Archive for “2015”

February 6 – Lectio Divina

Friday, February 6 ~ Fourth Week in Ordinary time

Saint Paul Miki, Martyr, and Companions, Martyrs

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 6:14-29 King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”  Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

 

Meditation: What better what to shut someone up permanently than to have them beheaded?  Why have John the Baptist silenced?  For telling the truth – the truth which Herodias did not want to hear about the sinful relationship she was living.  Herodias, the daughter of Aristobulus and Bernice, was first married to her uncle, her father’s half-brother, Philip (Mark 6:17). While living in Rome, they had a daughter named Salome. Herodias later left Philip and married Herod Antipas, Philip’s brother, thereby making her the wife of two of her uncles. Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee during the life of Jesus. John the Baptist, a fearless and righteous servant of God, did not shy away from proclaiming the truth – in this case publicly condemning the incestuous and adulterous behavior of the ruler of the land. For this John was arrested, and at the instigation of Herodias was beheaded. The infamous “head of John the Baptist on a platter” was her idea out of revenge – revenge for John the Baptist telling the truth, instead of being politically correct and not saying anything about this sinful relationship.

 

Prayer: O God, strength of all the Saints, who through the Cross were pleased to call the Martyrs Saint Paul Miki and companions to life, grant, we pray, that by their intercession we may hold with courage even until death to the faith that we profess. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: How many times have we embraced the “politically correct” route in this world versus embracing the truths contained in sacred scripture?  How many times have we let personal opinion (“here is what I think” or “here is how I see it”) or personal feelings (“this is how I feel”) trump any law of God, any teaching of Jesus Christ, or any teaching of the Catholic Church?  In other words, am I just as guilty of turning away from the truth by turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to a situation in my own life or in the life of family members or friends – only so that I can be politically correct? Have I followed the route of Herodias and tried to have the truth silenced, just as she had John the Baptist silenced by having him beheaded?  Or if not silenced, have I simply ignored the truth, or taken a sarcastic approach to the truth, or the convenient approach to the truth by thinking I’m sophisticated and modern, and thus in my mind thinking that the truth has become “old fashioned” and out-of-step with modern times?  The laws of God and the teachings of Christ do not have a shelf life. Always remember what Jesus tells us in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…” and in John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  Folks, we need to embrace the truth with much more zeal and confidence. We cannot think that others apart from Christ have a solution to life’s challenges or think that their way of living is acceptable when it is contrary to Christ. The truth is worth living, promoting and defending. We have one life, and we must turn away from the compromise of Christ’s truths and instead embrace his teachings and let him be our shepherd and guide – not popular culture. Each compromise is a twisting of the truth so that it is no longer truth. Do you embrace, promote and defend the truth?  As a disciple of Christ, do you let Jesus Christ reign fully in your life?

 

About Saint Paul Miki and Companions: Nagasaki, Japan, is familiar to Americans as the city on which the second atomic bomb was dropped, killing hundreds of thousands. Three and a half centuries before, twenty-six martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki. Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent children—all united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his church. Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan. While hanging upon a cross Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for the execution: “The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese. The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason I die. I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.” When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860s, at first they found no trace of Christianity. But after establishing themselves they found that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and that they had secretly preserved the faith. Beatified in 1627, the martyrs of Japan were finally canonized in 1862.

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;

prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of the Catholic Culture web site.

 

frlumpe:2015

February 5 – Lectio Divina

Thursday, February 5 ~ Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 6:7-13  Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

 

Meditation: Jesus gave his apostles both the power and the authority to speak and to act in his name. He commanded them to do the works which he did – to heal, to cast out evil spirits, and to speak the word of God – the Good News of the gospel which they received from Jesus. When Jesus spoke of power and authority he did something unheard of. He wedded power and authority with love and humility. The “world” and the “flesh” seek power for selfish gain. Jesus teaches us to use it for the good of our neighbor.

