will this wicked assembly grumble against me?
I have heard the grumblings of the children of Israel against me.
Tell them: By my life, says the LORD,
I will do to you just what I have heard you say.
Here in the desert shall your dead bodies fall.
Forty days you spent in scouting the land;
forty years shall you suffer for your crimes:
one year for each day.
Thus you will realize what it means to oppose me.
I, the LORD, have sworn to do this
to all this wicked assembly that conspired against me: 
here in the desert they shall die to the last man."

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers;
we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.
Our fathers in Egypt
considered not your wonders.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
But soon they forgot his works;
they waited not for his counsel.
They gave way to craving in the desert
and tempted God in the wilderness.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one, 
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

AlleluiaLK 7:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
"Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon."
But he did not say a word in answer to her.
His disciples came and asked him,
"Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us."
He said in reply,
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me."
He said in reply,
"It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs."
She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters."
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
"O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish."
And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Meditation: "Great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire"
Do you ever feel "put-off" or ignored by the Lord? 
This passage (Matthew 15:21) describes the only occasion in which Jesus ministered outside of Jewish territory. (Tyre and Sidon were fifty miles north of Israel and still exist today in modern Lebanon.) A Gentile woman, a foreigner who was not a member of the Jewish people, puts Jesus on the spot by pleading for his help. At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and this made his disciples feel embarrassed. Jesus does this to test the woman to awaken faith in her.
Jesus first tests the woman's faith
What did Jesus mean by the expression "throwing bread to the dogs"? The Jews often spoke of the Gentiles with arrogance and insolence as "unclean dogs" since the Gentiles did not follow God's law and were excluded from God's covenant and favor with the people of Israel. For the Greeks the "dog" was a symbol of dishonor and was used to describe a shameless and audacious woman. There is another reference to "dogs" in Matthew's Gospel where Jesus says to his disciples, "Do not give to dogs what is holy" (Matthew 7:6).  Jesus tests this woman's faith to see if she is earnest in receiving holy things from the hand of a holy God. Jesus, no doubt, spoke with a smile rather than with an insult because this woman immediately responds with wit and faith - "even the dogs eat the crumbs".
Seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith
Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her faith and for her love. She made the misery of her child her own and she was willing to suffer rebuff in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. No one who ever sought Jesus with earnest faith - whether Jew or Gentile - was refused his help. Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?
"Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May I trust you always and pursue you with indomitable persistence as this woman did. Increase my faith in your saving power and deliver me from all evil and harm."

Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe Mother of the Gentiles, by Epiphanius the Latin (late 5th century)
"After our Lord departed from the Jews, he came into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. He left the Jews behind and came to the Gentiles. Those whom he had left behind remained in ruin; those to whom he came obtained salvation in their alienation. And a woman came out of that territory and cried, saying to him, 'Have pity on me, O Lord, Son of David!' O great mystery! The Lord came out from the Jews, and the woman came out from her Gentile territory. He left the Jews behind, and the woman left behind idolatry and an impious lifestyle. What they had lost, she found. The one whom they had denied in the law, she professed through her faith. This woman is the mother of the Gentiles, and she knew Christ through faith. Thus on behalf of her daughter (the Gentile people) she entreated the Lord. The daughter had been led astray by idolatry and sin and was severely possessed by a demon." (excerpt from  INTERPRETATION OF THE GOSPELS 58)


(Numbers 13:1-2, 25  
̶ 14:1, 26-29a, 34-35; Psalm 106)

KEY VERSE: "O Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish" (v 28).
TO KNOW: Jesus' mission was primarily to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (v 24), but he was open to hearing the truth from people outside of the Jewish faith. Following a clash with the religious leaders who refused to believe in him, Jesus met a Syrophoenician woman (area around Tyre and Sidon) whose faith was in sharp contrast with that of his own people. The woman addressed Jesus as "Lord" and begged him to heal her tormented daughter. Jesus told her that it was not right to take food meant for the "children" (the people of Israel) and feed it to the "dogs" (a contemptuous term for Gentiles). The woman persisted, saying that she was willing to take the crumbs that fell from the master's table. Jesus was impressed by this woman's great faith, and he healed her daughter that very moment.
TO LOVE: Do I attempt to understand people of other faith traditions?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, help me to persist in prayer for my loved ones.

