Chủ Nhật, 13 tháng 8, 2017


Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Lectionary: 413

Reading 1DT 10:12-22
Moses said to the people:
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD, your God, ask of you
but to fear the LORD, your God, and follow his ways exactly,
to love and serve the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul,
to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD
which I enjoin on you today for your own good?
Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens,
belong to the LORD, your God,
as well as the earth and everything on it.
Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants,
in preference to all other peoples, as indeed he has now done.
Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and be no longer stiff-necked.
For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods,
the LORD of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome,
who has no favorites, accepts no bribes;
who executes justice for the orphan and the widow,
and befriends the alien, feeding and clothing him.
So you too must befriend the alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
The LORD, your God, shall you fear, and him shall you serve;
hold fast to him and swear by his name.
He is your glory, he, your God,
who has done for you those great and terrible things
which your own eyes have seen.
Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy strong,
and now the LORD, your God,
has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky."

Responsorial PsalmPS 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
R. (12a) Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
"The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
"Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes," he said. 
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?"
When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him,
"Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up. 
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you."

Meditation: "Not to give offense"
Who likes to pay taxes, especially when you think they might be unreasonable or unjust? Jesus and his disciples were confronted by tax collectors on the issue of tax evasion. When questioned about paying the temple tax, Jesus replied to his disciples: We must pay so as not to cause bad example. In fact, we must go beyond our duty in order that we may show others what they ought to do. The scriptural expression to give no offense doesn't refer to insult or annoyance - rather it means to put no stumbling block in the way of another that would cause them to trip or fall. Jesus would not allow himself anything which might possibly be a bad example to someone else. Do you evade unpleasant responsibilities or obligations?
Jesus predicts his death and triumph over the grave
On three different occasions in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus predicted he would endure great suffering through betrayal, rejection, and the punishment of a cruel death (Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, and 20:17-19). The Jews resorted to stoning for very serious offenses and the Romans to crucifixion - the most painful and humiliating death they could devise for criminals they wanted to eliminate. No wonder the apostles were greatly distressed at such a prediction! If Jesus their Master were put to death, then they would likely receive the same treatment by their enemies. Jesus called himself the "Son of Man" because this was a Jewish title for the Messiah which the prophet Daniel explained in his vision of the One whom God would send to establish his everlasting kingdom of power and righteousness over the earth (Daniel 7:13-14).
The Suffering Servant and Lamb of God
Why must the Messiah be rejected and killed? Did not God promise that his Anointed One (Messiah in Hebrew) would deliver his people from their oppression and establish a kingdom of peace and justice? The prophet Isaiah had foretold that it was God's will that the "Suffering Servant" make atonement for sins through his suffering and death (Isaiah 53). John the Baptist described Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1: 29, Isaiah 53:6-7). When Jesus willing offered up his life for us on the cross he paid the price for our redemption with his blood. 
Jesus offers freedom and victory over sin and death
Jesus came to rescue us from sin and its destructive forces and to restore us to fulness of life with our heavenly Father. Sin not only separates us from God - it leads us down the path to corruption and unending death. Slavery to sin is to want the wrong things and to be in bondage to hurtful desires and addictions. The ransom Jesus paid sets us free from the worst tyranny possible - the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Jesus' victory did not end with his sacrificial death on the cross - he triumphed over the grave when he rose again on the third day. Jesus defeated the powers of death and Satan through his cross and resurrection. The Lord Jesus offers us true freedom and peace which no one can take from us. Do you want the greatest freedom possible, the freedom to live as God truly meant us to live as his sons and daughters?
"Lord Jesus, your death brought true life and freedom. May I always walk in the freedom and power of your love and truth and reject whatever is contrary to your will for my life."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersJesus speaks of his death and resurrection, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

"I think we have an obligation to examine this, too: that Jesus was delivered into the hands of men, not by men into the hands of men but by powers to whom the Father delivered his Son on behalf of us all. In the very act of being delivered and coming under the power of those to whom he was delivered, he “destroyed him who had the power of death.” For “through death he destroyed him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage." 
(excerpt from COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 13.8)

(Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Psalm 147)