 

Prayer: May the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: This traveling light provision which Jesus shared with his Apostles has solid purpose.  This “poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision. The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves. He wills to work through and in each of us for his glory. The Lord entrusts each of us with his gifts and talents. Are you eager to place yourself at his service, to do whatever he asks you, and to live in witness his truth – the only truth – and saving power to whomever and whatever situation he sends you?

 

February 4 – Lectio Divina

Wednesday, February 4 ~ Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 6:1-6 Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

 

Meditation: Jesus startled his familiar audience with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. The people of Nazareth took offense at Jesus and refused to listen to what he had to say. They despised his preaching because he was a mere workman, a carpenter, and a layman who had no formal training by a scholar or teacher. They also despised him because of his undistinguished family background. How familiarity can breed contempt. Jesus could do no mighty works in their midst because they were closed-minded and unbelieving towards him.

 

Prayer: Grant us, Lord our God, that we may honor you with all our mind, and love everyone in truth of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to the afflicted who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free – not only from their physical, mental, and spiritual infirmities – but also from the worst affliction of all – the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one’s life. God’s power alone can save us from hopelessness, dejection, and emptiness of life. The gospel of salvation is “good news” for everyone who will receive it. Do you know the joy and freedom of the gospel?

February 3 – Lectio Divina

Tuesday, February 3 ~ Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 5:21-43  When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him and a large crowd followed him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, Who touched me?” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”  Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

 

Meditation: People in desperate or helpless circumstances were not disappointed when they sought Jesus out.  What drew them to Jesus? Was it hope for a miracle or a word of comfort in their affliction? What did the elderly woman who had suffered greatly for twelve years expect Jesus to do for her? And what did a grieving father expect Jesus to do about his beloved lost daughter? Jesus gave hope where there seemed to be no human cause for it because his hope was directed to God. He spoke words of hope to the woman (“Take heart, daughter!”) to ignite the spark of faith in her (“your faith has made you well!”).

 

Prayer: Hear, O Lord, the supplications your people make under the patronage of the Martyr Saint Blaise, and grant that they may rejoice in peace in this present life, and find help for life eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Saint Ephrem of Syria commented on this miracle, which is worth contemplating today: “Glory to you, hidden Son of God, because your healing power is proclaimed through the hidden suffering of the afflicted woman. Through this woman whom they could see, the witnesses were enabled to behold the divinity that cannot be seen. Through the Son’s own healing power his divinity became known. Through the afflicted women’s being healed her faith was made manifest. She caused him to be proclaimed, and indeed was honored with him. For truth was being proclaimed together with its heralds. If she was a witness to his divinity, he in turn was a witness to her faith…He saw through to her hidden faith, and gave her a visible healing.”

February 2 Lectio Divina

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments

is not the truest of guides for human life?” ~Saint Benedict, from the Rule of Saint Benedict (73:3)

“Ask Christ to help you become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ’s example, I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as fruitful rain.” ~Saint Paul Miki

 

Monday, February 2 ~ Third Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 2:22-32  When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

 

Meditation: Do you know the favor of the Lord? After Jesus’ birth, Mary fulfills the Jewish right of purification after childbirth. Since she could not afford the customary offering of a lamb; she gives instead two pigeons as an offering of the poor. This rite, along with circumcision and the redemption of the first-born point to the fact that children are gifts from God. Jesus was born in an ordinary home where there were no luxuries. Like all good parents, Mary and Joseph raised their son in the fear and wisdom of God. He, in turn, was obedient to them and grew in wisdom and grace. The Lord’s favor is with those who listen to his word with trust and obedience. Do you know the joy of submission to God? And do you seek to pass on the faith and to help the young grow in wisdom and maturity?

 

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, we humbly implore your majesty that, just as your Only Begotten Son was presented on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh, so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for his sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord.  Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way.  Do you know the joy of a life fully surrendered to God with faith and trust?