Optional Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), virgin and martyr

Edith Stein was the youngest of seven children in a Jewish family. She was a brilliant student and philosopher. She witnessed the faith of her Catholic friends, which led her to studying the catechism on her own, literally "reading herself into" the Faith. Edith was converted to Catholicism in Cologne, Germany, and was baptized in the cathedral church in 1922. She became a Carmelite nun in 1934, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was a teacher in the Dominican school in Speyer, and lecturer at the Educational Institute in Munich. However, anti-Jewish pressure from the Nazis forced her to resign both positions. She was smuggled out of Germany, and assigned to Echt, Holland in 1938. When the Nazis invaded Holland, she and her sister Rose, also a convert to Catholicism, were captured and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz where they died in the ovens like countless others. 

Wednesday 9 August 2017

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Numbers 13:1-2, 25 – 14:1, 26-29, 34-35. Psalm 105(106):6-7, 13-14, 21-23. Matthew 15:21-28.
Lord, remember us, for the love you bear your people — Psalm 105(106):6-7, 13-14, 21-23.
‘Woman, you have great faith.’
We can find it hard not to grumble against God when we feel more lost than found. Today’s readings remind us that life contains many wrong turns and disappointments. Yet there is wisdom to be found in the middle of the wilderness.
In the gospel the Canaanite woman challenges Jesus and his response is reluctant at first. Is he testing her faith deliberately? Or does the ministry of Jesus become more inclusive because of her willingness to tackle the hard questions? How do I react to the silence of God when I long for direction? Do I boldly persist in my faith when the answer seems to be no? Does my own love and compassion extend to people who are different from me?


On August 9 the Catholic Church remembers St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as St. Edith Stein. St. Teresa converted from Judaism to Catholicism in the course of her work as a philosopher, and later entered the Carmelite Order. She died in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1942.
Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891 – a date that coincided with her family's celebration of Yom Kippur, the Jewish “day of atonement.” Edith's father died when she was just two years old, and she gave up the practice of her Jewish faith as an adolescent.
As a young woman with profound intellectual gifts, Edith gravitated toward the study of philosophy and became a pupil of the renowned professor Edmund Husserl in 1913. Through her studies, the non-religious Edith met several Christians whose intellectual and spiritual lives she admired.
After earning her degree with the highest honors from Gottingen University in 1915, she served as a nurse in an Austrian field hospital during World War I. She returned to academic work in 1916, earning her doctorate after writing a highly-regarded thesis on the phenomenon of empathy. She remained interested in the idea of religious commitment, but had not yet made such a commitment herself.
In 1921, while visiting friends, Edith spent an entire night reading the autobiography of the 16th century Carmelite nun St. Teresa of Avila. “When I had finished the book,” she later recalled, “I said to myself: This is the truth.” She was baptized into the Catholic Church on the first day of January, 1922.
Edith intended to join the Carmelites immediately after her conversion, but would ultimately have to wait another 11 years before taking this step. Instead, she taught at a Dominican school, and gave numerous public lectures on women's issues. She spent 1931 writing a study of St. Thomas Aquinas, and took a university teaching position in 1932.
In 1933, the rise of Nazism, combined with Edith's Jewish ethnicity, put an end to her teaching career. After a painful parting with her mother, who did not understand her Christian conversion, she entered a Carmelite convent in 1934, taking the name “Teresa Benedicta of the Cross” as a symbol of her acceptance of suffering.
“I felt,” she wrote, “that those who understood the Cross of Christ should take upon themselves on everybody's behalf.” She saw it as her vocation “to intercede with God for everyone,” but she prayed especially for the Jews of Germany whose tragic fate was becoming clear.
“I ask the Lord to accept my life and my death,” she wrote in 1939, “so that the Lord will be accepted by his people and that his kingdom may come in glory, for the salvation of Germany and the peace of the world.”
After completing her final work, a study of St. John of the Cross entitled “The Science of the Cross,” Teresa Benedicta was arrested along with her sister Rosa (who had also become a Catholic), and the members of her religious community, on August 7, 1942. The arrests came in retaliation against a protest letter by the Dutch Bishops, decrying the Nazi treatment of Jews.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Blessed John Paul II canonized her in 1998, and proclaimed her a co-patroness of Europe the next year.

Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer
Father of everlasting goodness,
our origin and guide,
be close to us
and hear the prayers of all who praise you.
Forgive our sins and restore us to life.
Keep us safe in your love.
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 15,21-28
Jesus left that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And suddenly out came a Canaanite woman from that district and started shouting, 'Lord, Son of David, take pity on me. My daughter is tormented by a devil.' But he said not a word in answer to her.
And his disciples went and pleaded with him, saying, 'Give her what she wants, because she keeps shouting after us.' He said in reply, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.'
But the woman had come up and was bowing low before him. 'Lord,' she said, 'help me.'
He replied, 'It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to little dogs.'
She retorted, 'Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters' table.'
Then Jesus answered her, 'Woman, you have great faith. Let your desire be granted.' And from that moment her daughter was well again.

3) Reflection
• Context. The bread of the children and the great faith of a Canaanite woman is the theme presented in the liturgical passage taken from chapter 15 of Matthew who proposes to the reader of his Gospel a further deepening of faith in Christ. The episode is preceded by an initiative of the Pharisees and Scribes who go down to Jerusalem and cause a dispute to take place with Jesus, but which did not last long, because he, together with his disciples withdrew to go to the region of Tyre and Sidon. While he is on the way, a woman from the pagan places comes to him. This woman is presented by Matthew by the name of a “Canaanite woman” who in the light of the Old Testament, she is presented with great harshness. In the Book of Deuteronomy the inhabitants of Canaan were considered people full of sins, evil and idolatrous people.
• The dynamic of the account. While Jesus carries out his activity in Galilee and is on the way toward Tyre and Sidon, a woman came up to him and began to bother him with a petition for help for her sick daughter. The woman addresses Jesus using the title “Son of David”; a title which sounds strange pronounced by a pagan and that could be justified because of the extreme situation in which the woman lives. It could be thought that this woman already believes in some way, in the person of Jesus as final Saviour, but this is excluded because it is only in v. 28 that her act of faith is recognized, precisely by Jesus. In the dialogue with the woman Jesus seems to show that distance and diffidence which reigned between the people of Israel and the pagans. On one side Jesus confirms to the woman the priority for Israel to have access to salvation, and before the insistent prayer of her interlocutor Jesus seems to withdraw, to be at a distance; an incomprehensible attitude for the reader, but in the intention of Jesus it expresses an act of pedagogical value. To the first invocation “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David” (v. 22) Jesus does not respond. To the second intervention this time on the part of the disciples who invite him to listen to the prayer of the woman, he only expresses rejection that stresses that secular distance between the chosen people and the pagan people (vv. 23b-24) But at the insistence of the prayer of the woman who bows before Jesus, a harsh and mysterious response follows: “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to little dogs” (v. 26). The woman goes beyond the harsh response of the words of Jesus and gets a small sign of hope: the woman recognizes that the plan of God being carried out by Jesus initially concerns the chosen people and Jesus asks the woman to recognize that priority; the woman takes advantage of that priority to present a strong reason to obtain the miracle: “Ah yes, Lord, but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27). The woman has exceeded the test of faith: “Woman, you have great faith” (v. 28); in fact, to the humble insistence of her faith corresponds a gesture of salvation.
This episode addresses an invitation to every reader of the Gospel to have that interior attitude of “openness” toward everyone, believers or not, that is to say, availability and acceptance without distinction toward all men.

4) Personal questions
• The disturbing word of God invites you to break open your closeness and all your small plans. Are you capable to accept all the brothers and sisters who come to you?
• Are you aware of your poverty to be capable like the Canaanite woman to entrust yourself to the word of salvation of Jesus.

5) Concluding Prayer
Lord, do not thrust me away from your presence,
do not take away from me your spirit of holiness.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
sustain in me a generous spirit. (Ps 51,11-12)