KEY VERSE: "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men" (v 22).
TO KNOW: Following Jesus' glorious manifestation on the Mountain of the Transfiguration, he and his disciples arrived in Capernaum where they were met with opposition. The tax collectors came to Peter and asked why Jesus had not paid the annual tax for the upkeep of the temple (Ex 30:11-16). Jesus used this incident as an analogy of the spiritual realm. If the kings of the earth demanded tolls from foreigners, then the "sons" of the kingdom should be exempt. Yet to avoid scandal, Jesus told Peter that he would find a coin worth twice the tax in the mouth of the first fish he caught. (The Musht fish is popularly known as "St. Peter's fish." The parent fish keeps the eggs of their young in their mouths until they are hatched. Then it takes in pebbles and possibly a coin to prevent their offspring from entering the mouth again. This may have happened when Peter found a coin in the fish's mouth to pay the tax). A fish is the oldest Christian symbol. The Greek word for fish, Ichthus, is used as an acrostic for the words that translate “Jesus Christ Son of God Savior” [Iesous (Jesus) Christos (Christ) Theou (God) Uiou (Son) Soter (Savior)].
TO LOVE: Do I protest when tax dollars are used for things that conflict with our Christian values?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, thank you for making us sons and daughters of your kingdom.

Optional of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr

Maximilian Kolbe was ordained in 1918 in Rome, and returned to Poland to teach history in the Crakow seminary. He founded a new monastery of Niepokalanow. By 1939 the monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities. During World War II, Maximilian Kolbe and his brothers housed 3,000 Polish refugees, two-thirds Jewish. Their publications included materials considered anti-Nazi, and the congregation suppressed, and the brothers dispersed. Maximilian was imprisoned in Warsaw, Poland. On 28 May 1941 he was transferred to Auschwitz and branded as prisoner 16670. He was assigned to a group staffed by priests and supervised by especially abusive guards. His calm dedication to the faith brought him the worst jobs available, and more beatings than anyone else. In July 1941 there was an escape from the camp, and ten men were to be slaughtered in retribution for each escaped prisoner. Francis Gajowniczek, a married man with young children was one of the ten chosen to die. Maximilian volunteered to take his place, and died as he had always wished - in service of Jesus Christ. 
Maximilian Kolbe was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Monday 14 August 2017

St Maximilian Kolbe.
Deuteronomy 10:12-22. Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20. Matthew 17:22-27.
Praise the Lord, Jerusalem — Psalm 147:12-15, 19-20.
‘So as not to offend these people, give it to them for me and for you.’
Some battles are not worth fighting. Some brick walls should stay where they are. With finite time and energy, it can be important to focus on what can be changed. Jesus could have made an issue of the payment of the tax. In choosing not to, he taught the disciples a lesson in priorities. It was an inconvenience and probably an injustice: a tax imposed on an occupied country by the invaders. But Jesus’ mission and message were far more important.
Grass-roots change organisations do work. After the death of her son, a woman began a campaign to have the names of fallen Australian peacekeepers recorded on the Honour Roll at the War Memorial in Canberra. This was successful when 41,000 other people signed the petition. Jesus, help me choose my battles wisely.


Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan priest, missionary and martyr, is celebrated throughout the Church today, August 14.
The saint died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, during World War II, and is remembered as a “martyr of charity” for dying in place of another prisoner who had a wife and children. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982.
St. Maximilian is also celebrated for his missionary work, his evangelistic use of modern means of communication, and for his lifelong devotion to the Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.
All these aspects of St. Maximilian's life converged in his founding of the Militia Immaculata. The worldwide organization continues St. Maximilian Kolbe's mission of bringing individuals and societies into the Catholic Church, through dedication to the Virgin Mary.
St. Maximilian, according to several biographies, was personally called by the Virgin Mary, both to his holy life and to his eventual martyrdom. As an impulsive and badly-behaved child, he prayed to her for guidance, and later described how she miraculously appeared to him holding two crowns: one was white, representing purity, the other red, for martyrdom.
When he was asked to choose between these two destinies, the troublesome child and future saint said he wanted both. Radically changed by the incident, he entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans at age 13, in 1907.
At age 20 he made his solemn vows as a Franciscan, earning a doctorate in philosophy the next year. Soon after, however, he developed chronic tuberculosis, which eventually destroyed one of his lungs and weakened the other.
On October 16, 1917, in response to anti-Catholic demonstrations by Italian Freemasons, Friar Maximilian led six other Franciscans in Rome to form the association they called the Militia Immaculata. The group's founding coincided almost exactly with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.
As a Franciscan priest, Fr. Maximilian returned to work in Poland during the 1920s. There, he promoted the Catholic faith through newspapers and magazines which eventually reached an extraordinary circulation, published from a monastery so large it was called the “City of the Immaculata.”
In 1930 he moved to Japan, and had established a Japanese Catholic press by 1936, along with a similarly ambitious monastery.
That year, however, he returned to Poland for the last time. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and Fr. Kolbe was arrested. Briefly freed during 1940, he published one last issue of the Knight of the Immaculata before his final arrest and transportation to Auschwitz in 1941.
At the beginning of August that year, 10 prisoners were sentenced to death by starvation in punishment for another inmate's escape. Moved by one man's lamentation for his wife and children, Fr. Kolbe volunteered to die in his place.
Survivors of the camp testified that the starving prisoners could be heard praying and singing hymns, led by the priest who had volunteered for an agonizing death. After two weeks, on the night before the Church's feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the camp officials decided to hasten Fr. Kolbe's death, injecting him with carbolic acid.
St. Maximilian Kolbe's body was cremated by the camp officials on the feast of the Assumption. He had stated years earlier: “I would like to be reduced to ashes for the cause of the Immaculata, and may this dust be carried over the whole world, so that nothing would remain.”

