Thứ Tư, 9 tháng 8, 2017

AUGUST 10, 2017 : FEAST OF SAINT LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR

Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr
Lectionary: 618

Reading 12 COR 9:6-10
Brothers and sisters:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you,
so that in all things, always having all you need,
you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written:

He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Responsorial PsalmPS 112:1-2, 5-6, 7-8, 9
R. (5) Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.
Lavishly he gives to the poor, 
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who is gracious and lends to those in need.

AlleluiaJN 8:12BC
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness
but will have the light of life, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."


Meditation: "If it dies, it bears much fruit"

What can a grain of wheat tell us about life and the kingdom of God?  Jesus drew his parables from the common everyday circumstances of life. His audience, mostly rural folk in Palestine, could easily understand the principle of new life produced by dead seeds sown into the earth. What is the spiritual analogy which Jesus alludes to? Is this, perhaps, a veiled reference to his own impending death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day? Or does he have another kind of "death and rebirth" in mind for his disciples? Jesus, no doubt, had both meanings in mind for his disciples. 
The image of the grain of wheat dying in the earth in order to grow and bear a harvest can be seen as a metaphor of Jesus' own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection. Jesus knew that the only way to victory over the power of sin and death was through the cross. Jesus reversed the curse of our first parents' [Adam and Eve] disobedience through his obedience to the Father's will - his willingness to go to the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and to defeat death once and for all. His obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit. His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love. There is a great paradox here. Death leads to life. When we "die" to our selves, we "rise" to new life in Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to "die" to oneself? It certainly means that what is contrary to God's will must be "crucified" or "put to death". God gives us grace to say "yes" to his will and to reject whatever is contrary to his loving plan for our lives. Jesus also promises that we will bear much "fruit" for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake. Jesus used forceful language to describe the kind of self-denial he had in mind for his disciples. 
What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself?  The expression to hate something often meant to prefer less. Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven.  Our hope is in Paul's reminder that "What is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible" (1 Corinthians 15:42). Do you hope in the Lord and follow joyfully the path he has chosen for you?
"Lord Jesus, let me be wheat sown in the earth, to be harvested for you. I want to follow wherever you lead me. Give me fresh hope and joy in serving you all the days of my life."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe seed must die before being resurrected, by Irenaeus, 135-202 A.D.
"A cutting from the vine planted in the ground bears fruit in its season, or a kernel of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed rises and is multiplied by the Spirit of God, who contains all things. And then, through the wisdom of God, it serves for our use when, after receiving the Word of God, it becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time. The Word of God grants them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:53). This is so because the strength of God is made perfect in weakness (1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Corinthians 13:4) in order that we may never become puffed up, as if we had life from ourselves, or become exalted against God with ungrateful minds." (excerpt from AGAINST HERESIES 5.2.3)


FEAST OF LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR
THURSDAY, AUGUST 10, JOHN 12:24-26

​(2 Corinthians 9:6-10; Psalm 112)

KEY VERSE: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat" (v.24).
TO KNOW: Despite the many "signs" that Jesus performed, there were still those who refused to believe in him. Jesus' dying and rising would be the final sign that pointed to the saving mission of God at work in him. Jesus told his followers that the way to everlasting life was paradoxically through death. He wanted them to know that salvation would not be earned by pious deeds, but through a willingness to sacrifice everything, even one's own life for the sake of God's kingdom. Jesus used an illustration found in nature. A grain of wheat appeared lifeless when planted in the ground, but it would spring to life and bear fruit. Paul said "whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Cor 9:6). Jesus' followers would be fruitful when they imitated his example of self-giving.
TO LOVE: Am I willing to sacrifice personal attachments in order to serve Jesus?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, I pray that my life will bear good fruit so that I might share eternal life with you.​

FEAST OF SAINT LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR

Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome and was martyred under the Emperor Valerian in August 258, four days after Pope Sixtus II and his companions were martyred. While awaiting execution Lawrence dispersed the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it. When Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted, he was accompanied by a multitude of Rome's crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. Lawrence's care for the poor, the ill, and the neglected led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including its documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. A basilica was built over his tomb fifty years after his death. By the sixth century, the Feast of Saint Lawrence was one of the most important feasts throughout much of western Christendom. His name occurs (with Sixtus) in the Roman Canon of the Mass (Eucharistic Prayer #1).


Thursday 10 August 2017

St Lawrence.
2 Corinthinians 9:6-10. Psalm 111(112):1-2, 5-9. John 12:24-26.
Happy the merciful who give to those in need — Psalm 111(112):1-2, 5-9.
‘If it dies, it yields a rich harvest.’
A martyr like St Lawrence has given all. He has truly lost his life in this world only to keep it for eternal life. Lord, you probably won’t require me to lay down my life, even though you do ask it of others today. Nevertheless, that spirit of total giving of self you do ask of me: to give and not to count the cost. ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, says Paul.
The psalmist proclaims: ‘Happy those who are merciful and lend to those in need.’ Giving is not a duty or a chore. Rather, it is a response because we are loved, to the love we have been given. The challenge is to discover joy and happiness in being loved, and in loving and giving.