From the Rector 2/1/2015

ON THIS FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME we are reminded of the man with the unclean spirit in the Gospel today (Mark 1:21-28). Perhaps no one would have suspected much was wrong with the man. He was in the synagogue on the Sabbath so he was obeying the Torah. Perhaps to outward appearances at least everything was in order. But inside he was “unclean.” That could be said about any of us. None of us is yet the wholesome and holy person we are called to be. The man in the synagogue suddenly was enraged when Jesus taught. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24) Jesus’ teaching, the word of God, challenged him and showed him up for what he was and likewise challenges us and shows us up for what we are, throwing light on the dark corners of our lives. Prayer and spiritual reading can reveal to us who we really are. Have you ever considered your distractions in prayer? They may have something to say to you about opportunities for growth in your life. The Lord can also reveal our need of his healing outside of prayer. Our dreams are said to be expressions of our wishes, desires and emotions so they can also reveal who we are before the Lord. Sometimes an event in our lives or our reaction to it may show us up for who we really are when we see our weakness and lack of holiness laid bare. In whatever way our true self is revealed to us, such moments of self-revelation are opportunities for grace, opportunities for the Lord to work on us and heal us and transform us into the holy and wholesome person we are called to be. Such a painful moment occurred in the life of that man in the Gospel today. Jesus cleansed the man of the evil spirit. But it was not easy for the man. The spirit convulsed the man and came out of him with a loud cry (Mark 1:26). There is a sense in which we “convulse” when overcoming evil. If overcoming our attachment to sin were easy we would all be saints by now. The problem, of course, is that we don’t want to face the spiritual “convulsing” involved in spiritual growth. It is easier to remain as we are because such necessary spiritual “convulsing” is letting go of our ego and our attachment to sin. That is precisely why we shy away from it, we don’t want to let go of our ego and attachment to sin. The Psalm today gives a warning about not letting go of our egos – Oh, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works” (Psalm 95:7-9). Instead as the first reading poses, we are to listen to the prophet to be raised up like Moses: “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Folks, Jesus is that prophet, the fulfillment of that prophecy. When we let go of our ego and attachment to sin Jesus takes its place in our lives. The words of John the Baptist about Jesus apply to us at this stage, “He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) That is precisely why this spiritual “convulsing” is necessary for it fills us with God. We decrease but God increases. Let that be our mantra for daily living.

 

ON A SEPARATE NOTE with great sadness the world remembered last week the evil and darkness of the Nazis on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. Of the more than 1.3 million people imprisoned there, 1.1 million — mainly European Jews — perished, either in the gas chambers or by starvation or disease. The Nazis killed six million of pre-war Europe’s 11 million Jews.  The former extermination camp is now the world’s biggest Jewish cemetery. In addition to Jewish people, Saint Maximilian Kolbe (more information on him is in this bulletin), and approximately 100,000 mostly Catholic Poles were killed by German occupiers in Auschwitz’s gas chambers and execution sites. The Nazis also killed Gypsies, Russian POWs and prisoners of other nationalities at the camp, located in Oswiecim, Poland.The site was also the death place for many people who did not fit into the Nazis’ view of their world. Many of the concentration camps set up by the Nazis in World War Two were razed to the ground, but Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated before it was completely destroyed. Now it is a museum – a reminder of systematic killing of innocent persons and other horrific acts that humans are capable of when they turn away from God and embrace evil.  Some 300-plus survivors of the Nazi death camp laid wreaths and lit candles at the so-called Death Wall at Block 11 on January 27th to mark 70 years since the camp’s liberation, and remember those who never left.  Let us pray for those who died there and at other Nazi death camps during World War Two, pray for a conversion of mind and heart that Neo-Nazis, terrorists, and all hate groups turn away from darkness and sin, and pray that in our lifetime we will see greater respect and dignity of all human life, and an end to the way segments of our population horrifically treat other persons as sub-human and ignoring the fact that we are all children of God.