Lectio Divina: 
 Monday, August 14, 2017

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 - Matthew 17,22-27
When they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, 'The Son of man is going to be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised up again.' And a great sadness came over them.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, 'Does your master not pay the half-shekel?' 'Yes,' he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, 'Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do earthly kings take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?' And when he replied, 'From foreigners,' Jesus said, 'Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so that we shall not be the downfall of others, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that rises, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for yourself.'

3) Reflection
• The five verses of today’s Gospel speak about two very different themes between them. (a) The second announcement of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus (Mt 17, 22-23); (b) they inform on the conversation of Jesus with Peter about paying the taxes and the dues to the temple (Mt 17, 24-27).
• Matthew 17, 22-23: The announcement of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The first announcement (Mt 16, 21) had produced a strong reaction on Peter who did not want to know anything about suffering nor the cross. Jesus had answered just as strongly: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mt 16, 23). Here, in the second announcement, the reaction of the disciples is less strong, less aggressive. The announcement produces sadness. It seems that now they begin to understand that the cross forms part of the journey. The proximity of the death and the suffering weigh heavily on them, giving rise to a great discouragement. Even if Jesus tries to help them, the resistance of centuries against the idea of a crucified Messiah, was much greater.
• Matthew 17 24-25a: The question which the tax collectors ask Peter concerning the taxes. When they reached Capernaum, the tax collector of the taxes of the Temple asks Peter: “Does your Master not pay the half-shekel for the Temple?” Peter answered: “Yes”. From the time of Nehemias (V Century BC), the Jews who had returned from the exile of Babylonia, committed themselves solemnly in the Assembly to pay the diverse taxes and dues in order to allow the Temple to continue to function and to take care of the maintenance both of the priestly service and of the building of the Temple. (Ne 10, 33-40). From what we can see from Peter’s response, Jesus paid the taxes like any other Jew.
• Matthew 17, 25b-26: The question of Jesus to Peter concerning the taxes. The conversation between Jesus and Peter is very strange. When they reach home, Jesus asked: “ Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do earthly kings take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?” Peter responds: “From foreigners”. And Jesus says: “Therefore, the sons are exempt!” Probably, here we can see a discussion between the Christian Jews before the destruction of the Temple, in the year 70. They asked themselves if they had to continue or not to pay the taxes of the Temple, as they did before. By Jesus’ response they discover that they are not obliged to pay this tax: “The sons are exempt!” The sons are the Christians, but even if they are not obliged to pay, the recommendation of Jesus is to pay in order not to cause scandal.
• Matthew 17, 27: The conclusion of the conversation on the paying of the tax. The solution which Jesus gives to this situation is even stranger. He tells Peter: “However, so that we shall not be the downfall of others, go to the lake and cast a hook: take the first fish that rises, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for yourself.” This was a strange miracle, strange like that of the 2000 pigs which threw themselves into the sea (Mk 5, 13). Which ever is the interpretation of this miraculous fact, this way of resolving the problem suggests that it is a question that is not too important for Jesus.

4) Personal questions
• The suffering of the Cross discourages and saddens the disciples. Has this already happened in your life?
• How do you interpret the episode of the coin found in the mouth of the fish?

5) Concluding Prayer
Praise Yahweh from the heavens,
praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host! (Ps 148,1-2)