ST. LAWRENCE

"'Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.' My brethren, Lawrence understood this and, understanding, he acted on it. In his life he loved Christ; in his death he followed in his footsteps."
 - St. Augustine, in a sermon on the feast of Saint Lawrence
Saint Lawrence was martyred on August 10, 258 during the persecution of the emperor Valerian along with many other members of the Roman clergy. He was the last of the seven deacons of Rome to die.
After the pope, Sixtus II, was martyred on August 6, Lawrence became the principal authority of the Roman Church, having been the Church's treasurer. When he was summoned before the executioners he was ordered to bring all the wealth of the Church with him.  He showed up with a handful of crippled, poor, and sick men, and when questioned, replied that "These are the true wealth of the Church." He was immediately sent to his death, being cooked alive on a gridiron
He is venerated as one of the patrons of Rome, along with Sts. Peter and Paul.


LECTIO: ST. LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR - JN. 12,24-26
Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, August 10, 2017
Ordinary Time
 

1) Opening prayer
Almighty and ever-living God,
your Spirit made us your children,
confident to call you Father.
Increase your Spirit within us
and bring us to our promised inheritance.
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 - John 12,24-26
Jesus said to his disciples: In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.
Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me, must follow me, and my servant will be with me wherever I am. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.

3) Reflection
• This passage contains solemn and crucial words concerning the modality with which the mission of Jesus and of his disciples “produces much fruit”. But in this solemn and central declaration of Jesus; “unless a wheat grain falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a large harvest” (v.24), it is inserted in that narrative context of 12, 12-36 where the encounter of Jesus as Messiah with Israel is narrated and the rejection of the Jews of his Messianic proposal. Which are the principal themes that describe the Messianism of Jesus? The Jews expected a Messiah who would be a powerful king, who would continue with the royal style of David and would restore to Israel its glorious past. Instead, Jesus, places in the centre of his Messianism the gift of his life and the possibility given to man to be able to accept God’s project on his life.

• The story of a seed. The gift of his life, as a crucial characteristic of his Messianism, Jesus outlines it with a mini parable. He describes a central and decisive event of his life drawing from the agricultural environment from where he takes the images to render his parables interesting and immediate. It is the story of a seed: a small parable to communicate with the people in a simple and transparent way: a seed begins its course or journey in the dark meander of the earth, where it is suffocated and withers but in the Spring it becomes a green stalk and in the Summer a spike charged with grain. The focal points of the parable are two: the production of much fruit; the finding of eternal life. The seed that breaks through the darkness of earth has been interpreted by the First Fathers of the Church as a symbolical reference to the Incarnation of the Son of God. In the ground it seems that the vital force of the seed is destined to get lost because the seed withers and dies. But then the surprise of nature: in the summer when the spikes turn golden, the profound secret of that death is revealed. Jesus knows that death is becoming imminent, threatens on his person, even though he does not see it as a beast that devours. It is true that it has the characteristics of darkness and of being ripped, but for Jesus it contains the secret force typical of child birth, a mystery of fecundity and of life. In the light of this vision one can understand another expression used by Jesus: “Anyone who loves his life will lose it and anyone who hates his own life in this world will preserve it for eternal life”. Anyone who considers his own life as a cold property to be lived in egoism is like a seed closed in itself and without any perspective of life. On the contrary who “hates his life”, a very sharp Semitic expression to indicate the renunciation of only fulfilling oneself applied to the axis of the meaning of an existence on the donation to others; it is only thus that life becomes creative: it is a source of peace, of happiness and of life. It is the reality of the seed that sprouts. But the reader can also get in the mini parable of Jesus another dimension, that of the “Passover”. Jesus knows that in order to lead humanity to the threshold of divine love he has to go through the dark way of death on the cross. On the trail of this life the disciple also faces his own “hour”, that of death, with the certainty that it will lead to eternal life, that is to say, to full communion with God.

• In synthesis. The story of the seed is that of dying in order to multiply itself; its function is that of a service to life. The annihilation of Jesus is comparable to the seed of life buried in the earth. In Jesus’ life to love is to serve and to serve is to lose oneself in the life of others, to die to oneself in order to allow others to live. While his “hour” is approaching, the conclusion of his mission, Jesus assures his own with the promise of a consolation and of a joy without end, accompanied, by every type of disturbance or trouble. He gives the example of the seed that has to wither and of the woman who has to give birth in the pangs of child birth. Christ has chosen the cross for himself and for his own: anyone who wants to be his disciple is called to share his same itinerary. He has always spoken to his disciples in a radical way: «Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, will save it” (Lk 9, 24).

4) Personal questions
• Does your life express the gift of yourself? Is it a seed of love that makes love be born? Are you aware that in order to be a seed of joy, so that there will be joy in the field of wheat grain the moment of sowing is necessary?

• Can you say that you have chosen the Lord if later you do not embrace the cross with him? When the hard struggle breaks out in you between “yes” or “no”, between courage and fear, between faith and unbelief, between love and egoism, do you feel lost thinking that such temptations are not suitable to those who follow Jesus?

5) Concluding Prayer
All goes well for one who lends generously,
who is honest in all his dealing;
for all time to come he will not stumble,
for all time to come the upright will be remembered. (Ps 112,5-6)